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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
September 6, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • SYRIA
    • Regional Tensions / Potential Threats
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary's Travel / Syria / Middle East Peace
  • SYRIA
    • Military Action / Chemical Weapons / Political Solution / Congress
    • G-20 Statement / International Norms / U.N. Security Council / Russia
    • Iran / Hezbollah
    • Sectarian Violence / Spillover
  • BAHRAIN
    • Policy Amendment
  • PAKISTAN
    • Economic Revitalization
  • BRAZIL
    • Reports of Intelligence
  • EGYPT
    • Transition Period / Assistance Relationship
    • Arbitrary Arrests / Incarcerations


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:27 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to Friday briefings. I’m sorry that August is over. I don’t have anything at the top today, so I’m happy to start with your questions.

Matt.

QUESTION: Let’s start with embassy security personnel.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- movements, non-evacuation, evacuations, that kind of thing.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The – were – are the threats that exist that – or that you believe to exist to your personnel and interest in Lebanon and – or Beirut specifically and in Adana – are they related to Syria, or are they related to something else?

MS. HARF: Well, these are potential threats, as we said in the statement this morning. Obviously, the tension in region – in the region, including in Syria, plays a role in this. I think it would be obvious to most people and would be silly to think otherwise. So clearly that plays a role there, other regional tensions as well. And we’ll continue evaluating on a post-by-post basis to see if we have to take any additional steps.

QUESTION: All right. And are – but are you aware of any specific – a specific Syria-related threat to either of these posts?

MS. HARF: I am not. No. Again, we said this morning --

QUESTION: You’re not. Okay.

MS. HARF: -- that we’re concerned about tension in the region and potential threats.

QUESTION: Right. I understand.

MS. HARF: Obviously, we make decisions on a post-by-post basis for – with a variety of factors, but I’m not aware of any specifics. But again, we’re evaluating information every day, and we’ll take appropriate steps as necessary.

QUESTION: Okay. So there was a report overnight, or last night, that there had been a threat or intelligence intercept of a threat to the Embassy in Baghdad.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you – and I noticed that unlike Beirut and – or unlike Lebanon and Turkey there was no new warning today, no new even internal thing that went up on the Embassy website in Baghdad. So I’m just wondering is that – does that – is that report accurate? Is there such a threat? Are you concerned about it? And if you are, is anything being done to reduce it?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to comment on reports about alleged intelligence that may or may not exist. Clearly, we remain concerned in looking at the security throughout the region. Again, you noted that we have not taken any action in terms of our posts in Iraq, so I think I would probably leave it at that for now on that point. Again, we’ll keep reevaluating, but nothing to announce for any other posts at this time.

QUESTION: So it would not – can – is it safe to infer from what you’re saying that the fact that there was no change or there hasn’t been any announcement – announced change to the posture in Iraq that that means that the – that you don’t really ascribe – if there really was such a threat, you don’t ascribe much credibility to it?

MS. HARF: I’m not – I wouldn’t – I would caution you from inferring anything, I guess. What I would say is that I’m not going to comment on this alleged piece of intelligence and that we will make decisions on our posts on a day-by-day basis on a variety of information. Again, nothing to announce in terms of Baghdad.

QUESTION: Right, except that you said “nothing to announce,” and then you say you’re not going to comment on this one --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- alleged threat. But then you point to the fact that there hasn’t been any change in posture in Iraq.

MS. HARF: Right. There hasn’t.

QUESTION: So if you’re not trying to make us or lead us to infer --

MS. HARF: I’m just stating a couple of facts.

QUESTION: -- anything --

MS. HARF: I’m just stating a couple of facts, Matt. You can infer what you like from it, but I’m just stating the fact that there’s been no change in Baghdad and that I’m not going to comment one way or the other on that report.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Could I ask – could you clarify on Turkey, please, because --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you mentioned in both the statement on Lebanon and the comment – the statement that you sent out --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it talks about potential threats. But actually in the statement on Turkey, I’m just quoting here, you say that the consulate general has been authorized to draw down --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- its non-emergency staff and family members because of threats --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes.

QUESTION: -- against U.S. Government facilities and personnel.

MS. HARF: I have the Travel Warning here too. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So that would suggest it wasn’t just the potential of threats, that there had actually been threats made against the consulate general in Turkey.

MS. HARF: Well, I wouldn’t do too much parsing here of words. Again, and Turkey’s only an authorized departure, it’s not an ordered departure, which means that non-emergency personnel can make a decision one way or the other whether or not they want to leave, which is obviously a different level. So I think the Travel Warning speaks for itself here. Clearly, we’ll continue evaluating any potential threats or threats on a daily basis.

QUESTION: So there have been threats against the consulate general --

MS. HARF: I’m not aware of any specific threats, again.

QUESTION: Okay. And can we just ask – can I just ask: Are you anticipating that there could be further ordered evacuations from other embassies in the region? Matt, talked about Baghdad --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but obviously there’s a whole range of countries where we’ve seen violence against U.S. missions in the past.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, we will continue evaluating information as it comes in over the days and weeks ahead. And if we need to take additional steps, we certainly will. Our preference is always, of course, to have our folks on the ground, and I would note also that consular services are still happening in Adana and in Beirut, we’re just drawing down some personnel. So if we have additional decisions to make we certainly will. And it’s an issue that everyone here is very clearly focused on as we go forward. Our security of our people and our facilities in the region is of utmost concern to everyone here.

QUESTION: So the Embassy in Beirut remains open for consular services?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes. Yes, it remains open for normal services. They’ll be somewhat limited because there’s a smaller staff, but yes, consular services will be available.

QUESTION: Are you able to tell us how many people were involved in the ordered evacuation today?

MS. HARF: Well, I can’t give you exact numbers for security reasons; we don’t do that. Again, in Adana, it was just an authorized departure. And in Beirut, obviously, was an ordered departure, but I can’t give you specific numbers.

QUESTION: Can’t say whether it was a dozen, three dozen, or --

MS. HARF: Mm-mm. For security reasons we just don’t normally get into those specifics.

Said.

QUESTION: Marie.

MS. HARF: Said, yes.

QUESTION: Is it your understanding to confirm that these intercepts that were made in Iraq were actually authentic? Was that – did you say that? They were – you confirmed that there was actually --

MS. HARF: No, I said I wasn’t going to comment on those reports one way or the other.

Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Okay. Okay. Let me just ask you, over the past, let’s say, few hours and so on, has there been any sort of movement on the political, diplomatic front? Has there been any contacts with – between the Secretary of State and the Russian Foreign Minister?

MS. HARF: There have been. Thank you for the question. And as you all know, the Secretary’s on his way to Vilnius right now. So we are en route there, and there will be a lot happening over the weekend with his meetings as well. So we can all stay in touch, I’m sure, over the weekend, too. But today, Friday, he’s spoken with Arab League Secretary General Elaraby, Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy, the Mexican Foreign Secretary Meade, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who he also spoke with yesterday as well.

QUESTION: Okay. So in tomorrow’s meeting with the Arab follow-up committee in Paris --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so will they focus on Syria or are they going to talk about the peace process, considering that it is really a follow-up committee for the Arab Peace Initiative?

MS. HARF: We expect that they’ll talk about both issues. As you said, this is follow-up meeting on the peace process. Ambassador Indyk is traveling with the traveling party right now, as is Ambassador Ford. So we expect that both topics, obviously of concern to the Arab League, will be discussed.

QUESTION: Okay. And on – going back to Syria.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now, in the event that the Syrians show any kind of willingness – I know I asked this question yesterday –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- show any willingness to sort of to forgo their chemical arsenal, is there room for some sort of diplomatic efforts and standing down with the threat of a strike?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the President made clear that he’s made a decision, that we, the United States, should take military action to degrade and deter the Assad regime’s capabilities. As you know, as everyone knows right now, we’re talking with Congress about authorization to do so. That’s a hypothetical, Said, that quite frankly we see no indication might happen, could happen. Clearly, if that were to pass we’d be having a different discussion, but every indication the Assad regime has given is that they’ve actually escalated their use of chemical weapons and that they have no intention of doing anything to stop the brutality against their own people.

So that’s a hypothetical, that quite frankly, I just don’t see being plausible.

QUESTION: Okay, understood.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But these capabilities that you talk about --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are they restricted to the chemical weapons capabilities, or do they go far beyond the chemical weapons capabilities, such as, perhaps air defenses and other things?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well I don’t want to get ahead of where we are here. Clearly, we haven’t talked about specifically what this military action would look like. What we’ve said is that the goal is to deter the Assad regime from using chemical weapons in the future and degrade their capabilities to do so. I’m not going to go into more specifics about potential targets of such action and get ahead of the process there.

QUESTION: Okay, so – and lastly --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you believe as a result of all of this, now that the Administration has reconciled itself perhaps to the effort underway, maybe regime changing in Syria?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve been clear that this action that the President has put on the table for Congress to authorize is not aimed at regime change. We’ve also, at the same time, been clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy and must go. But we’ve been clear, again, that the process through that, that that needs to happen through, is a political solution through a Geneva process, which is in the best interest of the Syrian people and ultimately has the best chance for this process to succeed.

QUESTION: You said that every indication is that the Assad regime has escalated their use of chemical weapons. Does that mean --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- beyond the 21st?

MS. HARF: No. No, excuse me. But since we first determined they had used them in June, I believe, this was a such a gross escalation that the trend line of their use has gone the opposite direction than Said was asking.

QUESTION: Right, which --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- which makes you believe that he would use them again and at even greater strength or whatever in the future if he was not deterred.

MS. HARF: Absolutely. Everyone from the President to Secretary Kerry – Secretary Kerry wrote in an op-ed today that we absolutely believe that if we do not act here to deter and degrade his capabilities, that he will use chemical weapons again and again against his own people. Yes.

QUESTION: And potentially against other people.

MS. HARF: Well, clearly that’s a concern, and also a concern is chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups or other bad actors, absolutely.

QUESTION: So then I don’t understand why, with the way it looks right now – and I realize that this is partly hypothetical in terms of the vote --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but what’s not hypothetical are the numbers that are out there right now. And right now you don’t have them.

MS. HARF: On – are you talking about the congressional vote?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, okay.

QUESTION: Right? I mean, unless there is – unless there’s –

MS. HARF: I know there are lots of whip counts out there in the public and lots of speculation --

QUESTION: Right. Have you – are you aware of one that shows that the Administration wins?

MS. HARF: Well I think we were --

QUESTION: Right now?

MS. HARF: We saw the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advance the authorization to the full Senate today, I believe, that it was put forward to the full Senate –

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Clearly, as Secretary Kerry has said, we don’t think the Congress will take steps by not authorizing this to strengthen Assad, to strengthen Iran, and others. So we believe that the trend line is positive here. We’re going to keep engaging with Congress. The Secretary will be doing a lot of that next week as well.

QUESTION: Can you be more specific?

MS. HARF: About his engagement?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: When we have a list of hearings, I’m happy to provide that to folks. We’re still nailing down specifics.

QUESTION: So you anticipate that he will make – he’ll be up there for more hours on end testimony making --

MS. HARF: I know. We’re all going to spend more hours of our life up on the Hill, I think. And it’s something that we think is very important. We were – I was up there with him this week in both the Senate and the House side, and the discussion and the debate is exactly why the President thought it was so important to go to Congress for its authorization.

QUESTION: And do you have – you are aware of whip counts, whatever you want to call them, polling numbers that show the trend line is moving in a positive direction?

MS. HARF: We believe we’re going to get where we need to be with this vote. We don’t think that Congress will allow America’s credibility to be questioned here by not doing so.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Sorry, but I need just a quick follow-up.

MS. HARF: And I’ll get to you next.

QUESTION: Could you comment on the Deputy, I guess the National Security Advisor, what he said today --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in terms of that if the President doesn’t get the vote, he will not strike.

MS. HARF: Well, I think what Mr. Blinken said is completely in line with what the President said. There’s been no change in our position. He said it was neither the President’s desire nor intention – he was repeating in fact what the President said since Saturday – that his desire and intention is to take the issue to Congress and secure congressional approval. He was certainly not speculating on what the President might do in the event that something else happens, but our position in no way has changed on this, Said.

QUESTION: But he was asked point-blank. I mean, I heard it and he said --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- “No,” I mean, in essence saying there will not be a strike if he doesn’t get the votes.

MS. HARF: Again, I would look at all the comments that the Deputy National Security Advisor made. We have been very clear that the President’s desire and intention was to go to Congress, and we also believe that we’re going to get the necessary votes. Clearly, there will be days ahead of us with intense debate and discussion and that’s good. That’s what democracy is supposed to look like. But we do believe at the end of the day we’ll get where we need to be.

QUESTION: Sorry, what –

QUESTION: Sorry, can I ask --

QUESTION: Hold on. What the Deputy National Security Advisor said was that the President does not need the authority of Congress to act, but –

MS. HARF: And the President said the same thing last week, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right, but you didn’t finish his sentence when you said, “Neither his desire nor his intention.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It doesn’t end there. He said, “Neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him?”

MS. HARF: Again, there’s been no change in our position. The Deputy National Security Advisor wasn’t speculating on what the President might do. That’s clearly a decision for the President. Secretary Kerry’s been asked about this a lot as well and has made the same point. We just don’t believe that there will be a scenario in which that happens, quite frankly.

QUESTION: Do you believe that what you are doing right now is a deterrent to Assad using chemical weapons again?

MS. HARF: In what – what actions are you referring to? My briefing today?

QUESTION: No, I mean whatever --

MS. HARF: Specifically what actions --

QUESTION: Whatever it is the Administration’s policy is.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that --

MS. HARF: Well, I think --

QUESTION: Is what the Administration doing right now and taking this to Congress, is that acting as a deterrent to prevent Assad – do you think it’s acting as a deterrent to prevent Assad from --

MS. HARF: I’d make a few points. First, the President’s announcement that we will – his intention is to take military action, absolutely, is part of our effort to deter Assad from doing this again. Rallying international support, getting authorization from Congress, and speaking in one voice as a nation is clearly all a part of this. And let’s flip it around on its head that if Congress doesn’t authorize this we’ll be sending the exact opposite message to Assad that he can get away with this and he can do this with impunity again and again and again, and America won’t stand up and stand behind its words when it says what it intends to do.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the country through Congress is speaking with one voice right now?

MS. HARF: That’s the point of getting authorization. We’ve all been clear that we speak most strongly on the international stage when we speak with one voice.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: And it will be much more powerful if we have the President backed up by the United States Congress saying this cannot stand and this is our response.

QUESTION: It would be, but that’s not what you have right now. And there is an argument, I think, that people – that one can make that when you have such disagreement and wild disagreement – and this is not even – this is – I mean, for the President’s – some of the President’s strongest supporters are against this. Some of the biggest hawks on the Republican side are against this. And I think that you could – someone could make the argument that that kind of fractious debate actually undermines the credibility of the country because it shows Assad and the Iranians and the North Koreans that Congress isn’t united and that the country isn’t united around this.

MS. HARF: Well, let’s be clear. Even if we hadn’t gone to Congress for authorization, there would still be a lot of incredibly heated debate and discussion. So that is not necessarily a product of us going to Congress. That just exists in our democratic political system every single day.

QUESTION: Well, yes. But the suggestion from this morning was that that indecision or that division could prevent the U.S. from – or would prevent the U.S. from acting. And so that’s why --

MS. HARF: But what we’re focused on in terms of what Assad and Tehran and Pyongyang and everyone else sees is the outcome of this. If at the end of the day we get to a place where we say, after a democratic debate and discussion, we as the United States of America, despite our vast political differences can stand up to Syria and say this is unacceptable, that that has a much stronger impact, not just on Syria but across the world, than not going to Congress.

QUESTION: But you spent a lot of time and effort putting together a case that the Administration – or the Administration spent a lot of time and effort putting together a case that it believes is rock solid, 100 percent, and is justification for the President’s decision to actually take some military action.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I think the argument could be made that then taking it to Congress, the President not taking an executive decision which is in – you say – his authority, taking it to Congress and then exposing the wild – the huge divide over taking military action, doesn’t enhance the credibility at all. Are you – you’re gambling that in the end even that you will win and that the vote will be sufficient enough to show that a large majority of the American people through their representatives are in favor of this? Is that correct?

MS. HARF: Well, we believe that when the Congress authorizes this action, America will be speaking with one voice.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: And that what Assad – let me finish, Matt. And what Assad feels in terms of our response will not be a pinprick; he will know it when it happens. This will be more than just what some people have talked about and that America speaking with one voice as we take those actions has much more credibility around the world, not just to Syria, not just to Iran, but also with our international partners than otherwise.

QUESTION: Right. And then turning it on its head, if Congress votes no, America will also have spoken with one voice. Is that correct?

MS. HARF: Again, we don’t believe that that will be an outcome from this vote. We’re going to keep working with Congress to get to the right place. The President’s made it clear that the United States needs to step up and respond here, and now it’s up to the United States Congress to make that clear as well.

QUESTION: I understand. But if you’re going to say that a congressional vote to give the authorization will show that America is speaking with one voice, then surely the converse has to be true that if the Congress doesn’t authorize it America is also speaking with one voice.

MS. HARF: Well, not at all because the President, obviously, would still believe that we should do it. What I think it would show to the rest of the world, quite frankly, is that America is not willing to stand by what it says, and when we say we need to take action to protect international norms that the United States Congress isn’t willing to stand by that. I think that’s the message it would send to the world.

QUESTION: Marie, can I ask, since we’ve raised the international context of this --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: We’ve all seen in the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg in the last day or so that there is an awful lot of skepticism from the international community about whether military strikes by the United States are justified or not. And I wondered if the Administration believes that irrespective of whether there’s a Congress decision yes or no, which is an American legal decision, whether under international law such strikes would be justified.

MS. HARF: Well, I would point – because you brought up the G-20, I would point to the joint statement that just got released from the G-20 – I don’t know if folks have seen it yet – from the leaders and representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They just issued this statement and it’s a very strong statement and I just want to – because you brought up this piece of if – want to make a few points.

Today’s statement echoes many of our longstanding views on the Syrian crisis. Notably, it condemns the horrific chemical weapons attack, calls for those who perpetrated this attack to be held accountable for these crimes. It supports efforts to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, condemns all human rights violations in Syria and in all sides, and again reaffirms our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through the Geneva process.

Now, I think it’s important to note that the President’s overseas right now, the Secretary is on his way overseas, building international support for a response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. The trendline here is positive. In the coming days you’ll see more of this. I talked about some of the calls today. So we’re confident that we’re going to get to a place where we have international – even more international support on this as well.

QUESTION: But, well, I think out of – on the statement, I think it was 11 out of 20 out of the G-20 countries actually signed it, which is a very narrow majority. It’s not an overwhelming majority by any --

MS. HARF: It was a very, very strong statement that by no means was preordained to come out of this meeting, an incredibly strong statement about views that a wide range of countries from across the world share. So I think you can look at it glass half full or glass half empty, but I think that we – coming out of a summit that’s been very focused on to have such a strong statement on Syria I think is a positive thing.

QUESTION: Okay. But my question actually was whether --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: -- whether the United States – because what we’re talking about here is the contention that one of the reasons for launching a military strike would be because the Assad regime is considered to have broken international conventions.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So my question is: Is it, under international law, legal for America to carry out military strikes against Syria?

MS. HARF: Yeah. I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth legal analysis from the podium on this. I know in the days and weeks ahead, as we go through the congressional process piece of it and also as we decide on an exact course of military action, we’ll have all of these conversations. I’m just not going to get ahead of the process here and do that kind of legal analysis from here.

QUESTION: Because Ban Ki-moon said that – earlier this week – that the use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, or when the Security Council approves such action. So since we’ve given up on the Security Council approving any action of this kind, is it your understanding that it would fall within the Article 51 of the charter?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to get into that level of detailed legal analysis when we’re still working through Congress and we’re still determining the exact course of military action that we would take if indeed it’s authorized. So I’m just not going to get ahead of the ballgame here.

Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Well --

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you a very quick question.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In the Secretary’s statement today, he says the world set a redline. Is that the same redline --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that was set by the President of the United States on the 20th of August --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- 2012?

MS. HARF: And the President said it yesterday in Sweden as well.

QUESTION: Or is that a different redline?

MS. HARF: No, the President said it in his press avail in Syria[1] as well, that this isn’t just the United States redline, this isn’t just the President’s redline; it’s, in fact, the world’s redline. That’s why we have international norms. That’s why we have the Chemical Weapons Convention and indeed the Geneva Conventions as well.

QUESTION: So when we --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- talk about the world redline, we’re talking about the chemical weapons --

MS. HARF: The use of chemical weapons, yes.

QUESTION: -- protocol, okay.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And that – well, there’s just a slight problem with that, because I don’t think that that – that redline that was drawn in the Chemical Weapons Convention doesn’t talk anything about President Assad or Syria or moving – or him moving chemical weapons around or using them, for that matter. It talks only very broad – the redline --

MS. HARF: The world’s --

QUESTION: -- for President Assad and Syria – the redline for President Assad and Syria and chemical weapons was set by the President.

MS. HARF: But the norms underpinning that redline are --

QUESTION: Fair enough. I totally take your point.

MS. HARF: Right, they’re not different things. This is a norm that was set out --

QUESTION: Well, they’re related. They’re related, but the redline as it – opposed to Assad and this changing the calculus of the United States of America or would change the President’s calculus --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- was set by the President, not by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

MS. HARF: But it’s a redline --

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: -- that this is unacceptable behavior --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- which is the same redline set out by the convention that this is unacceptable behavior --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: -- and set by all --

QUESTION: But as it relates specifically to Syria --

MS. HARF: Well, of course, Matt.

QUESTION: Yes, okay, right.

MS. HARF: -- that – specifically relating to Syria, but the notion of the use of chemical weapons is a redline --

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. HARF: -- that indeed the world community has agreed on.

QUESTION: I take your point.

MS. HARF: Yes. Go – oh --

QUESTION: Just on the – can I just follow up on Jo’s --

MS. HARF: -- one second. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So are you saying that you’re going to give us – you won’t give us your legal justification for doing this until after the fact?

MS. HARF: I’m not saying that. I’m saying just right now, I’m not going to get into a legal analysis of any eventual action. I’m just not going to.

QUESTION: Well, then when --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- when will you be able to get into a --

MS. HARF: I’m sure we’ll be talking about all these issues as we go forward with Congress, as we get closer, if they authorize it, to actual action.

QUESTION: So –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But can you say that such justification, legal justification, will be provided before the President authorizes it?

MS. HARF: I’m not – I’m just – I’m not going to outline further --

QUESTION: Because it strikes me as you’re trying to --

MS. HARF: -- when we’re going to talk about things. I’m just not.

QUESTION: Well, but I mean, if you’re going to – but if he’s going to authorize military strikes and the strikes happen and you’re only going to provide the justification afterwards --

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that at all.

QUESTION: -- that’s got --

MS. HARF: I think you’re jumping to conclusions.

QUESTION: I want to – I’m trying to get you to assure us that the legal justification will be provided before --

MS. HARF: I know what you’re trying to do. (Laughter.) I’m not --

QUESTION: -- you launch cruise missiles into downtown Damascus.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to outline timelines for when we talk about what happens regarding action. I’m just not going to do it today.

Yes.

QUESTION: Monday? Tuesday?

MS. HARF: Keep asking every day.

Yes.

QUESTION: For the Assad regime, what should it do now to prevent the U.S. from taking any military action? Is there anything that they can do now at this stage?

MS. HARF: Well, I think that was kind of Said’s question as well. I mean, the President’s made clear that what they did, what the regime did on August 21st, must be responded to. And that’s the assumption we’re operating under right now. I don’t want to lay out hypotheticals for the Assad regime, but again, every single step they’ve taken since they started brutally killing their own people was actions that are just unacceptable. So again, I’m not going to lay out hypothetical what they could do. The bottom line remains that the President has made clear that the United States and our partners should hold the regime accountable for this action.

QUESTION: And secondly, over the last one week --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- President and the Secretary have expressed frustration over how the UN Security Council --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- has acted not responsibility from U.S. perspective. Given your – this experience or similar experiences in the past, does the U.S. believe or think that there’s time for any reform in the UN Security Council voting structure itself, maybe – so that not one single country can paralyze the UN Security Council?

MS. HARF: It’s a really good question, and I would just note for people that Ambassador Power is actually making remarks on Syria today, I think shortly, I think at 2 o’clock, and I would encourage people to look at those remarks as well. That’s obviously something that we’ve talked about at the UN a lot, not specifically, just in general UN reform.

But I don’t want to actually bring it into this discussion here, because what we’re talking about is the Security Council as it is today and the fact that we cannot allow Syria to act with impunity because one or two countries refuse to hold them accountable in the Security Council. So that’s a bigger issue that I know folks are obviously focused on, but in the real world we live in today, and the Security Council we have today, this is the situation that we face.

QUESTION: Are you confident that without a Russian veto and/or Chinese veto, you would get the votes needed for a resolution on this?

MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture a guess as to what a hypothetical whip count would be in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then, I’m not sure --

MS. HARF: I just don’t. I mean, it’s clear that Russia --

QUESTION: But you’re blaming two – you’re blaming --

MS. HARF: Well, right.

QUESTION: Granted they have veto power and they can do it but --

MS. HARF: And Russia three times has vetoed Security Council resolutions on Syria in the past --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: -- so their track record here is pretty awful.

QUESTION: But you’re confident that if there were no vetoes, you would be able to get a resolution through?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. We’ve been – we all know who the problems have been in the Security Council today. Who knows what it would look like if they were – I’m just not going to go there.

QUESTION: But on the other hand, as well, the United States has used its veto on various occasions for issues where it didn’t agree with action. I mean, surely, that’s all part of international democracy checks and balances, isn’t it?

MS. HARF: And we believe that the UN and the Security Council are incredibly important international institutions. Clearly, the U.S. supports these greatly in a number of ways, and we will continue to do so. But in this instance, in this case, the Syrian regime’s actions were so egregious, crossed such an international norm, and we’ve seen such intransigence from the Russians, and as well the Chinese at times in the Security Council, that we are where we are today, and going forward, we’ll continue working with the UN, though, because obviously, it’s an incredibly important body.

Yes.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Still on Syria. Let’s finish Syria first.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. HARF: And then I’ll go back to --

QUESTION: You are mentioning the brutal regime, and in the same time, you are talking about, like a strike or something to degrade and deter the weapons --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I mean, of chemical weapons. In this context, where is – the civil war is going, which is going on in Syria? I mean, it’s like – is it going to help to put an end for the civil war? I mean, because at the end, we are talking about civil war and people are talking about chemical weapons --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that are used. People talking about the strike that is going to hit something and degrade and deter. Where is the civil war?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, it’s not just a system or a regime is taking care or not taking care of the people. There is a civil war going on. And is there – if you can explain to me or I can understand what’s – what is your vision of --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the civil war. Is there a civil war or not?

MS. HARF: Yes. So a few points. You’re right. The action we’re talking about today, and which we went to Congress to get authorization for, is a response to this use of chemical weapons. Again, deter, degrade, we’ve – we’re all familiar with the terms now. Now at the same time, we believe that the only solution to this crisis in Syria, indeed to this civil war in Syria, is a political solution. But we – again, at the same time, we’ll continue to support the opposition, the SOC, the SMC. We’ll continue to support them in a variety of ways and increase that support as we see fit, because we believe that they need to continue to be able to hold their own against the regime, that indeed, we need to get both parties to a place where they’ll – excuse me – where they will come to the table at Geneva.

So we are responding right now to a use of chemical weapons, but at the same time, working with the opposition and with our international partners to work towards a political solution to the crisis there, absolutely.

QUESTION: So the other question, which is related somehow to same first question --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is like we all agree now that Saddam – sorry – Assad regime break the rules of the world and – or the international norms.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But if you are trying to talk about military power or military issue, we doubt even it’s not American, it’s international support or all these things, and considering that you – Security Council is a kind of hostage of Russia, for example, that’s an expression came out yesterday --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the Putin is calling the Secretary Kerry a liar. I mean, other norms are breaking too. I mean, how you can talk about political solution after all these steps and meanwhile other norms are broken or trying people to break it, which is like to find a political solution when you are – where people start to not respect the UN, people not start to respect – not respect each other or get the support of each other, how you can find a political solution from this dilemma.

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points. First on the relationship with Russia, because obviously the President’s been in St. Petersburg for the G-20 and they’ve – the White House has talked about this a little bit – that clearly there are issues where we vastly disagree with the Russian Government. Syria, at times, has been one of them, although we’ve worked with them on the Geneva process. Clearly we’ve had disagreements with them on a number of issues. But we need to work with them when it’s in our national interest, and we’ve been able to, whether it’s supplying our troops in Afghanistan, working to put unprecedented sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, and also other issues as well.

So it’s not a black and white relationship. It’s a complicated relationship, and everybody’s clear-eyed about that. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep working with them. It just means sometimes it’s challenging. I think we can all be clear on that.

And I would point out, in terms of the UN, that the international norms that the Security Council and the United Nations was created to uphold are exactly what we think needs to be upheld in Syria. And the fact that a member of the Security Council refuses to hold a regime accountable for exactly the norms the United Nations was created to uphold – can’t allow the regime to go forward without a response. So that’s the – that’s my answer to that part of your question. And again, we value the UN’s work. We’ll continue our support for it, as we always have, going forward.

QUESTION: On (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Yep. I’ll come back up here in a sec. Yeah.

QUESTION: Talking about the international lead that the U.S. is doing and talking about some of the members of the G-20 that came in this statement --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there are some areas of the world that it seems that, based on this atrocity that happened in Syria, they are very silent. For example, Latin America. I don’t see that there was any vote in the moment in favor of an action in Syria from Latin America. Is the U.S. worried about this? Is there going to be any more rallies in Latin America to have support?

MS. HARF: Well, clearly what we’ve been doing, and what we’re going to keep doing, is reaching out to our friends and partners around the world. I mentioned that the Secretary talked with the Mexican Foreign Secretary today. We’re talking to leaders from around the world. And the trendline here is positive. The more people – we reach out to people, the more the intelligence case is made known, the more we engage in this kind of outreach, the more support we get around the world. So clearly that process is ongoing and will continue to be.

QUESTION: And I’d ask you something.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: At the moment, if there is today in the Security Council a vote, do you think that the U.S. will win that vote, considering some regions of the world that are still very silent with this?

MS. HARF: Well, in the Security Council, I think we’ve made clear that Russia’s track record on Syria resolutions is not a good one and that their intransigence there is exactly why we’re not pursuing that route at the moment. So I think we’ve been very clear about the Security Council and the different dynamics at play there.

Yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) at the Hill had said 34 countries have assured U.S. for some kind of participation in the military strike. Has the number – is the number still the same? Has it increased?

MS. HARF: I know there have been a lot of numbers floating out there on all of this, and I know there’s clearly a lot of interest in it. I think we will – I refrain, at most times, from doing a sort of minute-by-minute play-by-play of what this all looks like. Again, the trendline is positive. Support continues to grow. But I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in terms of any potential partners who would assist in such an action. But again, I think I would point to the overall trendline we’ve seen just from public statements, including this G-20 statement, which was a very strong statement.

QUESTION: Marie, could you --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: What --

QUESTION: -- (inaudible) today between Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout from today’s call yet. I will endeavor to get that for you after the briefing. I know they spoke yesterday for about 40 minutes. They primarily, obviously, discussed the international community’s response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. They also, again, spoke about Geneva and the necessity of Geneva. So at the same time we disagree about chemical weapons, we continue to talk about the necessity of Geneva. And the last time before that they had spoken, I believe, was on August 27th.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: And if I can get a readout from today, I will endeavor to give that to you.

QUESTION: And I just wanted to ask, Foreign Minister – Syrian Foreign Minister Muallim is reportedly visiting Moscow on Monday. Was there any discussion of that between the Secretary and the --

MS. HARF: I don’t – not to my knowledge, but I don’t know the answer to that. Let me double-check on that, and if I can share it, I will.

QUESTION: And I wondered if you would see it as a positive sign that maybe there is some political track happening, because it was the Russian side that was going to bring the Syrian regime side to the table. Is this positive that Muallim’s going?

MS. HARF: I think – if such a visit happens, I think we’d have to take a look at what’s discussed and wouldn’t want to comment on it until after it happens. Clearly, the Russians play a key role in getting folks to the Geneva process. We’ve said that from the beginning. Excuse me, I’m going to open this water here. But it just, quite frankly, depends. As you know, Secretary Kerry spoke with the Syrian – excuse me, it’s a Friday in summer, I’m losing my voice – spoke with the Syrian Foreign Minister to make clear that they needed to let in inspectors at the beginning of this process. So we’ll see what happens and go from there.

Someone ask a long question so I can take a big sip of water.

QUESTION: Well --

MS. HARF: Matt?

QUESTION: This might not be long. The trendline is positive both internationally and on the Hill. Is that what – that’s your line?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: But you’re not willing or able to offer as any proof of the trendline being positive beyond the G-20 statement of 11 --

MS. HARF: Well, I think the G-20 statement is a very strong statement.

QUESTION: It is. But I’m not sure it adds too many to the number of countries. I mean, I’m not sure there are any newcomers to the condemnation in it. Are there that you’re aware of?

MS. HARF: But again, I know a lot of discussions are ongoing. We see the trendline going in a positive direction. As I have specifics to read out to you, I will.

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm?

QUESTION: But --

MS. HARF: As I have specifics, Matt, I will.

QUESTION: Okay. But then can you not say that the – it’s hard to accept that on face value you saying the trendline is positive when there isn’t any evidence to back that up --

MS. HARF: Well, I think today’s statement --

QUESTION: -- or you’re not willing to share it.

MS. HARF: -- on the sidelines of the G-20 was actually a quite positive trend.

QUESTION: Well, okay, but trend not in terms of numbers then, because almost all of those countries had already condemned it.

MS. HARF: But it’s important that this large number of countries from across the world --

QUESTION: I understand. But that’s what you’re saying, that when you – what is positive is the fact that these countries got together and had a – what you say is a very strong statement. It’s not --

MS. HARF: That’s part of it.

QUESTION: -- adding another line, another country on the list of countries that --

MS. HARF: That’s part of it.

QUESTION: -- support you.

MS. HARF: But again, our private conversations diplomatically are ongoing and we feel like the trendline is positive. As we have additional things to announce, we will.

Yes. Still on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: How do you assess Iran’s role or what role do you expect Iran to play if you hit Syria?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to even venture down that hypothetical road. Clearly, the folks that are involved in the planning for a potential action are looking at all contingencies and all possible reactions from the region. Iran has up until this point, particularly Hezbollah, played an incredibly negative role in Syria, as we’ve talked about many times from this podium. But we are looking at all of those contingencies right now and we would encourage folks – one of the reasons, I think, that we’ve encouraged folks in Congress to vote for this authorization is because if we don’t and if we don’t stand up and say when we say something we mean it, that leaders in places like Tehran will get the exact wrong message about American credibility, that we don’t mean what we say, and that we say if you cross a line we will act, that we actually don’t mean it. So I think that’s the point I would make there.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you see they are sending mixed messages recently.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And we’ve continued to call on Iran, on Hezbollah, on people that are playing bad roles in Syria to cease doing that because it’s not in the best interests of the Syrian people, and would certainly hope that if we take any military action other countries in the region, other bad actors won’t escalate and make the situation worse, because it’s certainly not in their interest to do so.

QUESTION: Yes, please, on Iran?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Syria and Iran, or Iran?

QUESTION: Iran.

MS. HARF: Okay, let me finish Syria, and then I’ll come back to you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you on the issue --

MS. HARF: And then I’ll come back to you, I promise.

QUESTION: On the issue of credibility, it is talked about a great deal. Is it wise, or in fact, could it be risky to suggest or to continue to suggest that U.S. credibility hinges or rests on its ability to project power and strike Syria and do military action and dominate that region?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think that’s what we’re suggesting, Said. I think those are your words. What we’re suggesting is that American credibility rests on a lot of things. It’s our economic power and influence and engagement throughout the world. It’s our diplomatic engagement throughout the world on a number of issues including nonproliferation and others as well. It’s also that when America says something, says we will do something, that we stand by that, whether it’s a military option or not, that we speak with one voice, that we mean what we say, and we say what we mean. That’s always what America has stood for and that needs to continue to be the case going forward, whether it’s economic, diplomatic, military, or all of the above.

Yes, I’m going to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: I’ll try to make it longer.

MS. HARF: Yes. I’m good now. I’m okay.

QUESTION: On the makeup of the Syrian opposition forces, so far there have been about a dozen reported cases of ethnic Albanians from the Balkans, which are Sunni Muslim, being killed in these fights. So do you have a view on the effect which the recruitment of these people in the Balkans, which presumably is on Islamic grounds, will have on the Balkans?

And of course, the return of the survivors into their hometowns, the effect this will have.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And especially given that last year around Easter there was a horrendous Islamist attack by Albanian group on Macedonians with an aim to spark wider conflict?

MS. HARF: Yes, and thank you for the question. It’s an important one. We have a continuing constructive dialogue with a number of countries around these concerns, including in the Balkans region. But broadly speaking, we remain very deeply concerned by sectarian violence of any kind inside Syria no matter where it originates from, no matter where these fighters come from. And we will continue to push the international community, the folks who are doing this to stop doing it, because it’s not in the best interest of the Syrian people.

And in all of our conversations with moderate political and military leaders, we’ve urged the opposition to reject exactly that kind of violent extremism and to isolate these groups to ensure that their ideology doesn’t take root, to respect and advocate for the rights of all Syrians, and of course, to make sure that that ideology doesn’t get taken back to other places in the region as well. We’ve seen horrible spillover violence in places like Lebanon and Iraq already. So clearly, it’s something we remain concerned about.

Syria still?

QUESTION: No.

MS. HARF: Okay, let’s finish up Syria. Or are we finished with Syria?

QUESTION: One question about the NATO.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I wanted to know – it seems that in the NATO is not very united in this moment, right? We have some countries that they’re not in the list of the countries that we mentioned, for example Italy, that were very active in the action in Libya, for instance. Do you think that this may change in the nature – in the future days if this debate continues?

MS. HARF: Well, Italy actually signed onto the statement on the sidelines of the G-20 today, so I would point that out specifically with Italy. So I think that’s a positive trendline, if we want to call it that, Matt. Hmm? So I think that – you asked about Italy --

QUESTION: And also you added Spain. That’s very --

MS. HARF: And we – exactly. So again, those are two positive trendlines we can point to.

QUESTION: Those are two countries that had not --

MS. HARF: But again --

QUESTION: -- condemned this before?

MS. HARF: Again, we are going to keep working with our NATO allies, with partners in the region and the Middle East and throughout the world to continue getting support for exactly this.

Yes. Any more on Syria? One more on Syria?

QUESTION: No, Bahrain.

MS. HARF: Okay, we’ll do – and then I’ll go to you next. We’ll do Bahrain.

QUESTION: Yeah, there are – there were reports that the government put restrictions on foreign diplomats to meet with political parties in Bahrain. Do you have any reaction, please?

MS. HARF: I do, and thank you for the question. We are very concerned about this amendment which we understand, as you said, would require host government permission for meetings between foreign diplomats and international organizations with legitimate political groups. We plan to meet with Bahraini officials in the coming days to raise our concerns and to seek further information about their policy.

As we do in countries around the world, we expect the Government of Bahrain to respect our shared diplomatic interest in open and free communications with all elements of host country societies. And I think we’ll be making that point, as I said, in the coming days with the Bahraini Government.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have one on Pakistan.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: The IMF this week authorized or gave around 6.7 billion U.S. dollars aid financial assistance to Pakistan over the next three years –

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to bail out the country from the economic crisis. Do you have anything to say on this?

MS. HARF: I do. So the new Pakistani Government, as you know, has cited economic revitalization and reform as a top priority. We continue to support the Government of Pakistan to work to stabilize the economy as Pakistan confronts its own economic challenges. I know the Secretary talked about this some when he was there recently.

We will continue to support Pakistan’s reform efforts. We’ll continue to advance our bilateral trade and investment partnership and look to Pakistan’s civilian leadership to determine the direction of these efforts, including their recent agreement, as you mentioned, with the IMF.

QUESTION: As Pakistan walks on the step towards economic reforms, is U.S. planning to announce additional economic aid to Pakistan, help it out of the economic mess?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything new to announce for you today. Clearly, this is a very important issue between our two countries, and if we have anything new to announce, I will let you know.

QUESTION: I have one on South Asia, Maldives.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The presidential elections are scheduled for next – I think tomorrow.

MS. HARF: They’re this weekend, yes.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything yet. I presume that after they occur we will have some sort of statement. So check back in and we can talk about it over the weekend or on Monday.

Yes. Yes, we’ll go here and then to you. Yes.

QUESTION: I have one on Iran.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: An advisor to President Rouhani in Iran was quoted by the Fars News Agency today as saying that President Rouhani does not have a Twitter account and that accordingly the tweet that was widely reported on earlier this week in which the President of Iran appeared to be wishing Jews and especially Iranian Jews a happy Rosh Hashanah was, in fact, not an authorized message from the President of Iran. Has the Iran desk here at State made a determination about whether or not the Iranian President really did or did not send out any type of Rosh Hashanah greeting?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m happy to take it and look into it for you.

QUESTION: That’d be great. Thank you.

MS. HARF: But I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Rosh Hashanah and a Happy New Year if that matters. Yes, I’ll take your question as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie, thank you, on North Korea. Recently, North Korea have been canceled Ambassador Robert King’s visit to North Korea.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the reason why North Korea refused to come to --

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything new for you, no new updates for you. Again, I’d encourage you to reach out to them to speak for their actions. But nothing new on that.

QUESTION: North Korea allowed Mr. Rodman coming to North Korea, but --

MS. HARF: I saw those reports, yes. I don’t have anything further for you on that. He’s a private citizen and I think Mr. Rodman can probably speak for himself.

QUESTION: Does he have any mission to bring Mr. Bae when --

MS. HARF: He is – I think he actually said he wasn’t there to talk about Kenneth Bae, if I saw the press reports right. But again, he’s a private citizen and certainly is not working for the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: Just following on that --

MS. HARF: On Dennis Rodman.

QUESTION: No, not Dennis Rodman, but North Korea.

MS. HARF: I was hoping there was a Dennis Rodman follow-up. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, sorry. You put out a notice yesterday that Glyn Davies is going to the region to talk about North Korea. Were these previously scheduled talks or this is something that’s come up as a result of the invitation to Ambassador King being canceled?

MS. HARF: It’s a very good question, and I don’t know the answer to it. Let me double check on that and I can get you an answer after the briefing. I know that we’ve had – I just don’t know if that was previously scheduled. I just don’t.

QUESTION: Can we go to the meeting between the Secretary of State and the Palestinian Authority President Abbas on Monday? Is there anything that you could share with us about the meeting? I know there is a blackout, but --

MS. HARF: I don’t. I don’t have anything to add beyond what we’ve already talked about about the Secretary’s trip. As we have more details about what the Secretary will be doing during his trip, either I can provide it or the traveling party will, but nothing to add.

QUESTION: Okay. Did the Palestinians complain to you about Israel insisting on a state with temporary borders? Because apparently all throughout the sessions of negotiations that’s what Israel presses forward, that they will acquiesce to a state with temporary borders. Are you aware of that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any readout for you of the private discussions that have been going on during these negotiations.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I wonder if you – if the U.S. think that it’s not a good moment to delay this next meeting with Brazil, based on the fact that probably the questions that will arise if there is a lot of spying between the U.S. and Brazil when she comes here to Washington. If it’s not a good time to delay all this, because it seems that the real things to be discussed are not on the table and we are talking about things that are – that were not thought maybe when this meeting was planned – right? – about spying. What’s the position of the U.S. on this?

MS. HARF: Well, I would refer you, I think, for any details about a visit or potential visit to the White House. That’s obviously their lane in this road here. But broadly speaking, as we’ve said, we will discuss in appropriate diplomatic channels issues that other countries raise with us about some of these reports of intelligence activities that, again, we’ve said all countries around the world engage in. And I just don’t have anything further for you than that. Again, we will continue talking to all countries as they raise these issues, and I think that’s probably all I’m going to have on that one.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the newspapers of Brazil said that the Dilma Rousseff canceled some of the advance team that was going to come here to Washington to prepare this state visit. Do you have any information on that, that --

MS. HARF: I’ve seen these reports. I don’t have any information for you about that issue. If I have anything further to share, I’m happy to do so.

Yes.

QUESTION: Egypt?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you have anything about Egypt, update about political changes or, let’s say, the crackdown of the Brotherhood? And anything going on on the political scene more than security? I know yesterday was – there was a statement about what happened – interior minister – as a security measure – matter. Anything about the political issue – political scene there?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s going on – the so-called map of reform and all these issues going on in Egypt?

MS. HARF: Yeah. I don’t have any, I think, specific updates for you. Clearly, we’re continuing to make the point that the route for Egypt is a stable, democratic, prosperous Egypt after a transition period, which again, we are calling on all parties to move forward with. I don’t have any updates for you though on what’s happening there right now.

QUESTION: Because I asked this question before – I mean, I remember a week ago, maybe – the issue of walking and chewing gum in the same time.

MS. HARF: I know. I appreciate every time you use that reference.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: So thank you for using it again today.

QUESTION: But I’m not looking for appreciation. (Laughter.) I’m looking for an answer for my questions. It’s – the question is: Is Egypt out of – I mean, out of the radar now with the issue of Syria or not?

MS. HARF: Is it out of what? Excuse me.

QUESTION: Out of the --

QUESTION: Radar.

QUESTION: Radar screen. Radar screen.

MS. HARF: Oh. No. In no way is – again, the Secretary talked to Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy today. I’m sure their conversation was not entirely about Syria. Clearly, it’s on the forefront of everyone’s minds as well. As you said, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. This is an issue that people here are very focused on. No decisions have been made about the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt. Those conversations are still ongoing. But everybody’s still very focused on it of course and will continue to be going forward.

QUESTION: Is the ambassador or the acting charge d’affair --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is started to perform his – I mean, role as ambassador?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, not as ambassador. We put out a statement on this, I believe, last Friday – all of my days are running together now – noting that there was an acting in charge. That remains the case. We don’t have any new announcements about personnel to make at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the news that came out – again, it was last week, but there haven’t been that many briefings – that former President Morsy is going to have to stand trial for incitement to murder and violence? Or if I’ve missed it, I apologize.

MS. HARF: I don’t. Again, we can go back and look at whether we covered it last week. I don’t have any further response to that. We’ve said from the beginning that we call for an end to arbitrary arrests and incarcerations. We’ve spoken about him at length. I don’t have any specific on that. I can see if we responded to it or if we do have a response.

QUESTION: There was a round of court cases as well in which at least 11 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were given life sentences as well for violence that had erupted in Suez in July, I believe.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Again, it would seem fairly quick justice. Is there any concern on the U.S. part that these aren’t being properly handled?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t know the specifics of those cases, so I don’t want to speak to those specifically. But generally, clearly, we have been concerned about arbitrary and politically motivated arrests and trials and we’ll continue to be. So we’ll look into these cases as they arise, and if we have views that should be made known, we will do so. I just – I’m sorry, I don’t have the specifics on this (inaudible).

QUESTION: Has there been any contact at all between the U.S. Government and Morsy?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, not to my knowledge. I can double check and let you know if there’s any update to that. But not to my knowledge.

That it?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you, everyone. Have a great weekend.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:20 p.m.)

DPB # 149


 

[1] Sweden



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