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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
October 15, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Continued Impact from Government Shutdown / Perception Overseas
  • IRAN
    • P5+1 Talks / Under Secretary Sherman / Technical Details
  • SYRIA
    • Geneva 2 / Senior U.S. Engagement / Transitional Governing Body
    • Condemnation of Violence
    • Humanitarian Assistance
  • BAHRAIN
    • Death of Yousef Ali Al-Nashmi
  • EGYPT
    • Death of U.S. Citizen James Lunn / Consular Assistance
    • Recalibrating U.S. Aid
  • NIGERIA
    • Human Rights / Amnesty International
  • BURMA
    • U.S. Citizen Injured in Bombing / Security Message / Urge Caution / Consular Assistance
  • LIBYA
    • Transfer of Abu Anas al-Libi / U.S. Department of Justice
  • TURKEY
    • Potential Purchase of a Missile Defense System
  • AZERBAIJAN
    • Election Update
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Update on U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Arms Exports
    • Latif Mehsud


TRANSCRIPT:

1:39 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. I’ve missed you all deeply, aside from the ones who were with us on the trip, although I don’t think any of them are here. Good, I hope they’re sleeping.

QUESTION: You’ve got more stamina (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Yes. I’m the few and the proud.

Just one item I just wanted to do at the top for all of you. We, of course, have all been focused on the impacts of the shutdown. I know you all have been writing and reporting on it frequently. No one should mistake the fact that the shutdown is damaging to the State Department today and destructive to our country’s foreign policy today, and the costs grow every day that goes by.

We’ve spoken here, of course, and my colleague Marie has spoken here over the last two weeks about the impacts of the shutdown in terms of missed conferences, security, foreign assistance, and sanctions. Having just returned from a long trip that the Secretary was on, we can say with great confidence that this has a tremendous impact on how we’re perceived abroad as well, and it undermines our efforts to promote democratic reforms and economic growth and all of the important issues that the Secretary was focused on overseas.

I want to emphasize that perception and reality are not the same thing. Of course, the Secretary’s trip was very productive, whether it was making progress on the BSA or steps he took while in Asia to work with under – other Asian – or Asian countries, I should say, on language on the South China Sea or developments we had in Japan. But perception and the perception by individuals living overseas, by other – by the millions of people who follow closely what’s happening in the United States is certainly important. And the question we have is: How can we expect our diplomats overseas to entice governments to embrace our values when we can’t keep our own doors open?

So I just wanted to highlight a couple of headlines that we saw or we’ve seen overseas. The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph perceives, quote, “the sun setting on dollar supremacy and with it American power. The U.S. is recklessly throwing away its future.” South Korea’s – one of South Korea’s papers calls on the United States to, quote, “stop holding their citizens and the world economy hostage and immediately end their ceaseless confrontation.” A paper in Spain said, quote, “The damage caused is already irreparable, as images of lawlessness and anxiety arise from the capital of the world’s most powerful nation.” So all of this is just further evidence and further argument for why this should be resolved as quickly as possible.

But with that, Deb.

QUESTION: I’d like to start with Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: In Geneva, the Deputy Foreign Minister is characterizing the first day as, “We think” – he says, “We think that the proposal we have made has the capacity to make a breakthrough.” Now, how does the U.S. characterize the first day, and do you agree with that statement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, just to give you all a little bit of process tick-tock – I know most of you know this, but given the level of interest – so today, there were two sessions. The Iranians presented a proposal, actually in a PowerPoint, with a PowerPoint presentation. The Foreign Minister was there for the morning session. They then broke for lunch and continued the discussions on a technical level this afternoon, and those will continue tomorrow.

So out of respect for the ongoing discussions, I’m not going to characterize too far, other than to say that for the first time we had very detailed – I should say our team on the ground had very detailed discussions. Those will be carried on this afternoon – or, I’m sorry, they were carried on this afternoon, and they will continue tomorrow. So we are in the middle of it, I guess I should say, and we’ll have, I suspect, more of a readout or an evaluation for all of you as those continue or conclude tomorrow.

QUESTION: Can you characterize it in any way? I mean, they’re saying it’s a breakthrough. I mean, do we share that view or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, since the technical conversations and discussions are ongoing, I don’t think we’d characterize it as a breakthrough at this stage. However, it certainly is positive that there was enough information to have technical discussions. Those are ongoing, and I expect we’ll have more of a readout tomorrow.

QUESTION: Could I--

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- just get – the PowerPoint thing is kind of interesting. Was that a technical PowerPoint? What was the nature of the PowerPoint presentation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was their – I believe there were technical details provided later. And I’m not sure how detailed the PowerPoint was, so I don’t want to characterize it too much further. But obviously, a review and a discussion over the technical specifics and details is what the team underwent this afternoon and will continue tomorrow.

QUESTION: So there – the technical team was there in addition to the Foreign Minister?

MS. PSAKI: In the meeting – I know the Foreign Minister was in the meeting this morning. I don’t think he was there this afternoon. In terms of other U.S. participants, I’d have to check on that for you. But as you know, there is a technical team that is with our delegation on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. Jen, welcome back.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: So as a result of the meeting this morning or the PowerPoint, are you less assured, more assured? I mean, give us a feeling on how this really impacts the course of the negotiations from your point of view.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I would ask you for patience, given that these discussions are ongoing.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, having technical discussions for the first time at this level is certainly where things stand, but those discussions will continue tomorrow. And it hasn’t changed the fact that coming in no one expected – nor do we still expect – a breakthrough overnight. The issues are very complicated, as I know we’ve talked about quite a great deal. And we’ve always said – and it remains the case today – that the Iranians need to follow their language and their words with substantive actions, and that’s what the discussion is about right now.

QUESTION: So is there anything that could suggest to you that you should expect a setback in any way?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to characterize it further than to say, obviously, they’re – they spent the afternoon reviewing and discussing technical details. Given how complicated these issues are, that conversation will continue tomorrow. So I’m not predicting one way or the other.

QUESTION: Okay. Just one last question. I’m sorry, but I –

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: On – when the Secretary of State said that the window was cracking, what does that mean? Could you explain that to us, on the eve of the negotiations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re referring to the Secretary’s remarks to AIPAC on Sunday.

QUESTION: Address to AIPAC, right.

MS. PSAKI: And I would say that weeks ago we saw an opportunity for a crack in the window or a crack in the door, whatever analogy you want to use, with the election of the new president, with the new administration in place. And now the question is: Will the administration, will the Rouhani team follow up their words with actions? And that’s the conversation that is happening on the ground.

QUESTION: One matter of logistics or form maybe.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: Was his presentation a new offer, or was it responding to the offer that was made by the P5+1 in Almaty?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a good question. I think I would – I’d have to talk to our team specifically to characterize it in more detail than I already have. Obviously, there were enough technical details in there that it warranted a discussion this afternoon and tomorrow morning, so that’s what they’re undergoing now. But – and I know, as we all know, the ask was, of course, for a response to the Almaty proposal, but I’d have to check with them on the specific characterization.

QUESTION: And you mentioned again just now that you’d like to see something substantive from the Iranians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And that’s the word that’s been used throughout this process --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- over the last couple of weeks. Do you feel that the PowerPoint presentation or even anything that was heard this morning and this afternoon does, in fact, match that phrase of being a substantive proposal by the Iranians?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, they wouldn’t be having conversations and technical discussions if it wasn’t worth taking the time to do that. But there’s a back and forth, as you know, that under – that happens at negotiations. That’s what they’re doing now. And I expect we’ll have more of a readout or an evaluation tomorrow.

QUESTION: And how would you – what – how do you – how does the Administration see the role of Congress in all this?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: One of the issues clearly is that Iran is obviously hoping for some kind of easing of the sanctions that have really damaged the economy there. Do you see Congress so far as being supportive of what the Administration is trying to do with Iran, and what would you like to see them do going forward? Yesterday, there was a letter from some senators who suggested that if there’s something – if the Iranians halt enrichment, then they may be prepared not to go forward with a new set of sanctions --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but they didn’t actually talk about easing the old sanctions already in place.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well, Congress, of course, has been an incredibly important partner in this effort to prevent Iran from acquiring – obtaining a nuclear weapon. And I think most people would argue that we wouldn’t be at this point where the pressure would have been – is so severe on the Iranians that they would consider coming back with a proposal had that pressure not been in place. And we all know the history here, that President Rouhani ran on the platform of reforming the economy, helping grow the economy there, and easing of the sanctions is, of course, an essential part of that.

So you’ve also seen – just to go through the history of the last couple of weeks – that Under Secretary Sherman did make the point that not putting in place new sanctions before the conclusion of these talks was a step that we asked for. But beyond that, any step we would take would have to be proportional to the steps the Iranians took, and that’s what we’re evaluating now. I can’t predict for you whether any steps will be taken on our side at all. But Congress is, of course, an important partner in this. We’ve been briefing them regularly, talking with them regularly about our strategy here, and I’m sure that that will commence when these discussions complete over the next couple of days.

QUESTION: And I just had one more question, which is sort of related. But there was a report out of Tehran today that the Iranian Chamber of Commerce has been given approval to register in the United States and expects to be opening an office soon here. Can you confirm and talk to us about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any independent confirmation of that. We have, of course, seen those media reports. Our focus, as you know, because we’ve talked about it for the first five or ten minutes here, is of – on result on the – is a resolution to the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So I don’t have anything further on those reports.

QUESTION: If it’s true, what does it mean?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to do analysis on a report that I don’t have any confirmation is true.

QUESTION: But in general?

MS. PSAKI: Our focus, as I said, is on finding a resolution to the international community’s concern regarding Iran’s nuclear program. That’s where our focus is. That’s where our resources are. That’s where our efforts are.

QUESTION: Could I just go back --

QUESTION: Sorry, sorry. Could you just say who – if – who could we check with whether they have been registered? I mean, who would register the Iranian Chamber of Commerce in the United States?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question.

QUESTION: Would it be Treasury?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to look into that and see. It might be Treasury, but I’ll check and see who the right entity would be for you.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: And could I just get back just one step back here --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to the technical discussions you said at this level for the first time --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- if I understand. Do you mean the first time ever? Like not just at these meetings, but is this the first time that they’ve actually come with, like, PowerPoint, here we are, got our technical team and we’re explaining things?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to do a decade – well, decades-old historical analysis, so I appreciate the opportunity on that. But I would say certainly with this administration, with the new Foreign Minister and new President in place, and their verbal efforts or their verbal commitment or desire to change our relationship and change our diplomatic relationship moving forward, that this is certainly the first substantive step forward.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: Do you know whether Deputy – Under Secretary Sherman has had any opportunity to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif? Do you have a readout on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are certainly open to having a bilateral meeting with Iran on the ground. I don’t have any updates for you on plans for that at this stage.

QUESTION: Has the representation met your expectations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, given it’s still being discussed and there’s a back and forth about the technical details, and as we all know, this is an incredibly complicated or would be an incredibly complicated process, I don’t want to evaluate it further now. But I expect as our team on the ground does more work over the coming 24 to 48 hours we’ll have more to say.

QUESTION: Jen, one would assume that you are in --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next, I guess.

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. One would assume that you are in close contact with your major partners on this issue, which are the Israelis, but their statements thus far has been quite bellicose. I mean, the – whether made by the prime minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu, or officials in this town or even former officials and so on, they are all very hardline --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in terms of not taking anything off the table, keeping the pressure on, and never rewarding Iran by lifting the sanctions. So could you tell us what kind of conversation you’re having with the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we do, as you know, consult very closely with our partners and allies around the world, including the Israelis. And the Secretary has a lot of business he’s been doing with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and of course, they discuss Iran, as they did when they met just a few weeks ago.

Just to – in terms of what Prime Minister Netanyahu has said recently, as many officials have made clear, the P5+1 is not talking about a partial agreement. We are going into these discussions with our eyes open. We are not naive about the challenges. We have put in place the most crippling sanctions – some of the most crippling sanctions in history here, which is why Iran is at the point it’s at. And we wouldn’t take any action unless we felt it was warranted and it was proportional. But we also have a responsibility to seek diplomatic options when the door opens, and that’s the point we’re at now.

But we share the same goal, Said – and this is a very important point – with the Israelis and with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu have stood together and said this, in not allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. That’s a bottom line on both sides, and we are lockstep on that.

QUESTION: Okay. Just a quick follow-up if Lucas would indulge me. Now, the Secretary said that no agreement is better than a bad agreement --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: - or partial agreement. Could you explain what that means to us?

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, but --

QUESTION: No, I mean, how --

MS. PSAKI: -- what he means is we are not going here --

QUESTION: I mean, how do you quantify --

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish and see if I can answer your question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary’s view is very much that we are not pursuing discussions through the P5+1 or through a bilateral process with Iran just to strike a deal, any deal. That no deal is better than a bad deal means we’re not going to strike a bad deal with Iran. Certainly, a diplomatic path is always the preferred path. We understand why the Iranians are where they are given the impact of the crippling sanctions. But as I’ve said a couple of times, we’re going into this eyes wide open, and we will see what comes about.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: What about consultations with the Saudis? We make so much out of consultations with Israel, but certainly, Saudi Arabia has its own concerns about Iran’s efforts to be a regional leader.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And when you consider the religious dynamic as part of that, what is Washington saying to Riyadh about how this process is going forward?

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary – I don’t have any specific recent updates here. Let me just do a – well, I can tell you that the Secretary spoke with Saud al-Faisal this weekend on Saturday. I don’t have a specific readout from you on their conversation. But obviously, Iran, along with Syria and a range of issues, are topics they discuss frequently. And he is telling our allies and partners around the world the same thing that he is telling you publicly, which is that no deal is better than a bad deal, and we are going into this eyes wide open. But if there is a – if the diplomatic door cracks open, we have a responsibility to see what’s on the other side.

QUESTION: He was supposed to meet with Prince Faisal in Paris. Why he didn’t meet with him?

MS. PSAKI: He was in Afghanistan longer than anticipated and that ran into our time to be able to travel to Paris that evening, and he had a planned meeting with EU High Representative Ashton the next day, so we’re working to reschedule their meeting.

QUESTION: So, Jen – welcome back, first of all.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: So a resolution to this nuclear program – we know where Israel stands. Would the goal of this meeting in Geneva be to not only to end the nuclear weapons program of Iran, but also could it be to get them to stop the enrichment process altogether?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me talk first about the goals, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, obviously, on the ground, but just to reiterate a couple of the points. Our goal here is to work with our P5 partners to resolve the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear programs. As we’ve said, it – their actions and their response will be essential in that process because we’re waiting for them. The ball, as we’ve said before, is very much in their court.

The P5+1 is prepared to discuss what President Obama said in his address at UNGA, that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access a peaceful nuclear program. So that will certainly be a part of the discussion, but beyond that, I don’t want to predict or negotiate what components would be part of any final result.

QUESTION: And do bilateral meetings – does that undermine the P5+1, if we’re all coming over there together but then we go off to the side?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister already had a bilateral pull-aside, I guess is the appropriate way of characterizing it, when we were at UNGA. Obviously, any step we take, we do in coordination and cooperation with our P5+1 partners. As you know, EU High Representative Ashton is leading these negotiations and leading this effort happening on the ground in Geneva. But any way to resolve this effort, whether that’s through a bilateral process, whether that’s through the P5+1 process, is something we’ve always said we would be open to.

QUESTION: And lastly, is a one-hour PowerPoint, is that unreasonable to sit through?

MS. PSAKI: Unreasonable to sit through?

QUESTION: I mean, did they learn that from us? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if the Americans are the authors of the PowerPoint, but --

QUESTION: They are.

QUESTION: I think so.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Microsoft.

MS. PSAKI: I think, given the seriousness of this issue, that any specific details they would offer in any form would be welcomed by our side.

QUESTION: Can I just dial back to the word you used to say that they – you’re prepared to let them have access to a nuclear program?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I appreciate you don’t want to really go into the details, but are you talking about access through a third party, through another country, or --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just --

QUESTION: -- what part – what do you mean? It is kind of a weird word to choose “access.”

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to go into further details.

QUESTION: But it suggests that they might not have something based in Iran, but that they could feed into a grid somewhere that has nuclear – I mean, I just don’t understand what you mean by it.

MS. PSAKI: I expect we’ll talk more about this in the coming days as the negotiations continue, but I don’t want to go into any further specifics.

Said.

QUESTION: Change topics?

QUESTION: Why not? (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Because the importance here and the priority here is giving room for the negotiators to discuss all of the sensitive issues.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Same topic?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have Iran or --

QUESTION: Yes, yes. Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Iran? Okay.

QUESTION: Yes. First, welcome back. For the third person, I am saying this.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you. Thank you.

QUESTION: So the question is: You mentioned the goal of the meeting, of this two-days meeting. And so if it’s – I assume it’s not going to be completed in these two days. Are there any plans to have further meetings in the coming days, or it’s going to be decided tomorrow?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we don’t expect that these very complicated issues will be resolved through a breakthrough overnight. So whether there’ll be a next set of meetings or discussions, or whether these will continue, I don’t know yet. I may have more of an update for you tomorrow, but we’re going day by day, of course, on the ground.

QUESTION: So – and then the issue of this – many people are asking about the PowerPoint presentation. So it seems that it’s a – I mean, all the meeting is focusing mainly on the technical part of the nuclear plan?

MS. PSAKI: That is certainly the focus of the discussion this afternoon and what we expect will continue in the morning.

QUESTION: So every side of the P-1 – P5+1, they have their technical team with them or what?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question. I don’t have the details of who specifically from every side is in the room. I can venture to see if that’s a detail we can share with all of you.

QUESTION: Change topics?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Syria. Could you comment on the statements coming out of the Syrian coalition leadership saying that opposition leadership is saying that they will boycott any conference or Geneva 2 or whatever? Could you comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, their statement certainly does not put the opposition any closer to the negotiated political process required for the possibility of peace. We do continue to consult closely with the Syrian coalition leadership to ensure its delegation will be properly representative and inclusive. That’s something that Ambassador Ford has been closely engaged with Beth Jones and a number of other senior officials here, and I expect that will continue.

As you know, the Secretary sat down with Brahimi just – was it yesterday – just yesterday – and they discussed, in detail, planning for Geneva. They both reiterated their belief that there’s no military solution to the crisis, that there must be a transitional governing body in Syria, as set forth in the Geneva communique. And as a next step, Special Representative Brahimi will be traveling to the region. He’ll be visiting a number of countries, and I expect he will be consulting of course with representatives of the opposition as well, as we continue to plan for a Geneva conference.

QUESTION: Could you explain to us how the Secretary discusses in detail prospects for Geneva, when in fact the one party – one whole party – the opposition – is saying we are not going to attend? How do you go about discussing the details? How do you plan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a number of components that are important to discuss, including the agenda, how it would be set up, who the participants would be from around the world. As you all know, these discussions about those issues that are unresolved have been ongoing. That was a part of their discussion yesterday. The Secretary has also had a number of meetings with the Russians, lately, as you’re all well aware of, and he talked about that during his meeting with Brahimi as well. And Brahimi is planning to, as I just mentioned, go to the region and spend some time on the ground with some of the key countries who have a great stake here. So that was a big thrust of their conversation.

Now you’re absolutely correct that the participation of the opposition is a key component of a successful Geneva conference, but we’re continuing to work toward that. There have been many ups and downs in this process, and that’s not unexpected given how challenging the situation is on the ground. But we continue to press for the opposition to have a representative body at the Geneva conference.

QUESTION: And could you tell us whether the opposition informed Ambassador Ford or Ambassador Jones beforehand of their upcoming statement that they were boycotting the (inaudible) talks?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check. I’m not aware of whether they were informed or not in advance.

QUESTION: Will Brahimi be visiting Tehran?

MS. PSAKI: I would recommend you check with his team on his exact stops on his travel.

QUESTION: Or any decision has been taken regarding the participation of Iran?

MS. PSAKI: They did discuss that issue, but no decision has been made.

QUESTION: Jen, I’m still going back to your statement – “does not put them any closer to…” I didn’t follow it. It sounds really mild when you’re looking at disaster. I mean, if they are saying they’re not going to be going to the talks that is extremely bad news. I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I followed that with was that we continue to work with the opposition, and --

QUESTION: Yeah. But that – you’ve been working with them for --

MS. PSAKI: -- make sure they know on the ground – make sure they know from our team that it’s essential and important that they attend a conference. But I also mentioned as well that there have been many ups and downs, which is not unexpected given how challenging the situation is on the ground. We haven’t yet set a date for the conference. Obviously, their participation is a very pivotal part of that, but we’re continuing to work with them and work toward that.

QUESTION: But I mean really – let’s get real. This has been going on for so long, and if they at this stage are saying they are not even going to sit down to talk, these talks are dead in the water. And the Russians have been saying we’ve got the regime ready to rock and roll, so you’ve got to get these guys together. Isn’t there a higher level --

MS. PSAKI: Well, so there have been moments where the regime said they weren’t attending either.

QUESTION: Yeah but --

MS. PSAKI: So the point is, there have been many ups and downs. There have been moments where the opposition said they were absolutely attending. So this is a roller coaster. Given how challenging the situation is on the ground, the devastation that has hit the Syrian people, that should not come as a surprise. But clearly, we haven’t set a date yet or announced a date for a conference. The opposition and their participation with a representative group is pivotal to that, but we’re continuing to work toward it.

QUESTION: How will you drive the point home to the opposition that this is really vital that they do participate? Are you talking to their close allies, who are your close allies – the Saudis, for instance – their benefactors, to sort of put some pressure on them perhaps to reconsider?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t have to go into specifics of the countries. I would defer to them for that. But it is safe to assume that they are hearing the same message from many countries in the region about the importance of their participation and attendance.

QUESTION: And then including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Jordan, as well?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have the level of detail of which countries are pressuring them to participate. But that is safe to assume that many countries in the region feel it’s vitally important that they participate, as does of course Special Representative Brahimi who will be traveling, as I mentioned and as he mentioned yesterday.

QUESTION: Is this the reaction of an opposition that is at its wits’ end, or is this a legitimate complaint that they’re not going to attend? How does this building read their comment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly understand their frustration at a challenging situation on the ground and the influx that has been happening for months of foreign fighters and assistance from Iran and other countries and how that’s been impacting them, as well as the fact that they’ve seen tens of thousands of men, women, and children be brutally slaughtered. So we certainly understand how challenging it is for them, but we have been reiterating that there’s no military solution. That’s not how we will resolve this civil war that’s happening in Syria.

And so a political solution and the Geneva conference as a vehicle to do that is a vital step forward, and that’s the same message we’ve been sending for some time.

QUESTION: So is it fair to say that this building is simply considering this just a hiccup --

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t --

QUESTION: -- in the grand scheme of things and that there will be a Geneva 2 date to be announced?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t characterize it that way. As you saw Secretary Kerry and Special Representative Brahimi say yesterday, it’s urgent to set a date for a Geneva conference. The participation of both the regime and the opposition is essential to that in terms of moving the ball forward. But beyond that, I’m not going to characterize it in any other way.

QUESTION: Jen, I mean, I know you said that the opposition in the past has said that they won’t – they were going to attend. I don’t actually recall them being that affirmative about it at all. It seems to have been that the opposition has dragged its feet since the beginning of this process. And I’m just wondering what you believe it will take now at this point --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- obviously we’re almost a year on from when – well, it was May, so it’s several months on from when this --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Geneva 2 was mooted. What do you think it will take to bring the opposition to the table?

MS. PSAKI: It’s hard for me to predict what is going to motivate them to have a representative body at the conference. I believe earlier this summer, when the Secretary was in New York meeting with President Jarba, he did reiterate and reaffirm his commitment to attending the conference. So that’s what I was referring to recently. But beyond --

QUESTION: But he’s a person now who’s saying he’s not going.

MS. PSAKI: It is – that’s – well, what I was saying is there are ups – there have been ups and downs, but they have said in the past that they would attend. So our commitment is to and our desire is to continue to work with them to figure out a representative body to attend.

QUESTION: But how do you achieve that concretely?

MS. PSAKI: We remind them that this is the way to end this terrible conflict, that there is not a military solution, there is – the only path to ending the civil war is a political solution. There’s agreement that this is the best path to do that.

QUESTION: Jen, do you condemn the car bombing that happened in Damascus yesterday, I think, or the day before, killed a lot of innocent civilians but also damaged government buildings?

MS. PSAKI: I certainly would, Said. And we’ve, of course, seen those reports. And any incidence of violence on the ground is always of great concern.

QUESTION: Do you consider that to be an act of terrorism?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to qualify it further than to say --

QUESTION: Why not? I mean --

MS. PSAKI: -- we certainly condemn --

QUESTION: -- you call car bombs everywhere else as an act of terrorism, especially when they target --

MS. PSAKI: That is true, Said. I don’t have --

QUESTION: -- when they target civilians.

MS. PSAKI: -- all the details on every single unfortunate incidence of violence that happens.

QUESTION: Why don’t you have all the details about what happened?

MS. PSAKI: Because --

QUESTION: I mean, you would definitely --

MS. PSAKI: -- it’s a fluid situation on the ground that’s terrible and complicated. Beyond that, I don’t have anything further --

QUESTION: But you certainly do consider the targeting of civilians by a car bomb, by a booby-trapped bomb, as an act of terror. Isn’t it?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly consider it a terrible act, Said. I don’t have the details of every single – unfortunately, every single incident that happens on the ground.

QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, regarding Syria, you are trying to do two things in parallel, which is – one is Geneva 2 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- expected to be held anytime, in the same time the chemical weapons disarmament.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are these things related to each other, or – and how it is affecting each other in your efforts to achieve something? I mean, it’s like one of them is the carrot one of them is the stick, or I – if you don’t like this expression, I mean, let me understand what’s going on.

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re all parts of a larger strategy here. Obviously, preventing the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people has been a primary objective of the international community from the beginning. You’re familiar with the steps that have been taken; the next major one is for the regime to provide a complete view of its chemical weapons programs through its filings to the OPCW, including the most comprehensive filing, which is due on October 27th, so the end of this month. And we will, of course, assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria’s disclosures to the OPCW. That’s an important process that we’re watching closely, the international community is watching closely.

At the same time, there is no military solution here that will bring an end to the civil war in Syria. And coming to a conference where we can bring both sides together, come to a political solution or outline a transitional government, has been an objective, as Jo said, for six months, if not longer. So we’ve continued to work on that. But obviously, the events on August 21st made dealing with the use of chemical weapons immediately paramount. That’s why our focus was on that. But even simultaneously, the Secretary was still having conversations with Brahimi, with Lavrov and others, to see if we could continue to plan for a Geneva conference.

QUESTION: The other related issue, which is an urgent issue, is the refugees issue.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Especially in the coming weeks and months – let’s say weeks, even – the weather is going to change and be another tough situations for the 2 million people, whatever that’s the number.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And this is related somehow, although it was said that it was not affected by the shutdown and the allocated money. How do you see how you are going to handle this issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, preparing – I think you’re talking about, in part, preparing for winter and --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: -- the colder months, which is, of course, an integral part of the work that we do with partners in the region. You know that the United States is the largest humanitarian donor, of course, and we work closely with our partners around the world to continue to provide aid. The biggest issue here is access, and the regime is not allowing humanitarian access to key parts of the country, including the suburbs of Damascus. People are literally starving to death, and that is of great, great concern to us.

So we are working, of course, with the international community to begin preparing winterization kits and coordinating distribution plans with the humanitarian partners, and we’ve been doing that throughout the course of the summer. But there is a fundamental issue here, which is access to these areas and access to the people who are suffering, something we’ve continued to call for and the international community has continued to put pressure on.

QUESTION: I assume that this morning was the Secretary meeting the Foreign Minister of Jordan.

MS. PSAKI: He did. He did. I have not been able to get a readout of that --

QUESTION: There is not any readout?

MS. PSAKI: -- before I came down here. We can venture to do that.

QUESTION: Because one of the countries that they hosting more than --

MS. PSAKI: You’re absolutely right, and the impact of refugees on the infrastructure of Jordan has been a challenge for them, and they’ve continued to welcome refugees in. We’ve provided them a significant amount of aid, but I’m certain that was a part of their conversation today as well.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Jen – sorry.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Are you confident that Geneva 2 will lead to a political solution in Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that is certainly the goal. That is the best vehicle to move towards a political solution to put together a transitional government, but we’ll first set – work towards setting a date – urgently setting a date before we predict the outcome. But that is why would we bringing both sides together is to accomplish exactly that.

QUESTION: And do you have any plan B in case it fails?

MS. PSAKI: Any – well, look, we’ve long said that a political solution is the best – is the only option, the only way out the civil war in Syria. This is the way to do this. This is the next step. Beyond that I don’t have any other predictions for you. Of course, we’re looking for any way to bring an end to the civil war in Syria.

QUESTION: Back to the humanitarian situation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you heard any of these reports suggesting that a number of clerics may have issued a fatwa allowing people to eat household pets because of the dire hunger situation in one camp inside Syria?

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen those reports, Roz. I’m happy to look into those and see if there’s more details on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Scott, you’ve been so patient. Oh, do you have another one on Syria?

QUESTION: I just wanted to know if there were any plans for any Friends of Syria meeting coming up?

MS. PSAKI: There have been discussions of bringing together the key partners. I don’t have any updates on the timing or how concrete those plans are at this point in time.

Scott.

QUESTION: Bahrain?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There was some violence over the weekend following the funeral of an activist – Yousef Ali Al-Nashmi, who died several days after he was released from detention. Is the United States familiar with that case, and have you raised it with the Government in Bahrain?

MS. PSAKI: One moment, Scott. I think I do have something for you in here. Let’s see. So of course, we are disappointed by recent events that have happened on the ground and eroded the prospects of dialogue in Bahrain. We are aware of the death and detention. We don’t have further details at this point but are continuing to monitor, of course, events on the ground.

QUESTION: Disappointed in the failure of the national dialogue --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to accomplish anything? So what happens now? Is the United States working with the Saudis or working on your own to try to get this going again?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly on our own are continuing to urge the government to uphold its obligations to protect the freedoms of assembly, association, and expression. And we’ve called many times – and I can do again today – for all parties to reaffirm their commitment to nonviolence and to take steps that move forward toward the national dialogue – move the national dialogue forward, I should say.

In terms of cooperation and coordination with other countries, I’m certain this is a point of discussion. I can check further and see if there’s more specifics to share with you.

QUESTION: What is the obstacle from your assessment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we – obviously, there have been a number of events on the ground that have made it more challenging. And there’s more that all parties can do to move things forward, so I don’t know if there’s a specific obstacle as much as there’s more that needs to be done and that’s what we’re certainly pressing for.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) talk about this U.S. citizen that was – that died in an Egyptian prison in Sinai.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What – I know you put out a statement with his name and saying that you were helping the family, but what was – what do you believe he was doing in the Sinai? You had some consular visits. Do you believe that his arrest was – and 30-day detention was justified and are you asking the Egyptians to look into the circumstances – into his death, or do you believe their claim that he was – committed suicide?

MS. PSAKI: We obviously aren’t going to go into details of what happened here. I know there have been reports from Egypt, of course, but out of respect for his family and any official capacity from here, I’d have to check into some of your questions in terms of the specifics.

You’re right that we did confirm his death. We have been working closely – our embassy, I should say, has been working closely with his family to carry out their requests in terms of returning his remains to the United States. Our consular officials have been in close contact with Egyptian authorities regarding the case over the past couple of weeks. We were in regular touch with him as you know and you noted. Beyond that I don’t have further specifics, but happy to look into it for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any – it’s – given the fact that you have multiple travel warnings for that area --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I mean, do you have any idea what he was doing in the Sinai?

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

QUESTION: Did you say --

QUESTION: Jen, there were some initial reports that he had a computer and some maps.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details on his – what he did or didn’t have with him and what he was doing there, but --

QUESTION: Is this – is this case --

QUESTION: Given the fact that you haven’t – he’s been arrested for, what, it was about six weeks he was detained?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, I believe he was arrested late August. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And given the fact that we haven’t heard from you on this issue, I would assume that you didn’t have a problem, or you didn’t think his arrest was unjustified?

MS. PSAKI: Let me talk with our team. I don’t have more details than what I’ve just provided for you on whether we have any evaluation of the charges and what he was doing there.

QUESTION: Could you at least tell us if the Egyptian Government informed you upon his arrest?

MS. PSAKI: Upon his arrest?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we were informed on August 28th --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- which was one day after the arrest took place on August 27th.

QUESTION: Can we move on with Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Just this one, please.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, it was mentioned that a week ago or 10 days ago, somebody from the embassy met him. Is it true, that?

MS. PSAKI: That is true. Our – one of our consular officers was allowed to visit him on October 8th, so that was the last meeting that we had with him.

QUESTION: And did you – at that time, were there any complaints about his treatment or his medical condition at the time?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details than what I just provided, so I’ll check on that for you.

QUESTION: Could you tell us --

MS. PSAKI: Egypt?

QUESTION: Yeah. Could you tell us how things stand now with Egypt? It’s been a week since the aid cut off, or been announced or some cuts in aid have been announced. Could you tell us where you stand with Egypt today?

MS. PSAKI: How do you mean, how we stand, where we stand?

QUESTION: Well, I mean, are you in constant communication? They understand why you took the decision? They accept that decision, or has been a great deal of protestation by the Egyptian Government?

MS. PSAKI: We have been in contact, of course, on the ground and with senior officials from Washington and discussing, of course, not only the decision that was made and announced last week but next steps from here. But beyond that, I don’t have any other specific update.

QUESTION: And what is really the aim of these cuts? To basically sort of send a message to whom? I mean, which segment of the Egyptian military that you are trying to send a message to?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think it’s more than that. And I know Marie and others discussed this at length last week. But just to reiterate, as you know, there was a review that was ongoing since July 3rd --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- when the events happened on July 3rd. We decided to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian Government, which is very important, given our national security interests, our own shared security interests in the Sinai and other places, while recalibrating our assistance to Egypt to best advance our interests.

So the Secretary talked about this a little bit last week, and it’s worth pointing to some of the things he said, just to fully understand what this is and what this isn’t, which is it’s not a withdrawal from our relationship, it’s – or a severing of our serious commitment to helping the government meet their goals. But clearly, given events on the ground, we couldn’t continue business as usual. And that’s why the decision was made.

QUESTION: Okay. So it seems that the decision was made to sort give Egypt an incentive to move toward democracy. Have you been reassured in this – along this path? What have they done? How did they reassure you that they are moving forward? Did they give a timetable?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a timetable. There are clearly points they’ve made publicly about putting in place a political roadmap to restore a democratically elected civilian government. We, of course, would like to see them move forward with that, and we’ll focus our diplomatic efforts on working with the interim government to do just that. We’re not going to get into specific criteria other than to say that we’ll continue to review our relationship, as we have for the last couple of months, and take steps as needed.

QUESTION: Okay. So finally --

QUESTION: Many of your allies in the region, particularly in the Gulf, have said that you’re taking this action now, but you did very little when President Morsy, for instance, was taking extrajudicial actions, and this move only kind of gives an incentive to the Muslim Brotherhood to keep on their protests and their violence in the streets.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously there were a range of factors that were taken into account as this decision was made. And as you know, we’re in very close contact with our allies and partners around the world, as I’m sure they’ve told you. After reviewing our aid, after reviewing our relationship, this was the decision we made that we thought was best for where things are now. But it’s important to note that it’s not a severing of ties or a severing of aid. It’s a recalibration, it’s a holding of aid, and we’ll continue to evaluate as time goes on. And that’s a message – I’m getting to the point here – a message we’re sending to our allies, and we’re making that point to them as well.

QUESTION: But what about the idea that this kind of emboldens the Muslim Brotherhood to keep on their, what some would say, a violent struggle?

MS. PSAKI: What is the justification for that that is being made by our partners?

QUESTION: Well, by taking this action against the Egyptian Government, this lets the Muslim Brotherhood think that their actions are justified --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- because you’re punishing the Egyptian Government for their actions.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve said many times – and the Secretary has said, and we’ve all said – that violence from neither side is acceptable, that we don’t take sides, that they all need to come together and work together to move towards a long-term, democratic solution here. And that’s the message we’re continuing to send. The interim government still has the preponderance of power here given they’re in charge right now. And there are steps they need to take to move things forward. There are steps they’ve taken that we find unacceptable, and that all contributed to our evaluation and the decision we made.

QUESTION: What is the message – or are there any meetings between Embassy officials and members – and officials from the Muslim Brotherhood?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we do maintain contact, of course, with a range of officials there, including the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t have any recent updates on that. But I’m certain we’re conveying the same message we’re conveying publicly about our decisions around aid, about what we’re encouraging the interim government to do, and about what we want to see moving forward in Egypt.

QUESTION: Jen, could you tell us whether the review is, like, periodical, every three months, four months? How often do you have it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a timeline for you, other than to say that it’s ongoing.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, one second. I’ll come right to you. Let me just have Deb and Jo here first.

QUESTION: Sorry.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on the Amnesty report on Nigeria?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Can I come back?

QUESTION: Absolutely.

MS. PSAKI: Is there any more on Egypt?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Egypt?

QUESTION: Yes, it is.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I’ll come right back to you. Okay.

QUESTION: Whether you – in your answer to these questions and before that Marie was mentioning it’s – and it was mentioned in the background briefing by the Senior Administration Officials the engagement with the people or, let’s say, engagement with the interim government focusing on education and health and enterprise.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But it was mentioned – it was not mentioned how it’s going to be done. Because it’s – I mean, U.S. has experience before with this NGOs and all this --

MS. PSAKI: Are you talking about our ESF assistance, specifically?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I’m not talking about military side, which is suspended --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or frozen or whatever it is. I’m talking about when they focus about that U.S. wants to be engaged with the government and especially with the Egyptian people to do something with the health and the education and the enterprise.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: How you foresee this is done, especially, whether we like it or not, it’s the reality on the ground – I’m not talking about perception – the reality is that it’s a centralized government? I mean, how U.S. can reach to the people without going through the government channels?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have a range of partners on the ground that we work with and we’ll continue to work with. And a range of a great deal of the ESF funding that goes to benefit the Egyptian people through programs like education and private-sector development goes through programs that are not through the government. So that will continue. And we’re looking at and recalibrating other funds that may be continued in that as well.

QUESTION: The other question related to this first one, it’s one of the issues that it’s not clear for the Egyptians, as is reflected in their media: How this is going to be done? I mean, this is even – if you put aside the military side and the security side --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the Sinai side aside, how these things, other things, I mean the health and these things? And especially it’s important to people to know how it’s going to reflect in their everyday life.

MS. PSAKI: Logistically or --

QUESTION: Logistically and details-wise.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, a range of these programs have been ongoing, so it isn’t starting new programs that amount to the 260 million. These are programs that will continue. So they’ve been ongoing, and people who have been impacted by them and who have benefited from them will continue to. So that – there shouldn’t be a question or a mystery around that. We’ve been working closely with partners on the ground on those programs for a number of years and felt that since they do go directly to benefit the Egyptian people, to help them on issues like education and private-sector development, that they were essential to continue. So that’s why they will, and other funds will be, as I mentioned, recalibrated.

QUESTION: The other thing which is – are you now shy from being involved in so-called democratization project with your experience that you had before two years ago with the NGOs and all these things? Because one of this – this is one of the important things – democratization, human rights, woman rights, minority rights, all these rights, issues, becoming an urgent issue, and the people are trying to figure out – especially liberals and secular people – they want to know – I mean, because at the end of the day, it looks like U.S. is – either it’s with the military or the Islamists. What about the other people who are in between or in not between?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you know the history here, but it’s worth repeating, that back to the revolution in 2011, we supported many who called for change in the country, and we did so based on the belief that while democratic transitions are difficult and take time, societies based on democracy and openness are more peaceful and sustainable. And that’s one of the reasons, of course, that we are continuing many of these programs that directly benefit the Egyptian people that we’ve talked – just talked a few minutes about.

Nigeria?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: So we are, of course, aware of the Amnesty International report on detainee deaths. We share Amnesty International’s grave concerns about the human rights situation in Nigeria, and in this case, about detainee treatment. We note our full support for access of international humanitarian organizations to all Nigerian detention facilities, and it’s also worth noting that we engage Nigerian leaders on, of course, a range of issues, but specifically on this all the time. As you know, President Obama met with President Jonathan on the margins of the UN – of UNGA just a few weeks ago. Secretary Kerry has also made this point to the Nigerians as well, and that’s a point we’ll continue to make.

QUESTION: So – but the United States is funding these troops; correct?

MS. PSAKI: Funding the troops?

QUESTION: Funding these security forces, yes.

MS. PSAKI: I am not – I don’t have the amount of funding in front of me, but we continue to emphasize, of course, with the Nigerian Government, that abuses by the security forces undermine our security goals. Our larger goal here is a strategy here to deal with Boko Haram and deal with the overarching challenges that the government and the people are facing, but of course, these abuses are unacceptable and they’re noted in the Amnesty International report. But I can check on the funding question for you if helpful.

QUESTION: Can I change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: To Burma?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: There was a bombing in a hotel in Yangon yesterday in which I believe an American woman was injured.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you confirm any details about that? And what is your understanding about what took place there?

MS. PSAKI: I do have details on this. Let’s see. So we are aware, of course, as you mentioned, that a U.S. citizen was injured in an explosion in Burma. Our consular offices in Rangoon are in contact with the U.S. citizen’s family and are providing appropriate consular assistance. In addition, just today, the U.S. Embassy released a Security Message to alert U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Burma of recent bombings in several locations around the country. While there is no indication at this time that any of these IEDs were specifically directed toward U.S. citizens, the Embassy asked that all U.S. citizens exercise an appropriate level of caution when traveling around Rangoon and/or Burma.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea what’s the background of these bombings, why they’re happening at this point?

MS. PSAKI: At this point, I would refer you to the local authorities on any further specifics.

QUESTION: There was a suggestion from the presidential office that it was something to do with Burma becoming the head of – the chair of ASEAN, sorry – and that it was – the whole idea was to make the international community think that the situation in Burma is unstable. How would you characterize the situation on the ground generally in Burma these days?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, we took the step to send the message to citizens traveling there, which we do to protect people traveling abroad, so that’s one component of it. We all know that Burma has been through a tremendous couple of years of change and transition. Beyond that, on the specific incidents, though, I don’t have any more details or I can’t validate the specifics of the motivation or anything along those lines.

QUESTION: And the woman who was injured, you don’t know whether she was a tourist or whether she was working for the Embassy or an American company or anything?

MS. PSAKI: At this point, that’s all the information I have to provide because of privacy considerations. But if there’s more to share, I’m happy to do that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: You said U.S. citizen. It is a woman, right?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more verification. I know that, of course, there have been reports on the individual, so – but beyond that, I don’t have any other specifics.

QUESTION: Libya? The --

MS. PSAKI: Libya.

QUESTION: Yeah. I know that most of these questions are being given to the Justice Department, but --

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Yeah. But given that Mr. al-Libi is a citizen of Libya and given that the government in Tripoli has complained loudly about his being taken away to be tried for a crime which they say they’re fully capable of trying themselves, is Mr. al-Libi receiving consular access from his country’s representatives in New York? Is that all being handled through the Justice Department? Does the State Department have a role in this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you are right that I will refer almost anything to the Department of Justice given, of course, that, as was confirmed this weekend, al-Libi – Mr. al-Libi was transferred to law enforcement custody on Saturday and was brought directly to the Southern District of New York, where he’s been under indictment for more than a decade.

As you know, consular access is something that we take very seriously. I don’t have any update on that. I would otherwise point you to the Department of Justice given it’s an ongoing --

QUESTION: Well, what’s the evidence that you take it very seriously if you can’t say whether you’re giving it to them or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any update on whether that has happened yet, but obviously, it’s something that we will venture to do.

QUESTION: Well, it looks like it hasn’t happened, or the government wouldn’t still be complaining that it hasn’t happened.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just don’t have any update for you, Elise.

QUESTION: Well, I mean --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know when their complaints were, if they were this morning or when, but --

QUESTION: I understand, but consular access is something that you hope that, when a U.S. citizen --

MS. PSAKI: Of course.

QUESTION: -- is arrested anywhere, that you’ll provide --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Right.

QUESTION: -- that you’ll be provided early and often consular access.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So what is the – is it because of the laws that he’s being held under, the executive orders that he’s being held under, that consular access you don’t think --

MS. PSAKI: I just said we take it seriously and it’s something we are committed to. I don’t have any update on whether or not it’s happened.

QUESTION: Well, but you’re talking in very general terms that it’s something you consider – that you take seriously, and it’s something that you’re open to, but I mean, that’s not evident by the way that you’re talking about this case.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t see how that’s the case.

QUESTION: Well, you said that it’s something you take seriously.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And it said that you’re something that you consider in most cases – or I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but you said it’s something you take --

MS. PSAKI: In this case as well. I just don’t have an update on whether he’s had that access at this point.

QUESTION: Well, can you take the question?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to.

QUESTION: North Korea?

QUESTION: Can you also say whether there have been any more conversations between the Libyan Government and Ambassador Jones, especially now that this transfer has taken place?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of or have an update on. I can check with them and see if there are. As you know, we value, of course, our relationship with the new Libya and support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We work closely with them on a range of issues, and I expect – we expect that will continue.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the assassination of a spiritual leader in Benghazi who was criticizing extremists?

MS. PSAKI: I had heard about those reports. I don’t have anything specific on it, but I’m happy to check into it after the briefing for you.

QUESTION: On Turkey?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on Turkish selection of Chinese missile and air defense? Defense Secretary Hagel a couple days ago stated that this – Turkey’s decision-making process and we respect that without any kind of concern. I just want to make sure that – do you have still concerns over the issue, or are you sold? And --

MS. PSAKI: I know we expressed them even before I left on the marathon trip we just got back from, so I don’t have any updates. I don’t think our position has changed, and I’m not sure that anything has been formalized on their end either.

QUESTION: So your position is that you --

MS. PSAKI: We had expressed concerns in the past, but I don’t have any update for you. I don’t think anything has changed from our view.

Scott.

QUESTION: Azerbaijan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Chief of Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev says that U.S. Government officials told his government, or suggested to his government, that they allow the opposition to win 25 percent of the vote; that would make it seem like a fair election. Was that – is that the case?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. As our Embassy has stated – I believe they put out a comment, and I can venture to get that to any of you who it would be of interest to – the assertions made by the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Chief are completely false.

QUESTION: North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: North Korea? Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to Kenneth Bae’s visit with his mother and the government’s offer to allow two more? And also if you’ve been in touch with his – either his family or the Swedish protecting power about the status of those visits.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. We, of course, remain gravely concerned about Mr. Bae and his health. We continue to urge the North Korean authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release. We have been in very close contact with his family. I don’t have any other updates. I’m not sure where his mother is at this point, if she’s back or if she’s en route, so we haven’t – I don’t have any update on that. But beyond that, I would refer you to his family.

QUESTION: Do you see this, the fact that they’ve allowed his mother to visit, do you see that as willingness to maybe work with you again on allowing his release?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any further analysis. It’s hard for me to do in terms of getting into their heads and determining what it means or what message they’re trying to send. Obviously, they can take a step by releasing him, which we have long called for.

QUESTION: Okay. And when you say you stay in close contact with his family, has that been over the last few days, or have you been in touch with him over the weekend?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check when the last contact is. I’m happy to do that for you.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I was wondering if I could ask you about newly loosened restrictions on arms exports that I believe went into effect today. Do you have any response to statements in opposition to that saying that those arms will eventually find their way into the hands of terrorists or human rights violators?

MS. PSAKI: This is a very good question that I don’t have any information on. So let me check on it and we can get you a substantive answer and to anyone else who it’s of interest to.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can I ask about – (laughter) – can I ask about Latif Mehsud?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Marie ended the briefing on Friday with the announcement that he’d been captured --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and then we kind of all left, and it’s been a long weekend.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you tell us where he is right now and give us some more details about the operation, capturing him?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further details for you.

QUESTION: What about what his fate’s going to – is he going to be brought to the United States? Is he going to be like an al-Latif – al-Libi?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further for you. We’ll see if there’s more to share. I would keep your expectations low. (Laughter.) Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:40 p.m.)

DPB # 169



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