The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.
1:22 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a statement to read at the top, then I’m happen to – happy, excuse me – to open it up for questions after that.
I know there’s been a lot of discussion on Egypt. As we said last night, the reports that we are halting all of our military assistance to Egypt are false. As the President said in his speech to the UN, our overriding interests throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people and recognizes true democracy as requiring a respect for minority rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, and a strong civil society. That remains our interest today. We will continue to work with the interim government to promote our core interests and to support areas that benefit the Egyptian people.
The President has also been clear that we are not able to continue to with business as usual. As you know, we have already announced that we are not proceeding with the delivery of certain military systems. Following on the result of the review directed by President Obama, we will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt once we have made the appropriate diplomatic and congressional notifications. We will continue to support a democratic transition and oppose violence as a means of resolving differences in Egypt, and our relationship with the Egyptian Government, including U.S. assistance to Egypt, will continue. We will provide as much information as possible when we can.
And with that, Deb, why don’t you get us started?
QUESTION: When do you think those notifications are going to be done? I mean, are we going to see this in the next day or so, or --
MS. HARF: I don’t have any timing for you. Clearly, we will be making these notifications at the appropriate time, and when we have something to announce, we’ll let you know.
QUESTION: Did he --
QUESTION: So the decision is made?
MS. HARF: Following on the result of the review directed by President Obama, we will announce the future of our assistance relationship with Egypt, once we have made the appropriate diplomatic and congressional notifications. So the answer to that is yes.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Is this going to be suspending aid? Or is this going to be cutting aid?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to further talk about what the decision we’re going to announce looks like. I’m just not going to before the appropriate notifications are made.
QUESTION: What is your fundamental goal in Egypt?
MS. HARF: Well, I think the President made clear, most recently at the UN, that our overriding interests, as I just said, throughout these past few years has been to encourage a government that legitimately reflects the will of the Egyptian people. It’s been a rocky road there, certainly, and we knew that this wouldn’t be easy. The path to true democracy – which requires, as we’ve talked about, minority rights, rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly – it takes time. It took us a good bit of time here in the United States to get to where we are today. So I think we’ve been clear that we’re going to keep working with the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian people to help them on this transition to democracy.
We, of course, have a long relationship that’s bigger than assistance, though. It’s based on the fact that Egypt is a key partner in the region, a region that we care a great deal about security and stability, certainly. We’ve talked about some of these issues in the past. So I think that’s sort of our core interest there and what will guide our policy going forward.
QUESTION: So you have two core interests, then? One is to see Egypt move toward a more democratic and inclusive society --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- and the other is to maintain this security partnership that you have had?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to say we just have two. Those are just two examples of interests we have in Egypt. But it’s a broad relationship that’s been formed over decades of working together on a number of issues. Those are just two at the top of my head, but I’m sure we will have a chance to talk a lot more in depth about our relationship with Egypt, where that’s going, what are interests are, and what that policy is, as soon as we make the announcement about our assistance.
QUESTION: How does – and I realize it’s hard in the absence of knowing the details – but how do you square those two interests?
MS. HARF: In what way? Are you arguing that they’re mutually exclusive?
QUESTION: You have said that you intend to continue, as the President said at UNGA, to offer some assistance to Egypt.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: You’ve also said that you want to see Egypt move toward a more democratic --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- and inclusive path, one which, I think by your own statements, it doesn’t seem to have done particularly since July 3rd, and as the President acknowledged in the three things that he cited, the ways of – in which they’ve pursued nondemocratic, non-inclusive policies in that speech.
So the question is: Do you think that giving them some amount of aid helps nudge them in that direction? Is that what you – is that what you’re hoping to achieve here, that you can push them in the direction you want by cutting aid and giving other aid? I mean --
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not – it’s a good question. I will make some general points about that. I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in terms of announcing a new policy and what that policy is underpinned by.
Broadly speaking, for the last few years – certainly since July 3rd – we’ve said that we want to remain engaged with the interim Egyptian Government to help them move through this transition, that we believe it’s important to remain engaged. The question, of course, is what that engagement looks like, and that’s what we’ll be talking about when we eventually announce a policy.
But we believe that it’s in our interest to do so, that picking up and leaving town and walking away from this relationship wouldn’t be good for the Egyptian people, it wouldn’t allow us to help in the way we think we can move Egypt towards a more democratic place, and certainly on our shared security interests, when we talk about counterterrorism, we talk about the Sinai, we talk about other shared security interests, it wouldn’t help achieve those goals either.
So by maintaining a relationship with Egypt, part of which will include assistance – again, I’m not going to get into specifics – but we think we are able to best work towards and promote those interests, even though, of course, it’s complicated. And I think I would underscore that – what the President said, that this isn’t going to be business as usual, but we still have the same interests and want to keep doing things that help us achieve those interests.
QUESTION: And --
QUESTION: Marie, can --
MS. HARF: I’ll go to you next.
QUESTION: Can I – just last one, Jill.
MS. HARF: Yeah. Then I’ll go to you, Jill.
QUESTION: Looking at the last three months and about a week since the coup, do you think there is anything that the U.S. Government has done in its engagement with Egypt that has prompted the interim government to move toward a more democratic and inclusive society that respects the rights of its people?
MS. HARF: Well, I think the --
MS. HARF: Go ahead. Sorry.
QUESTION: Yeah. No. Anything? Just --
MS. HARF: Well, I think two things. I think, first of all, the onus is on the interim government. We can certainly provide our guidance and work with them and continue these consultations. And we’ve done that. I – we talked a lot about some senior officials who visited Egypt since July 3rd. We believe that that relationship is important in talking about – in conjunction with some of our other partners, including the EU, how we can help Egypt move forward with its democratic transition, but the onus is on the interim government to do so. And that’s precisely why we believe it’s important to continue this relationship in some form or fashion, which, again, we’ll talk about more specifically at the appropriate time.
QUESTION: Can you just be a little bit more specific in terms of why can’t the U.S. continue business as usual? Why does at least some of this aid have to be curtailed?
MS. HARF: Well, without speaking to the specific policy decision, what we’ve talked about since the President made that comment, I believe – I don’t even know how many weeks ago now that was – was that, look, what we’ve seen since July 3rd, there have been things that have concerned us. When they’ve – when those things have happened, we’ve said so publicly.
And I think what you heard the President say in those statements, and what you’ve heard the Secretary say, is that when we see innocent civilians in this – having violence perpetrated against them in the streets by the security forces, when you have protesters attacking security forces or government buildings as well, the situation there has changed a lot since July 3rd. And we have to take that reality into account. Our policy obviously needs to be reflective of the situation on the ground and what has changed since July 3rd.
That’s why it can’t be business as usual, because of the severity of the situation, but what we’re focused on now is where we go from here, and how – what that relationship looks like and how we best work with the Egyptian Government on all of these different interests that we have there.
QUESTION: And there – obviously, a lot of people probably agree with that, but there are some people who say, regardless of what is happening right now, that removing even a little bit of aid is dangerous and really could be destabilizing for Egypt. I mean, do you buy any of that argument?
MS. HARF: Well, again, I – there will be a much more broad discussion of the specifics of our policy decision when we eventually announce it and the details of it, so I think I would defer those questions until later. But in general, I think what we said from the beginning is that we have some very important interests in Egypt, and that we believe we need to remain engaged in some way to promote them. The whole question this time has been what that engagement looks like, and it’s a combination of the fact that we need to remain engaged, but it can’t look like it looked like before July 3rd.
So we’ll talk about all these details as the policy’s announced. I know after it’s announced, then I’m sure I’ll answer many more of your questions at the podium as well.
QUESTION: Is this going to come from the White House or is it going to come from State?
MS. HARF: We’ll let you know when we have details about an announcement.
QUESTION: Well, this is certainly a very critical issue.
MS. HARF: Absolutely. We’ll let you know when we have details about the logistics of an announcement. I just don’t have those for you at this time.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is the timing completely coincidental here, or --
MS. HARF: Completely coincidental, yes.
QUESTION: Just on the economic --
MS. HARF: Oh, I’ll come to you next.
QUESTION: Tell us where we are in the Sinai program, which was one of those which had been affected by the shutdown, and that is part of the Egypt aid.
MS. HARF: I’ll double-check on that. I mean, obviously, everything had been – on Egypt, it was a little bit of a different case because the policy review is ongoing. I can double-check on where we are on that. I just don’t know.
QUESTION: But are you trying to – just to be well-informed or clarified about certain issues, I mean, so the review is completed, right?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And we are waiting for the report to come out --
MS. HARF: Right, I said we’ll --
QUESTION: -- or the decision?
MS. HARF: We’ll announce it after the appropriate diplomatic and congressional notifications are made.
QUESTION: And the other thing which I was trying to figure out is that when few times, you were – mentioned the word “engagement.”
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you think that in the last three months, you’re engaged enough, or not enough?
MS. HARF: I think we’ve engaged appropriately. We’ve had a heavy-level engagement on the ground, and as senior officials from Washington have traveled to Egypt as well or, of course, over the phone too, we’ve been engaged at a very appropriately high, I think, and sustained level. And that will, of course, continue.
QUESTION: The other thing which is --
QUESTION: Marie, is --
MS. HARF: Hold on one second. Go ahead.
QUESTION: The other thing which is related to --
MS. HARF: And then I’ll come --
QUESTION: -- this engagement is that you are engaged with the so-called interim government --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- or the government, or the new reality, let’s say, in Egypt. So in this engagement, do you feel that you can work with them to make a transitional period to come to a new government and democratic new reality?
MS. HARF: Well, I think it’s incumbent upon us to work with all parties, including the interim government. As we’ve often said in here, they have a preponderance of power in the situation, and they’re the ones who are responsible for moving Egypt forward on this transitional path. So, absolutely, they’re the ones we’ll be working with. We think we can. I think the President was clear that we will continue to do so.
QUESTION: The – my last question, if you allow me to ask another question?
MS. HARF: Absolutely.
QUESTION: It’s related to the – your engagement. Do you think that this engagement will help to do something more? And what type of things you can do?
MS. HARF: Well, I think, absolutely, our goal by doing this engagement, by undertaking this diplomatic work, is to help the Egyptian Government, the interim government, move forward with the process. Part of that is working with the interim government on a plan, on a transitional timeline for doing certain things. Part of that’s working with other parties in Egypt to ensure that they understand and are participating – why they should be participating in the process, even though it’s really hard. So that – of course, we think that our engagement should and will lead to further action. I mean, that’s exactly why we’re doing it.
QUESTION: A follow-up, please, on your answer.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Many times, you mentioned in your different – either my question or other people question that you – that’s – the relation is more than military aid or financial aid. What you foresee, I mean, more than what – because especially, there are a lot of liberal forces in Egypt in particular, in the Middle East in general. They are awaiting your support or to be with the civil society, to be with the NGOs, to be with the freedom of expression, to be with the woman rights, to be with the human rights.
MS. HARF: Those are issues we consistently press with the interim government, with the other parties and groups we talk to. Clearly, a strong civil society is incredibly important – we press that issue all the time – and women’s rights, minority rights. These are issues we talk about consistently and constantly with the previous Egyptian government, the interim government now, and with the other parties and groups in Egypt that are power players and have a say in these issues. Absolutely, we – our relationship covers a broad range of issues beyond just those that, quite frankly, our assistance speaks to.
QUESTION: Let me --
MS. HARF: Let me come up to Roz and then I’ll go around the room.
QUESTION: When you talk about the need for the U.S. to continue to engage in order to help promote this transition, the interim government has announced that the former President Morsy is going on trial on November 4th. Has there been any thought given to delaying any action on the U.S.’s part when it comes to aid in order to maintain some sort of leverage when it comes to seeing how Morsy is prosecuted?
MS. HARF: Well, as we’ve consistently said, we’re opposed to all politicized arrests and detentions. We remain focused on encouraging the interim government to move forward on an inclusive process, as we’ve said, that respects all sides and all parties in this. That’s been our position and that hasn’t changed.
But the timing of the announcement is based on a variety of factors. We believe it’s important, once we’ve made the appropriate notifications, to let folks know where our policy stands. The review is finished, and we need to move forward past the review to, quite frankly, the next phase of this relationship. And that’s what we’re focused on right now is the future and how we move from here.
QUESTION: But isn’t there a concern, as some analysts have suggested, that by announcing this step now that the U.S. loses the ability to, in particular, persuade the military, which is thought to be behind this prosecution of Morsy, that you won’t have the same ability to make certain that he and others in the former government are treated fairly and under the rules of Egyptian law?
MS. HARF: I think it’s fair to say that we would not undertake any policies that would prevent our ability from advocating for our interests. And I’m not going to go much further about a policy that hasn’t been announced yet, but I think that’s certainly fair to say. And I also – you can pick any date on the calendar and I’m sure someone could come to me with a reason why we shouldn’t announce something on that date. But we are where we are and the review is finished, and when we have something to announce, we will.
QUESTION: Marie --
MS. HARF: Yes. Come up here. Yeah, and then I’ll go around, I promise.
QUESTION: Just following up on that, what are you – what is the U.S. concretely hoping to achieve by this review? I understand your engagement side of it, but what on the Egyptian side would you like it to achieve?
MS. HARF: I think I’ll probably save those kind of questions for a discussion after we’ve announced the policy. I just really don’t want to get too far into the specific policy or our goals for that.
Mm-hmm. Yes, I’m coming to you next, Said.
QUESTION: Marie, you --
MS. HARF: Welcome to the briefing room.
QUESTION: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
MS. HARF: You’re welcome.
QUESTION: The Israelis and the Gulf states have obviously pushed for quite some time against cutting aid to the military government. Since this has leaked out, even though more may come in in a few weeks, but since some of this has leaked out, has there already been an effort to consult with them, to reassure them, to talk to them?
MS. HARF: Well, we remain engaged with our Gulf partners, other partners in the region, Israel and others, on a variety of issues, right? We talk about Syria. We talk about Egypt. These are close partners of ours in the region, and we’re going to keep those discussions up. I’m not going to get into specifics about what those discussions look like, but that discussion continues. And we have been very clear with everyone, publicly and privately, what our goals in Egypt are and what our interests are there. And we will continue to give that message to our friends in the region who are working with us on a range of issues today.
QUESTION: Have there been conversations on that today – specific?
MS. HARF: I do not know the answer to that. I’ll see if I can get – if I can give you – I mentioned diplomatic engagement and congressional notifications. If there’s any additional information once that has been done, I’m not sure I can share it, but I will happy – be happy to try.
QUESTION: And just a last --
MS. HARF: Come on, let him follow up.
QUESTION: Just a last thing. There --
MS. HARF: I’ll come up to you next, and then you can follow up, too.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: You’re welcome.
QUESTION: Let’s start it.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: You saw probably --
MS. HARF: I’ll stand up here all day, guys. Don’t worry, I’ll answer all of your questions. Go ahead. Yes.
QUESTION: You probably already saw the statement from Eliot Engel that was fairly harsh saying that he was worried about this, that he was upset Congress hadn’t been notified. Has there been any outreach to him or to others on the Hill today?
MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen his specific comment. I think I just made clear that the diplomatic and congressional notifications have not happened yet, or else we would be announcing our policy. After those have, I am happy to talk – I know those discussions are ongoing. Look, we’ve been talking with Congress for months about Egypt – for years about Egypt, but certainly about the policy review for a while. So let’s let those discussions happen, and then I’m happy to engage in further comment after that.
Come back up --
QUESTION: Can we just go back to our previous question --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- which you kind of addressed just now --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- about the goals of Egypt.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I mean, could you just remind us what those are? I mean --
MS. HARF: In general?
QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, presumably, this review has been – obviously has come back because of what we’ve seen in Egypt recently that there is a government that hasn’t moved into place yet on the path to democracy. What is it that you are hoping to achieve by reviewing the situation and going forward? What would you like to see in place in Egypt?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to speak to the goals of the policy review. We’ll talk about that later. But in general, I think it’s what I started with, that overall our overarching goal since July 3rd is helping the Egyptian interim government move back towards a democratic process to help them move forward with their transition. That involves a number of steps, possible steps, as we’ve talked about, and it’s a hard process. We’ve also – another one of our goals is working with the other parties and groups to make sure they remain engaged in the process, because we believe that’s important.
We also have other interests in Egypt. We’ve talked about security, whether it’s Sinai or elsewhere, counterterrorism. There’s a whole range of issues that we care about in Egypt as part of this relationship.
QUESTION: But specifically on the political process, what is it you’d like to see happen in Egypt? Would you like to see – there was some mooted idea for elections within three to six months or something. Would you like to see something more concrete come forward to you which you could look at and then possibly endorse at some point down the road?
MS. HARF: Well, certainly, we would welcome and look for additional concrete steps for the interim government to move towards a transitional process. We’ve said that from the beginning. We clearly have more work to do. I think we’re all clear-eyed about that. But we want the process to keep moving forward much further than it has, and so we would, of course, welcome any steps towards that. And again, I know this will be a topic of conversation much more this week, so if I have additional details to share after we announce our policy, I am happy to do so then.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. regret that the relationship with Egypt --
MS. HARF: I’ll come to you next.
QUESTION: -- has come to this point?
MS. HARF: I think I’m not going to use the term “regret.” We are where we are, and what we’re focused on now is where we go from here. And I think the President was clear at the UN when he said that our relationship must continue and that it’s important for it to continue. We’ve talked about those reasons a lot in this briefing room. But we have to calibrate that policy with what we’ve seen on the ground over the last few months. We have certainly made it clear that some of the actions that different sides, quite frankly, have taken over these past few months are not acceptable. Violence on any --
MS. HARF: I’ll get to you in a second, Said.
Violence on any side is not acceptable, period. We’ve seen some of that over the last few days.
So what we’re focused on now is taking – coming out of these several months of uncertainty and upheaval in Egypt, working with the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian people, importantly, to get them back on more solid footing and to a better place with their transition, and with them getting economically and politically to a better place moving forward. That’s what we’re focused on right now, absolutely.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: You mentioned counterinsurgency or counterterrorism in the Sinai.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: How are these projected cuts expected to impact the situation --
MS. HARF: I’m not going to talk about anything involved in the policy review until we make the announcement about --
QUESTION: But are you making any assessments on how this will likely impact the situation?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to get into the policy review.
QUESTION: Okay, let me just take it a step further.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Are these cuts symbolic or are they going to be really --
MS. HARF: I am in no way going to characterize the outcome of a policy review that we haven’t announced yet.
QUESTION: I mean, they talked about possibly cutting off the helicopters for them, the Apache, which are really strategic in nature.
MS. HARF: Said --
QUESTION: But they could also be cutting off, like, tear gas or bullets or something like this.
MS. HARF: I’m not going to get into hypotheticals about what we’re going to announce in the policy review. I’m just not.
QUESTION: Okay, so what will Egypt have to do to sort of – to undo that?
MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to speak to the outcome of the policy review or where that policy goes from here until we announce it. I am confident we will have the chance to discuss these issues at length in this room after the policy is announced.
QUESTION: But do you have, like, a yardstick that Egypt must do within a certain time so they can undo that?
MS. HARF: Said, that’s part of the policy review, potentially, right – what happens next.
MS. HARF: I’m not going to get into it today.
QUESTION: My final question: the policy review – when it all comes in the open, it will have the step one, step two, step three?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to characterize it in any way, period.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. worried about the Russia willingness to fill the vacuum in Egypt if the U.S. decided to stop aids?
MS. HARF: I think that’s probably a question better addressed after we talk about what our policy will actually look like going forward.
QUESTION: But in general --
MS. HARF: Going forward? I mean, look, in general, we believe it’s important for us to remain engaged in Egypt for a whole host of reasons: for our interests, for our national security interests, also to promote our principles that we’ve talked about, including their democratic transition, so I think I’ll probably leave it at that in terms of that question.
QUESTION: Is there a concern that reports circulated before Cairo and Congress were informed?
MS. HARF: I’m always concerned when there are particularly false reports. That’s why I started off the briefing by saying, “Reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false.” I think anytime there’s false information out there in the public, it’s not good. I think you probably would all agree, as people who endeavor to get the truth in your stories. But this is a process that’s been ongoing for a while. We’ll make the diplomatic and congressional notifications, and we’ll go from there.
QUESTION: But doesn’t that make it sort of more complicated politically for the Administration? I think going to his point that having this out there before – instead of being able to explain the rationale behind whatever the change in the policy is, doesn’t that create a problem for this Administration at a moment when it could be argued that it doesn’t need any more problems?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not really sure what that second part of your question meant, but speaking to your first part, look, we’re focused here on reaching out to our diplomatic partners, on making these notifications, on telling them what the actual ground truth is. I think they are aware that sometimes everything they read isn’t true. They’re well aware of that fact. But look, we’re focused on those relationships and having those conversations. We’ll have the same conversations or similar conversations about this topic with Congress, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.
But I think, look, over these past few months, quite frankly, there’s been a lot of speculation, some wrong, some not, about what we may or may not do. I think people are used to it, but right now we’re focused on where we go from here, and actually getting this all done and letting everybody know what’s happening next.
QUESTION: Let me explain the second part of it. Part of the fact of military aid to Egypt is that it is required to spend that money on materiel produced by U.S. defense contractors, so --
MS. HARF: On the FMF side, not all of our assistance.
QUESTION: Yeah, but certainly on the military side. And so there are many members of Congress who would argue this is affecting the economic well-being of my district or of my state, so it comes back to the first part of the question: Wouldn’t it have been preferable in the Administration’s view that this not have come out, so that you could have mitigated some of the criticism that we’re hearing form Representative Engel and others today?
MS. HARF: Look, I think there are a lot of points of view on what we should be doing in Egypt. We’ve seen them for a long time. We’re – look, we’re happy that there’s a healthy debate out there in Congress and in the country about what we should be doing in Egypt. Again, I think we always don’t like it when incorrect information gets out just because it’s not true, and we don’t like that to be out there. But look, we’re focused on the process now and as soon as we can announce something, we will be happy to do so.
QUESTION: And did you mention a calendar date?
MS. HARF: I didn’t.
QUESTION: I mean, when does policy come out? Like, maybe tomorrow or the day after?
MS. HARF: I didn’t announce any date.
QUESTION: And is it going to have, like, redefining what happened in Egypt as a coup?
MS. HARF: Said, I’m not going to in any way characterize what the policy review announcement will look like. You can ask as many times as you want. I don’t have a timeline for you. Clearly, we’ve said we wanted this to be done soon, so we’ll let you know when we have something to announce.
QUESTION: Can I ask, is there a sense, perhaps, that the significant efforts put in by the State Department particularly in the relationship with Egypt over the last couple of years – we saw trips by Secretary Clinton and obviously Secretary Kerry’s been there as well himself. There’s been money disbursed; we know that, that’s out there.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is there a sense that your efforts have been in vain or have failed?
MS. HARF: Not at all. Look, nobody should be – should think that we don’t know how complicated this is. This is a really tough issue. Egypt’s been through a lot since their revolution and it takes time for these kinds of transitions to move forward, and there are always bumps in the road; certainly, we’ve always been clear about that. And I would ask people to run the counter narrative: that if we weren’t involved, if we weren’t on the ground talking to the Egyptians at high levels and the working level every single day, what would that situation look like? None of us can say for certain.
But I think that we believe it’s important to continue to remain engaged, that it helps us with our interests, it helps us move this process forward, and certainly, that’s where we’re going to be going from here. The specifics of what that will look like, obviously, we can talk about later. But I wouldn’t characterize it at all in that way.
QUESTION: Can we change topic?
MS. HARF: Does anyone else have any --
MS. HARF: Yeah, and then we can.
QUESTION: You said that part of this review has included engagement with Gulf partners. Has that included engagement with Saudi Arabia, whose approach to giving money to Egypt since July 3rd has been diametrically opposed to the U.S. approach?
MS. HARF: Well, our approach since July 3rd has been we’re going to take a look and see what happens next. So I’ll just put that on the table. We’ll talk about what our approach going forward will be soon.
We’ve talked to the Saudis about a range of issues: of course Egypt, Syria, counterterrorism, regional security, Middle East peace through the Arab League. So certainly, it’s been a topic of conversation and will continue to be. They’re very close partners in the region and we’ll continue those discussions. If I have specifics I can – I’m happy to let you know.
Mm-hmm. Okay, you’re next.
QUESTION: Were the Saudis to continue to increase funding for Egypt as they have since July 3rd, that might undercut any decision by the United States to try to limit its aid.
MS. HARF: Well, I’d make two points. The first is that, obviously, every country has the ability to make their own decisions about bilateral relationships and that kind of assistance. But I think one point I’ve made before is that the United States has specific and unique capabilities that they can bring to bear in the assistance relationship. Assistance to Egypt writ large around the world isn’t just about writing checks, right? That’s important, but it’s also important that they – their economy continue to grow, that we continue to bring them into the international economic community. I think that’s been one of the ways we’ve talked about moving Egypt back towards a transition that – the economic side of it. And we can bring unique capabilities to bear in that regard.
Mm-hmm. Lucas, yes.
QUESTION: Does your engagement with diplomatic channels through Egypt include the Muslim Brotherhood?
MS. HARF: We have said that we will remain engaged with all parties. That absolutely includes the Muslim Brotherhood. Our folks on the ground are in touch with all of these parties consistently.
Next topic. Yes.
MS. HARF: Yes, we do.
QUESTION: Thank you. Do – sorry, I’ve got a couple more.
QUESTION: Which law, I guess --
QUESTION: Go – well, go –
QUESTION: Which law would it be in accordance with?
MS. HARF: So let me just take a step back here. We have two kinds of obligations when it comes to how we detain and treat these individuals. So we would say there’s really a domestic policy, right, our own policies on humane treatment, and international obligations. So on our side of the ledger here, his detention and interrogation is being conducted in accordance with Executive Order 13491 – I referenced it yesterday, but I didn’t have the number in front of me – which President Obama signed – as I was correct on this – on his second full day in office, on January 22nd 2009. That executive order directs that individuals detained in any armed conflict, such as al-Libi – of course, we’re operating under an AUMF here – shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and in accordance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. So that’s where the international obligations come in here.
This Common Article 3 really sets a standard for treatment. And among other things, it requires that al-Libi may not be subjected to torture; violence; or cruel, humiliating, or degrading treatment; that if he becomes sick, he should be cared for. And al-Libi is being treated in accordance with both of these requirements. They’re very much in sync with each other.
So beyond that, I think because DOD is the agency holding him, I would recommend you contact them. But I wanted to outline those two.
QUESTION: I wanted to make one thing clear because I used the word “abduction,” not – and I was going to get to his --
MS. HARF: Detention.
QUESTION: -- treatment – his detention and treatment in detention.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So just to be clear, you believe that his abduction was not just consistent with U.S. law and the AUMF --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- but also with international law?
MS. HARF: Yes, that is correct.
QUESTION: Okay. And can you give us the statute or the statutory basis in international law for justifying such an abduction?
MS. HARF: Let me if I can get you a specific. What our folks have talked about here is – we’re operating domestically under an AUMF, but it speaks to the international laws of war, the fact that we have an ability under international law to self-defend. That’s – the AUMF is based in part, right – and I’m not a legal scholar, so this is not a legal definition – but in part on this notion that we have a right to self-defense, and that under international law and the laws of war, and I can see if there’s a more specific thing I can point to, but that’s my understanding that that’s what we’re operating under.
QUESTION: Great. And then the second --
QUESTION: This question aside –
MS. HARF: Hold on one second, Said.
QUESTION: But on this AUMF, is that a domestic law?
MS. HARF: The AUMF?
QUESTION: That’s not an international law?
MS. HARF: 2001 AUMF. We’re still operating under that post-September 11th.
QUESTION: And then with regard to his detention and treatment – and I heard what you read about your obligation, or your living up to an obligation not to subject him to cruel, humiliating or degrading treatment and not to torture him, my question yesterday was about whether he could be subjected to physical or mental duress.
MS. HARF: I mean, I don’t know what your definition of that is so I don’t want to get into a definitional game here, but I think that those categories certainly would fall under both the executive order and the Geneva Conventions. And we’ve been clear that we’re not going to subject people to torture, to violent – to cruel, humiliating or degrading punish – or treatment, I think, would probably fall under those categories.
QUESTION: The reason I’m asking is that one of the things in the Amnesty International Report was, if I’m not mistaken, a suggestion that he may be subjected to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation strikes me – I don’t know that it’s necessarily cruel or humiliating or degrading, but it does strike me as a form of physical and mental duress.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. So on interrogation techniques, also under that executive order, requires that individuals detained in armed conflict shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach or any treatment related to interrogation that is not authorized by and listed in the Army Field Manual. I don’t have the whole field manual in front of me, but it explicitly prohibits threats, coercion, physical abuse, of course, waterboarding. And consistent with that executive order, federal law enforcement agencies are really operating under that right now.
So I can only operate under the legal definitions that we have. I know that’s a term they used, but I think what I’ve said speaks to the idea that they’re getting to, the kind of treatment he’s receiving, and we are very clear that it’s been humane.
QUESTION: And getting back to the issue of – because in all systems there are, or ideally should be, checks and balances.
MS. HARF: Of course.
QUESTION: You said yesterday that there had been contact with the ICRC.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have – but you wouldn’t say whether you were discussing the possibility of their visiting him wherever he is being held incommunicado. Have you now discussed with them the possibility of their visiting him?
MS. HARF: I don’t know. I don’t know that answer. I think it’s probably something we have. I just don’t know the answer to that specifically.
QUESTION: Can you take that one?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And also, we’re – I don’t believe that the State Department is the one talking to them, but I can check on that as well. For some of those specifics, you might also want to check with DOD.
QUESTION: DOD is fine. Yeah.
MS. HARF: Yeah. I just --
QUESTION: Just let me know, yeah.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
QUESTION: Do you believe that the Libyans are protesting loudly about Mr. al-Libi’s takedown, for lack of a better word, even though there are reports suggesting that they may have been not only notified ahead of time, but given tacit approval to – not his abduction but to that of another person whom the U.S. has not been able to locate inside Libya?
MS. HARF: I think I’ll probably stay where I was yesterday, that we regularly consult with the Government of Libya on a range of issues, including security and counterterrorism. I’m just not going to get into what those diplomatic discussions look like. What we’re focused on and what I think the Libyans are focused on, as you can see from the Prime Minister’s comments, is the relationship and where we go from here. We both agree that terrorist threats are a shared challenge. We both agree that we should work together to continue helping them build their own capabilities, and those discussions are ongoing.
QUESTION: Does this building believe that the Libyan protestations are more for domestic consumption than a reflection of what the actual relationship has been regarding this matter?
MS. HARF: I just don’t have assessment on the protest or why they’re protesting. Obviously, we think that in every country people should be allowed to peacefully protest no matter what their message is. But in terms of this situation, we’re working with the Government of Libya. We fully support the Libyan people as they’ve moved through this transition. And quite frankly, we’re going to keep working with the Libyan Government because it’s in both of our shared interests to do so.
QUESTION: But when I talk about protests, I’m talking about the protests coming from the government, not necessarily from --
MS. HARF: Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were talking --
QUESTION: -- people in the street.
MS. HARF: Sorry about that.
QUESTION: Is that simply part of the cost of doing business?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to characterize it that way. We have a deep diplomatic relationship with the new government in Libya. We are standing by them as they’ve gone through this transition. We will continue to do so, and I am just not going to characterize their public comments any further. I’m sorry; I thought you were talking about public protests. I want to clarify that for the record.
QUESTION: A new subject?
MS. HARF: Anything else on --
QUESTION: Yeah, I just --
QUESTION: I have a --
MS. HARF: Okay. And then I’ll come up back to you.
QUESTION: Now al-Libi’s being held onboard a U.S. warship in international water, presumably. Isn’t it subject to U.S. laws in this case, a U.S. warship?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to confirm where he’s being held.
QUESTION: Is that --
MS. HARF: He’s being held lawfully.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. HARF: He’s being held by the United States military, so for further details on that, I’m happy to point you there. But I just, I think, outlined under the AUMF he’s being held legally and then of course under our interrogation and detention rules he’s being held.
QUESTION: Okay. In case he’s being held on board a U.S. warship, that is U.S. territory, correct? So he’s subject to --
MS. HARF: I’m not going to confirm where he’s being held or answer hypotheticals about that, Said. I’m just not.
QUESTION: Marie, could you just – do you have any further information to share on when he’s likely to arrive in the United States?
MS. HARF: I don’t.
QUESTION: And also where he’s likely to be tried?
MS. HARF: I don’t. I don’t.
QUESTION: Nothing new on that.
MS. HARF: Nothing new on that. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Consular access – has he been granted – have the Libyans been granted consular access to him?
MS. HARF: Well, consular access is clearly something we care deeply about all around the world. It’s a topic of conversation right now with the Government of Libya. But I don’t have any more details for you than that.
QUESTION: Conversation with regard to him?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And if you care about it so much, why – I mean, has he had consular access or not?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to characterize it any further.
QUESTION: No, but he – you can’t tell us yes or no, whether he’s had consular access?
MS. HARF: I’m just not going to characterize it any further.
QUESTION: And then --
MS. HARF: If I have an update for you, I’m happy to provide it.
QUESTION: What about access to --
QUESTION: Okay. But how do you square caring for it so much with not being able to tell us if he’s gotten it or not?
MS. HARF: The discussions are ongoing with the Libyan Government on this issue, and when I have an update, I’m happy to provide it.
QUESTION: What about legal access?
QUESTION: Will you confirm or deny that U.S. troops are – or U.S. warships are moving closer to Libyan shores in anticipation --
MS. HARF: I would refer you to DOD for that.
MS. HARF: I think there are warships --
QUESTION: Are you aware of any report --
MS. HARF: -- and if it’s true, I just don’t know the answer.
QUESTION: Okay. And you’re not aware of any reports or any decision to dispatch more U.S. troops towards Libya’s shores?
MS. HARF: I don’t know – it sounds fishy to me, Said. I would check in with DOD, but I’m not aware of those reports. It sounds strange to me. Yeah.
QUESTION: Just on the issue of access, do you know whether he’s had access to a lawyer or not?
MS. HARF: I do not know the answer to that question; happy to check. But again, for any specific details about his interrogation or detention, he’s in military custody, so I’m trying to get as many details for you as possible, but I’d also point you to the Defense Department.
QUESTION: Speaking of consular access – but this is another subject – the Americans – excuse me – who are being held in Russia after the Greenpeace ship was taken by the authorities – now the Russian authorities apparently are saying that drugs were aboard. Do you have any comment on that? And can you give us an update on consular access, any type of discussions that the Embassy might be having with those Americans?
MS. HARF: I don’t have a lot of an update for you. As we’ve said, we’re monitoring the case. We will continue to provide consular services to both U.S. citizen members of the Arctic Sunrise crew and their families. Officers from the Consulate in St. Petersburg have met with both since they’ve been detained. We have raised and will continue to raise the case with Russian authorities as appropriate to ensure the provision of consular services to the detained Americans. We believe that the purpose and nature of the actions taken by the defendants in attempting a peaceful protest should be fully taken into account as the Russian investigation proceeds. Beyond that, we’re still looking into some of these reports that I think everyone else has seen, and if I have more on that, I’m happy to share.
QUESTION: So, wait. Just getting back to that. So you believe that it was a peaceful protest?
MS. HARF: Yes. Attempting a peaceful protest should be fully taken into account, yes.
Yes, back here.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you know that North Korea restarted five-megawatt nuclear reactor? How does this affect the United States strategic patience with North Korea?
MS. HARF: Well, as a general matter, I’m not going to comment one way and the other if those reports are true. I think we’ve talked about that a little bit in the past. But if they were true, they would be in clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and contrary to North Korea’s commitments under the September 2005 joint statement. So the onus is on North Korea. We continue to call on the DPRK to comply with its commitments. And beyond that, just nothing – nothing new and no updates.
QUESTION: In Matt’s absence, I feel constrained to point out that you just answered a hypothetical question – “if they were true.” (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Thank you. I – that is a good point, Arshad. I will put a note in the record for that. Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yeah, someone send Matt an email, just to make sure he knows.
MS. HARF: Yes, Said.
MS. HARF: (Laughter.) Yes, Said.
QUESTION: Yes. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinians say that in accordance with the wishes of Secretary Kerry, they have been meeting on a daily basis and they will continue to meet on a daily basis until there is some sort of a break of a deadlock in the future. Could you confirm that?
MS. HARF: We said we’ll have continuing dialogue between the sides. I’m not going to confirm the frequency of those meetings.
QUESTION: Are you getting any reports that – from Special Envoy Martin Indyk – is he part of that – those negotiations?
MS. HARF: He’s part of them as appropriate.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Not all of them, some of them.
QUESTION: So does that mean that he is actually in all of these sessions?
MS. HARF: I just said not all of them, but some of them.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, you said “as appropriate.” The Palestinians --
MS. HARF: Right. Not all of them, but some.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary said it would?
QUESTION: The Palestinians feel that it is appropriate for him to be in those sessions.
MS. HARF: I’m sorry. Say that again, Said?
QUESTION: The Palestinian side feels that Mr. Indyk – it’s appropriate for Mr. Indyk to be in those sessions.
MS. HARF: As appropriate, he will be in those sessions. Yes.
QUESTION: His participation has increased, correct?
MS. HARF: His – oh, his participation is increased? Is that what you were asking?
MS. HARF: I think this was what the Secretary mentioned recently.
QUESTION: He talked about an increased U.S. participation.
MS. HARF: He talked about a – yes, yes. So I think the Secretary – I’ll let the Secretary’s words speak for theirselves.
QUESTION: You can --
MS. HARF: I’m certainly not going to disagree with it.
QUESTION: You can’t tell us if they actually – if it actually has increased?
MS. HARF: It’s my understanding. I just don’t have metrics for you.
QUESTION: Marie, I have --
QUESTION: Isn’t --
MS. HARF: Hold on, Said. Let me go to Michael. You’ve gotten a bunch of questions. I’ll go to him and then I’ll come to you.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: The Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the head of that organization which is implementing the chemical disarmament in Syria, said today that inspectors are going to visit about 20 sites. And this appears to be based on the sites that the Syrians have themselves declared. So they’ll be visiting 20 sites in the upcoming weeks.
But American officials have said, including in Geneva where we were just a few weeks ago, that there are at least 45 sites that they know of in Syria. So my question is: Are the international inspectors going to visit fewer than half of the sites that are known to the United States? Is there – have the Syrians, in fact, not declared all of the sites that are known to the United States, or is there – are you counting them differently than the OPCW?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I didn’t see his comments about the number of sites. I’ll look into that. I think when we talk about the next official declaration the Syrians have to make to the OPCW under the Chemical Weapons Convention, that’s not due until October 27th as their first formal declaration as a CWC member. So we’re obviously waiting for that and will be assessing that. And obviously, we believe that they have to fully comply, which means destruction of all sites and associated weapons. Let me just check on the numbers.
QUESTION: You --
MS. HARF: I’ll take your question.
QUESTION: Please, take the question --
MS. HARF: I just don’t know the answer.
QUESTION: -- and get back to us today.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And the reason I ask and the reason I think it’s important is because Secretary Kerry and others have left the impression that this agreement is being implemented so far so good and that the initial steps are encouraging. But if it turns out to be the case that this organization is only going to – is going to visit fewer than half of the CW-associated sites that are known to the U.S., that would seem to call into question how effectively this agreement is being implemented, unless perhaps there is another explanation due to a count of apples and oranges and getting differences.
MS. HARF: Right. And I --
QUESTION: If you could give us --
MS. HARF: The answer is I just don’t know.
QUESTION: -- an answer today, I’d appreciate it.
MS. HARF: Well, the answer might be that this is just the first part of – I just don’t know the answer. There’s a number of different explanations.
QUESTION: But because it emerged today, it’d be good if we could get an answer today on that.
MS. HARF: Let me see what I can do.
QUESTION: If you answer it, can you answer it to everybody?
MS. HARF: Yes, yes, I will see if I can get an answer.
QUESTION: May I follow up on this question?
MS. HARF: Uh-huh, yeah.
QUESTION: Are you providing any intelligence to OPCW for the chemical weapon locations?
MS. HARF: I can find out. We’ve said that we’ve shared intelligence with our partners on the Syria CW program broadly speaking. I can find out if we’re sharing with the OPCW.
QUESTION: Because I mean, I took --
MS. HARF: We are a member of the Executive Council.
QUESTION: Yeah. Ambassador Uzumcu, I mean, spoke with Hurriyet on this issue last week too, and he confirmed that he will – they will let inspect over 20 locations for these chemical weapons. But he also is expecting some special materials to destroy those chemical weapons. I mean, there are several methods, as I understand, to destroy, and the OPCW is expecting international aid to provide these materials, maybe neutralizing machines, or I mean, the burning tools or et cetera. Are you preparing to provide this kind of equipment to OPCW?
MS. HARF: Well, we’re certainly talking with the OPCW. We’ve also encouraged other nations to provide support, including personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, and financial and other resources to assist the missions that the OPCW and the UN are undertaking. Those discussions are ongoing. If I have more specifics, I’m happy to get them to you. But obviously, we will continue to call on other countries to do so as well.
QUESTION: Did you make any decision about whether the Turkish – I mean American personnel will be on the field in Syria during this process?
MS. HARF: I think that I referred you – because it’s an OPCW and UN team, it’s not a U.S. Government team – to them to talk about the makeup of their delegations.
QUESTION: Just a quick one on this. Is your ability to provide assistance to the OPCW to carry out its mission in Syria in any way constrained by the government shutdown?
MS. HARF: Affected by the shutdown? I knew that’s where this was going, and I don’t know the answer. I’m happy to look into it. I don’t believe it would be, but let me just double-check because I’m not positive.
Yes, Jill. I’m going to go around. Is this --
QUESTION: On Syria --
MS. HARF: Or just Syria. I’ll stand here.
QUESTION: A quick one on Syria.
MS. HARF: Oh, well, not moving off of Syria. Don’t worry.
QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you if you are in a possession of a complete list of all the chemical weapons sites. Are you – is the United States Government in possession of a list?
MS. HARF: Well, the OPCW is the reporting --
MS. HARF: -- the agency that has responsibility for the Syrian Government to report to. We’re continuing to assess what they’ve already sent in to the OPCW. And as I said, the full – first full accounting under their CWC obligations won’t be due until the 27th.
QUESTION: I understand. But --
MS. HARF: So we’re assessing it right now.
QUESTION: But you expect the Government of the United States to have a list of all these sites, correct?
MS. HARF: We – the OPCW and the UN are the implementing agencies here. They have to be reported to – we’re a member of the Executive Council of the OPCW, so as a – and our membership status, I am sure, we would see it.
QUESTION: You’d see that list?
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. And will you have a way to verify these sites in any way?
MS. HARF: Certainly, we’ll be assessing it and making a judgment about its authenticity and completeness.
QUESTION: Iran has refused any precondition to attend a Geneva 2 meeting. Are you still insisting that Iran agrees on a Geneva 1 communique to participate in Geneva 2?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Our position certainly stands that any party who would want to be included in Geneva 2 must accept and publicly support the Geneva communique that came out of Geneva 1. If Iran were to endorse and embrace the Geneva communique publicly, we would view the possibility of their position more openly.
QUESTION: Do you view this as a precondition?
MS. HARF: I think I just made very clear that it’s a precondition. Anyone who wants to be a part of the conference has to embrace and support the Geneva communique.
QUESTION: But would that have to have some sort of a common understanding of what the communique is all about because there were differences between you and the Russians on what actually those principles mean.
MS. HARF: Well, I think that’s a topic for discussion at Geneva 2. But as a baseline, everybody has to agree that the framework for moving forward is based on Geneva 1.
QUESTION: So if they accept the principle with a caveat, then would that be sufficient for that?
MS. HARF: They have to fully endorse and embrace, accept and publicly support the Geneva communique. That’s why you have a conference, though, to discuss what that means in reality.
QUESTION: Ma’am, there are presidential elections today in Azerbaijan and in the run-up to the elections about 20 international organizations made a statement raising concerns about the deterioration of freedom of press and civil liberties in Azerbaijan. There is – the reports say that there are about 140 political prisoners caught in Azerbaijan. Do you follow the situation? Do you have any comments on this?
MS. HARF: I know the election is today. I commented on this a little bit earlier in the week. We’ve said that there were some positive and negative parts of the run-up to this election. Certainly, we’ve called on the government to allow freedom of expression for folks to fully participate in the process. We do have observers from the U.S. Mission in Azerbaijan as well as U.S. election experts that are part of the OSCE ODIHR mission that will be monitoring the situation on the ground. And after the elections are over, we will have a statement and make a comment on it then.
QUESTION: Do you have any preliminary assessments of the presidential voting process?
MS. HARF: I don’t have any early assessments in front of me. I know we have folks on the ground, and when we have a statement in the coming days in response, I’m happy to mention that.
QUESTION: I think the exit polls show a victory by the incumbent of – by a margin of 83.9 percent.
MS. HARF: Well, we all know how accurate exit polls are, so --
QUESTION: Eighty-four percent.
MS. HARF: We’ll have a comment after we take a look.
Go ahead, Jill.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) if there were violations?
MS. HARF: Certainly, we’ll have a comment on the elections. And if we have any credible reports about it, I’m happy to talk about it then.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It comes from the Daily Mail, which says that the State Department just hours before the shutdown ordered $5 million in crystal glasses and bar accessories.
MS. HARF: They’re all on my desk right now, so come have a drink later.
QUESTION: I saw them. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Yeah, they’re all there. We’ll be having an open house later.
QUESTION: Can you confirm --
MS. HARF: Well, I believe the initial reporting – I haven’t seen that story – was inaccurate on this. There’s no – there was no sort of $5 million midnight purchase trying to get it just in under the wire of fine china or anything like that, and this contract was not connected in any way to the shutdown.
I’ll make a couple more points because we’re on the topic that it’s not unusual to see an increase
in the number of contracts awarded at the end of the fiscal year. I actually have guidance on this in my book, which should not be surprising. The timing this year was even later in the year due to the fact that the Department did not receive Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations until March, and our fiscal operating plan was not approved by Congress until – wait for it – September, and that this contract is for a minimum of $25,000 and up to 5 million over five years. I don’t know – so I don’t --
QUESTION: So it’s not necessarily a $5 million --
MS. HARF: No, no. It’s a minimum of 25,000, and it’s – I would reiterate it’s a contract for Simon Pearce glassware, which is made in the United States. It’s lead-free stem and tableware. I’m just going to do this because I have it in here.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: And it is a very good company based in Vermont. I’ve been to their headquarters. And the --
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: No, last --
QUESTION: So have I.
MS. HARF: Last – it’s lovely, isn’t it? Last month. I even have some at home, so I will dispel some of the rumors in that report. And this was not trying to get it under the wire by any means.
QUESTION: And of course, for folks who are at their – not in Washington, they might say there’s kind of a let-them-eat-cake aspect to this, which is: Why do you need all this crystal?
MS. HARF: Well, I think, a couple things: First, we have, obviously, diplomatic and representational occasions at our embassies and facilities all around the world. We’re out there representing the United States, and I think what better way to do that than with a good American company with good American products that we, I said, did not necessarily buy for $5 million.
But look, this is something – this is an important part of our diplomatic mission. It’s certainly not the focus of it, though.
QUESTION: So you still – you don’t know the specific --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- amount of that contract?
MS. HARF: The contract is for a minimum of $25,000, up to 5 million, so it’s – that’s the way the contract’s written. I don’t believe it’s actually, at this point, been purchased. So it’s not actually on my desk.
QUESTION: And it’s all going to go to missions around the world?
MS. HARF: I don't know if some of it will stay here. I can find that out. I’ll take that as a question.
QUESTION: Yes, about the shutdown?
MS. HARF: Yes, yes.
QUESTION: A few days ago, you mentioned at the beginning of this week, like, the hundreds who were furloughed from the State Department.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is this number increasing --
MS. HARF: No, has not.
QUESTION: -- or is the same?
MS. HARF: Has not increased. Every day that goes by, we get closer to that number being thousands, but we’re not there yet.
QUESTION: Can I change topic?
MS. HARF: Please. Thank you.
QUESTION: Iran. There was a report in the Journal last night that a proposal’s been made by Iran, which would – under which they would produce their uranium enrichment in return for some lifting of sanctions. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
MS. HARF: I saw that report. As we’ve said repeatedly, we have our proposal on the table, and we hope that the Iranian delegation comes to Geneva next week with a substantive response, a credible substantive response. Beyond that, we haven’t received one from the Iranian Government yet, so – and we’ve said – and I think Cathy Ashton has also said that they could give it to us before Geneva, but certainly as soon as possible, and we expect one in Geneva.
QUESTION: But nothing so --
QUESTION: But nothing so far?
MS. HARF: Uh-uh.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: But they did --
QUESTION: So then what was wrong?
MS. HARF: What I did say is – I haven’t read the whole report, I will admit, apologies to The Wall Street Journal – but what we did say is that, in New York at UNGA, that they actually did put some new ideas on the table, but it wasn’t in the form of a specific --
QUESTION: So it’s not the --
MS. HARF: -- proposal.
QUESTION: -- proposal, right, okay.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
MS. HARF: I do, yes.
QUESTION: -- whether the State Department is advising that they not --
MS. HARF: I do have an answer.
QUESTION: -- bring smartphones because of surveillance by Russian intelligence?
MS. HARF: Yes, thank you for the question. I did get you an answer. The Department of State, through the Overseas Security Advisory Council, continually exchanges security information and best practices with the U.S. private sector operating abroad on numerous topics, right. So we basically send out information to them that includes information on information security. Sorry, that was bungled a little bit.
There’s not a different message publicly and privately, I would say. One of the OSAC products from earlier this year highlighted for these constituents of these private sector folks the importance of protecting personally identifiable and other sensitive information on electronic devices in Russia. I would point out that the Department’s consular information sheet for travelers to Russia also states something similar, that valuable items have been targets of theft, that some electronics may be inspected upon departure from Russia, and that Russian law permits government monitoring of electronic communications.
So it’s not a different message publicly and privately; it’s just information we share through a different mechanism with some private sector folks around the world.
QUESTION: That’s not specifically tied to Sochi, then?
MS. HARF: Let me check. I don’t believe so, but it may very well be, so let me check on that. I will check on that. I don't know. It may be. It may be. I’m not sure what the answer is.
QUESTION: About --
MS. HARF: I’ll come back up to you. Go ahead, Tolga.
QUESTION: About Turkey --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: -- the Supreme Court today announced the verdict about the Sledgehammer case, and that over 250 people, former and current military officer, were convicted with the – toppling the government. Do you have any comment on the verdict?
MS. HARF: I haven’t seen that. I’m happy to take the question, and I’ll answer it later today or tomorrow if I get it.
Go ahead. Yes.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: The UN reports that 6,000 Iraqis have died since the beginning of the year, there has been a tremendous spike in sectarian violence, incursions by al-Qaida, almost collapse of the central government. Yet Iraq really seems to be not on your radar screen. Can you explain to us why this lack of attention to what’s going on in Iraq on your part?
MS. HARF: Well, Said, there are, like, three or four things that you just said that I would take issue with factually, so let me walk through some of them.
The first is that Iraq very much remains on our radar screen. It’s something we’re very engaged in, concerned about, we’ve talked about repeatedly in this briefing room. The second is that I would take issue with your notion of how you characterize the violence. We’ve said repeatedly that this uptick in violence we’ve seen is terrorist violence. It’s not the kind of sectarian violence we saw during the most violent years of the Iraq war. So it really is violence perpetrated by extremists, and much of it is a outflow of the situation in Syria.
And the third, I think, point I would make about what you just said is that we have actually commended, when Iraqi leaders have come together, to work together to deprive violent extremists of this issue – of their – of any opportunities to use words or actions to incite tension. So we’ve noted, actually, some positive steps of the different leaders coming together to work on this issue, so I – that’s my third point of contention I would take with what you just said. But we remain deeply concerned about it, incredibly concerned about it, and we continue to call on Iraq’s leaders to work together to thwart it, and also we will continue working with them to do so.
QUESTION: Is the United States Government taking any special measures to sort of help Iraq in this really difficult time, especially in the fight against terrorism – terrorists?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, we have an ongoing dialogue with them on the fight against terrorism. We’ve said we will continue to support them in the best way that we think is possible. And certainly that will continue, that cooperation will continue.
QUESTION: Why won’t the United States support Iraq with – let’s say, with drone strikes like it was doing in Yemen and other places, to strike against places of – locations of terrorists and terrorist camps?
MS. HARF: Well, as we’ve said, we consider the Government of Iraq an essential partner in this fight. We’ll continue talking with them on this issue. As you know, under the Strategic Framework Agreement, we have an ongoing dialogue on counterterrorism cooperation, but beyond that, I’m just not going to go any further about what that cooperation looks like.
QUESTION: Okay. But the truth of the matter is that Iraq has no air asset with which to defend itself, so it must rely on the U.S. for, let’s say, any kind of aerial assistance in the fight against terror. Are you – or in the near future, are you planning to aid Iraq in this realm?
MS. HARF: We’re going to keep talking to them about the best way we can aid them in the fight against terrorists, and beyond that, I don’t have anything further.
QUESTION: Marie, there was reporting out of the region earlier this week that Prime Minister Maliki’s on his way to Washington for meetings at the end of the month.
MS. HARF: I saw those reports. We don’t have anything to announce at this point about a visit by Prime Minister Maliki. When we do, I’ll let you guys know.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Lucas? Do you have something?
QUESTION: Yeah, on that --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What’s the latest update of Iraqi Government preventing overflights from Iran to Syria?
MS. HARF: That’s a good question. Let me see what my – I don't know if I have any new updates on that, but I’m happy to take the question. Let me see if I have anything in this book about this. I don’t think I have anything new, Lucas. Let me check into that and maybe we can talk about it a little bit more tomorrow.
QUESTION: Can --
MS. HARF: Yes, wait. One more. Hold on. You don’t get rid of me quite yet.
QUESTION: On North Korea? Yeah.
MS. HARF: I’m sorry, on what?
QUESTION: Yeah, I raised my hands 20 times today.
MS. HARF: Well, I’m glad I called on you before everyone ran out of the room. Go ahead.
QUESTION: And according to a former State Department official who attended the 1.5 track with North Korea in Berlin – and North Korea said at the meeting if Six-Party Talks are resumed, they would likely – they were willing to take a number of steps to – for confidence building, and those include moratorium of nuclear test and the moratorium of missile testing. And do you have any comment on that?
MS. HARF: What meeting are you referring to? I’m sorry. I’m not familiar with the meeting you’re referring to.
QUESTION: The 1.5 track meeting in Berlin. It’s held last month.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I don’t believe that anyone from the U.S. Government participated in that meeting.
QUESTION: Yeah, but a former State Department official attended at it, Mr. Joel Wit.
MS. HARF: I can check. I’m just not sure. I can check on it. I just don’t have anything on that. I will check on the specifics on that for you. I’ll check.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: Thanks, guys.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:23 p.m.)
DPB # 166