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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 30, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Read-Out of Secretary Kerry's Bilateral talk with Sudanese Foreign Minister Karti
    • Condemnation of Terrorist Attacks Across Iraq
  • SUDAN
    • Range of Issues Discussed During Bilateral with Foreign Minister Karti
    • President Bashir's Visa Status / UNGA
    • Condemnation of Government Crackdown on Protestors
  • IRAN
    • Diplomatic Opening / Political Directors Meeting / Nuclear Program
  • ISRAEL
    • Meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu / Cooperation on Iran
    • Arrest of Ali Mansouri
  • IRAN
    • Additional Sanctions
  • TURKEY
    • Missile Defense System / Not Compatible with NATO System / Expressed Concerns
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Potential Government Shut Down / Budget
    • National Security Interest / USAID / Sustain Operations on Limited Basis
    • Consular Services
  • SYRIA
    • Remarks by Foreign Minister Muallim
    • OPCW / Chemical Weapons
    • Refugees / Aid
  • PAKISTAN/INDIA
    • Encourage Bilateral Meetings / Kashmir Region
  • MIDDLE EAST PEACE
    • Talks Ongoing / Ambassador Indyk
  • TURKEY
    • Religious Reforms
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Undersecretary Sherman / Meetings with Azerbaijan and Armenian Leadership


TRANSCRIPT:

1:56 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Welcome back from UNGA to those of you who were there and I saw there, and to everyone else, it’s good to be back.

I have two items at the top. As you know, the Secretary had a bilateral meeting this morning with Foreign Minister Karti from Sudan. They discussed the importance of peace between Sudan and South Sudan and the need to end the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile, and Southern Kordofan; allow full humanitarian access; protect civilians; and make progress on a broad-based constitutional process to address the root causes of conflict.

The Secretary welcomed recent improvements in Sudan’s engagement with South Sudan, encouraged the full implementation of the September 27th, 2012 agreements, and urged progress on resolving the issue of the final status of Abyei.

I have one more for you before we get going here. The United States condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks against Kurdish security forces in Erbil and inside a mosque in Babil Province yesterday. In addition, we have seen a horrific wave of car bombings across Baghdad today that has taken numerous innocent lives. These attacks, especially an attack inside a place of worship, are detestable and disgraceful and expose the nature of those perpetuating these attacks.

The terrorists who committed these attacks are a shared enemy of the United States, Iraq, and the international community. We stand with the Iraqi people against this violence and in our commitment to support efforts to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims of these attacks.

Deb.

QUESTION: Can we stick with Sudan for on second? I’m sorry, what – is there a problem with going to Sudan, Deb?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Okay. Did the issue of the Sudanese crackdown on protesters last week come up at all in this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: It was not a topic in the meeting.

QUESTION: So you guys condemned it very harshly in your statement, but the Secretary didn’t feel like it should be mentioned in private?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of issues that we have brought up, of course, directly with our counterparts in Sudan. This was not a long meeting. They discussed a range of issues, as I mentioned. And clearly, we’ve condemned it and continue to, given our concern.

QUESTION: And then one other thing related to Sudan, which is, did – the Sudanese Government said that they had summoned the U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Khartoum last week for the United States – for what they said was the United States failure to issue a visa to President Bashir. Did the question of President Bashir getting or not getting a visa come up in this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: It came up. It was certainly far from a focus of the meeting. And beyond that, I don't have any updates for you on the visa.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary raise it?

MS. PSAKI: It was not raised by the Secretary.

QUESTION: Okay. And was there – can you say whether there was a protest of some sort about it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize it further. Just that it came up.

QUESTION: Okay. Then, and then last thing just on the record --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I know you don’t comment on visa matters generally, but can you say whether or not the U.S. Government ultimately issued a visa to President Bashir?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know you know what to anticipate here, given visa records are confidential. Our – generally our practice has been not to discuss visas issues unless the individual of a country or country involved makes the visa information public themselves. And obviously, you would know if that were the case at this point.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: But actually Minister Karti did make it public, because he said before – excuse me, Deb – in front of the General Assembly, he said on Friday that they, in a very strong condemnation of the United States, said that Washington had refused the visa, and he called it a violation and breach of the tenets governing the United States’ status as host of the United Nations.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s obviously a variety of considerations in play. I’d have to look more closely at his remarks, but I was referring to specifically the question of whether or not a visa had been issued, which obviously we don’t comment on specifically unless there’s information that comes clearly from a country, but I don’t have an update on it beyond that.

QUESTION: But he did. I mean, he very – I was listening to him and he said in front of a hundred gathered leaders that the United States had violated its role as a host country, and --

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously that was three days ago and I don’t have any further update publicly for all of you. Clearly, there are a range of considerations that come into play given his background, which we’re all familiar with. But beyond that, I just don’t have an update on the status.

QUESTION: So you can’t tell us whether – if a visa was granted or not, or whether Minister Karti was correct in his remarks about --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: On this attack --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s go to Deb, and then we can go to the next.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Could we --

MS. PSAKI: Let me go to Deb and then we’ll go back to answer the rest of your questions on it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is the Secretary’s --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Okay. You want to stay with Sudan. That’s okay.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll finish Sudan. Go ahead. What other questions?

QUESTION: We just wanted – if you could explain to us, what kind of a diplomatic tightrope you walked when you, on the one hand, received the Foreign Minister, and on the other hand, you consider the President of the country to be a criminal.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think it is the United States, but it is the ICC who is investigating the President. Obviously, there are a range of considerations in play with respect to President Bashir’s visit. Beyond that, I don’t have any further update for you, but I think we’re all familiar with his background and the history.

QUESTION: We understand. So as far as the Government of the United States is concerned, you don’t see him as someone who has committed crimes, although he’s wanted, by anything, by anyone?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re all familiar with the ICC investigation. I haven’t given you any update or confirmation one way or the other on the visa application. So I’m not making an evaluation. We’re all familiar with his background, and it’s natural that that would be a part of the decision-making process.

QUESTION: But you don’t, in any way, consider Mr. Bashir to be illegitimate, do you?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have more for it on you – on it for you than I’ve just offered.

Let’s go ahead. Do we have one more on Sudan? Okay.

QUESTION: Did the U.S. envoy, Ambassador Booth, attend the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: He did, yes.

QUESTION: Jen, I have one more on this.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Last one. Why should the Sudanese Government take seriously the U.S. Government’s criticism for the crackdown on protesters last week when the Secretary, in a relatively rare meeting with the Foreign Minister, doesn’t raise the matter?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Arshad, it’s an issue. And let me just take this opportunity to again strongly condemn the Government of Sudan’s brutal crackdown on protestors, including excessive use of force against civilians that has reportedly resulted in at least 50 deaths. Such a heavy-handed approach by Sudanese security forces is disproportionate, deeply concerning, and risks escalation of the unrest. As I mentioned, this is obviously an issue we have not been shy about speaking publicly about, the Secretary is clearly concerned about, as are many people in the government, and we’ve expressed that directly. This was not a lengthy meeting, and I wouldn’t take every topic that comes up or doesn’t come up as an indication of what’s important or not.

QUESTION: Well, but you would think that if something were really important, the Secretary would raise it, and I think it’s quite conceivable that the Sudanese might look at it that way too. If you don’t raise human rights with the Chinese in a meeting – and I think it gets raised in every single meeting with the Chinese – then maybe they will think it’s not important. So that’s why I’m asking the underlying question. So you’re saying it is important even though the Secretary didn’t raise it?

MS. PSAKI: I am conveying that.

QUESTION: Okay. And how long was the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: It was – I’d have to get back to you on the specific amount of time. Obviously, the Secretary’s schedule, as you’ve all seen today, given the meetings at the White House, has been pretty back-to-back.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you get back to us on that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, happy to.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we move to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: What’s the --

MS. PSAKI: You’ve been the most patient person in the room today. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So what is the Secretary’s message going to be to Netanyahu on Iran? I mean, do we want Israel to – does the United States want Israel to back off for a bit and see if any kind of diplomatic negotiation can take place? Or – and also, do you think that this is unhelpful, what he’s saying today, or what he said in the past couple days?

MS. PSAKI: What Prime Minister Netanyahu --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: -- has been saying?

QUESTION: Uh-huh.

MS. PSAKI: Well, one, we --

QUESTION: That this is a smiley campaign and --

MS. PSAKI: We share a concern with the Israelis about Iran’s nuclear program. There’s been no secret about that. There’s no doubt it will be a topic of conversation, but there’s a range of issues they’ll likely talk about. The Secretary’s message, I expect, will be the same that his public message is, which is that clearly, there – we saw a diplomatic opening here. Actions – and whether actions follow the words of the Iranians next week will be a big determining factor, but no deal is better than a bad deal. So we are waiting for a constructive response to the Almaty proposal. We’ll see what happens at the political directors meeting in just a couple of weeks. And beyond that, it’s in everyone’s interest to bring an end to Iran’s nuclear program.

QUESTION: But is this helpful to the process?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to characterize it one way or the other, other than to say the Secretary’s message and the President’s message have been very clear – that we see an opening with the Rouhani presidency, it was a constructive meeting last week, but obviously there’s a lot more work that needs to be done, and that’s where our focus is now.

QUESTION: Is this damaging to the work that you’re doing?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t want to characterize it further. Obviously, we’re working on our diplomatic track and seeing what’s possible in the next two weeks at the political director meetings. But at this point --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) can pretty much just say whatever – it doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t affect your work on this? I mean, it kind of does.

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, we’re very concerned, as we have been for months, about Iran’s nuclear program. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We wouldn’t be focused on seeing what constructive proposal – they can come back. That hasn’t changed. We’re going into any conversations at any level with eyes wide open. At the same point, it’s in everyone’s interest – our interest, the Israelis’ interest – to bring an end to the nuclear program. So let’s see if there’s an opportunity to do that.

QUESTION: One more on Iran?

QUESTION: So the Israeli attitude so far – I mean, what has been coming out of there is really quite mocking of this – whatever they call this thaw in relations or the love-fest or the smiles and so on. So you don’t have any comment on the Israeli attitude? Are you reassuring them that actually what you have done so far, it falls within the realm of U.S. stated position?

MS. PSAKI: I think what I just said is our response, is our comment. As you know, Prime Minister Netanyahu, which is what Deb just asked about, is here today meeting with the President. The Secretary will attend that meeting, and the Secretary’s meeting with him later this afternoon. But no one should have any doubt that we have remaining concerns about the nuclear program, that we’re going into any discussions with eyes wide open, that we expect actions to back up their words, and that anything less is unacceptable. So that’s the message that we’ll be conveying.

QUESTION: So do you find his comments to be a threat to something that just begun, actually, and conceivably, in any way, could scuttle these talks?

MS. PSAKI: The Iranian –

QUESTION: The Iranian talks? Because he was saying, in essence, that we’ve been down this road back in 2003, and look where we are. And he’s talking about a timetable whereby the Iranians are accused of having a nuclear bomb or one nuclear bomb in a very short order.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, as I said, no deal is better than a bad deal, and that’s what our bar will be. And so I’m certain that the Secretary will make clear, as he has publicly, as I am doing publicly now, that that’s what we’re looking for here.

QUESTION: Was the U.S. aware of the Israeli arrest of Ali Mansouri before the Shin Bet dog and pony on Sunday?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as one of our closest partners in the region, there’s no surprise that we’ve been in close contact. We did – we were given a heads-up shortly beforehand.

QUESTION: So the U.S. has known about this for three weeks and there’s no reason to --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to characterize the timeline of when we did or didn’t, just that we knew about it before it was public.

QUESTION: So, is there – so, to have this released on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington is not perceived by this building or by anyone in the Administration as some sort of tacit undercutting of what seems to be this warming of relations between the two countries?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think we’re a little premature to characterize what exactly it can be or will be. Obviously, there’s an opening. We feel it’s – diplomacy is always the preferred option in any case, and so we’re going to pursue it and see where it leads. But beyond that, I wouldn’t want to characterize the timing or thinking or anything along those lines.

QUESTION: Another one on Iran. Is there a sense that even though Rouhani is widely perceived to have the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei, that he has enough political standing to be able to resist the hardline right within the ruling theocracy there? And if not, is it worth pursuing this opening of relations between the two countries?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a few steps ahead of where we are and it’s hard for us to determine the response politically in Iran. All of those things are, of course, true in terms of the challenging politics, but remember, Rouhani ran and was elected on an economic platform to reform and reinvigorate the economy in Iran; it’s difficult to do that while this range of crushing sanctions are in place. So that is clearly what we think is the motivation from their end. Now, is there a delivery of a response – of a credible response to the proposals put forward? We’ll see; we haven’t seen that yet.

QUESTION: And then, finally, some neoconservative analysts are suggesting that perhaps the U.S. ought to raise the specter of some sort of possible military action as an inducement to Tehran to continue trying to do the right thing, as they put it. Is that on the table from this Administration or not, and if so, why?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think the President and the Secretary have been very clear. We’re not going to allow Iran to create a nuclear weapon. So there are a range of options certainly on the table, but obviously diplomacy is the preferred approach. Sanctions and the impact of sanctions have clearly been a motivating factor here, and we’ll see where we are in a couple of weeks when the political directors meet at that level.

QUESTION: Do you think further sanctions would be helpful or not helpful at this point?

MS. PSAKI: We continue to work, of course, with Congress and others. I don’t have a prediction of anything, but obviously, the fact that strong sanctions have been in place – have been put in place by Congress have had – clearly had an impact.

QUESTION: So stronger sanctions, then, would be good?

MS. PSAKI: No. I’m not characterizing it. Obviously, we’re at this point in part because of economic sanctions, so --

QUESTION: Might not be be such a good idea, though, to put more on right now while you’re talking.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, we’ll keep working with Congress as proposals are made. But beyond that, we’re – we’ve always been working on kind of the diplomatic track – the dual track with diplomacy, as well as the pressure of sanctions.

QUESTION: So is the Secretary --

MS. PSAKI: That hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: So is the Secretary picking up the phone and saying, “Hey you guys on the Hill, could you not do this for right now and give me a chance to get somewhere,” or --

MS. PSAKI: We continue to consult with Congress. I don’t have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- can I follow up on Deb’s question about that. The senior Administration official who briefed in New York on Thursday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- when asked this question, talked about how the Administration wanted flexibility for the negotiations. And when asked a follow-up about what the official meant on talking about flexibility for the negotiations, if I understood the official correctly – and maybe I didn’t – the official was saying, “Yes, the Administration supports additional sanctions.” I think that quote was, “We do,” although maybe it was referring to something else. But the official then said, “We want” – when talking about flexibility, the official was talking about waivers, other kinds of latitude that the Administration would have so that it could ease sanctions if the negotiations sort of justified that. Does what the official said and is my interpretation of it correct, that, yes, you do support additional sanctions, but you want to make sure that they have waiver or other authorities that allow flexibility or latitude in their imposition?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I was there with that senior official at the time, and what I took away from that, and from discussing with people in the building, was an indication that our position has not changed and that we worked with Congress on potential sanctions legislation before. We will continue to do that. There’s obviously been no decision to take away sanctions. We know that is what the Iranians would like and what they have proposed, but that our position hasn’t changed. And we’ll obviously evaluate as time goes on if actions warrant, but that’s ahead of where we are in the process.

QUESTION: But the reason I think Deb’s question is so important is that “working with” doesn’t imply whether you think more sanctions are good or bad. You could think more sanctions are bad.

MS. PSAKI: Well, right now it’s a hypothetical because there isn’t a bill that’s on the President’s desk that has new sanctions.

QUESTION: No, but there is a bill that passed the House, and that I think Senate Banking is likely to take up in some form or another, so it’s not like the question is entirely moot.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, of course. I’m not suggesting it is.

QUESTION: Well, do you like that bill?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to speak to it. It’s draft, it’s legislation that’s working its way through and we’re – we’ll continue to consult with Congress as this process continues.

QUESTION: The problem --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) lobbying going on.

QUESTION: The --

MS. PSAKI: There’s no lobbying going on?

QUESTION: Yeah. There’s – that he’s not --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have a regular consultation with Congress about nearly every piece of legislation that, of course, would impact --

QUESTION: So, when – what are you saying, then, to them? What --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on it. We’re getting a little ahead of where we are in the process. What that senior Administration official made clear is that we’ll continue to discuss with Congress proposed legislation, and we’ll see where we land.

QUESTION: But the problem is if you don’t send a signal that you favor additional sanctions --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or that you have a bias toward additional sanctions, you leave the people on the Hill who, at least in the House have already passed --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- pretty harsh sanctions bill, the impression that you are, in fact, trying to back away from them as you embark on these negotiations. Maybe that’s a justifiable position for the Administration to take, but by not giving us a clear read on this --

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s the purpose of private consultations and discussions with the Hill. And obviously, last week there was a productive meeting, but we have a lot more work to do, and we’ll see where we land in the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION: Syria?

QUESTION: On the Iran --

MS. PSAKI: Iran?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Iran, in case others have more.

QUESTION: Yeah, just a follow-up about this – reflection of this phone call in Tehran.

MS. PSAKI: The President’s phone call?

QUESTION: The President’s --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- phone call with Dr. Rouhani.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That Tehran actually is – even and beyond this additional sanction discussion, that Tehran is expecting some symbolic steps from the Administration, as I understand. They are even talking about to start a direct flight between Tehran and – I mean, between Iran and U.S. So what is your comment about this impression in Iran about this expression of goodwill?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen a number of public comments. Our position remains an openness to exploring the relationship moving forward. However, there are a number of steps that Iran needs to take, including a constructive response to proposals that we have put down on the table. Our focus at this time is, of course, resolving the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program and not on other side issues.

QUESTION: Could I just --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- a quick follow-up on the issue of sanctions in Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary of State said last week that they’re not expecting to lift any sanctions as long as the Fordow facility is unopened. So the – is the implication here that if they open the Fordow facility for international inspection, that then the sanctions would be lifted?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know you’re referring to a clip from an interview. I would encourage you to – and I’m happy to send it to you or anyone else – to read the full interview, because there was actually quite a few specifics that were listed in there. That was just one example of a step that could be taken.

QUESTION: Okay, but on that very point, on opening that particular facility, if they opened that particular facility for international inspection, would that open – would that lift the sanctions?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a negotiation here. I would encourage you again to read the context of the full interview that that was mentioned in.

QUESTION: And lastly, on the issue of evidence, the Prime Minister of Israel is saying that he has solid evidence that he wants to share with you that shows that Iran is very active and did not pull back or withdraw back on its activity towards creating a nuclear bomb. Is his evidence different than the evidence that you have and you share with him all the time?

MS. PSAKI: I am not aware of what the evidence is yet for – hard to – hard for me to speak to it, and I wouldn’t from the podium anyway.

Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Can we stick with that for one second?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I just – for the sake of clarity --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- my impression is that the Fordow facility is under inspection by the IAEA. Is that not the case?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on the specifics. The point I was trying to make was that there wasn’t a direct link in the interview --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- between if you do this, we’ll do that.

QUESTION: I’m pretty sure it is being inspected and that there are inspectors there quite regularly.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll check on that for you, Arshad, as well – oh, and as well as everybody else who I’m sure that would be of interest to.

QUESTION: On just – on Iran still --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I wondered if there was any reaction from this building to the reception that President Rouhani got when he landed back in Tehran – there were a number of supporters, but there was also quite a number of opponents who were throwing shoes at him as well, and also to the news that some of these conciliatory tweets appear to have been deleted almost as soon as his plane left the country. Have you analyzed any of this? I mean, does this – do you feel that a lot of it was just for show and that people are being led by the nose of it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we have much analysis from this end, other than to say that we are going into any discussion eyes wide open. We are – have been clear about what steps need to be taken from the Iranian side. It’s clearly not easy, given – look at last week and how challenging a handshake was, even politically. But there’s an openness, more of an openness. There was a different presentation given last Thursday than what we had seen before in terms of the level of seriousness. And so we’ll see what happens moving forward.

QUESTION: What’s the --

QUESTION: Do you feel it’s a genuine new openness? Do you don’t feel that it’s just for show whilst he’s here and then when he gets back home and he gets reined in by the hardliners that it’s all going to disappear in a puff of smoke?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s challenging to make too long-term or formal of an evaluation, other than to say that the presentation that was given on Thursday was different in tone and vision for the future than we had seen in the past. There were some ideas put forward. It wasn’t a formal response, so that’s what we’re waiting for.

QUESTION: Can I ask two really quick ones?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: One, do you have a comment on – I know you had guidance on this over the weekend, but on the announcement that Turkey had selected a Chinese company that is under sanctions to provide a missile defense system --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and specifically on the Turkish President Gul’s comments, or at least he’s quoted as having said today that the deal is not yet final.

And then the second thing is: Do you have an estimate for – and I’m sorry, I realize this is totally different --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But I read through the guidance that you put out about the implications of a possible government shutdown on the State Department, and I can’t figure out – and nowhere does it offer any kind of an estimate on how long you may be able to operate before you’ve sort of squeezed all the extra money that there might be out of the system.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Do you mind if we finish Iran and then I’ll answer your two questions?

QUESTION: By all means, by all means.

MS. PSAKI: Are there any others on Iran? Okay, all right. Good. Well, that was a quick turnabout of the room. Okay.

On the first question, we, of course, have conveyed our serious concerns about the Turkish Government’s contract discussions with a U.S. sanctioned company for a missile defense system that will not be interoperable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities. Our discussions will continue. We, of course, do note the public comments made that you referenced. So I don’t have more of an update on that now, and we’ll see in the days ahead.

QUESTION: You’re not mad about this, though, that they want to go to buy something from a company that you guys think are --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we conveyed our serious concerns about the reports, and those discussions will, of course, continue.

On your question of --

QUESTION: A follow-up on this question, Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What will be the consequences of this kind of partnership between Turkish Government and a sanctioned company, and in terms of the NATO relationship?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s a hypothetical at this point, given public comments, and obviously, we’re continuing to discuss it. So if a decision is made, then we’ll talk about that at that point.

QUESTION: How did you convey the message? To the Embassy or directly to President Gul or Prime Minister --

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that specifically. I honestly don’t know off the top of my head, but I know it was conveyed at a high level.

QUESTION: Are you expecting a change in this decision?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see. I would point you to the comments of the Turkish Government, but I don’t want to get ahead of them on whether the decision was – I believe they said it was an interim decision, I think is the word that they used.

QUESTION: Would the U.S. be willing to tell the Turkish Government that it thinks it’s a bad idea to allow a country that might have designs on NATO or more specifically U.S. defense capabilities to avoid that country?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we expressed our concerns. I don’t think I can be more clear or specific than that at this point. And you’ve obviously seen comments that the Turkish Government has made.

Let – do you have another one on Turkey?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister --

QUESTION: Can we stay with the missile situation?

QUESTION: Yes, I have that. I am – missiles. The Prime Minister today said that Turkey selected because this missile system by Chinese is cheap and they can co-produce missiles. At this point, are you willing to go lower than the Chinese?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I’m totally understanding your question.

QUESTION: It’s about the bottom line.

QUESTION: Yeah, bargain. The bottom line, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, all I can say is that the main concern here was that the Turkish Government was having contract discussions with a U.S.-sanctioned company for a missile defense system that was not operable with NATO systems. So you can assume that was the thrust of our conversation.

Did you have another one on Turkey?

QUESTION: Actually, my question was related to the price and strategic importance of this issue. And you see the U.S. Administration is seeing this a bit more strategically rather than the price --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a price analysis for you, other than to convey – which I think I’ve done – what our concerns were and what concerns were expressed and to point you to the Turkish Government.

Do you all want me to answer the sequester question before we move on?

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. So I know there have been a lot of questions about this, so let me just give you some top lines if that’s okay.

The State Department and USAID are national security agencies and will take steps to continue working to advance the national interest even in the event of a shutdown and reduced staff. In short, regardless of the challenges a shutdown would create, we will continue to operate to advance national interests and to protect health and safety of American citizens and those living abroad.

If appropriations are not continued, so if the government shuts down, initially Department of State and USAID activities can be sustained on a limited basis for a short period of time. I don’t have the specific number of days because it’s dependent on our programs and spending, so I can’t give you the prediction of the number of days.

And a couple of other just factual budgetary pieces that explain for you a little bit of why we are here. The national security interest is the bottom line here. We are part of the national security cone; we are responsible for representing the United States overseas and representing to Americans what our foreign interests are. But in addition, our – as the FY2013 appropriations were not received until late March and we will have residual funds available beyond today as a result, and also while some money is only available for one year through one-year funding, most appropriations accounts are multiyear, fee-based, or available until expended, which applies to the vast majority of our programs.

Jill.

QUESTION: On that, so --

QUESTION: Specifically on the Secretary --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Will he – as Attorney General Holder has said that he is going to give up his pay in solidarity with most severely affected Justice Department employees, is the Secretary going to do something similar?

MS. PSAKI: I will – I have not spoken with him about that, I have to admit. He has done things along those lines before, so let me check in and we’ll get back to all of you.

QUESTION: So there’s a --

QUESTION: Coming back to the programs that are paid for on – and the money’s available --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- until you get to that stage – does that mean that USAID programs for education, for public health, those sorts of things – will there be an interruption? And then for other programs that affect primarily U.S. citizens, what could be the impact? And then finally, when we walk in here tomorrow, who’s going to be at work, assuming that the CR is not reached by midnight?

MS. PSAKI: I will be here. Is that exciting?

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Just kidding. Because we’re able to sustain our operations on a limited basis, the vast majority of normal functions and operations will continue. This is in large part because we are a national security agency, but also because of the specific budgetary pieces that I outlined for you.

In terms of specific programs, I’d point you to USAID on that. They are, of course, under State. They have the same funding mechanisms, but obviously, there are a handful that could be, so I don’t want to get into too program-by-program details.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: So on the one-year programs --

MS. PSAKI: One moment. I’ll just go one-by-one.

QUESTION: On the one-year programs, you said that some of the money’s still going to be around because of the sequester thing, and it didn’t start right away.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And you said “days.” Are we talking – like is that weeks?

MS. PSAKI: In terms of how long we could --

QUESTION: You weren’t sure how many days it would continue because --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, I didn’t mean to imply one or the other. I --

QUESTION: No, I know. But, I mean, is it more like weeks? Is it --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize further, because it’s something that our budget wonks are still punching through.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But those are some of the impact – the reasons why that we will be able to continue operations.

QUESTION: Okay, two more. On the one-year programs --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- those probably would be the fastest hurt, correct? Those would be the ones that would be the hurt first, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of what kind of programs those are, or what ones fall under that – anything like that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specifics today. And given we haven’t taken this step yet, I don’t think we would provide those today. But I’m happy to check in on that and see if there are more specifics.

QUESTION: Okay. And also, on the visas --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the consular services --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- I was under the impression last week that it’s not really affected anymore because it’s fee-based --

MS. PSAKI: Fee-based.

QUESTION: -- completely. Can you explain that to me?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. So activities carry out by our – by the Bureau of Consular Affairs will continue domestically and abroad. So that means they will continue visa issuance as well as our passport operations. There are some – and let me just get this other piece out since I’m communicating where we are here – some State Department passport offices are located in federal buildings that may be forced to shut down during a lapse in appropriations due to a lack of building support services. That’s hard for us – that wouldn’t obviously be State Department-determined. But fee-based means when you go in and you renew your passport, as you’re looking forward to traveling with us around the world, you pay a fee, and that helps fund the programs. And so that allows the programs and the consular steps to be – to continue.

QUESTION: And abroad as --

MS. PSAKI: And abroad as well. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: What about --

QUESTION: So no consular activities will be closed down abroad at the moment?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: Great.

QUESTION: And the only ones here would be the ones that were in federal buildings that happened to close because they were shut down.

MS. PSAKI: Correct, which is a couple steps beyond exactly where we are.

QUESTION: Could I ask – are there any furloughs? Do you anticipate any immediate kind of furloughs from tomorrow, if it goes ahead, the shutdown? Or do you think you’ll still be able to keep going broadly as a whole for – you said a short period of time?

MS. PSAKI: Broadly, yes. I will have to double-check and make sure that the answer is zero. But I can convey definitively that the vast, vast majority of staff will not be, and I’ll check on that for you. I just don’t want to speak out of turn.

QUESTION: On this point --

QUESTION: What about contractors?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that specifically.

QUESTION: On this point, there is no bureau or office that will be shut down tomorrow in this building that you are aware of?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that I am – again, we are continuing to operate. I will check on the – that level of specificity for all of you and see if there’s any more details. But we’re able to continue our operations, we’re able to continue our staffing, we’re able to continue our services around the world in part because we are a national security agency, and in part because of some of the budgetary pieces that I outlined.

QUESTION: Okay. This question sounds odd, but does the State Department keep some funds for a rainy day, something like this, independent of the rest of the government institutions?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure that’s what we call them. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well -- for the lack of better --

MS. PSAKI: Said, obviously --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) my question --

MS. PSAKI: -- well, given the events of this year, clearly we have been taking steps to pinch pennies where we can pinch pennies. However, we have important services that we provide around the world to citizens living overseas, programs that are essential, and obviously, communicating to the world, as we do, as the diplomats to the world, is an essential and very important task.

QUESTION: What about military aid and review of other outstanding issues? I’m thinking, specifically, military aid to Egypt, Keystone XL, those sorts of issues – does the work continue on reviewing those? For any military aid packages, does that aid continue? Does the U.S. continue to review proposals for continuing this sort of aid? What – tell us what’s going on there.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, there’s no new update on that. But there are employees who will be in place in every building, even if this were to happen – so the people who this applies to in the State Department, certainly. I can’t speak for DOD and other departments. As I understand it, they all have their own --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- plans.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: I know you can’t specify days versus weeks and things like that --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but on the off chance you have something on this, is there any chance that a shutdown would affect the Secretary’s upcoming trip to Asia?

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: Okay. And then one other thing.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Excuse me, can I just follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish here.

QUESTION: So if we do get past the residual funds, as I understand it, the Chief of Mission makes a determination on people and embassies and whether they’re exemptible and things like that. Do you have any concept at this point, knowing that we’re not there yet, of what that would look like, how many – how fully staffed embassies and consulates would be?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t want to make a prediction. Obviously, that’s something that’s thought through in every agency and every department, but given we’re not even at a government shutdown, I’m not going to make a prediction today.

QUESTION: Are there guidelines for employees if a shutdown occurs, such as don’t go anywhere, travel --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, employees will be communicated with, but beyond that, I don’t have any other details at this point. Perhaps if we get there, we’ll have more to say in the next day or so.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: We heard Mr. Muallim this morning at the United Nations. Interested in your reaction to some of the things he said, especially the one where he indicated – he seemed to indicate that they would comply with the chemical weapons agreement. However, there was also the comment that other countries that are supplying chemical weapons to the opposition – it’s questionable – will they too follow through, as Syria will. What do you make of that? Are there any other general comments or specific comments about what he said?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, let me first say that his comparison of al-Qaida’s attack on New York in 2001 to the current situation in Syria is disingenuous and offensive. The Assad regime’s brutal response to what began as peaceful demonstrations in Syria precipitated the country’s terrible crisis and has led to the death of over 100,000 people. And it should not be lost on anyone that just yesterday, on the first day of school, the regime shelled a high school, killing, I think, over a dozen students, if not more. So that should not be lost.

Clearly, there is an expectation – not just by the United States, but by the international community – that Syria will abide by its obligations that are set in place by the OPCW, that are set in place by the UN Security Council. And the international community will not only be watching; there’s now a binding resolution that will hold them to that. There are a couple of upcoming deadlines I think most of you are familiar with, but are worth repeating. That includes, tomorrow, allowing inspectors in. Obviously, that’s a key component of this. At the end of October, the formal Syrian CW declaration is due to the OPCW – actually, on October 27th.

So there are a number of steps that need to be taken that the regime will be held to and held accountable for. Clearly, part of the motivation here was sending a message that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and we would not stand by and allow this international norm to be violated. So I can’t speak to hypotheticals, but obviously, if there’s a use of chemical weapons, God forbid, by another source or if that’s discovered, we would certainly want to hold that source accountable as well.

QUESTION: Muallim also said that he wanted to --

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish. I’ll go to you next, Said. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Muallim also had some comments aimed at Israel and suggested that among other things, Syria was intent on regaining control of the Golan Heights. Is there a reaction from this building to that?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen the full context of the comments. I’ve only seen briefly, but I’m happy to check on that for you after the briefing.

QUESTION: Jen, on that other thing that he said vis-a-vis Israel, I’m not quite sure whether he actually used the word, “Israel,” but he did say that countries that have nuclear weapons, that there should be a – the – a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’ve been away for a while, so I’m not quite sure the state of your comments about this, but certainly the Russians have said, “Why not? This should be part of it. If Israel has even undeclared weapons, why not put it all on the table?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple of things. One, we would certainly welcome anyone abiding by or joining any of these – the NPT, the CWC as well. However, we would not accept the attempt to compare a regime that has brutalized and killed thousands of – tens of thousands of its people to the situation in other countries, but certainly, we would welcome that.

I would also point you to – I can’t speak to this much more than just to point you to the comments by President Peres about a possible openness. So beyond that, I don’t have further analysis, but I just would point you to that.

QUESTION: But there surely will come a Middle East that is free of weapons of mass destruction, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’d certainly – and we’d certainly welcome anyone joining any of these agreements and abiding by them. So that hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Okay. A quick follow-up on Muallim’s – you said that you find that the comparison to September 11th to be offensive. That may be the case, but you do concur that Syria and Damascus and government building and many other places have been targets of terrorism, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly been concerned about the extremist elements, as we’ve talked about many times before. But there shouldn’t be a question about the cause of the brutality that has spanned the last two and a half years and has led us to this point.

QUESTION: Okay. But you also concur that the people that carried out these horrible attacks on September 11th, there are many people that espouse the same ideas and theories that are actually fighting today in Syria, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Said, I’ve made clear why we don’t think it’s an appropriate or accurate comparison.

QUESTION: Okay. And finally, on Resolution 2118 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is there anywhere in the resolution that talks about Chapter 7 in particular as far as the military component is concerned?

MS. PSAKI: Well, just one thing to be clear on: It was never our goal or our effort to include use of force as a part of this. That was not our push. There is a reference to Chapter 7 I think most of you are familiar with, but just in case I have it here with me: “In the event of noncompliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.” That’s an exact quote.

QUESTION: I have two quick questions.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead. One at a time.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the prime ministers of Pakistan and India met in New York. They were able to --

QUESTION: Can we finish Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we finish Syria and we’ll make sure we go back to it before we finish? I promise. Let’s just finish Syria.

QUESTION: There are some reports today that Syrian chemical disclosure falls short of the U.S. count. Is there any way you can talk about --

MS. PSAKI: Of the U.S.?

QUESTION: U.S. count, information about the chemical --

QUESTION: Count.

MS. PSAKI: Count.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Oh. That the presence of? I’m sorry, could you repeat one more time?

QUESTION: Syria submitted its list, and according to some reports today that it falls short of the U.S. count. Would you be able to comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re not going to publicly discuss details of confidential disclosure given to the OPCW. I would point you to – and we’ll continue to asses. I would point you to the fact that the formal Syrian CW declaration is due to the OPCW on October 27th. It was just formally made available today, so that’s obviously something that member-states will be reviewing, I’m sure, in the days ahead.

QUESTION: A couple weeks ago, Syrian opposition created an interim government.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: As far as we know, the U.S. has not recognized this interim government yet. Are you planning to recognize it? If not, why not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t – I think that’s just a mischaracterization. Obviously, we’re working with the SOC, we’re working with the opposition, and we’ve applauded their steps they’ve taken to elect leadership. But beyond that, we’re working to getting to a Geneva conference to create a transitional government, and that’s what our focus is.

QUESTION: But you know all militant troops, including the Free Syrian Army, actually, have disassociated themselves from the – either the interim government or any of the political groups that are on the outside. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, saw that announcement last week. Obviously, many of those were local commanders, and we’re still working with the opposition and evaluating what the impact will be.

QUESTION: Jen, do you know what the U.S. has said how much it’s going to contribute funding for the eradication of the arsenal?

MS. PSAKI: I can tell you what we’ve done to date. Obviously, this is something we’re continuing to evaluate. But even before the September 27th decisions by OPCW and the Security Council, the United States has provided 2 million in initial funding to support OPCW monitoring and verification. We clearly want to see this mission succeed in a transparent and effective manner and as rapidly as possible. When we’re reaching out to international partners, as we speak, asking them to consider what more they can do to support, and we are prepared to provide more support as the process goes forward. But I don’t have a prediction of the amount at this point.

QUESTION: Can I – on Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Just one more Syria --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: -- and then we’ll go to -- mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu today has been pleading the entire international community that through the UN Security Council they need to help for the refugees for these four countries who are Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to that?

My – and my second question is the winter is coming up in few weeks according to estimates, people who know, the refugees are going to be even maybe doubled according some estimate. Do you think that your allies like Jordan or countries like Lebanon are going to able to take care of these huge new waves of refugees?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, the humanitarian situation and the devastation on the ground and the millions of people who have been pushed out of Syria as a result of the civil war has been a great concern to the Secretary, to the President, and to the entire – most of the international community as well. That’s why we’ve provided such a significant amount of funds. We’re the largest humanitarian donor in the world. I expect we’ll continue to remain focused on that.

We are in very close touch with our partners in neighboring countries, including Turkey, including Lebanon, including Jordan, about their needs and how to sustain the population, how to take care of them to the best we can. And I expect those conversations will continue. I don’t have anything more or any new announcements, but this is one of those areas that often doesn't receive enough attention despite the fact that it is – has one of the greatest impacts on the innocent men, women, and children in Syria and in the surrounding countries.

QUESTION: Are you concerned allies like Jordan, some people argue that even collapse with the additional hundreds of thousands of people are coming in or expected to come in?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the number of refugees, as you know, has been increasing rapidly over time, and that has been a result of the devastation of the civil war in Syria. We have been in very close and regular contact – weekly, monthly – with a range of partners in the region, and that will continue. I don’t want to make any predictions on the impact, but clearly we wouldn’t have given and provided as much aid not only to – within Syria but to surrounding countries if this devastation wasn’t an ongoing concern of ours.

QUESTION: Your aid that you were describing as upwards trajectory, it is still the same? I mean, do you have angle that it’s going up or for --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have --

QUESTION: I’m talking about stating opposition.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new announcements, but certainly last week, the President just announced a new chunk of aid, and I expect that will continue.

India Pakistan?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just – I promised him I’d come right back to him.

QUESTION: What is your reaction to the meeting yesterday between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers who were able to agree that the two countries should observe ceasefire --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- along the line of control in disputed Kashmir region?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we welcome any and all high-level discussions between Pakistan and India. That would improve their bilateral relationship. As President Obama said last week, we share an interest with both countries in seeing a peaceful reduction of tensions on the subcontinent, and we continue to support, strongly, efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and we encourage further dialogue.

QUESTION: And did the outcome meet your expectations? Because, it was widely expected that the two countries would be able to announce the resumption of peace process --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the composite dialogue which is – addresses these outstanding issues.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not for us to evaluate, but dialogue is a positive step forward and we’ll continue to encourage that.

QUESTION: And also to that --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Pakistani Prime Minister in his speech to the United Nations underscored the need for settlement that belongs to any Kashmir disputes. Most of the security problems emanate from that dispute.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Would you expect that the two countries will be able to move forward towards that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position on Kashmir has not changed. We still believe the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, and we continue to encourage dialogue.

QUESTION: Quick question on Palestinian-Israeli talks.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you update us whether there have been any calls since last week between the Secretary of State and the President of --

MS. PSAKI: Aside from the Secretary’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu?

QUESTION: No, I mean did he meet with the Prime – I’m saying, were there any calls made by the Secretary to Palestinian Authority President Abbas?

MS. PSAKI: He did speak with President Abbas yesterday.

QUESTION: Okay, could you tell what they discussed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have further details on it, but obviously, they’re in regular contact about the ongoing direct negotiations. You saw President Abbas speak quite passionately last week, and I expect that will be a big topic of the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu today.

QUESTION: Okay. The Palestinians claim that they are at a deadlock in the talks because they don’t see eye to eye on the issue of land swaps and borders and so on. Could you update us on this? Or is this a topic that Secretary Kerry is likely to discuss or discuss with Prime Minister Netanyahu?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly the discussions and the status of the negotiations and where we go from here will be a part of their conversation. There’s no surprise about that. The Secretary provided a pretty extensive update last week on where things stand, where he talked about how the parties have now engaged in about seven rounds of direct bilateral negotiations, the role the United States has played and will continue to play as a facilitator, and the agreement that we’re doing to continue to intensify talks moving forward. So that’s the status of where things stand. We know there are still going to be pitter patter of various reports out there, but the Secretary is the one authorized to speak to it and he provided an update just late last week.

QUESTION: Jen, can I ask – in that speech to the Ad Hoc Committee, the Secretary mentioned is that there had been an agreement that the American side should intensify their efforts

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- toward a peace deal. Could you explain exactly what he meant by that, and in what way you’re going to intensify your efforts --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we’ve obviously had a team on the ground and we will increase our efforts in our facilitating role. So, what that will mean moving forward, we will see. But it is just an agreement with all parties that we would continue to play a more engaged role in the process.

QUESTION: Does that mean maybe that either Martin Indyk or the Secretary himself will become more sleeves rolled up, down on the ground, involved in the direct negotiations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Ambassador Indyk is the one running point day to day; that won’t change. The Secretary, as you know, has met with both sides a couple of times over the last couple of weeks, but it wasn’t an indication of his role or that changing moving forward at all.

QUESTION: And is there any indication, possibly, of a three-way summit between either the Secretary – presumably the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas?

MS. PSAKI: There’s not one planned at this point.

QUESTION: Not yet?

MS. PSAKI: Not yet.

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: I think Mr. Indyk who’s is making a speech tonight.

MS. PSAKI: He is.

QUESTION: Do you have any preview on that at all?

MS. PSAKI: He was still working on the speech before I came down here, so unfortunately I don’t. But we will see if they have anything that they can provide all of you before he actually delivers the remarks.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s going to be newsy or more like general?

MS. PSAKI: It’s going to be fabulous, of course. Tune in.

QUESTION: Yes, of course, yes. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction yet. They are – he was working through the remarks right before I came down here, so if there’s any --

QUESTION: Oh, live streaming.

MS. PSAKI: Perfect, we’ll look forward to that. But if there’s anything to preview, I’ll encourage them to make that available to all of you.

QUESTION: Well, they were having a problem with their live streaming this morning, so I wonder if it might be possible to get the text if – just in case the live streaming goes out.

MS. PSAKI: I will, certainly. I’m happy to make that request on your behalf.

QUESTION: An embargoed text would be great.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. What else would you like? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: On the two-state solution, Jennifer, I mean, it’s very clear, you’ve always stated your commitment to the two-state solution, but that does preclude a temporary state with temporary borders, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary made very clear we aren’t looking for an interim solution and that our goal remains the same.

QUESTION: Quick question on Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Turkish Prime Minister --

MS. PSAKI: On Turkey?

QUESTION: On Turkey, yes. The Turkish Prime Minister today announced a democratization package. Do you have a comment on it?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I do. We welcome the Turkish Government’s announcement of the democratization reforms it intends to pursue as an important step forward. We would, of course, refer you to them for more specifics on their proposals.

QUESTION: I know that the Administration is very sensitive, especially, on the issues like Halki Seminary the reopening of the seminary.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you think that – some circles are criticizing the content of the package in terms of this issues was not – were not involved with the package. Do you have any reaction to it?

MS. PSAKI: We continue to encourage the Government of Turkey to make additional reforms, to expand the enjoyment of religious freedom, and are disappointed that the reopening of Halki Seminary on terms acceptable to the Ecumenical – you know what I’m saying – Patricarch was not included in current reforms. Sorry, that is a tongue-twister, but yes. So we were disappointed it was not included.

QUESTION: Did you convey your message to the government on this issue?

MS. PSAKI: I would have to check on that, but we are in regular contact and convey our concerns regularly.

QUESTION: Any other topic that you are disappointed that you – it wasn’t involved with --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more analysis for you than that.

Scott.

QUESTION: Jen, in New York, Wendy Sherman met with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials. Do you have anything on that or did I miss that?

MS. PSAKI: No, you didn’t miss it. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman had many meetings last week on the margins of the UN General Assembly. She was – had a very packed, busy schedule. This included separate meetings both on September 27th with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian.

Azerbaijan and Armenia are valued partners of the United States with whom we have worked for many years. Under Secretary Sherman discussed bilateral issues and reviewed efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the OSCE Minsk Group process with both foreign ministers.

Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:53 p.m.)

DPB #159



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