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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
August 28, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • SYRIA
    • UNSC Resolution / UK Draft
    • Russian Position on Syria
    • Diplomatic Contact with the Syrian Government
    • Syrian Regime Control of Chemical Weapons
    • Response to Comments by Syrian Ambassador to the UN
    • Geneva Political Process
    • IC Assessment / Report to Congress
  • DPRK/CHINA
    • 6 Party Talks / Denuclearization
  • DPRK
    • Update on Kenneth Bae / Ambassador King's Travels
  • AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN
    • Welcome Efforts for Increased Dialogue
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report / Board of Governors / Non-Compliance with Obligations


TRANSCRIPT:

This video is available on YouTube with closed captions.

1:41 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I do not have anything at the top, so I’m going to go ahead and open it up for questions.

QUESTION: Can we start with Syria and maybe never leave Syria, actually --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the – what’s going on or what did go on at the UN earlier? Is it the Administration’s position that UN authorization is required for any kind of response that you might undertake, and did you or do you have any feelings about what – the British move to get, apparently unsuccessfully, to try and get authorization?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, as you know the P-5 just met this morning to discuss the text of a draft UN Security Council resolution, which as you pointed out, was drafted by our UK counterparts. We’ve consistently said that we support UN Security Council action. My understanding is that today we heard nothing different from the Russians in today’s meeting than we have for months and, indeed, years about Syria, including – let’s just go through some of the history here – three vetoes of UN Security Council resolutions. Just last week, the Russians blocked a press statement – a potential press statement condemning the attack without even assigning culpability. So we have no reason to believe that efforts at the Security Council would be any different than these previous efforts that have failed.

QUESTION: Okay, but that doesn’t really answer my – that’s good to know, but –

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- do you believe that UN Security Council authorization is required for any kind of response to the chemical weapons attack?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d say a few points. First is that there’s been no decision made on what the response will be.

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: Second, in --

QUESTION: Regardless, you have said --

MS. HARF: Can I make my second point, please, and then if you have a follow-up, we’ll get to that next?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Well, our initial read of the text put forward this morning is that it is a strong and compelling text. We see no avenue forward given continued Russian opposition to any meaningful council action on Syria. Therefore, the United States will continue its consultations and will take appropriate actions to respond in the days ahead. I think I would like to point out a statement that I think is appropriate from William Hague, the Foreign Secretary – I think he made it recently – that the UN Security Council should rise to its responsibilities by condemning these events and calling for a robust international response. But all previous attempts to get the Security Council to act on Syria have been blocked, and we cannot allow diplomatic paralysis to be a shield for the perpetrators of these crimes. I think we would certainly share that view.

QUESTION: Right. But my question is --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you believe that UN Security Council authorization is required to make whatever response you’re going to come up with legal?

MS. HARF: Well, as I just said, we see no avenue going forward given continued Russian opposition to any meaningful council action. We will continue our consultations and take appropriate actions going forward. I don’t have anything further for you than that.

Yes, James.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on this --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you next, Arshad.

QUESTION: -- specific question, though? It seems as though the U.S. and its allies on the Security Council deemed the Security Council an appropriate venue for some sort of preliminary diplomatic action that would precede whatever other action is going to follow, but having not gotten the result desired from that venue, is then blithely moving on and saying we really don’t need that venue to do what we want to do.

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points. We’ve consistently said that we support UN Security Council action. Instead, what we’ve seen – not just today, not just last week, but over the course of many months – is the Russians at every move doing things to fail to hold the Syrian regime accountable. They’ve had three resolutions vetoed, as I said. They’ve blocked many other statements condemning the Syrian regime. So we do not believe that the Syrian regime should not be able to hide behind the fact that the Russians continue to block action on Syria at the UN, and we will make our decisions on appropriate action going forward, and we will stay in close consultation with the United Nations, with the Secretary General, with our partners on the P-5 and around the world.

QUESTION: So in other words, if you don’t get the verdict or result that you want from the Security Council, then you blow off the Security Council and do with your allies what you planned to do anyway, right?

MS. HARF: I think I would respond to that by saying we believe it’s very important, as others have said – including the Arab League, the most important regional group of Arab nations – that the Syrian regime needs to be held accountable here. We firmly believe that. We will take action towards that end after the President makes the decision, and that’s what we’re going to do going forward.

QUESTION: So why did you bother with the Security Council in the first place if you were so accustomed to Russian obstructionism there?

MS. HARF: Well, we believe it’s an important venue, obviously. Again, the P-5 just met this morning. We value the work of the UN. We’ve long said that we welcome UN actions on Syria. This case was no different, but again, we cannot be held up in responding by Russia’s intransigence – continued intransigence at the United Nations that, quite frankly, the situation is so serious that it demands a response.

QUESTION: Why not --

MS. HARF: Yes, Arshad.

QUESTION: -- take it to – why not take it to a vote and, in effect, dare the Russians to veto again?

MS. HARF: Again, in terms of a vote, we don’t see an avenue going forward with a vote given continued Russian opposition. And I would underscore again, as I did yesterday, that no decision’s been made, so much of this is hypothetical. But again, that’s our position, and I don’t think I have much further than that.

QUESTION: Are you afraid that if you took it to a vote and the Russians vetoed, as they have the three previous efforts, that you would then have the – made manifest the absence of Security Council authorization, and in fact you would have – it would be very clear that the Security Council had ultimately decided not to authorize such a resolution? Are you afraid that that makes anything you might do much harder?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to venture a guess in answering that question. I think the Russians have made clear repeatedly what their point of view is. I don’t think there’s any secret about where the Russians stand on Syria in the Security Council, so it’s not like anybody’s hiding anything here. We just, at this point, don’t think it’s the proper course of action.

QUESTION: So do you believe that the U.S. decision to bomb Kosovo in – or to bomb – excuse me – Serbia in ‘99 was legal?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to do a legal analysis on many things, but certainly not a historical event that happened some time ago. I just don’t think that’s relevant for this discussion today.

QUESTION: Well, all historical events happened some time ago, and I don’t see – and it’s actually, I would think, be easier to talk about history, because it’s 14 years ago and its well settled.

MS. HARF: I just don’t think it’s relevant, and I’m not going to do legal analysis from this podium.

QUESTION: You don’t think Kosovo is relevant to the current discussion about Syria?

MS. HARF: My – I’m not going to do legal analysis from this podium on past conflicts that we’ve been involved in. I’m just not going to do it.

QUESTION: Do you think it is important for the United States in the conduct of its foreign policy to act legally?

MS. HARF: I do. And I make a few points here. I think that it’s clear that Syria violated international law here. They used chemical weapons in an indiscriminate manner with respect to civilians. That’s – they have violated the general laws of war. We talked a little bit yesterday – and we can talk a little bit more – about the international norms surrounding this issue.

I also think it’s clear that there are core national security interests at stake for the United States here. The mass-scale use of chemical weapons or, of course, the potential proliferation of those weapons flagrantly violates an important international norm and threatens American national security.

And as I said yesterday, this is taking place in a region that’s already incredibly destabilized, taking place in a country that borders many countries, our allies and friends that we work closely with together. So we believe that it’s important that we send a strong message that this type of mass-scale, indiscriminate use of chemical weapons is not acceptable.

QUESTION: Marie, can you comment on something that your colleague, Jay Carney, articulated at yesterday’s White House briefing?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He stated that – I’m paraphrasing, but faithfully – that – (laughter.)

MS. HARF: I appreciate the faithfulness there, James. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The fidelity. He stated essentially that, in making his decision presently, President Obama sees the actions he will take here as separate from the ongoing Syrian civil war conflict --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in which the United States has certain other interests, and simply that the actions the President will take will be narrowly tailored to this violation of international norms.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could explain why that is the frame in which policymakers are acting right now, when it would seem to make a certain amount of sense that any action should assuredly affect the Syrian civil war conflict and not just relate to this particular event, which killed about 1,000 people --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in a conflict that’s killed 100,000.

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points. And I think we can actually do both at the same time. The decision the President is currently making and discussing with his national security team is how best to respond to this one massive use of chemical weapons. There will be a response to that. The President will make that decision when he thinks it’s appropriate to do so going forward.

But broadly speaking, we have consistently said that we don’t believe there’s a military solution to this conflict in Syria, that we believe the only durable solution that’s best for the Syrian people is a political solution. So while at the same time we make decisions about how to respond to this chemical weapons attack, we will continue strengthening the opposition, working with the opposition, as we’ve continued to do in the past months, but also working towards a political solution that we believe is the only durable way to actually end this conflict.

QUESTION: So you don’t think that the smart application of military power can bring about the set of conditions that would facilitate a diplomatic solution?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s a different question, actually. I think that the options that the President’s looking at here – and again, I’m going to keep stressing he hasn’t made a decision yet – is how to respond in this specific incidence. Obviously, we continue to determine the best path forward, how we can best support the opposition, as we’ve done for months, in changing the situation on the ground, helping them grow in strength, and eventually getting both sides to the table in a Geneva-like process.

QUESTION: Couple of things --

MS. HARF: I think we can do all of them at the same time, actually.

QUESTION: -- real quickly that I want to run through with you.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there a concern that the kind of strikes that are under consideration could embolden our adversaries in that region?

MS. HARF: In what way?

QUESTION: Well, again, not to get all historical on you, but when in 1998 our President Clinton launched limited strikes in response to the embassy bombings, we saw that followed up by the Cole incident and 9/11. Is there a concern that a very limited kind of surgical strike, such as appears to be under consideration here, could, in fact, wind up emboldening our adversaries?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that as we determine and decide and debate what steps will be taken in response to this attack, clearly there are a variety of factors that go into that determination: possible unintended consequences, possible effects in the region. All of that is part of this big picture that we look at, the team looks at, when they decide what to do next. But let’s be clear here. We firmly believe that this was such a gross violation of an international norm against the use of chemical weapons that we need to respond.

And we actually – I think it’s important – and I would make a few points here about the Arab League statement, that we very much welcomed that statement, the most important regional group, a group of Arab countries, forcefully saying that they condemn the use of chemical weapons and that they called on the international community to hold the Syrian regime fully accountable for this crime. So clearly there are a number of people in the region, other Arab countries, calling on the world to hold the regime accountable. We think that that’s very important.

QUESTION: Two last things.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’ve been very patient, and I appreciate my colleagues’ patience. You’ve talked at great length about the diplomacy that is underway --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- with respect to our allies. Is there any diplomacy underway with respect to President Assad, any U.S. diplomacy?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: So the Secretary didn’t call Maullim last week?

MS. HARF: Last week, yeah. He asked about President Assad specifically.

QUESTION: Well --

QUESTION: Well, I meant the Assad regime.

MS. HARF: Okay. Okay.

QUESTION: In other words has – is it --

MS. HARF: That’s a different question.

QUESTION: -- the view of the United States Government that any possibilities for diplomacy with the Assad regime, with respect to this specific incident of August 21, have been exhausted?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to go that far today, just because, quite frankly, I don’t know the answer to that. I know that the Secretary called the Foreign Minister last week to make a very direct demand that the UN investigators be allowed in immediately with unfettered access. I don’t want to make a broader statement than that. If I have any updates on our policy on that, I’m happy to get back to you, James.

QUESTION: Last question.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’ve asserted repeatedly from the podium that it is the belief of the United States Government, based on intelligence, that the Assad regime maintains full control over its chemical weapons arsenal.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could flesh that out for us a bit, because as you know, in the deployment of a chemical weapons or a chemical weapon or munitions armed with chemical weapons, there are several layers through which an order has to proceed. And I wonder if you are telling us that you believe that President Assad himself maintains full control, command and control, over the chemical weapons arsenal, or whether you think that that control is exercised at some mid level. Tell us what you mean when you say you think the regime maintains full control.

MS. HARF: It’s a good question, and I don’t have a lot of information about that for you. If I can share more about that, I will. I think I’d make a few points, that we ultimately, of course, hold President Assad responsible for the use of chemical weapons by his regime against his own people, regardless of where the command and control lies. I don’t have more details for you on that specifically. Obviously, we’ve said that the regime maintains control of these weapons and that the opposition, of course, doesn’t have the capability to use them. And if I have more to share with you about the specific command and control, I will. I just don’t at this time.

QUESTION: Do you believe that he ordered this attack?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that.

QUESTION: If he – but if he or his people didn’t have anything – I don’t understand how you can say it doesn’t matter where the command and control lies.

MS. HARF: I didn’t say it doesn’t matter. He is ultimately held responsible for the actions of his regime.

QUESTION: Of his regime.

QUESTION: Regardless --

MS. HARF: Regardless.

QUESTION: Regardless of whether he --

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: -- said --

MS. HARF: Not that it doesn’t matter.

QUESTION: How can you hold him accountable regardless of where the command and control is? If the command and control doesn’t rest within him or his people below him in the food chain, how do you hold him responsible?

MS. HARF: Well, let’s be clear. The commander-in-chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership, even if command and control – he’s not the one that pushes the button or said, “Go,” on this. And again, I don’t know what the facts are here. I’m just, broadly speaking, saying that he is responsible for the actions of his regime. I’m not intimately familiar with the command and control structure of the Syrian military. I’m just not. But again, he is responsible ultimately for the decisions that are made.

QUESTION: So it doesn’t matter to you whether he personally gave the order? It doesn’t --

MS. HARF: He is responsible at the same level --

QUESTION: It doesn’t matter --

MS. HARF: -- either way.

QUESTION: It doesn’t – either way, depending on --

MS. HARF: And again, I just actually don’t know the facts here.

QUESTION: Just let me make sure I understand.

QUESTION: What do you mean by “either way”?

QUESTION: Just let me make sure I understand. It does not matter whether President Assad himself gave an order to use chemical weapons?

MS. HARF: He is responsible for their use.

QUESTION: It doesn’t matter; is that correct?

MS. HARF: He is responsible either way, yes.

QUESTION: So if some rogue officer did this, it’s still his responsibility?

MS. HARF: That’s – well, (a) yes. But that’s also a wildly conjecturous question that I think in no way there’s --

QUESTION: I’ll stick with --

MS. HARF: -- evidence that’s supporting it right now.

QUESTION: I’ll stick with (a), but thank you.

MS. HARF: Yeah. But let’s be clear here that based on multiple independent streams of information widely available that again I will say the only logical conclusion is that the Assad regime itself was responsible for the use of chemical weapons in this attack, period.

QUESTION: So --

QUESTION: You’re familiar with reports that the rebels have had access to and have used sarin in this conflict, correct?

MS. HARF: We do not assess that the rebels – the rebels, the opposition – excuse me – that the opposition have the capabilities to use these kinds of weapons. We don’t --

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: That’s our – that remains our assessment.

QUESTION: But is it your assessment that they have at any possessed sarin?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything for you on that. I actually just don’t know the answer. But our assessment remains crystal clear that they don’t have the capability --

QUESTION: That’s the opposition that you support, not the al-Qaida affiliated opposition --

MS. HARF: We also assess that al-Nusrah does not have the ability to use these kinds of weapons. Again, to – let’s talk for a second – let’s step back and talk about what this was. This was a massive, large-scale, multiply – multiple-faceted attack against a wide swath of area using very sophisticated rockets, very sophisticated delivery systems that were armed with chemical weapons. There is one party in Syria who has the capability to do that, and it’s the Assad regime.

QUESTION: What do you mean by “multiple-faceted”? What does that mean?

MS. HARF: It wasn’t just one alleged rocket. There were multiple rockets over a wide swath of areas in the suburbs of Damascus.

QUESTION: You said multiple delivery systems. I think of rockets as one delivery system. Do you mean --

MS. HARF: If I said multiple delivery systems, I misspoke. I meant multiple rockets fired through a certain delivery system.

QUESTION: Okay. And then second, as you may have seen a little while before you came out, the – well, actually not a little while, about an hour and a half before – the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations said that he was asking for – he sort of renewed the claim that the opposition may have been behind this and he wanted – he called for the UN to look into this more. Given that you have long argued, or your predecessors from this podium, that the UN inspectors should be given full access, do you think that they – their mandate should be extended so as to allow them to look into these allegations?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s a hypothetical, actually, that has no bearing on the situation. It’s a strange statement, I think, from the Syrian Ambassador to the UN because the mandate of the UN investigation isn’t to determine culpability. So he was calling on them to do something that under mandate they can’t actually do.

QUESTION: Well, do you think that they should be given more time to look into – do you agree with his call for them to have more time to look into use of chemical weapons --

MS. HARF: Well, I think --

QUESTION: -- regardless of assigning responsibility?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I think his call would have credibility if, one day one or two or three or four or five, the Syrian regime had stopped shelling the area that they attacked to systematically destroy evidence to cover up what they had done and actually allowed UN investigators in. It’s an interesting fact that today, a week after this attack, he said they should be allowed in when every single step the Syrian regime has taken up until this point has been to actually stall and stymie this investigation. So the words speak much quieter than actions. I think actions here are what matters, and every action from the Syrian regime has been that they will not cooperate with the UN investigation.

QUESTION: Do you think they’re trying to stall a response to what you describe as a massive use of chemical weapons?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to venture to guess why they’re doing what they’re doing, but I think it’s clear that we will not allow them to hide behind a UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons to prevent any response from the United States.

QUESTION: Have you had a – have you received from the UN its assessment?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that. I can look into it. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: Because if you haven’t, why would you argue that they are hiding behind that? I mean, you yourselves repeatedly called for the UN investigation into this.

MS. HARF: We did. Well, the Syrian regime is trying to hide behind it because they keep referencing it publicly with their words, but their actions speak a very different story, that they keep saying, oh, we just need more time, we just need more time, when all they’ve done in the time that’s elapsed since the attack is systematically destroy evidence. They’ve made the security situation on the ground much more difficult for the UN investigative team. So their claims that they just need more time just have absolutely no credibility when everything they’ve done up to this point spoke actually the opposite reality.

QUESTION: When you said “their claims that they just need more time,” the “they” was meant to --

MS. HARF: The Syrian regime. I was referring to the Syrian regime.

QUESTION: Not to their – not to the Syrian Government saying that the inspectors just need more time?

MS. HARF: No, I was referring to, I think, what you were referring to, the Syrian regime’s comments that they should be given more time for the inspection to go forward on the ground, when everything they’ve done actually is in opposition to that statement.

QUESTION: That the inspectors should be given more time?

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, correct. I’m sorry if I wasn’t being clear there.

Yes, and then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION: Why isn’t the U.S. sharing plans with the SMC? They’ve publicly said that they’re in the dark.

MS. HARF: Sharing plans about what?

QUESTION: I guess the next step forward --

MS. HARF: Well, I would reiterate yet again that no decision has been made about what our next steps will be here or our response. But I can say that yesterday our Coordinator for U.S. Assistance to the Syrian Crisis Mark Ward spoke with General Idris, who reaffirmed that his forces would protect UN investigators if they’re allowed to return to opposition-controlled territory. They’ve been saying this to us all along. So this, again, is another data point that the opposition has pledged that they will help the inspectors and the regime is the one preventing them to.

We would also add that a range of U.S. officials remain in regular contact with the leadership and staff of both the SOC and the SMC. Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul still meeting with opposition leaders, including SOC President Jarba, and with counterparts from our allies and partners as well.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Will you wait the result of the inspection? I mean, will you wait the result of the work of the UN inspection – inspectors who are working on the field?

MS. HARF: Repeat the first part of your question. I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you.

QUESTION: Will you wait the result of the report of the UN inspectors?

MS. HARF: Well, I think I said yesterday and I’ll repeat again that we believe that it’s too late for the UN inspection to be credible, given the mass shelling that the regime has done in the affected areas, and we’re going to make our own decisions on our own timelines about our response. Obviously, we will continue consultations with our international partners around the world, but we are making decisions based on our own timeline.

QUESTION: But UN Secretary General said that the inspectors need four more days. It’s a reasonable timeline for you?

MS. HARF: Again, we are making our own decisions on our own timeline, and we believe that the UN inspection has passed the point where it can be credible. And again, I’m going to be repeat: Let’s be clear, they cannot determine, by mandate, culpability. They can only determine whether a chemical weapons attack happened, and there is absolutely 100 percent no doubt in anyone’s mind here that a chemical weapons attack happened.

So because the security situation isn’t safe, also because we believe the regime is trying to use the UN investigation to hide behind and to stall, that it’s past the point of credibility and we will make our own decisions on our own timeline going forward.

QUESTION: And last question about the Arab League’s statement.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Administration is satisfied with the statement, as I understand.

MS. HARF: The Arab League statement?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: We very much welcomed it, yes.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the statement is supporting a military intervention led by the Western countries?

MS. HARF: Well, let me be clear: We did not ask the Arab League for authorization for an action that hasn’t been decided that we were going to take yet. There – I know there were some reports out there, and all those reports are actually false. This was not in any way the purpose of this statement. We very much welcome this statement for strongly condemning the regime’s use of chemical weapons and calling for international response to hold them accountable.

QUESTION: Well, in fact, the statement doesn’t say – it does call for an international response, but what it says is that it would like the UN Security Council members to overcome their differences and agree to something to hold the Assad regime accountable.

MS. HARF: And we’ve been clear that we would welcome that response by the UN Security Council, but --

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: -- the Russians have been clear that they have no interest in holding the Syrian regime accountable --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- and therefore we will move forward wholly and accountable on our own.

QUESTION: But the Arab League statement doesn’t say, “And in the absence of a Security Council resolution, we think it would be a good idea for the United States or for any other country to go ahead and do whatever it wants to.” It doesn’t say that, does it?

MS. HARF: Again, the Arab League statement was a very strong statement that the regime needs to be held accountable.

QUESTION: Right --

MS. HARF: The Arab League is also fully aware of the dynamics on the Security Council and Russia’s position on Syria. So I think that, again, there’s not that much more to it. We welcome the statement. The reports out there saying we had asked for something we didn’t get from the statement are just factually incorrect.

QUESTION: I don’t know – okay, I don’t know what report you’re talking about.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you just next. Yeah.

QUESTION: -- so you disagree with the UN Envoy Brahimi who says that Security Council authorization is needed for action. Is that correct?

MS. HARF: Again, we don’t see an avenue forward here in the Security Council voting on this draft resolution, and we are going to take appropriate actions to respond in the days ahead.

QUESTION: Even in the absence of the Security Council authorization, right?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about a decision that hasn’t been made. But I think I just made crystal clear that we are not proceeding with a vote on this draft resolution.

QUESTION: All right. The other thing you said earlier, and then you changed it, you said that there was no question that the Syrians had violated international law.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That’s still – that stands?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Because then you reverted back to international norm and the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: I was referring to something different.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: Yeah, no, I did not misspeak.

QUESTION: So the – okay, so the international law that they violated is?

MS. HARF: Based on the fact that they used chemical weapons in an indiscriminate manner with respect to civilians, which is a general law of war that countries have agreed to, and it is a clear violation of international law.

QUESTION: Did Syria, to the best of your knowledge, ever agree to that?

MS. HARF: I believe that it is a general law of war that governs all conflicts and so therefore they are in violation of it.

Yes.

QUESTION: But if they didn’t agree to it, why – how have they violated it?

MS. HARF: Again, it’s a gross violation of that international law, and I’m not going to do more legal analysis than that, Arshad.

QUESTION: But what law? Can you point to a specific law or a piece of paper or a treaty?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to do a more detailed legal analysis.

QUESTION: Nobody’s asking you for more detailed --

MS. HARF: Well, I think you are actually.

QUESTION: Nobody’s asking for detailed legal analysis. This is a very simple --

MS. HARF: There’s --

QUESTION: No, no. Let me finish. This is a very simple and undetailed question: What piece of paper are you talking about when you talk about that piece of international law?

MS. HARF: Well, there is a general set of rules that govern conflicts. We’ve talked about this here and I can get you more details if I can. But the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

QUESTION: But do you see the precedent you’re setting by --

MS. HARF: Hold on, let me get – let me just go here. He’s been waiting very patiently, and then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION: Given the Syrian opposition to the UN Security Council resolutions in Syria, do you think at this point of time Administration thinks that going to UN Security Council on Syria is a futile exercise?

MS. HARF: Again, I think I’ve made our point – our position on whether we’re going to proceed at this point with a Security Council vote resolution – a resolution vote – excuse me – and we’re not going to at this point.

QUESTION: And secondly, you have singled out Russia among the P-5. What about China? Are you satisfied with the Chinese position on Syria? Are they on board with you, or they are not – they are with the Russians?

MS. HARF: Well, again, I don’t have all the details from this morning’s P-5 meeting. I got a brief readout of it from my colleagues who were there. I think it’s been clear that Russia has really been the most intransigent – excuse me – member of the P-5 on Syria. So that what was what I was told was the sticking point this morning in the meeting, and I don’t have more details for you than that.

Yes, then I’ll go to you. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: It is reported that North Korea --

QUESTION: Hold on a second.

MS. HARF: Oh, no. We’re not --

QUESTION: We’re not done on Syria.

MS. HARF: Is it on Syria?

QUESTION: No, no, no, this linkage with Syria.

MS. HARF: Oh.

QUESTION: North Korea --

MS. HARF: Thought you were getting ahead of us.

QUESTION: Yeah, North Korea provided chemical weapons to Syria. Do you have any information on this, whether North Korea export chemical weapons to Syria?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: I’m happy to look into it and get back to you if I do. I just don’t have anything for you.

Let me go to James and then pop up to you.

QUESTION: It just seems as though what you’re saying in essence is: “We believe the United Nations Security Council is a very important venue, we wanted something out of that venue, but we were blocked by one of the other members in good standing which has veto power, therefore we can’t be held back by that and we’re just going to go ahead anyway.” And I just wonder if you’re cognizant of the precedent that that sets for Russia or China or any other member of the Security Council which may feel, “Well, we’re going to be blocked by the United States on something, so let’s just move forward outside of the Security Council.” Do you understand the point I’m making?

MS. HARF: I do. I would make a few points in response. The first is that we sat down today with the Russians and the rest of the P-5 member states and talked through the issues and laid out the fact that this was such a gross violation we felt the Security Council should respond. We also at the same time believe, while we welcome Security Council resolutions and action on Syria, that you cannot allow a regime to go unpunished for a gross violation here where they used chemical weapons on a massive scale against their own people. So I understand your question. We firmly believe that we worked through the Security Council process this morning. Clearly, Russia remains intransigent on it, and we feel it is imperative for us in the international community to respond.

QUESTION: So the votes are meaningless, because --

MS. HARF: Not at all. I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t – that’s a gross generalization based on one situation where we believe that the violation is so great that there was such – it was such a over-the-pale gross use of chemical weapons that we need to respond, and that Syria cannot hide behind Russian intransigence at the Security Council. It’s not acceptable.

QUESTION: Marie, can I follow --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) related --

QUESTION: Can I follow-up on James’s question?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Given the rhetoric that you’re using about Russia and that we’ve seen out of Russia about the United States --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the fact that you say you still want to pursue a political solution --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is there some concern that the tension right now, the friction between the U.S. and Russia, is going to make it hard to cooperate on getting to a Geneva 2 if and when we ever get there?

MS. HARF: Well, I think, to be clear, it hasn’t been a secret that we’ve had strong disagreements with Russia for months over Syria, including in the other three times they vetoed Syria resolutions. So it’s not like this disagreement with Russia just started in the last week.

QUESTION: No. It’s a pretty --

MS. HARF: So – and during that --

QUESTION: -- significant milestone --

MS. HARF: And during that – and during that time, we’ve worked with them on Geneva.

QUESTION: -- if the U.S. takes action in Syria.

MS. HARF: I think – a couple points: We said yesterday that we remain committed to working with the Russians on the Geneva process. We know it’s going to be difficult, of course. But we remain committed, and the Russians – we have no indications that the Russians don’t remain committed as well to a Geneva-like process, which they’ve repeatedly reaffirmed, and to an eventual political solution, which we believe is the only solution here. So we’re going to keep working through it with them. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s in the best interests of the Syrian people that, quite frankly, we do.

QUESTION: Was the U.S. use of nuclear weapons resulting in the mass and indiscriminate killing of civilians in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki a violation of the same international law that you are referring to?

MS. HARF: I’m not even going to entertain that question, Arshad.

QUESTION: Can I --

MS. HARF: Moving on. Yes.

QUESTION: -- ask you, and maybe you got an answer to my question from yesterday, which wasn’t, honestly, a trick question – you thought it was --

MS. HARF: You convinced me of that later.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I believe you.

QUESTION: All right. Good.

MS. HARF: Go on with your non-trick question.

QUESTION: But in terms of the precedent --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- is there, that you’re aware, a precedent for a U.S. administration, or any other government that you’re aware of --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to use the use of chemical weapons as a justification to take some kind of retaliatory or punitive action?

MS. HARF: No. Not to that specific question.

QUESTION: So there is no precedent for this. This --

MS. HARF: Not that I am aware of, no.

QUESTION: So – okay. So this is --

MS. HARF: See, that was easy.

QUESTION: Right. And it’s the answer that I thought. I thought that was the --

MS. HARF: When it’s a non-trick question it’s much easier.

QUESTION: -- answer. It is correct, however, that previous American administrations have taken action against countries based on the threat of possible use, but never the actual use.

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in terms of --

MS. HARF: Oh, see, here’s where we’re going.

QUESTION: No, no, no, no. No, no, no. No, no --

MS. HARF: I knew there was something else coming.

QUESTION: No. I just need to – so this would be an unprecedented – this response, whatever it’s going to be, is unprecedented. I think you’ve said that. You say --

MS. HARF: Well, I can kind of get the point there before you get to your next question. I would remind you that the Chemical Weapons Convention went into force in 1997, and since then, we haven’t actually seen a massive use of chemical weapons in the same way that we just saw recently. So there actually hasn’t been --

QUESTION: Well, why --

MS. HARF: -- since the Convention went into use. I would just make that historical point.

QUESTION: Right, but since Syria is neither a signatory nor a --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- member --

MS. HARF: Again, they can’t hide behind a --

QUESTION: Well, I know, I know. But --

MS. HARF: -- convention that 98 percent of the world’s people live in countries that have acceded to it.

QUESTION: Well, the United States is not a member of the convention on child soldiers, and yet – you’re not a member of numerous things, including the International Criminal Court, so that’s a dangerous position to have if you’re going to say that you don’t consider yourself – the United States does not consider itself bound by the International Criminal Court, so why should Syria consider itself to be bound by the Chemical Weapons Convention? That’s quite a separate question entirely. What I want to get into is if this is unprecedented, there is no international law, then, that would justify or give you a legal cover for a response to this that you’re aware of.

MS. HARF: I am not going to do any sort of legal analysis about potential responses that haven’t been decided on from this podium. I’m just not going to do it.

Yes?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) consequences of this lightly, the military intervention, does the Administration – is the Administration concerned about the likely intervention would help al-Qaida who is fighting – which is fighting with the regime in the region?

MS. HARF: I don’t understand your question. Play that out a little bit analytically, and then maybe I can answer it better.

QUESTION: So a military intervention against the Assad regime would help the al-Qaida forces in the region. This – that’s the idea, that’s the criticism against the Administration. Are you concerned about that?

MS. HARF: Well, first, I would again reiterate that no decision has been made. So we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here. But secondly, obviously, we believe that the Assad regime has to be held accountable and we have to respond to this use of chemical weapons. Separate and apart from that, we actually have said repeatedly that the Syrian conflict perpetrated by the Assad regime is what’s responsible for the recent uptick in al-Qaida activity in the region, what’s responsible for increased al-Qaida attacks in places like Iraq and also terrorist attacks in Lebanon. So I think we put the blame squarely on the Assad regime for fomenting chaos in their own country, which has then spread throughout the rest of the region, often in the form of horrific terrorist attacks that, quite frankly, we hadn’t even seen a few months ago in Iraq.

QUESTION: A follow-up about the authorization issue: As we know, Barack Obama said in an interview last week that the United States would consider international law if America goes in or attacked another country. So we know Barack Obama hasn’t made any decision yet, but the Pentagon said it’s ready, that all the information here and what you’ve said on this podium, and since all the information signals that he is not going to seek authorization from UN or U.S. Congress this time if --

MS. HARF: Well, I think you’re getting a little ahead of the ball game here. I think (a) I will let the President’s words speak for themselves. We’ve said for a year that the President has a range of military contingencies on his table regarding Syria for when and if he would ever need to use them. Again, we’re not talking about boots on the ground. We’re not talking about no-fly zones at this point. So I would refrain from doing any further legal analysis, and I also don’t want folks to make assumptions about what we might or might not do about a decision that hasn’t been made. We will keep consulting very closely with Congress, as we have throughout the process, and will continue to do so.

QUESTION: But it’s out of session --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: -- now.

MS. HARF: They also have cell phones that miraculously work all across the country, and Secretary Kerry and others have been in close contact with our congressional leaders as well. Let me go back --

QUESTION: Except, for some reason, in Northwest this morning.

MS. HARF: (Laughter.) Let me get – go here and then if you have a --

QUESTION: I do.

MS. HARF: -- a question that’s not cell phone related --

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: No.

MS. HARF: I think maybe we’re still on Syria, and then I’ll come to you next. Hold on, let’s go --

QUESTION: You keep saying that --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- that you don’t want to engage in any legal analysis from the podium.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has the Office of the Legal Adviser or any lawyers who work here at the State Department, have any of them been tasked with developing any kind of legal rationale for what the President is considering?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to go into any internal discussions or deliberations about possible courses of action, including that one.

QUESTION: However, whatever response the Administration comes up with will be – will comply with international law, right?

MS. HARF: Again, Matt --

QUESTION: Is that --

MS. HARF: -- I’m going to keep saying this. I’m not going to answer in any way any questions about any legal analysis, period, full stop, today from this podium.

QUESTION: So – well, does that mean that you’re not – you’re saying that the U.S. might act outside of international law?

MS. HARF: That’s not what I’m saying.

QUESTION: Well, then --

MS. HARF: I’m just not even going to answer any questions on legal rationales at all, period. I’m not going to do any analysis from here on that.

Next question, yes.

QUESTION: Marie, you said yesterday that a classified version of the intelligence report would be given to Congress this week and an unclassified version made available publicly.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on when that will happen?

MS. HARF: I don’t have an update. I understand that the classified intelligence assessment has not yet been sent to the Congress. Obviously, we continue our regular consultations with Congress. But let me take a few moments to make some comments about the intelligence community assessment.

As I said, once we have – the intelligence community – excuse me – has made a formal assessment, we will provide the classified assessment to Congress and then make unclassified details available to the public. Expect that, as we’ve said, to occur sometime this week. It’s important to remember – I know there’s been a lot of press reporting and conjecture about what may or may not be in this intelligence assessment – that the protection of sources and methods must be taken into account when the intelligence community determines what information can be declassified and released to the public.

While the Congress, obviously, will receive a classified version that includes the broad range of intelligence collected, the intelligence information we are able to provide publicly will be limited in scope for a variety of reasons. Obviously, we need to protect sources and methods, for example, to be able to use them in the future to detect future use of these kinds of weapons. So I just want to set expectations a little bit. I know there’s been a lot of discussion and debate about this. I think I would also say that while I can’t speak to what intelligence related to the August 21st attack will eventually be declassified, I would caution against anyone assuming that any signals intelligence or any human intelligence will be included in that unclassified version.

QUESTION: But is it safe to say that the course the President is deciding upon will entail deterrence from future such actions, not merely by inflicting random and wanton pain on the regime, but by, in fact, degrading the regime’s ability, physical ability, to do this again?

MS. HARF: I think, again, while a decision hasn’t been made, broadly speaking, those are two goals, I think, that we have. Clearly, it’s important for the international community to say strongly that this is not an acceptable course of action and to deter future use of chemical weapons as well. So I think, broadly speaking, that’s not an unfair assessment. But again, no decision has been made, so I don’t want to go much further in terms of goals of a final course of action.

QUESTION: Are you – when your comments about what may or may not be in this intelligence assessment --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Basically, you’re saying it could be – it may end up being just regurgitation of the standard talking points that we’ve been hearing from you and the White House over the last couple of days? Is that --

MS. HARF: I’m not saying that at all.

QUESTION: Is that correct?

MS. HARF: I’m trying to set expectations because there have been a lot of press reports about guessing or get a – hearing reports about what may or may not be included in the classified version. Some of those reports refer to types of intelligence that would never or would almost never be included in an unclassified version. So I’m just trying to set expectations. I’m not trying to in any way say that the intelligence assessment will look like what I say to you every day.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I mean, I --

MS. HARF: I’m just trying to set expectations.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’re trying to set expectations low, right? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I’m trying to set expectations realistically.

QUESTION: Realistically.

MS. HARF: Let’s put it that way.

QUESTION: So, realistically, we should not expect any kind of smoking gun evidence that the Assad regime was – had its – ordered this?

MS. HARF: I wouldn’t say that, Matt. I wouldn’t say that. I’m saying certain kinds of intelligence, for very good reasons, aren’t going to be included. But also, let’s step back for a second and review what we already know publicly. There’s a lot of --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- what I would actually call smoking gun evidence that is publicly available that a mass chemical weapons attack happened and that the Assad regime did it. So separate and apart from the intelligence assessment, the world doesn’t need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: They don’t need an assessment from the IC to tell them that.

QUESTION: Right. But they may need something more than Marie Harf standing up and saying we’re going to bomb Syria because I say they did this.

MS. HARF: Well, (a) I’m not saying that.

QUESTION: Well, that’s --

MS. HARF: And (b) we are going to be providing an unclassified version of the intelligence assessment. Again, I’m just trying to set expectations here realistically.

QUESTION: Okay. I just want to make sure that I understand. Do you think that it was a good idea for the Brits to come – to try to push a resolution at the UN?

MS. HARF: Well, clearly, we --

QUESTION: Tactically?

MS. HARF: The UK made a decision, and we’re in full agreement with them about the need to hold the regime accountable. We didn’t, I don’t believe, see the draft before it came up this morning, but we work very closely with them and we have supported UN Security Council efforts to hold Syria accountable.

QUESTION: Right, I understand.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But because of – you knew going into this meeting that was held this morning that the Russians were going to be obstreperous and obstructionist.

MS. HARF: We gave them an opportunity not to be.

QUESTION: Right. But you knew that they would be. I mean --

MS. HARF: They didn’t take that opportunity.

QUESTION: I hope no one was betting that they were actually going to change their position that they’ve had for the last two years.

MS. HARF: We are all realistic about where the Russians stand on this.

QUESTION: Okay. So you knew that there was no chance of this going ahead. Given the fact that you knew that there was no chance that they were going to let this go through, do you think it was a good idea for the Brits to push this so hard, for whatever reason that they did?

MS. HARF: Again, we think it’s important to engage the Security Council, particularly the P-5, on this issue.

QUESTION: Right. But then you say it’s important to engage, and as soon as they don’t engage the way you want them to, you walk away and say it’s not important to engage. You say --

MS. HARF: I’m not saying it’s not important. I’m saying that what is --

QUESTION: You say, “We see no avenue forward in the Security Council.”

MS. HARF: I’m not saying it’s not important, Matt. I’m saying that what is crucial right now is holding the Syrian regime accountable. We will make our own decisions on our own time in conjunction with our partners. The President will make a decision at some point which we will announce to all of you at that time. But that’s what we’re focused on right now is holding the regime accountable.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Not focused on building a legal case or – and the only – the reason that this is coming up is because people in the UN system and outside the UN system say that in order to act within international law there’s got to be some kind of authorization. Even the Bush Administration had a resolution on Iraq. Now, there were differences in interpretation over what “consequences” meant, but they had a piece of paper.

MS. HARF: Well, first, I would in no way compare this at all, period, to Iraq, so let’s set that aside. And if you want to talk more about that, I can. But what I will say is we are making decisions that in our national security interest. We are consulting with our allies and partners, including the UN.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: But we do not believe that the Syrian regime should be able to hide behind the UN – a UN Security Council process here that the Russians have prevented from holding the regime accountable, period.

QUESTION: All right. I don’t want to get into a comparison of the circumstances with Iraq, but I do want to point – make the point or have you address the point that the Bush Administration was not known for being a particularly big fan of the United Nations, and yet, they sought and won a resolution that they thought – not many other people thought – that gave them the authority, the legal justification, to invade Iraq. This Administration --

QUESTION: Well, they claimed that it did, whether they thought it or not.

QUESTION: Claimed, exactly. That their interpretation was that that resolution, which called for severe consequences, was the – gave them the legal authorization.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: This Administration, which has made it a point to say that it wants to work with the UN --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- work within the international system --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- headed by a President who won a Nobel Peace Prize, is now saying that it’s not even worth the effort to get – to try to get that kind of an authorization.

MS. HARF: It’s not that it’s not worth the effort, Matt. It’s that we are crystal --

QUESTION: But you just say that there’s no avenue, that you don’t see a point, there’s no avenue forward.

MS. HARF: Because you just said that the Russians are never going to sign onto anything, so it’s not that it’s not worth the effort, that we know what the outcome will be.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. HARF: And the Russians demonstrated this morning that they are not interested in holding the Syrian regime accountable here.

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: But I will say --

QUESTION: So in the playground --

MS. HARF: I have another point to make, when you’re finished.

QUESTION: In the playground of international diplomacy here --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you don’t get what you want, you’re going to take your ball and go home. That’s what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: Well, actually, I would strongly disagree with that. You look at the dozens and dozens of calls and discussions that Secretary Kerry, the President, Secretary Hagel have had with our counterparts across the world, whether it’s NATO, the Arab League, a host of countries in the Middle East, in Europe, elsewhere. Clearly, we are consulting the international community and a broad range of international partners on the best course forward.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: The UN isn’t the only international body that we’re consulting here. But again, we continue talking to the Secretary General as well. So it’s not like we are not engaging in high-level, sustained consultations with our diplomatic partners. In fact, it’s actually the opposite.

QUESTION: Okay. So you think that another – there is another avenue to get a legal basis for this?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to do any sort of legal analysis at all, period, from this podium today.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- can you run through the Secretary’s recent calls --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or meetings of significance on this?

MS. HARF: Yes. So there are no new calls today on Syria that I have to read out. I know we sent around a list last evening. There was one more from last evening that occurred after we sent the list out, because the Secretary is clearly working late on this. It was to Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adil al-Jubayr. So that’s the only addition from last night. Again, we’ll send another update tonight if we have any calls on Syria to read out.

Yes.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Oh, wait. Syria and North Korea, or just North Korea?

QUESTION: North Korea.

MS. HARF: Okay. Are there any more questions on Syria? Okay. We can go to North Korea now officially.

QUESTION: Yeah. The Six-Party Talks delegation of China, Wu Dawei, visit to North Korea today and talk with North Korea Six-Party Talks delegation, Kim Kye-gwan. What is the United States view of resumption of Six-Party Talks currently?

MS. HARF: Well, clearly, as we all know, the DPRK has committed on numerous occasions, including in the September 2005 joint statement on the Six-Party Talks, to abandon their nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, and we will continue to hold the DPRK to those commitments and its international obligations. So clearly, we think this is the forum in which it should be discussed. The onus is on North Korea here. Obviously, we remain committed to authentic and credible talks on denuclearization. Beyond that, I don’t have a specific response to these latest round of talks, but I’m happy to look into that. If I have anything more to share, I’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Do you think within this year Six-Party Talks will be resumed?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any update for you on that. I’m happy to look into it and get back to you if I have more to share. I just don’t have anything else in front of me.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a follow-up question?

MS. HARF: Yes, you can.

QUESTION: Ambassador Robert King is going to travel North Korea this week --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- to negotiate --

MS. HARF: On Friday.

QUESTION: -- yeah, on Friday, to negotiate the release of Kenneth Bae. First, are you optimistic that he will bring Mr. Bae out of the country?

MS. HARF: Well, what’s important here is exactly that, that we want Mr. Bae released. We have made this patently clear. And as you just said, at the invitation of the North Korean Government, Ambassador King will travel to Pyongyang on Friday on a humanitarian mission solely focused on securing the release of Kenneth Bae. I don’t want to get ahead of where we are here. It’s – we’re still a couple of days away.

QUESTION: So was there an unconditional invitation or a conditional?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further describe that invitation. Again, the North Korean Government invited Ambassador King to visit Pyongyang for this purpose, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it more in the coming days and next week.

QUESTION: Okay. Just one more, Marie.

MS. HARF: Yeah. You can ask more than just one more. It’s okay.

QUESTION: What I’m asking – yes, yes. If North Korea released Mr. Bae, do you think it will be conducive to the resumption of talks between Pyongyang and Washington?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to make that link at this point. Clearly, we believe that we need to work towards a denuclearized North Korea. That’s an important process. But I don’t want to link the two in any way. We have repeatedly said that, separate and apart from any of the other issues that we talk about with North Korea, that Kenneth Bae needs to be released immediately. This has been a human rights issue that we’ve talked about, so I’m just not going to link the two.

QUESTION: Okay. Last one, I promise.

MS. HARF: Last one. Okay. It’s okay. You can ask more.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Do you think there’s a chance that Ambassador King will discuss the issue of humanitarian aid for North Korea during his trip?

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding that his mission is solely focused on securing Mr. Bae’s release. I don’t have more details for you than that. Again, as we get closer to and through the trip, we can talk about it more then.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Did North Korea ask for money from United States to release this Kenneth Bae?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any additional details for you on any --

QUESTION: Or do you read --

MS. HARF: -- discussions surrounding this situation. I don’t have anything more for you. If we can share more throughout the rest of the week --

QUESTION: Maybe a couple – maybe $10,000 or something like that? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything else for you on this.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: Because they like money. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: -- the first question was actually are you optimistic that – can you say that you are – that you have hope – you are hopeful that Ambassador King will be able to return with Mr. Bae?

MS. HARF: Certainly. That’s the goal of the trip, and we’ve repeatedly said that that’s what needs to happen.

QUESTION: Just to follow up.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is this something that you communicated through the New York channel or was this through the Swedish protecting power to coordinate Ambassador King’s trip there?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to get into any more specifics about the diplomacy that surrounded this trip. Again, I said that the North Korean Government invited Ambassador King to Pyongyang, and beyond that, nothing further for you at this time.

Yes.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Afghanistan. Yes.

QUESTION: President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has just concluded his trip to Islamabad --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to meet with Nawaz Sharif. How do you see the trip as a whole?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, we welcome any opportunity for increased bilateral dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan. I think for any additional details of the visit, I’d refer you to those two governments. But again, we would welcome any opportunity like this one for increased dialogue.

QUESTION: But the differences between the two countries on counterterrorism issues does remain, the border clashes. How do you see – is it affecting your operations inside Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Well, we said that Pakistan’s own security and stability is tied, of course, to a successful outcome in Afghanistan. And we’ve been appreciative of Pakistan’s efforts to further reconciliation. Clearly, there’s an ongoing process here. But I don’t have any more details for you than that on this specific visit.

QUESTION: And related to Afghanistan itself, has there been any development on resumption of BSA talks?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any update for you on that. It’s my understanding that formal negotiations have not resumed. However, as I’ve said, informal discussions are continuing in Afghanistan, led by our Embassy there.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction, comment at all on the DG – IAEA DG’s report, the latest one on Iran?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Let me see what I have on that. The IAEA Director General’s report on Iran that you just mentioned was released to the Board of Governors on Wednesday, August 28th. I’m not able to comment publicly directly on the substance of the report yet as it has not been released publicly.

QUESTION: It has been released publicly.

MS. HARF: It’s my understanding that it hasn’t.

QUESTION: But not formally.

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

QUESTION: It’s widely available, but --

MS. HARF: Well, the IAEA has not yet released it publicly.

QUESTION: Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can get it.

MS. HARF: It has not been released officially, publicly yet, but that said, Iran obviously remains in noncompliance with its international nuclear obligations, and in that context, we remain concerned about Iran’s continued expansion of its enrichment capability.

QUESTION: So when you say “continued expansion of its enrichment capability” --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you’re referring to the additional 1,000 advanced centrifuges?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse that. Again, when this is released publicly, we can talk about it more then. Anything else?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:37 p.m.)

DPB # 146



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