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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 7, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Anniversary of Embassy Bombings
  • YEMEN
    • Counterterrorism Operations / Embassy Security
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Goal to Disrupt, Dismantle, and Defeat al-Qaida
    • Travel Warnings / Embassy Security
    • Post by Post Decisions / Sharing Information with Other Governments
  • SYRIA
    • Reports of Attacks on Civilians / Al Nusrah
  • PAKISTAN
    • Counterterrorism Cooperation
  • INDIA/PAKISTAN
    • Violence along Line of Control / U.S. Continues to Encourage Dialogue
  • RUSSIA
    • Secretary Kerry's Past Contact with Foreign Minister Lavrov
    • Upcoming 2+2 Meeting / Discuss Areas of Agreement and Disagreement
    • Agenda and Topics of Meetings
    • Human Rights
    • Geneva 2
  • EGYPT
    • Deputy Secretary Burns' Trip
    • Concern about Statement from Egyptian Presidency / Concern about Violence
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Reports of Talks
  • ITALY
    • Robert Lady
  • TUNISIA
    • Political Situation
  • JAPAN
    • Under Secretary Sherman and Assistant Secretary Russel's Meeting
  • NORTH KOREA/SOUTH KOREA
    • Support Improved Relations / Kaesong
  • GREECE
    • Upcoming Meeting with Prime Minister Samaras


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:32 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Good afternoon, everyone. I have one item at the top for all of you. We would like to take a moment to remember the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. As you know, today marks the 15th anniversary. We honor the memory of the 218 killed that day and nearly 5,000 people injured, including American, Kenyan, and Tanzanian employees of our two embassies by continuing our work today in the region.

Both Embassy Nairobi and Embassy Dar es Salaam marked this occasion locally. Tragedies like these serve as a sobering reminder of why embassy security and the safety of our personnel and visitors to our buildings remain a top priority of the Department of State. We continue to confront the terrorism challenges in Africa. We work closely with our partners in the region to build their long-term counterterrorism capacity so they can join us as partners in facing this challenge.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we stay on the subject, the vital subject of embassy security?

MS. PSAKI: We can.

QUESTION: Well, just first of all, do you have any updates on the list of closures?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have any updates.

QUESTION: And then secondly, on – specifically related to Yemen --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the Yemenis claim today or overnight that they had foiled a major al-Qaida plot. Is this the threat stream or is this part – do you suspect that this is part of what this threat stream is that caused you such alarm?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we, of course, have seen those reports. As a reminder – and we talked about this a little bit yesterday – we do work closely with the Yemeni Government on counterterrorism operations. I’m not going to get into any specifics from here from the podium on what was or wasn’t a part of any threat stream. Our Embassy remains closed. We’re continuing to evaluate all information on a daily basis. But beyond that, I don’t have an additional update.

QUESTION: Well, do you believe that the Yemenis have, in fact, thwarted this plot --

MS. PSAKI: Well, again --

QUESTION: -- or a plot?

MS. PSAKI: Again, our Embassy – I don’t think we have any reason not to believe what they’ve stated. But --

QUESTION: But you still think the threat’s out there, so you’re --

MS. PSAKI: Our Embassy remains closed, which I think --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: -- and we continue to evaluate the threats on a daily basis.

QUESTION: So in other words, as of today, post the Yemeni announcement of breaking up this plot, you are keeping the Embassy closed, and that is an indication that you think that the threat is still viable?

MS. PSAKI: We are keeping it closed to keep our people safe and because we believe that a threat remains.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: On this occasion, the 15th --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- anniversary of the bombing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I mean, I remember that a day afterwards, U.S. bombed a pharmaceutical facility, bombed other places, trying to hit bin Ladin. Yet al-Qaida seems to be as robust as it ever was. Do you feel that this war that has gone on for a decade and a half has basically been sort of a folly for the United States in conducting its war against terror?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just take this opportunity to reiterate, but perhaps share a few more details on why we view – why we’ve said what we’ve said about al-Qaida’s leadership being decimated. Our goal remains the same and has been consistent for a long time, which is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida. As we talked a little bit about yesterday, as the result of the enormous pressure we’ve put on the group, we have eliminated all of al-Qaida’s senior leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And because the current leaders of al-Qaida core are so worried about their personal safety, they’re far less able to plan attacks.

Some of the other steps that we’ve taken – and you all know this, but I think it’s important to reiterate – of course, the death of Usama bin Ladin. His death represented the single largest strategic blow that al-Qaida faced. He was the only leader of al-Qaida – al-Qaida had ever known, and we learned after his death that he was still deeply involved in AQ operations. And the success, though, has been more than that. It’s been about leaders as well. We’ve taken out a number of senior terrorists who were plotting attacks against Americans, including senior operational commanders, external operations chiefs, and several number-three leaders in al-Qaida. And as these leaders are taken off the battlefield, they’ve been, in many cases, replaced by younger, less experienced leaders, who haven’t demonstrated the same operational capabilities.

So where are we today? We’re not naive about the challenges we’re facing. As you’ve seen in the public statements that have been made by everyone from the President to the Secretary to officials who have been speaking across the government and to our Travel Warning, we remain concerned, of course, about the threat of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. We’ve also been crystal clear that as success against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan – as we’ve had successes, we’ve intensified pressure on affiliates, including those operating in places like Yemen. So that’s where our focus has been and will continue to be. And that’s why we have talked about, been open about, and continue to press on affiliates like the one that we’ve – that I just referenced in Yemen.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: Jen, I’m confused here. You opened that answer by saying you’ve eliminated all of core al-Qaida leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Where do you think --

MS. PSAKI: I said almost all.

QUESTION: Oh, okay. I didn’t hear the word “almost.” I’m not sure – but you meant to say almost, if I didn’t mishear you. You did mean to say --

MS. PSAKI: Almost all.

QUESTION: -- almost all. Okay. So that would include Zawahiri?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve eliminated almost all.

QUESTION: Okay. But you still believe that he is in Afghanistan or Pakistan, that rough area?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have any intel or anything --

QUESTION: Okay. And then the second --

MS. PSAKI: -- to share on his whereabouts.

QUESTION: -- the second part of what you said was that you – and you disrupted their ability to make – to plot attacks. Well, if that’s the case, then why are there 19 embassies closed? Why did you evacuate/not evacuate your personnel from Yemen? And even after the Yemenis say that they’ve --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I --

QUESTION: -- thwarted this big plot --

MS. PSAKI: The second half of my answer, Matt --

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: -- was about how we do remain concerned, as you could see in our warning, as you can see in our public statements about affiliates, including that in the Arabian Peninsula. And that continues to be of concern.

QUESTION: Right. But the whole – but this whole threat stream that caused you to close down initially 21 and now 19 diplomatic posts, which is – I know it’s not half or even probably a third of all, but it’s a significant amount --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that that would seem to be a significant threat. And it was directed, we are told, by Zawahiri, who we are led to understand is still operating somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area. So I’m not quite sure how it is that you can square those things.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I can’t speak to that specifically, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to you. But what I was reiterating here is the history on this, which is, I think, important context. We have had successes. We do think a threat still remains that is – that we’ve been absolutely consistent about. And we, out of an abundance of caution, took steps to close those embassies temporarily, and we continue to review information on a daily basis.

QUESTION: So on this somber occasion, what are the lessons learned after 15 years? I mean, where have been – where have your most successes been and where are the failures, if you – if there are lessons learned?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to spend any time here doing an analysis. All I can talk about is where we have focused our attention, where we feel successes have been, and where we are focused moving forward, which I think I just outlined.

QUESTION: But this is surely a war with many fronts, and you must be evaluating and reevaluating all the time. So you must have a very clear idea, tangible idea, of where the successes have been and where the failures are.

MS. PSAKI: I am not going to outline that for you from here.

Jill.

QUESTION: But Jen, just getting back to Matt’s question, it would appear that if you have this kind of diffused threat now in so many different places, that in a sense it becomes more difficult. I was stunned to remember how many people actually died in Kenya.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, it was a huge number. So – but now, you don’t have as many people being killed, but you do have a threat that is much more diffused. So how do you deal with that? Isn’t it almost, in a sense, a more difficult challenge?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think what I was trying to convey is that we’re intensifying our effort on affiliates. That’s part of what our focus is. And yes, we’ve had some successes. I’m not trying to overstate that. I’m just giving you a little history of where we feel we have had successes. But we’ve been consistently concerned, as you can see from the language in even our travel warnings in Yemen dating back to July and dating back several years before that, about threats coming from there, and that’s where our focus remains.

QUESTION: So the focus right now primarily is on Yemen, but you also – as a locus of kind of the --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not giving an analysis or playing out here what our internal intel focus is. I’m just conveying that we are focused on, of course, the impact and the threat from affiliates, including in Yemen.

QUESTION: Madam, just one more quickly?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Just one second, Goyal. Let Nicole go first.

QUESTION: Thank you, Goyal. Assuming that you’re sharing most or at least some of this intel with allies, can you account for or explain the difference in the reaction between the U.S., which has closed right now 19 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and France and Britain and Germany, who have just closed one facility in one country? What – why such an extreme difference there?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t give an analysis for you on why they made the decisions they’ve made. I would point you to all of their governments for that. We made decisions post by post on what we felt were the appropriate steps to keep our personnel safe, keep American citizens safe out of an abundance of caution. We certainly take these – any threat seriously, and this threat stream seriously, but we make our own choices. We do share information and do share intelligence, but every government makes their own choices about what they need to do to keep their people safe.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: A question on al-Qaida affiliates in Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There have been reports that on the territories controlled by the rebels in the north of Syria, the al-Nusrah have killed 450 civilians, most of them women and children according to these reports, and that happened on Monday. Has the State Department looked into that?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look more closely into that specific report. I think you’re probably very familiar with how we view al-Nusrah, and we’ve designated them as a terrorist organization. We have taken many steps to ensure to our best ability that aid and assistance of all kinds is going to the moderate components of the opposition, and that’s a message that we’ve conveyed publicly and privately. But we certainly are aware of the continuance of extremist elements in Syria.

QUESTION: But you don’t have any comments on this specific incident --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t at this point.

QUESTION: -- that allegedly happened on Monday?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t at this point.

QUESTION: And one more: This is not the first time that we hear reports about attacks by opposition fighters on Kurdish civilians. Have you – has the State Department raised the issue with the – with opposition leaders that you are in contact with?

MS. PSAKI: We raise, again, publicly and privately all the time our concerns about extremist elements, about al-Nusrah and other extremist elements that identify themselves with the opposition. We certainly would always be concerned about any reports of attacks on civilians or any others of this kind, so – but beyond that, I don’t think I have anything further for you.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up an earlier question as far as threats in the region is concerned, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Again, my question yesterday that – how effective are the drone attacks inside Pakistan? And do you still believe that there are al-Qaidas and Talibans threatening to the U.S. interest in the region or around the globe, and also to the innocent Pakistanis?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Goyal, just like yesterday, I don’t have anything further to add on your question, other than to say that we have a great deal of cooperation on counterterrorism of all kinds – I don’t speak to all kinds from here – with Pakistan, and that will continue.

QUESTION: May I put it in different way? How effective you think that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government is now than previous government as far as cooperating on terrorism inside – or in the region as far as terrorism is concerned?

MS. PSAKI: Well, his government, as you well know, was just sworn in, and as you know, the Secretary was just there last week, and certainly counterterrorism was a part of that discussion. But we’ll continue to work with them, and I can’t give you an evaluation quite yet.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

QUESTION: Can we go to --

QUESTION: Staying in the region, can I ask a question?

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There has been tension along Line of Control in disputed Kashmir region between Pakistan and India.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And today, there was an attack on Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Do you have any reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: I think we talked about this a little bit yesterday. I understand these are new reports since then. We, of course, are aware of them. We’re concerned about any violence, as always, along the Line of Control. We understand that the governments of India and Pakistan are in contact over the issue, and we continue to encourage, of course, further dialogue, and we think that’s the best step to resolve.

QUESTION: What about the aspirations of people of Kashmir? Should they be included in that dialogue at some time?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our policy has not changed. We still believe that these discussions and negotiations should be – take place with a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

QUESTION: Madam, let me – just quickly on this one – I was going to ask the question anyway – what’s going on, blaming each other, India and Pakistan, as far as fightings going on on the border? It has been going on for many, many years – one killed, two killed, five killed, now Indians are being killed – like this week, five soldiers, and there’s three incidents in two months. My question is that most of those people who are coming on the border inside Pakistan to kill the Indian soldiers, they are in Pakistani soldier dresses.

Pakistan is saying that our soldier didn’t fire, but question is that somebody’s firing from the soil of Pakistan inside India, so how will you solve this? Because otherwise, what opposition parties in the parliament going on now that India should take action against Pakistan. How will you solve this?

MS. PSAKI: So Goyal, our position is the same. We believe it should be a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

QUESTION: You think India should take steps against Pakistan inside because they are operating from the soil of Pakistan?

MS. PSAKI: Our position hasn’t changed. I think you’re familiar with it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just get to a few others.

Jill.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up question?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. One follow-up. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you think that if the tensions persist, it will distract Pakistan’s attention from the fight against al-Qaida and other (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re encouraging them to continue their dialogue, and we’re hopeful that that will take place. Beyond that, I’m not going to look into a crystal ball.

Jill.

QUESTION: Jen, given the decision by the Administration not to have President Obama meet with President Putin --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- on the sidelines of the G-20, what is the Secretary planning on discussing on Friday in the 2+2?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And if you look at that statement with the litany of all of --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- of all of the problems in the relationship, what is left to salvage?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first let me give a quick update just so I don’t forget that Secretary – the most recent meeting Secretary Kerry had with Foreign Minister Lavrov was July 2nd – I think most people know this, but it was a question yesterday – which was in Brunei. They also spoke on the phone July 24th. So just a quick update.

In terms of the agenda and what we hope – the Secretary hopes to discuss on Friday, we – he expects and hopes to discuss everything from cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, areas where we’ve worked closely together where we have agreements, but there certainly is more work to be done given the challenge of these issues, to disagreements on missile defense, arms control, and human rights. They’ll also, of course, continue their dialogue on Syria and discuss efforts to build momentum towards Geneva and their agreement that a political solution to the crisis is the right step to end the bloodshed.

It’s not about discussing only issues where you agree or only issues where you disagree. It will be a combination. There are certainly – we have an important relationship with Russia. We – I think you’re all familiar with the areas we disagree, which I outlined many of them. But we believe we need to continue to cooperate on areas where we can, where there’s progress to be made in the world, and Iran and North Korea are both certainly good examples of that. But there are also areas, as I mentioned, like missile defense and human rights, certainly Edward Snowden, where we have disagreements, and those will be part of the discussion as well.

And you saw, of course, in the statement that the White House issued – and let me just say that this – there was unanimous support for the decision not to – within the National Security Council not to hold the summit. The point was made – and this is one the Secretary definitely agrees with – is that there are – we were not at the point in our progress on a number of these issues where a summit at the presidential level was the most constructive step. But at the same time, we recognize there are many areas we need to continue to work on, and the feeling was that the Secretary having continued conversations with the Foreign Minister and, of course, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel having continued conversations would be the appropriate next step.

QUESTION: But it really does look as if you’re in for a very – this could be a very acrimonious meeting, couldn’t it? Because after all, the differences outlined really are very strong. I mean, could you give one area right now where the two countries see eye to eye?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think they agree that a Geneva conference is the right step and the right mechanism to achieving a political solution. They agree and share a concern about the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons from Iran and from North Korea. We share a dialogue with them on Afghanistan. So those are all issues certainly that are discussed on a regular basis with the Russians and will be a part of the discussion on Friday.

But there are also areas where we need to continue to work through disagreements, and that will be part of the discussion as well. I don’t want to predict the tone or tenor, but I will say that we’re not afraid to make public or to state clearly where we have disagreements. And the Secretary, I’m sure, will be forward with those on Friday as well.

QUESTION: And just to close the loop --

QUESTION: What are the concrete --

QUESTION: Just to close the loop, the decision was to kind of split the baby and say don’t go – go to the G-20, don’t meet with Putin. Could you just explain the rationale between --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the decision made – and I believe this was in the statement – but was that major issues were not teed up to make significant progress on the level of a president-to-president summit, and that wasn’t a constructive step to take at this point. But there certainly is a recognition that it’s important to maintain regular contact, dialogue with Russia on the issues where we agree and the issues where we disagree, and this is an opportunity to do just that.

QUESTION: And the meeting is only Friday?

QUESTION: So what are the --

MS. PSAKI: One second, Said. Let me just – Roz.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: So what are the --

QUESTION: Just Friday?

QUESTION: Yeah, just Friday?

MS. PSAKI: It’s just Friday and it’s here at the State Department.

QUESTION: Just Friday, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So what are the concrete takeaways? I mean, is the goal for Kerry and Lavrov to basically say here are the issues where we have problems and here is a schedule for how we’re going to tackle each issue? What are they going to walk out and say to all of us at the end of the day?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to do a prediction of what they’ll walk out with. It’s always an opportunity, or the Secretary views it this way, to have that time and they’ll spend a couple of hours together on Friday to talk through these issues. And just – and they will have the 2 and 2 in the morning and then Secretary Kerry will have a one-on-one with Foreign Minister Lavrov in the afternoon. I outlined the issues that we expect to be part of the discussion and conversation, but I’m not going to make a prediction of what they’ll come out of the meeting having discussed.

QUESTION: But it’s worth noting that if Jay put in his comment that not enough progress has been made according to --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the Americans, doesn’t it sort of beg the question, well, how do you move forward and wouldn’t this 2+2 be a good opportunity to figure out, okay, let’s just get on with the work?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly. And discussing all of the issues I outlined will be a big part of that focus. I just don’t want to predict where we’ll come out on Friday.

QUESTION: So --

MS. PSAKI: And it’s important to note one last thing, that this is an ongoing discussion. I mentioned, obviously, the Secretary’s conversation with Foreign Minister Lavrov just a few weeks ago. They speak regularly, they’ve met a number of times, and that dialogue will continue.

QUESTION: So it’s the 2+2 in the morning --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- 1+1 in the afternoon --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there anything else, anything significant that’s going to come out once the 1+1 is done? What are you looking at here?

MS. PSAKI: It’s – I don’t have any other predictions for you, Roz, than what I’ve outlined in terms of the agenda.

QUESTION: Do they have any remarks or something planned?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to check for you. We’re still working out the exact schedule for the day.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: So is there also going to – is Hagel also going to meet one-on-one with his – has that been planned?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check on that for you, Matt. I’m not sure off the top of my head.

QUESTION: So more generally though on this, I’m curious as to why you – both you and the White House felt this need to say that this decision had the unanimous support of the National Security. Does this mean that when you don’t say that there’s some division? Or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, sometimes we respond to the inquiries from the media, and that was a question that was asked.

QUESTION: Oh, so the – I didn’t hear anyone ask the question.

MS. PSAKI: It was asked by others of all of us earlier in the day --

QUESTION: Oh, I see.

MS. PSAKI: -- so I was proactively sharing that with all of you.

QUESTION: I see. Okay, so – but it was – so the statement included that, though. It wasn’t like it was a background comment or something like that. But this means in the future that when we ask that, if you don’t say it was a unanimous support, that we can assume that there was some disagreement and fighting?

MS. PSAKI: No, Matt. I think --

QUESTION: No? All right. So --

MS. PSAKI: -- we felt it was important to make that point here today.

QUESTION: I think we all recognize that the U.S. and Russia agree on the fact that there should be this Geneva 2 conference, but we are nowhere near having that done. And the areas where you mention agreement on Iran and North Korea and specifically – sorry, I don’t remember the Iranian situation being resolved as a result of this grand cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, nor do I remember the North Koreans giving up nuclear weapons. So --

MS. PSAKI: Well, if they were resolved, they wouldn’t be on the agenda --

QUESTION: Well, my question --

MS. PSAKI: -- because we wouldn’t need to discuss them.

QUESTION: -- is this: What good is U.S.-Russian cooperation if in the areas where you have it – Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea – there are still problems?

MS. PSAKI: Because we need to continue to work together. It’s two – it’s an important relationship. It’s two powers in the world discussing challenges we’re all facing globally. And so --

QUESTION: Yes, but --

MS. PSAKI: -- yes, they’re not resolved, but we’re going to continue to discuss them and continue to work together to address them.

QUESTION: Well, I guess the fact that they are still issues and they are still problematic I think raises questions about whether in fact you do really agree. The Russians have been at the forefront of trying to get you to ease sanctions on Iran. They have actively in the past tried to undermine the P-5+1 talks with discussions with the Iranians, and in fact Foreign Minister Lavrov was just in Iran recently talking about this. So I’m just wonder --

MS. PSAKI: But we share a concern about the --

QUESTION: You share a concern, but your share concern hasn’t led to a resolution of the problem so far, I don’t think.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re going to keep working at it.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: That’s part of the purpose of Friday.

QUESTION: On the --

QUESTION: And is there anything else --

MS. PSAKI: One moment, Said.

QUESTION: I mean, is there anything outside of this global strategic stuff that they’re going to be talking about – is there going to be bilaterals? Are they going to be talking about adoptions? Are they going to be talking about gay – the gay rights, the human rights issues, the crackdown on civil society? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly human rights, absolutely. I think I listed that as one of the areas where we disagree that would certainly be a part of the conversation.

QUESTION: Okay. And options, or is that basically a case – closed case for you guys?

MS. PSAKI: There are certainly other issues that will be raised by both sides. Those are broadly the big ones that we plan to talk about. Human rights of course encompasses a lot of issues, and I’m sure we’ll have a readout on Friday after the meetings conclude.

QUESTION: And how much of the agenda do you expect will be taken – or how much of the time – their time will be taken up by discussions of Mr. Snowden?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think there’s any secret about where the United States stands on Mr. Snowden.

QUESTION: That’s not my question.

MS. PSAKI: I’m getting to your point.

QUESTION: How high on the agenda --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there’s any secret, so I think the same points we’ve made publicly several times we’ve also made privately. It is a part, but it is a – not a large part of what the agenda will be on Friday.

QUESTION: Jen, on the portion pertaining to Geneva --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- does the United States or does Secretary Kerry have a point-by-point sort of outline for how he sees a Geneva 2 could possibly take shape that he could submit to his counterpart, Lavrov, and either agree or disagree? Do you have, like, a clear understanding --

MS. PSAKI: Well, part of what they’ll talk about is exactly that discussion, and they’ve been talking about it as well as with the UN. So I can certainly confirm for you that that will be part of what they talk about.

QUESTION: Because over and over we asked what is your understanding of Geneva 1, which formed the basis for Geneva 2 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the point from Geneva 1. Could you explain to us what is your understanding of the point that came out of Geneva 1?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve talked about this quite a bit, but --

QUESTION: I understand, but --

MS. PSAKI: -- just to reiterate --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- it’s the creation of a transitional government by mutual consent.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: That is the focus. That is what we would like to achieve and what we’re all aiming – keeping our eyes on.

QUESTION: But there is nowhere in this draft or in this text a clear call for Assad not to be there, to step aside as the president of the country, is there?

MS. PSAKI: Our position is clear on this, Said, as you know. That has not changed. The opposition has been clear. They will not sit down with people who have blood on their hands. These are all part of the discussion and all issues we continue to work through.

QUESTION: Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Do you have any update about Deputy Secretary Burns’ visit, trip to Egypt, and did he return back home?

MS. PSAKI: I do. I do have an update. So, Deputy Secretary Burns has returned to Washington. Over the course of the last several days, envoys of the United States, the EU, the U.A.E., and Qatar provided constructive ideas to the Egyptians in order to help prevent further violence and help advance the transition to a democratically elected civilian government. We believe these ideas are a strong basis to create an environment in which Egypt can move forward for the sake of all Egyptians, and we believe that any solution will require both sides to make compromises. These decisions --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish. These decisions, of course, will only be made by Egyptians for Egyptians. We certainly hope that they will make them soon.

QUESTION: Yes, please. The – Egypt --

QUESTION: So why is the interim government calling the past several days’ efforts a failure?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are certainly concerned about the statement from the Egyptian presidency. Now is not the time to assess blame, but to initiate a dialogue that can help restore calm for the long term. This is – as I mentioned, they put another – a number of constructive ideas out there. It’s ultimately up to Egyptians to decide, but we will continue the dialogue in the days ahead.

QUESTION: But they have assigned blame, naming in particular the Muslim Brotherhood and issuing in the past couple of hours essentially a threat to all of the people in Nasser City and in other places around Cairo that basically if they don’t pack up and go home, that they’re sending in the troops to clear all of these squares. Is the U.S. very concerned at this point about the prospect of violence?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re always concerned about the prospect of violence. We’ve been very public about our concerns, both about actions that have been taken on the ground and public statements that have been made. And we definitely view the absence of a dialogue and compromise as it would be detrimental to the future of Egypt. And that’s why we continue to encourage, we continue to provide constructive ideas, and will continue the dialogue.

QUESTION: Were Senator McCain’s comments on Tuesday helpful, calling the situation the result of a coup?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to give you an analysis of his comments. I would point you to his office. We, of course, had Deputy Secretary Burns on the ground. He was representing the United States Government. The Secretary certainly welcomes and hears from members of Congress who have different views. Some agree with him, some don’t. And he encourages that, given his 29 years in the Senate. But beyond that, our focus is on the steps I just outlined that Deputy Secretary Burns and other officials from other countries are focused on.

QUESTION: But certainly the Senator’s comments engendered some anger from those who support the interim government and the military’s actions on July 3rd and have emboldened the MB and their supporters. Does this make it harder for Washington act as an honest broker?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the person who was representing the U.S. Government was Deputy Secretary Burns. I outlined for you what his goals were there, what we – what he did while he was there, and we would just reiterate that he was our representative. While we certainly welcome different points of views, and that’s something the Secretary feels is important, our agenda and our goals were conveyed through Deputy Secretary Burns.

QUESTION: The Qatari Foreign Minister told our channel, as it happens, that there was an expectation that all of the envoys would have a chance to meet with former President Morsy, and that they essentially were discouraged or prevented from doing so. Is that this building’s understanding of why Deputy Secretary Burns may not have met with Mr. Morsy?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to read out for you on that. As you know, he met with officials and representatives from all sides, including the Muslim Brotherhood. He did not meet with President Morsy. EU Representative – High Representative Ashton, as you know, met with him just a week ago --

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: -- but we’ve continued to work with all sides, as I mentioned, to encourage a constructive dialogue and reduce the violence.

Go ahead, Nicole.

QUESTION: Regarding the --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, one moment.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So, I mean, I’m trying to interrupt somebody, but I cannot. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: It’s okay. Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: With my stuttering mind, you know. The question regarding the presidency – the Egyptian presidency announcement that it failed, EU representative or one of the of spokespersons said that we will try again --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that we’ll try – is United States saying the same thing, or it’s like just ignoring the --

MS. PSAKI: No. We absolutely do not believe that the time for dialogue has passed. We will continue this conversation, and it certainly remains a priority of ours and obviously a priority of the EU and other officials around the world who have been involved.

QUESTION: And then the other question related to the – what was McCain said – I believe and I know that he’s a private citizen in Congress with his experience and his different point of view. But what was heard yesterday and was the talk of the town yesterday and today is a voice of United States, of whatever you can call it, was the voice of – and the views of Senator McCain, not Assistant Secretary Burns or Secretary Kerry. So how do you see this? It was something you have to handle it, it’s because you are trying to handle crisis, managing crisis. Now you have to damage control. Do you agree with this assessment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what we can do from here is to continue to reiterate who was the – speaking on behalf of the United States Government, and that is Deputy Secretary Burns, in terms of his private conversations and his work with all of the officials I mentioned, and we rely on all of you to report that.

QUESTION: Yes, please. And then the last question, or maybe the last – one of the last questions --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Any phone calls from the Secretary Kerry to Mr. Baradei or Nabil Fahmy, the Foreign Minister, in the last few days?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I believe – let me check on that. I don’t have the list in front of me. I believe there has been, but we will venture to get that to all of you after the briefing.

QUESTION: Jen, my understanding is that Senators McCain and Graham went to Egypt at the request of the White House; is that not correct?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the White House on that.

QUESTION: You can’t answer for – you can’t speak for the Administration on this question?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – I don’t have --

QUESTION: They didn’t just show up there on their own because they felt like it; is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly have officials from Congress going to a range of countries, including Egypt, and that’s something we communicate with them on and coordinate with them on. But the --

QUESTION: All right. Well, the White House has --

MS. PSAKI: -- Deputy Secretary of State was on the ground at the same time.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: And so I’m conveying that his message was what is being conveyed from the United States Government.

QUESTION: Did the Embassy in Cairo facilitate the senator’s press conference?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on the logistics of his trip.

QUESTION: Why – this just boggles my mind --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and it’s either stunningly bad planning or just incompetence. If your point is that Deputy Secretary Burns conveyed the Administration’s message and that message is somehow different than that which Senators McCain and Graham made in their press conference, why didn’t Deputy Secretary Burns give a press conference?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, his focus was on working with the officials, as I mentioned, and --

QUESTION: You have a --

MS. PSAKI: -- Egyptian officials on the ground.

QUESTION: You do – you have a serious problem on the ground with perception of the Egyptian public, as you just heard from that question, who are now confused, as I think maybe some of us are, too, who were under the impression that Senators McCain and Graham went to Egypt at the behest of the White House. If they did not go at the behest of the White House, that’s one thing, but it’s my understanding that they did. And to have the – to have your designated – the person who you now say was the duly – due – duly authorized representative of the Administration to go there and to be completely silent in public and to allow two freelancers, who I don’t think were freelancing, to have all the public spotlight, that’s just a – that’s just – do you think that that’s an effective way to communicate the Administration’s message to the Egyptian people?

MS. PSAKI: I’m communicating what our message is. I’m not going to do an analysis of logistics of media availabilities on the ground.

QUESTION: Well, it --

QUESTION: New topic?

QUESTION: It just – I don’t understand. Why didn’t Deputy Secretary Burns get up before – and speak to the Egyptian people? Why did he only have closed-door meetings?

MS. PSAKI: He spent his time working on the issues I just outlined.

QUESTION: All right. And then one more. Can I just ask you – you say that you, along with the European –say you will continue this conversation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Exactly who are you continuing this conversation with?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve continue – we remain in touch with a range of officials. I’ve – we’ve provided to you in the past days the individuals Secretary Kerry has spoken with. Obviously, Secretary Hagel is in touch with others.

QUESTION: So you believe that despite the government or the presidency’s statement, comments today that you say you’re disappointed in and now is not the time to assess blame, you think that they are still willing to engage in this conversation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are certainly hopeful that the dialogue will continue.

QUESTION: Jen, a quick follow-up on Roz’s question regarding the threat by the military to go into Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nasr City. And they normally come through on their threats, and so on --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the Egyptian military. Are you cautioning them not to use the claimed pretext of failure, or the failure that they said as a pretext, to go in and actually go and enforce with tanks and maybe halftracks and so on?

MS. PSAKI: I think --

QUESTION: Are you cautioning them right now not to?

MS. PSAKI: Said, you’ve seen the Secretary’s own statements expressing concerns about violence --

QUESTION: So you’re telling them clearly --

MS. PSAKI: -- respect for peaceful protests, and our concerns about the ongoing bloodshed.

QUESTION: So the U.S. Administration told them in no uncertain terms they should not go into these areas, correct, with force?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve expressed our concerns very publicly.

QUESTION: Jen, one more on Egypt. Do you think that the statements made by congressmen in Egypt has complicated the mission that Deputy Secretary Burns was doing in Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on that, other than to say that Deputy Secretary Burns was in Egypt conveying our message to the officials from all sides. We’re hopeful that dialogue will continue.

QUESTION: And was the statement made by Secretary McCain a reason for Secretary – or Deputy Secretary Burns to return back to Washington?

MS. PSAKI: No. I would not draw a connection there. He had been there for several days and had a range of meetings, and he just returned this afternoon.

Nicole.

QUESTION: Jen, I just wanted to ask if you have anything for us on the next round of Middle East peace talks, if there’s a time or a place yet.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I don’t have an update for you on that today. We’re continuing to work with officials from both sides. We expect we’ll have more to share soon.

QUESTION: Tomorrow?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see. I hope so.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: But can you confirm that – the Israeli sources say it’s on the 13th, which is a week from yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen those reports, and obviously, we’re just --

QUESTION: -- in Jerusalem.

MS. PSAKI: -- continuing to finalize and work through details on the next step here.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on Robert Lady and his whereabouts, and any contact you have had with the Italians on this case?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know that a couple of weeks ago my colleague Marie mentioned that he was en route back to the United States and he was – and obviously returned. He’s a private citizen, so we don’t track his movements. So beyond that, I don’t have any update on him.

QUESTION: But any contact between the U.S. and the Italians on this case?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that either.

QUESTION: But isn’t there an Interpol Red out for him?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update beyond what I just shared on him. He’s a private citizen; he’s returned to the United States.

QUESTION: Just back on the Mid East and --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the meeting that’s been floated by the Israelis --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is this – this information, this is part of the disinformation or misinformation that you – that the Secretary said he was going to stop? Can you deny that – can you say that this is incorrect, or can you – sorry.

MS. PSAKI: All I’m conveying --

QUESTION: Let me make that – can you deny that the talks, the next round of talks will be on the 13th?

MS. PSAKI: I would not characterize it as disinformation or misinformation. All I’m conveying is that we’re still working out the final details and --

QUESTION: Right. It was my --

MS. PSAKI: -- I don’t have anything to announce today.

QUESTION: -- understanding that when Secretary Kerry – well, of what Secretary Kerry got up and said last week was that he was going to be the only person to release information about this and that no one else should be believed. And then he said that he wouldn’t be releasing any information about it. So is this wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t have any announcement on the exact timing; we’re still working through details. I hope to be able to tell you something soon.

QUESTION: New subject, quickly?

QUESTION: Still on that point – that podium remains the only source of news on this issue, correct, as you told me last week?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the point the Secretary was making was that there are going to be lots of reports out there. Don’t believe everything you read.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there are going to be different officials who have – who are speaking on this and the progress, but there’s lot of rumors and lots of misinformation out there, and so don’t believe everything you believe through the process.

QUESTION: Japan?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on this U.S. diplomat who had an accident, apparently speeding in Kenya and killed a father, a man who was married to a woman who was pregnant, et cetera. It’s a very sad story. He was apparently taken out of the country back to the United States. Do you have an update on that and what the State Department might be doing to rectify this situation for the family?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I don’t believe I have an update, but let me talk to our bureau and see if there’s an update we can provide to you after the briefing.

Nicolas?

QUESTION: Yeah, Tunisia? Do you have an assessment of the situation, the very tense political situation in Tunisia?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything new for you on that. We are, of course, closely monitoring the events in Tunisia. Our diplomats in Tunisia are in touch with Tunisians from across the political spectrum, including politicians, business leaders, and civil society actors, encouraging Tunisians to resolve their outstanding issues through dialogue and peaceful means to build a safe, prosperous future where all Tunisians can thrive. We condemn the use of violence in all forms. As we have said, violence has no role in Tunisia’s democratic transition, and violence will only lead to more violence, not solutions. And finally, we call on all Tunisians to work together for security and stability in the short term in order to maintain positive momentum toward building a safe, prosperous future where all Tunisians can thrive.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: Thanks. The Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister was in the building yesterday –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to meet with Under Secretary Sherman and Assistant Secretary Russel. Do you have a readout on their meetings and what they talked about?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. So as you mentioned, Deputy Foreign Minister Sugiyama met separately yesterday with Under Secretary Wendy Sherman and Assistant Secretary of State Danny Russel. They discussed the full range of U.S.-Japan alliance issues, as well as global issues and regional – and the regional security situation, including North Korea. They also explored potential areas for deeper cooperation on issues such as climate change. These meetings, of course, reflect the close and longstanding cooperation between the United States and Japan on a range of regional and bilateral issues.

QUESTION: Follow-up on Japan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’m not sure you are familiar with this issue, but the Japanese administration is reportedly planning to revise defense guidelines --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so that its self-defense forces can attack enemy bases if needed. So some media reports say U.S. officials asked Japan not to take such a move that will worsen its relations with neighboring countries.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that true? Are you concerned about Japan’s move?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re referring maybe to the white paper that was recently released?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: We, again, would point you to the Government of Japan. I’m happy to check if there’s more to say about the discussion yesterday.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one more on Asia?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: North Korea. What is your response to North Korea’s announcement that it will return to talks with South Korea on Kaesong industrial complex?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we certainly support improved inter-Korean relations. We would refer you to, of course, the South Korean Government for information on inter-Korean talks regarding Kaesong. We’re monitoring the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with the South Korean Government.

Go ahead. Greece.

QUESTION: Yes, do you have anything on --

MS. PSAKI: I do.

QUESTION: -- the meeting tomorrow? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: The Washington visit of Prime Minister Samaras highlights the strength of the U.S.-Greek relationship. Secretary Kerry will reaffirm U.S. support for Greece as it implements key structural reforms to create a more prosperous future for its people. The two leaders will also discuss a broad range of issues of common concern, including defense cooperation, global efforts to combat terrorism, and regional cooperation.

Thank, everyone.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) this morning Secretary of State Faith-Based Initiative and Community announcement. My question is, quickly: We have already one U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and also Madam Farah Pandith. What will be their roles as far as this new bureau is concerned?

MS. PSAKI: Goyal, I’ll have to check for you on how all the pieces are working together, but obviously working with the faith community around the world is a priority to the Secretary.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)

DPB # 134



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