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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 17, 2013


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry's Travel to Europe / London 11 Ministerial Meeting
  • SYRIA
    • Geneva Conference / Moderate Opposition / Political Transition
    • Next Steps Moving Forward / Events on the Ground / Political Solution
    • Issue of Iranian Participation / Geneva Communique / Chemical Weapons / Assad
    • Transitional Government / Range of Conference Dates Considered / London 11 / Iran
  • ISRAEL/PALESTINIANS
    • Prime Minister Netanyahu / Intensified Engagement, Involvement
    • U.S. Position on Settlement Activity Unchanged
  • TURKEY
    • Normalizing Relations between Turkey and Israel / U.S. Position Unchanged on Relationship with Turkey
    • Turkish Government's Contracts Discussions / Issue of U.S. Sanctions
  • GREAT LAKES REGION
    • U .S. Special Envoy Feingold / Kampala Talks / Peaceful Resolution
  • NORTH KOREA
    • Kenneth Bae
  • LIBYA
    • Reported Threats / Safety of U.S. Citizens
  • SOMALIA
    • Somali Federal Government
  • EGYPT
    • Consular Update / Death of U.S. Citizen
    • U.S. Ambassador to Egypt


TRANSCRIPT:

1:19 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Good afternoon, everyone. I have one item at the top for all of you. Secretary Kerry will travel to Paris, London, and Rome October 21st through 24th. In Paris, Secretary Kerry will meet with representatives of the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to – Follow-on Committee to update them on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as part of his continued engagement with our Arab League partners on the issue. He will also meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to discuss bilateral and international issues. As some of you have noted in here, that’s rescheduled from a planned dinner they were supposed to have last weekend.

In London, the Secretary will attend the London 11 ministerial meeting with key international partners and Syrian coalition leadership to review progress towards convening the Geneva conference on Syria.

And in Rome, Secretary Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss ongoing final status negotiations with the Palestinians, along with Iran, Syria, and other issues of mutual concern. And of course, in each capital he will meet with senior government officials. We’re still finalizing the details of those additional meetings.

QUESTION: Sorry. Saud al-Faisal and the Arab League are both in Paris?

MS. PSAKI: That is correct.

QUESTION: Okay. And the London 11 meeting, what exactly is the aim of this? It seems like the opposition is just in complete free-fall, complete collapse. A whole bunch of groups yesterday or the day before just announced they were leaving the SNC. The SNC says it has no interest in going to Geneva 2. It seems to be a real mess. Is the London 11 meeting going to try to address this?

MS. PSAKI: Welcome back, Matt. Good to see you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: There’s a couple of questions that you listed in there, so let me try to address them. The London 11 meeting – as you know, the Secretary and key partners in the region, key stakeholders, frequently meet to discuss coordination on Syria and aiding the opposition, whether it’s increasing aid to the team on the ground or doing more to help bolster the political opposition. So that is, of course, the agenda of the meeting. And clearly, as the Secretary indicated just a few days ago when he met with Brahimi, there is an urgency to scheduling a Geneva conference, so I’m certain they will be discussing that as well.

QUESTION: Right, but in terms of – specifically in terms of the cohesion or unity of the opposition, is that – how big a concern is that for you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, I know you mentioned some of the groups in the announcement yesterday. We are still looking into and working with the opposition to look into whether the groups that signed on to the statement represent a majority or a significant portion of the Syrian armed opposition. As you know, there are thousands of different groups, and these are – many who were on this list were field commanders, so we’re still looking into what the exact impact will be.

Clearly, the opposition participation in a Geneva conference is vital and important and a key component of it, and we continue to work with them. Now, President Jarba said just a few weeks ago that he would be attending. That remains the case, is our understanding. We understand the SNC has made some statements, and we’re going to continue to work on all of the components of the SOC – SNC being underneath them to determine the right representation for a Geneva conference.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, are you convinced right now that the opposition is unified enough that it can present a – that it can send a delegation that is actually representative of Assad foes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re continuing to work with them. Obviously, it’s not a surprise that, given the situation on the ground, that they’ve had concerns and they’ve raised questions, but we remain – we continue to believe that a Geneva conference is the right mechanism for moving towards a political solution for all sides.

QUESTION: Right. But everyone agrees with that, including the opposition; they just can’t get their act together. Would you say that the opposition is more or less coherent and unified today than it was several months ago?

MS. PSAKI: Well, several months ago, Matt, they hadn’t elected leadership, they hadn’t expanded their membership. They’ve done – taken those steps. Yes, absolutely, we want to see a unified opposition under the umbrella of the SOC. We’re continuing to work with them, and I think that will only increase in the coming weeks.

QUESTION: Let me put it this way, and then I’ll drop it.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are they – are you satisfied with where they are right now?

MS. PSAKI: Are we satisfied with where they are?

QUESTION: The opposition is, in terms of being a unified group that you can pick up a phone and call whoever and be convinced or satisfied that they are speaking for some – for a group that is larger than just themselves and their cousin.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to believe that the moderate opposition, that the SOC is the over-umbrella group of, is a group that’s expanding and growing. Yes, there are bumps along the way, but yes, we have people we can call and talk to and work with them on continuing to grow and strengthen their membership.

QUESTION: All right. But can you explain to me how it is that you say that they’re expanding – the moderate opposition is expanding and growing when, in fact, it’s exactly the opposite? They’re disintegrating and shrinking.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re referring to the statement of a limited number of individuals.

QUESTION: Seventy.

MS. PSAKI: Seventy. Remember there are --

QUESTION: That’s a limited number?

MS. PSAKI: There are thousands of different opposition groups, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not downplaying the importance of it. We’re working with the opposition to determine what that means and how it will impact them. But at the same time, we still believe we can work with them to come together with a representative body to come to a Geneva conference.

QUESTION: Jen, on --

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s go to Lesley, Said, and then we’ll go to you to you right next. Go ahead, Lesley.

QUESTION: Given the splintering in the opposition, as Matt is saying, and that we’re reporting as well --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are you still confident you can have a conference? I mean, the Secretary has pushing for a date in November. Do you still believe that can happen?

MS. PSAKI: We do.

QUESTION: The Syrian Deputy Prime Minister has come back and said – given a date of the 23rd to the 24th.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that not true?

MS. PSAKI: We have discussed potential dates, but nothing has been finalized. No date is final until it is set and announced by the UN. We’ve said for a couple of weeks now that we were targeting mid-November, and that remains the case.

QUESTION: Can I just pick up on the point that Matt was making --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about the lack of cohesion of the opposition? Also the fact that President Assad himself has said that he’d be happy to go to Geneva, but that his stepping down as part of this transitional government is off the table. And so why would you encourage the opposition to go to a conference where one of the parties, feeling emboldened from this recent – and he’s even said that he does – recent whole chemical weapons agreement and his critical involvement in implementing it – why would you encourage the opposition to go to a party conference where the outcome is already handicapped by the other party?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t agree that it’s handicapped, Elise. There are a number of stakeholders and countries who would be a part of this discussion as well who do feel that the opposition has a right to be represented, agree that we need to come to a transitional government by mutual consent, where the opposition would never agree to have Assad as part of that. So we’re not --

QUESTION: And he’d never agree to step down.

MS. PSAKI: We’re not predetermining the outcome. We’re not naive about how challenging it is. But still, given the choices, this remains the best option, and there is broad view of this to move towards a political transition. And that’s why we’re pressing for it.

QUESTION: Do you see any way that President Assad won’t be in power at least through the election which is scheduled for next spring?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s obviously our goal and our hope and the goal of many countries in the region as well. In terms of how we’re going to get there, that’s what we’re discussing and we’re talking about now.

QUESTION: Okay. Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I want to go back to the same issues, but I want to ask you first on the armed opposition, because they are leaking out that they are going to declare a state or actually a liberated state in the northern part of the country. How will that affect the political opposition if it comes to pass before the conference on the 23rd --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure --

QUESTION: -- and the 24th of November?

MS. PSAKI: -- which groups you’re referring to. Are you referring to the extremist groups?

QUESTION: In particular, al-Nusrah and --

MS. PSAKI: Are you referring to --

QUESTION: -- al-Qaida in Iraq and Bilad Sham. They’re the ones that they said that they are going to declare a liberated area, a liberated Syria, and they’re going to work towards getting recognition from whatever states that recognize them. How will that impact the opposition at the Geneva table?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, as you know, we work closely and specifically have put steps in place to provide our aid directly to the SMC and to the moderate opposition. That remains the case now. That is who we anticipate and we would like to be represented at a Geneva conference. It is a challenge for the opposition – you’re right – that they are fighting on two fronts; they’re fighting the regime and they’re fighting the extremist elements. And that’s one of the reasons why this is a good time to bring both sides together and to have a conference to determine next steps moving forward.

QUESTION: Okay. Will this – with these changes are happening so fast on the ground, it seems that the political opposition, especially like Jarba and others, they are being nixed by those who are really effective on the ground which control territory and have the guns and so on. And my question to you: Will there be any kind of, let’s say, pre-conference conference where you can bring in the Arab countries that support the opposition and bring in the different major opposition group and come up with some sort of formula? Is that conceivable?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s two steps that are happening now. One is that Brahimi is beginning his travel to the region, I believe in the coming days, and he’ll be visiting a range of those countries you mentioned in preparation for a Geneva conference. At the London 11 meeting next week, which the Secretary will participate in along with a number of countries from the region, they will certainly discuss next steps, how to help the opposition, what are the steps that we can take to best prepare them and best prepare ourselves for a Geneva conference.

QUESTION: Okay. And related to these issues that we have been discussing, it seems that a number of reports are coming out that show that Turkey is extremely worried about the influence of extremist groups in northern Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia is becoming worried. But they’re also blaming these countries to facilitating these extremist elements with guns, training camps, access, free flow, and so on. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: They’re blaming – I haven’t seen them blame the United States.

QUESTION: Well, no. I mean, I didn’t say. I said Saudi Arabia. I said Turkey. I said Qatar. They’re the ones that supplied lots of arms to these extremist groups. I’m saying that – are you now reconsidering that whole policy – these are your allies – on how to deal with these issues, perhaps stop the flow of arms and fighters coming from everywhere?

MS. PSAKI: Well, dating back to the London 11 meeting in Istanbul, we agreed with those same countries to provide aid and assistance directly through the SMC and General Idris. That remains our goal and our focus, and I am certain that will be a topic of discussion next week.

Margaret.

QUESTION: Can you confirm what Syrian State TV is reporting, that one of the top army officers in Syria was killed – he’s head of the intelligence in the eastern province – and if this general indeed has been killed, how significant that is and what the U.S. assessment is on the ground right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen those reports. I don’t have any independent confirmation for you. I know they just came out this morning, I believe. Obviously, our goal and focus remains an end to Assad’s rule at the head of the regime. It remains on a – working towards a political solution. So I don’t want to give too much value to individual day-to-day events that are happening on the ground, and I don’t have, as I mentioned, independent confirmation of it either.

QUESTION: Well, the Syrian Government is saying that rebels are responsible for that. If you can’t confirm the death – but what is the status on the ground in terms of who has the upper hand at the moment? I mean, that would certainly suggest that a significant move was made by the rebels if indeed this general has been killed.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re talking about a hypothetical now. I understand that it was reports on the ground, but since I don’t have independent confirmation – obviously, there have been ups and downs on both sides on the ground game in Syria. That continues to be the case. I mean, our focus right now is, as I’ve just outlined, on working towards a political solution. And our concerns on the ground remain about steps that the regime is taking, including blocking humanitarian aid, shooting at individuals who were being evacuated, things along those lines. I don’t have an exact ground game update. I’m happy to check with our team and get one to you if that’s of interest.

QUESTION: So the U.S. doesn’t have a position on whether the rebels are winning right now?

MS. PSAKI: As the Secretary has said many times, we expect there to be many ups and downs on both sides in this civil war. And it’s not going to be won on the battlefield; that’s why we’re focused on pushing for a political solution.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) overtures in the – of the Geneva talks with Iran, is the U.S. still believe that Iran is not --

QUESTION: Wait. Can we stay on Syria?

QUESTION: No, no, I’m talking about Syria.

MS. PSAKI: You’re talking about Geneva participation.

QUESTION: No, no, it’s coming to Syria.

MS. PSAKI: I think it is Syria. It’s coming around to Syria.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Iran --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Iran should be part of the talks in – on Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Or are you still adamant that they should be – they should not – they’re not invited?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary and Brahimi discussed this earlier this week, and we continue to discuss with our allies and stakeholders as well the participation and whether Iran should participate. Our position remains the same, which is that any party who would be included in Geneva 2 must accept and publicly support the Geneva communique. That is not something Iran has done. And if they were to do that, we’d be more open to their participation.

QUESTION: You would be open to their participation even if they are involved in supporting the regime on the ground with their militias and --

MS. PSAKI: If they – I don’t want to get too far ahead, but if they were to publicly support and embrace the goals of a Geneva conference and the Geneva communique, we’d be more open to their participation. Obviously, this is a point that’s being discussed with both the UN, with Russia, and others. And certainly there would be people participating – or countries, I should say, participating – who would be on the side of the regime, including the regime, at a conference.

QUESTION: Including the Russians.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Including the Russians.

QUESTION: Jen, on this --

MS. PSAKI: But the Russians have embraced the communique --

QUESTION: But --

MS. PSAKI: -- and have – go ahead.

QUESTION: But when you say that they’ve embraced the communique, they’ve embraced the idea of a transitional government. They have not, as far as I know, embraced the idea that Assad should step down as a result of Geneva 2. Is that how you --

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen recent comments they’ve made. I know they’ve made comments to that point in the past, but our point here is the Geneva communique was laid out putting in place a transitional government through mutual consent. That remains the goal of the Geneva conference.

QUESTION: So if the Iranians were to accept the idea of a transitional government through mutual consent – and when you say mutual consent, that means the regime is part of the mutual consent, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: So that if Iranians accepted a transitional government that was acceptable to the Syrian Government, then that – then they feasibly could be part of the conference?

MS. PSAKI: Well, to accept the goals of the Geneva communique. That’s not something they’ve done; they haven’t accepted it in any way, shape, or form. So we’ll see if that’s something that happens.

QUESTION: But I mean, you said that – and the regime is going to attend, and I don’t know that they’ve necessarily accepted the idea of the communique itself either.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean, obviously, that’s the goal of a conference. So attending it – and they’re in a slightly different place than I would say the Iranians are because they’re a pivotal participant in that it involves them. So – but Iran, that’s our consideration for whether Iran – we’d be open to Iran attending or not.

QUESTION: Jen, is Mr. Brahimi going to be speaking to the Iranians on this issue? Because you said on Monday he was going to have a --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- he was going to talk to interested parties and countries. Is Iran part of that?

MS. PSAKI: You’d have to touch base with the UN on his specific schedule. I know it’s a range of countries in the region, so --

QUESTION: Jen, what is a bigger priority for the Administration, your Administration – is it getting rid of Assad or getting rid of the nuclear weapons? Or the chemical weapons, excuse me?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re obviously in – I’m not going to rank them; I appreciate the opportunity. But obviously, we’ve taken steps on chemical weapons. That’s a positive step forward. The next report is due, as you all know, on October 27th, so we’ll be eagerly awaiting that. In terms of the future of Syria and the larger goal, certainly bringing an end to the Assad reign and moving towards a transitional government has been our larger goal writ large from the beginning.

QUESTION: But does that make it hard to work with the Assad government, knowing that we want him gone but we’re also asking him to give up his chemical weapons?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they agreed to take steps to give up their chemical weapons. We are watching closely, as the world is, what steps they’re taking and if they’re abiding by their agreement. At the same time, I don’t think there’s been any secret or any surprise where the U.S. and other countries stand. And at the same time, we also have never said we wanted to get rid of the entire governing structure. Some of that would certainly be still in place, or our view would be that it would still be in place moving forward.

QUESTION: Okay, on Geneva 1 communique, we’re a little bit confused. I mean, you’re not making your position very clear that we understand the memo, the principles of the moment, to say one, two, three, four, five as far as who’s to stay who is to remain. So on the Iranians, if they can – if they say “We accept the principles of the Geneva communique,” they can participate. They don’t even have to take sides.

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say they can participate. I said we’d more open to their participation, and that would certainly be a point of discussion, as it has been for the past several months.

QUESTION: Okay. On the Syrian participation, do you have a list that is acceptable to you and a list that is not acceptable? For instance, Assad himself may not be acceptable, but let’s say his Vice President, Farouk al-Shara, could be acceptable, or Muallim could be acceptable --

MS. PSAKI: For a Geneva conference or for a --

QUESTION: Yes, for the Geneva conference.

MS. PSAKI: That is something that the UN is managing. Obviously, the Russians and the United States are both involved, but they are managing that and discussing with both the regime and the opposition.

QUESTION: So you don’t have any particular one blacklisted?

MS. PSAKI: Again, Said, the question here is the creation of the transitional government, and mutual consent refers to agreement by both sides on the participants.

QUESTION: Okay. And finally, on the chemical issues, are you less concerned today that these chemical weapons might fall in the hands of the rebels?

MS. PSAKI: Are we less concerned?

QUESTION: Less concerned by, let’s say, a couple weeks ago – it seems that everything is moving smoothly. Does that reassure you that these – the neutralizing of these weapons is going on smoothly and there is no fear that large stockpiles could fall in the hands of the rebels?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, with every step that’s taken and every inspection and every step to destroy chemical weapons, that reduces our concern. But there’s still a ways to go even though they’ve made – the inspectors have made progress.

QUESTION: Jen, what was your --

MS. PSAKI: Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah, just a logistical thing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: -- and then two short ones.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What was – I’m sorry, I must – I didn’t hear it correctly, I don’t think. What was your response when you were asked about the date that the Syrians have been throwing out?

MS. PSAKI: That we have been discussing potential dates --

QUESTION: Uh-huh. And those are --

MS. PSAKI: -- and our goal has been, as we’ve stated publicly, a mid-November. But no date is final or confirmed until it’s set and announced by the United Nations.

QUESTION: Fair enough, but I – it’s the 22nd and the 23rd is what you said?

QUESTION: The 23rd, 24th.

QUESTION: 23rd and 24th? Is that one of the dates that’s an option?

MS. PSAKI: Well, mid-November has a range of dates, so --

QUESTION: The 23rd and 24th aren’t really in that range.

QUESTION: It’s kind of late November.

QUESTION: Can you assure us that it won’t be any later in November? Say, like, can you assure us that it won’t --

QUESTION: Thanksgiving?

QUESTION: -- be on November 28th?

MS. PSAKI: I can – (laughter). On Thanksgiving Day?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I think the Secretary would take issue with that, but --

QUESTION: All right. Okay. But the 23rd and 24th are among the dates that are being considered?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of dates.

QUESTION: Can you just say yes or no?

MS. PSAKI: We’re targeting – again, it’s the United Nations who will announce it when they determine what the dates will be.

QUESTION: I know. I’m not asking what the date is; I’m just asking if that’s in the range. Or are you saying that you’re not going to confirm it, but any – every day in --

MS. PSAKI: I’ll let you evaluate what dates are in the mid-November range, Matt.

QUESTION: From the 15th to the 30th, or not the 28th and 29th? Whatever.

Anyway, you – in an answer a little while ago, you said, “We are not predetermining the outcome of Geneva.” Does that mean that somehow Assad is acceptable?

MS. PSAKI: No. I wasn’t – I can’t remember the context of the question. Assad – we remain – our position has consistently been that he must go.

QUESTION: All right. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: That remains the case.

QUESTION: Well, then it’s not – well, then you are predetermining the outcome, at least in one area. Right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, that’s been consistently our focus and our goal.

QUESTION: Well, but that’s been your --

QUESTION: Well, I know. But that’s --

QUESTION: That’s been your persistent focus. Well, you’ve said that that’s your policy --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but I would argue that you’ve taken steps to put that into train. But anyway, you’ve said that that’s your focus and your goal, but you’ve also said that any decision by the Syrians would have to be of mutual consent, so then it isn’t predetermined that – it is – isn’t predetermined that he could stay because if, presumably the Syrians would at the end of the day find a deal, that would be up to the Syrians, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I’m having a hard time following you, but are you – can you say it one more time?

QUESTION: You said that that’s your focus and your goal, but you’ve also said that the outcome of the Geneva would be by mutual consent by the parties.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. And I don’t think – no one thinks that the opposition would agree to Assad being in a transitional government. The goal is to create a transitional government.

QUESTION: Nobody thinks that Assad would step down, though.

MS. PSAKI: What I mean – what I meant by “not going to predetermine” is, obviously, we have goals in place; those have consistently been the case. We’re going to go to Geneva once we set a date, but we’re not going to – I don’t know if after two days we’ll have a transitional government. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. That’s obviously what our focus will be.

QUESTION: And you don’t necessarily – you’re not necessarily positive that you’ll have an outcome after this particular conference. It could be that that kicks off a process in which they work towards a transitional government. Isn’t that right?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. We’ll see how it goes. We’re not there yet, so obviously the first step is setting a date.

QUESTION: But is an agreement that keeps Assad on acceptable to the United States?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve been very clear that Assad needs to go.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then --

MS. PSAKI: That hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then I don’t see how you can say that you’re not predetermining the outcome. Because you have determined what the outcome – what outcome is acceptable to you, and Assad remaining in power is not acceptable, which means that you’ve predetermined --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, let me clarify. What I was referring to is I can’t predict that after two days, all things will be resolved. So the first step is setting a date for a conference, bringing all sides together. We want to create a transitional government.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: Not just us; I think there are many countries in the world that feel that is the right step forward.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. And then just one other thing that you had said is that you were not going – we don’t want to – we don’t intend to get rid of the entire government structure. So can you explain which part of the authoritarian police state structure is okay to remain in a free and democratic Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, that’s part of the discussion, Matt, but I don’t think anybody wants to level every single entity and every single structure to the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re not --

MS. PSAKI: We want Syria to be stable and we want there to be structures in place for the people of the country.

QUESTION: But like the – so you were talking, when you refer to that, as like, I don’t know, water and sewage and that kind of thing, and not secret police and torture, institutions?

MS. PSAKI: Institutions in place. Yes, Matt.

QUESTION: Jen, is Assad’s exit a topic at Geneva 2? Because the Syrians say it’s not. I think that’s why this question keeps coming up. Is it a premise for sitting down at the table?

MS. PSAKI: Well, a premise is creating a transitional government. Obviously, he would have to be – his existence would be part of that discussion because you need to determine who would be part of a transitional government.

QUESTION: But is it that that won’t be discussed at the end of November? That’s an end goal but it’s not a topic on November of 23rd or 28th or whatever?

MS. PSAKI: We’re still working through the agenda, but I think it’s hard to imagine a conference where Assad is not discussed.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: My last logistical one was: Are there going to be any Syrians at the London 11 meeting?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question. I don’t think so at this point, but let me check and see with our team if anything has changed.

QUESTION: All right. If there are – okay, well, when you get an answer to that, if the answer comes out to be, no, there are not --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm

QUESTION: -- then I’m just curious as to – all this stuff seems to be going on – I mean, there were no Syrians at Geneva 1 either. And all this stuff seems to be going on without any representatives of either side, and so if the --

MS. PSAKI: Representatives of both sides would be at a Geneva 2 conference.

QUESTION: Yeah, right. That’s --

MS. PSAKI: That has not changed.

QUESTION: Right. But there were no representatives of either – any side --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- at Geneva 1. And I’m – so anyway, if the answer is no, there are not going to be any Syrians at the London 11 meeting, can I – could you take the question as to why, and also what possible good do you think a London 11 conference called to help support the opposition would – what possible good it would do if no members of the opposition are actually there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, in the past, Matt, some of the focus has been on coordinating aid and figuring out, among all of the resources of the London 11 members, how to best help the opposition. The United States, all of the London 11 members, are in very close contact with the opposition. It’s not that there wouldn’t be an openness to them attending, but obviously, there’s a civil war going on and the political leadership is working to contain their own strength.

QUESTION: I understand that, but it seems to me that if you’re trying to coordinate aid, that you might want to have the input of the recipients of the aid there, but --

MS. PSAKI: We talk to them almost every day, as do many other countries.

QUESTION: I understand that, but if they’re not going to be at the conference, I’d just like to know what utility you possibly – what utility there is in having a conference that doesn’t have any of the people who it’s supposed to help represented.

It’s only – I mean, the question is completely moot if there are going to be Syrians at the conference, but in the event that the answer is no, I would like to have --

MS. PSAKI: I will check and see what the latest status – I will check and see what the latest status is for you.

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you.

QUESTION: A quick question on Assad and – or maybe is regime. I mean, people have deathbed conversion. What if Assad comes out and says, look, I’m going to do this one, two, three, four, and I’m going to be a --

MS. PSAKI: What did you just say? A deathbed conversion?

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’m saying some people have had last-second change and so on. I mean, they could change. We’ve seen this happen time and again in the past. But I’m saying, are there any rehabilitative qualities that Assad could have that could bring him to the table?

MS. PSAKI: Our position hasn’t changed. He’s brutalized his own people, killed over 100,000 people, he has to go, hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Syria?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Just a couple questions. You stated that U.S. will be more open to Iranian participation if they endorse the first Geneva. That means that you would be still open even if they didn’t endorse it. That’s the message? That will be --

MS. PSAKI: No. I was saying we would consider – we would be more open to it than we are now if they were to endorse and embrace the principles of Geneva 1.

QUESTION: But you don’t rule out if they didn’t endorse? You don’t rule out their participation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve said in the past, which our position hasn’t changed, that they have contributed to the regime brutalizing the Syrian people. That’s obviously an issue with us and other countries. But if they were to embrace the Geneva communique and the principles of that, we would take a look at it.

QUESTION: Do you think --

QUESTION: Well, maybe the way you can answer the question is you say – you would be more open to it if they did endorse it. How open – how --

MS. PSAKI: We would be open as opposed to more open.

QUESTION: How open are you now?

QUESTION: How open are you to it now? Are you closed? It seems you’re not open at all to it now. So being more open --

MS. PSAKI: That has consistently been our position, yes.

QUESTION: Right. So you’re not open to – so saying you would be more open to it is not – (laughter) --

MS. PSAKI: Open, not more open.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Does that clarify?

QUESTION: What’s your – yes. What’s your current assessment about the Iranian regime supporting to Syrian forces on the ground lately?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specific update. As you know, they’ve been aiding and supporting the regime and providing them with it sounds like not only individuals and fighters, but also military supplies for some time. I don’t think that’s changed.

QUESTION: Do you have any change on Hezbollah (inaudible) – Hezbollah support to the regime?

MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t have any update or change to that either.

QUESTION: Couple days ago, Syrian coalition issued statement and they were saying that we don’t have any chemical stockpiles under the areas in the FSA. Would you concur with – do you think that there is any chemical weapon depot under the FSA-controlled area?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that statement. I’d have to take a closer look at it. I mean, we’ve done our own assessment of chemical weapons. Obviously, we’ve – the stockpiles – we’ve shared that with the OPCW and there’s a process underway, as you know.

Said.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Can we go to the Palestinian-Israeli talks?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now, first of all, could you tell us when the Secretary’s meeting with – I missed that – with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Rome, what day?

MS. PSAKI: On Wednesday.

QUESTION: On Wednesday?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So that’s on the 23rd of this month?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: And he’ll also be – related to your area of interest here – meeting with the API follow-on committee, as you know, on Monday. He’s been providing regular updates to them, which is something he promised to do in April. And they’ve also, of course, played a pivotal role over the past couple of months in supporting these efforts.

QUESTION: You’re talking about the Arab League?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. You’re talking about the Arab League Initiative?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Just a couple of quick follow-ups.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Palestinians are saying that the talks are actually deadlocked, they’re not going anywhere, because the Israelis are insisting on having some sort of military presence along the Jordan Valley. Could you comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know there’s been a range of comments out there, as there have been for months. Much of what is out there is conjecture and speculation and is not from the people directly involved with the talks. They’re ongoing. The Secretary will be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. And obviously, the status of those and the latest update will be a part of that discussion.

QUESTION: So do you feel that now, after so many weeks of these talks and with Envoy Indyk in the area that the positions are getting closer?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they continue to be sustained and serious. And I’m not going to give a day-to-day evaluation of where things stand, but they’re ongoing, and that’s obviously a positive sign.

QUESTION: Okay. President Abbas went on a European tour trying to basically gain support for boycotting the settlement. Is that something that you support?

MS. PSAKI: Trying to – can you say that one more time?

QUESTION: To boycott products from the settlements into Europe, which they – the European Union has announced, in fact.

MS. PSAKI: Well, you may remember that just a couple of weeks ago, when the Secretary met with the EU, he talked to them about a postponement to create – continue to create the conditions for peace. So that remains our position, and obviously, it’s up to them to take steps that they want to take.

QUESTION: And finally, Abbas today or yesterday asked the Pope, Pope Francis, to come and visit the Holy Land. Would you support such a step?

MS. PSAKI: That is for those two parties to work out amongst themselves.

QUESTION: Jen, what is the Secretary going to talk to the Prime Minister about?

MS. PSAKI: Prime Minister Netanyahu?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think they’ll talk about a range of issues. Obviously, the Geneva talks just concluded, and he’ll provide him an update on that and an overview of where the United States stands. They’ll, of course, talk about Syria and the ongoing civil war and the impact of that on the region, and of course, Middle East peace, the latest discussions and negotiations, and where things go from here.

QUESTION: I’m getting confused. Did you guys get another city? Everything seems to be happening in Geneva. I don’t know if you’re talking about Iran or Syria now. Huh?

QUESTION: Iran.

MS. PSAKI: I’m talking about Iran.

QUESTION: I know, but I mean --

MS. PSAKI: The Geneva meetings that just happened that concluded this week.

QUESTION: Right. On the initial question, you said all these reports out there are conjecture or speculation. Does that mean that they’re incorrect? Are they false? Is all conjecture and speculation untrue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range – reports that say that talks are no longer happening or are --

QUESTION: I said deadlocked, not not happening.

MS. PSAKI: Deadlocked – we would disagree with that.

QUESTION: All right. About a week or so ago, the Secretary said that the two sides had agreed to intensify their discussions. Can you say without getting into any specifics at all how many times that they have met since they agreed to intensify, how many meetings there have been? I’m just looking for some kind of indication that, in fact, things have been intensifying rather than stagnating.

MS. PSAKI: Well, when the Secretary said that, he – there had been seven meetings. I don’t have an update --

QUESTION: No, I’m specifically looking for post-intensification.

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I don’t have a post-intensification update for you. I will check with our team and see if that’s something they would like to provide with all of – to all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. It would be very helpful because one would presume, if you said that they were intensifying and they had had seven meetings to that point, that there would be --

QUESTION: At least eight.

QUESTION: -- at least a few or, let’s say, more than two post-intensification. So that would be helpful to know.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m happy to check with them. I would also caution you to read into intensification being equated with the numbers of meetings, because obviously, they’ve worked through a number of issues, they’re continuing to work through them, and there are a range of meanings of that word.

QUESTION: Are you saying that they can – that the negotiations can be intensified by not meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not saying that, Matt. I’m saying I would caution you to equate numbers with intensification.

QUESTION: There is – I don’t know how you – then how exactly --

QUESTION: The manpower put out at these meetings is more intense than at the other meetings?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it depends on the issues we’re talking about and where we are with the discussion and the level of engagement.

QUESTION: Well, when he said intensification, what did he mean by that?

MS. PSAKI: He meant that our team would continue to be closely engaged and would intensify their involvement and engagement.

QUESTION: In what way?

MS. PSAKI: Engagement with the parties, with the talks.

QUESTION: In quantity or quality or in drilling down and being more specific about technical – getting more technical, or in terms of amount of time spent in there? What did he mean by the intensification?

MS. PSAKI: A range of ways, Elise, all of those.

QUESTION: Could you just explain to us what that means in any way, that Ambassador Indyk involvement is more involved? I mean, he’s there to facilitate. Is he facilitating?

MS. PSAKI: He is obviously the point person. He continues to facilitate. And I believe he’s in Washington now, but he’s spent quite a great deal of time in the region.

QUESTION: Okay. I understand, but in his facilitative role, does he come up with ideas or does he make suggestions and so on, or he just mediates deadlock issues?

MS. PSAKI: He’s there to be a facilitator for the parties. He plays a range of roles. I’m not going to detail them further.

QUESTION: Can I just – and I will – I realize that this is – it sounds kind of ridiculous, but if intensification does not mean having more meetings, what does it mean? Is stuff just happening by osmosis? What – there has to be some kind of movement for there to be something to intensify, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, Matt, the engagement by our facilitators with the parties, the level of discussion --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- all of those could contribute to intensifying meetings.

QUESTION: Well, I understand that, but I mean, it’s still your position that only – that the two sides are going to have to make this agreement. They’re going to have to --

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- do this on their own. They’re going to have to --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- come to these things. You will facilitate. So if they’re not meeting more frequently or --

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say they weren’t. I will check and see if there is a public update we’d like to provide.

QUESTION: Just one follow-up. There’s a report today, came out from Peace Now group, and it says that for the first six months of 2013, comparing it 2012, there’s a 70 percent increase in the settlements. Do you have any reaction to that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve, of course, seen the report and our position hasn’t changed on the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. I would remind you, though, just for context that it was an evaluation of the first six months of the year, which was prior to the restart of direct talks.

QUESTION: So would you expect these settlement activities at least increase of that start for the second half 2013? Do you have any estimation?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any way to measure that. Obviously, both sides remaining at the table discussing these tough issues, coming to an agreement on final status issues, is what our goal is here, and that’s what our focus is.

QUESTION: I just want to remind you that there were so many announcements at the end of July about new settlements and accelerated settlement activities that may drive that number up.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction of that.

QUESTION: Can we stay on Israel, but not – something else?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Have you seen David Ignatius’ piece today about Turkey and Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Turkey and Israel. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I do not.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the rapprochement that President Obama initiated – or got initiated back earlier this year between Israel and the Turks is progressing in a satisfactory way?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, at the time, that was a significant breakthrough in their relationship. We knew it would take some time. Our hope is, of course, that they continue to move towards normalizing relations.

QUESTION: Have they? Since the President – since the phone call, are you aware that they’ve gotten any closer to normalizing relations? Have they even come to a compensation agreement yet on the flotilla incident?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that for you, Matt.

QUESTION: So the answer is no?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that for you. I’m sure they would be announcing specific steps if they had come to an agreement.

QUESTION: Well, is it – has it progressed satisfactorily from the Administration’s point of view?

MS. PSAKI: We – I don’t think we’re in the position to evaluate. We --

QUESTION: Well, you just called it – you said it was a – you said it --

QUESTION: We’re the ones that brokered the agreement.

QUESTION: Sorry. You said that – you said it was a breakthrough.

MS. PSAKI: It was.

QUESTION: If a breakthrough opens a wall and it immediately hits another wall, is it still a breakthrough?

MS. PSAKI: Matt --

QUESTION: A breakthrough usually leads to something more than a phone call, right? I mean, it would lead to some kind of tangible improvement in relations, and I’m not sure that there is one. Can you point to one?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, we continue to work with both sides, continue to press them to take steps, and we remain focused on that.

QUESTION: All right. But is the United --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we need to evaluate it or give it a grade just a couple of months after that.

QUESTION: Just going back to the Ignatius piece, and recognizing you don’t want to comment on it, I presume, specifically, but are you concerned at all that intelligence information about Iran has been compromised at all in recent years by the disclosure of Israeli assets, or intelligence assets?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to comment on the specific stories.

QUESTION: So do you not – this is not an issue with the Turks? Do you still have – let me put it this way: Do you have concerns about the Turks or the Turkish Government when it comes to getting intelligence about Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Do we have concerns about them? In what way?

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the Turks may be hindering either you or your greatest Middle East ally, the Israelis, in getting intelligence about Iran and what’s going on inside of it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to this. We work with the Turks. They’re a close ally. We work with them on a range of issues.

QUESTION: Well, here’s my question: Do you still consider the Turks to be a close ally?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: A NATO ally that would --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- that is acting in the best interests of the alliance, particularly when it comes to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Our position has not changed on our relationship with Turkey.

QUESTION: Do you consider that the exposure of Turkey on espionage taking place on its soil, is that a Turkish prerogative?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going – I have nothing further on this specific story, Said.

QUESTION: Is that a Turkish prerogative? Is that a sovereign decision made by Turkey?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything further to speculate or conjecture on this story.

QUESTION: A new topic?

QUESTION: Just follow up one more.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you characterize the relationship between the Turkish intel forces and the U.S. intel forces?

MS. PSAKI: How would we characterize it?

QUESTION: Would you characterize it for us?

MS. PSAKI: We work with Turkey closely. They’re a close ally. We work with them on a range of issues, including counterterrorism. We’re in close contact with a range of officials at all levels, including the Turkish intelligence chief. And beyond that, I don’t know that I have anything more on it.

QUESTION: So you do not have any kind of concern regarding Turkish intel chief over these issues?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just stated how we remain close contact with them.

QUESTION: So you do not have any concerns?

MS. PSAKI: I just stated our answer.

Said.

QUESTION: Turkey – also on Turkey, they also purchase their anti-missile system from China, which caused a little bit of a flurry. Do you think you’ll be successful in walking that back, and if not, how does that affect the U.S.-Turkish relationship?

MS. PSAKI: So, I know this is an issue we’ve talked about quite a bit in here. Let me see if I have anything new for you on it.

So we have, of course, conveyed – I know we talked about this, I think, maybe a couple of weeks ago – our concerns about the Turkish Government’s contract discussions. I don’t think I have anything new for you on it, aside from pointing you to what we’ve said in the past.

Scott.

QUESTION: This issue came up a couple of weeks ago. Since then --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you have you been communicating with Turkey on this issue, and how is the response? What’s that exactly that Turkey has been telling you about this selection?

MS. PSAKI: I would talk to the Turkish Government about what they’re saying. I think I expressed before that we had expressed our concerns, and the Secretary did that when we he met with Foreign Minister Davutoglu at the UN. I’m not aware of new discussions about it, but it’s certainly likely that we’re – our team on the ground is continuing to discuss this and a range of other issues.

QUESTION: Sorry, did you just say it came up with Davutoglu?

MS. PSAKI: It – a couple of weeks ago at the UN.

QUESTION: At the UN?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It did? And at the time, you had said you thought it was a bad idea. Is that paraphrasing, that it’s essentially correct?

MS. PSAKI: We expressed our concerns at the time. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Because?

MS. PSAKI: Because it was – because of the U.S. sanctions and the impact of that.

QUESTION: Sorry. They’re purchasing these things from Chinese companies that are under sanctions? I’m sorry, I’m just not familiar with this. I don’t remember it happening.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah. There was – so this was a couple of weeks ago, so I’m just reminding myself of the specific details here. But at the time, a couple of weeks ago, and when the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Davutoglu, this Chinese firm has U.S. sanction – is --

QUESTION: For – under what? The Iran or North Korea, or both?

MS. PSAKI: I believe – let’s see – I’m not sure. I’d have to check on that for you, Matt --

QUESTION: But --

MS. PSAKI: -- on what the sanctions were from.

QUESTION: Okay, but was it specifically --

MS. PSAKI: I mean, it also is – is it wouldn’t be interoperable. The system wouldn’t be interoperable with NATO’s system.

QUESTION: But --

MS. PSAKI: So that was another piece we mentioned.

QUESTION: Okay. But just in terms of the sanctions, there’s something in – I mean, I don’t understand. How can – I mean, that – the sanctions apply to other countries that want to buy stuff from these – from this company?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it was a – it’s a sanctioned company.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: It wouldn’t – the system wouldn’t be operable with the NATO system. So --

QUESTION: No, I understand that part of it. But I’m just struggling to understand how U.S. sanctions on a Chinese company would – why that would be – why it would be a problem for another – I mean, can – for another country to purchase stuff from that company. I don’t understand. I mean, I see why you would not like it necessarily --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but the sanctions don’t apply to Turkey, do they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we expressed – I don’t believe so, but we expressed our concerns. That was part of the discussion. So nothing has changed since then. Our position has been the same since then. If there’s more conversations, I’m happy to check on that for you, too.

QUESTION: Just one final question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Turkish argument is the technology transfer and the price. Are you ever considering over this issues to help your ally?

MS. PSAKI: I know you asked me this a couple of weeks ago. Those were the concerns we expressed, but beyond that I don’t have any other specifics.

Scott.

QUESTION: On Congo?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Russ Feingold is in Kampala.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: As you know, those talks are separate from the broader sort of UN effort to bring peace to Eastern Congo.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it your assessment that those talks in Kampala are still worthwhile? They don’t seem to have made much progress.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, you’re right. For those of you who don’t know, U.S. Special Envoy Feingold together with UN Special Envoy Mary Robinson are in the Great Lakes region right now working with regional leaders to conclude the Kampala talks and move forward with the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework. The envoys met today with the delegations to the talks, calling for the parties to finalize an agreement and to promptly conclude the talks. These have been going on for 10 months. They’re pivotal to moving things forward in the country, and we – our view – and this is a message that’s being sent on the ground – is that further delays would be counterproductive and that now is the time for both parties to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful resolution. So that certainly is the message they’re sending on the ground.

QUESTION: Is it your assessment that those parties have that commitment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ll see. But that is something we’re pressing forward for and feel that now is a pivotal time to move toward a conclusion.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has there been any attempt or any success at trying to reschedule the announced and then canceled visit of the U.S. Human Rights Representative to North Korea, Ambassador King? Just – visit Kenneth Bae?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. I’m not aware of a rescheduled date. I’m happy to check and see if there’s any update on that. I know that was just a couple of weeks ago, so --

QUESTION: Has there – has this building debriefed the family of Kenneth Bae after the mother was able to visit him just a few days ago?

MS. PSAKI: We did. Let me see. I have a little bit of update on that. As you know, we’re in regular contact with them. We spoke with them on October 15th, then we also had a conference call scheduled for yesterday, October 16th. I believe that happened. We invited, of course, his mother to participate in the call. She wasn’t able to because she was traveling, but our officials were able to talk to his family, and certainly we anticipate we’ll talk to her in the near future.

QUESTION: And she’s in South Korea. Is she meeting with U.S. representatives in South Korea right now?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any meetings that I’m aware of with official U.S. representatives, so I would point you to her team for any further details on her travel.

QUESTION: Jen, over to Libya.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up on a question I’d asked last week to Marie about any – is the State Department aware of any increase in chatter? Because since al-Libi’s capture there a couple weeks ago – specifically, a group on some Arabic website claiming the name White Benghazi Rebels have said they want to target and capture American citizens in Libya. Are you aware of these reports?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen reports. I’m not aware of – are you asking what we’re doing, or is it --

QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports of just increasing – the targeting of U.S. citizens in Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we take the safety of U.S. citizens very seriously. And as you know, we issue travel warnings and updates as needed. I don’t have any update; I’m happy to talk to our team about it.

QUESTION: Is there any plan to update the travel warning dated September 25th?

MS. PSAKI: We would never predict that, but I will check with them and see if there’s a change.

QUESTION: But specifically, have you heard of this group, the White Benghazi Rebels?

MS. PSAKI: I know there have been a range of reports on reaction to, but I haven’t heard from our team on any specific new concerns. But I’ll check with them.

QUESTION: Okay, just on threats --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but not – going back to Uganda, you’re aware of this Embassy notice that went out today in Kampala, or yesterday, maybe it was?

MS. PSAKI: I think it was yesterday.

QUESTION: Yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It doesn’t seem to be particularly well-written; at least, it leads one to the conclusion that – the last sentence is something like, “There is no further information about the time or venue of the attack.” Does the United States actually have credible and specific information that some group is plotting a Westgate Mall-style attack in Kampala? Or is this just kind of you’re aware of that there is a general buzz about the possibility that it could happen?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to spell out the specifics of it and its meaning. Obviously, we put out the statement because --

QUESTION: Well --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, no.

MS. PSAKI: We put out the statement because of our concern and because of information available, but in terms of the specificity of that, I’m not going to outline that.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the last line of – the last line of before it gets into the --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the basically the B matter about registering and stuff, do you have it there?

MS. PSAKI: I thought I did. I don’t think – I can’t find it right now, but I thought I had it.

QUESTION: All right. Well, it --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- speaks of not a threat, but it speaks of an actual attack. And I’m just curious as to – was that poorly written, or is it just a – is this is a threat that you’re aware of, or is there an attack that you know is going to happen?

MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s more we can provide. These things are written very specifically for reasons, so --

QUESTION: Yeah. Except that since there wasn’t – hasn’t been an attack yet, it seems to be not written well.

MS. PSAKI: Clearly, when there’s a concern we provide information to American citizens.

QUESTION: But I’m not even sure that there is a concern. It doesn’t say that you are concerned by information. It just talks about the possibility, as if it erupted from thin air – as if it erupted from thin air. So I’m just wondering if there is more to it; and if there is, could you tell us what it is?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Great.

QUESTION: Mali.

MS. PSAKI: Mali?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the Government of Mali went to UN Security Council with regard to the resumption of terrorist activity in northern Mali by armed Jihadi groups, saying that this is a serious threat to the security and stability of Mali and the countries in the Sahel region.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: First of all, do you share the assessment of the Government of Mali with regard to the threat, and do you share their concerns?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to look into this more closely. I haven’t talked to our team about this today.

QUESTION: Yeah. Similar question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon yesterday warned the Security Council members from al-Shabaab group in Somalia and asked them to help technically or whatever they can do to help the African forces --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to fight this group. Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Let me just find it here. So I believe you’re referring to a report – specifics of a report that may have been leaked through the media. But we are and continue to be committed to supporting the Somali Federal Government, of course, as it works to stabilize and govern Somalia. We have provided in the past equipment, logistics, training, and mentoring to the national security forces. We’re also procuring additional mobility assets to include armed personnel carriers, and we’re going to continue to look for ways to expand our support of their efforts.

QUESTION: Yeah, but beside that – because as much as I remember from Ban Ki-moon report or letter to the security members, he’s asking for the military and financial support to the African Union Mission in Somalia.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, which is like a group of African countries trying to help the national. Is there anything about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve provided a great deal of support to that mission. We already have.

QUESTION: That mission or the national?

MS. PSAKI: To both. To both, we have. The report hasn’t been released yet officially; there’s only been statements from it leaked. When it’s released officially, we’ll take a close at it and see if there’s more specifics we can tell you about.

QUESTION: So there is another --

QUESTION: You don’t have it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it hasn’t been released.

QUESTION: Well, I know. But I hope you’re taking --

MS. PSAKI: There are pieces of it that have been leaked.

QUESTION: I hope – well, I hope but if you have it, you’re taking a close look at it now, right, once you get? You’re not waiting for them to release it, are you, publicly?

MS. PSAKI: That is typically the case, Matt. But in terms of speaking to a report --

QUESTION: Fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: -- we would wait until it’s officially released.

QUESTION: Any update about the U.S. citizen who was – I mean, the death of the U.S. citizen in Cairo?

MS. PSAKI: In Egypt?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I do. It’s not – keep your expectations managed, but --

QUESTION: Well, yeah. I’m using the word “death.”

MS. PSAKI: There were a couple of questions that Elise and some others posed the other day that I ventured to get as much information as we could provide on. I think I provided some of this, so I apologize if it’s repetitive. But the last time we were informed – I think I said this the other day – but on August 28th, one day after the arrest took place, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo notified the family of the death on October 13th, and officers remain in communication with them – continue to be to assist with issues such as repatriation of remains, et cetera, to the United States.

In terms of – I know somebody asked about treatment and questions about that the other day. At no time during our meetings or discussions – the consular officers, I should say – did Mr. Lunn claim to our consular personnel that he had been subject of any form of maltreatment. As would be standard process, now that he has passed, an autopsy is being conducted in accordance with standard process.

QUESTION: And --

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that his death was not a suicide?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any speculation or update on that. Obviously, there’s an update – or an autopsy that is being conducted, which is standard procedure on the ground.

QUESTION: And when was the last time the consular --

MS. PSAKI: The last consular visit?

QUESTION: Visit.

MS. PSAKI: It was October 8th.

QUESTION: Can you tell us where the autopsy is taking place?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: In Egypt or here? The autopsy.

MS. PSAKI: I believe it would be there.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Wait, wait. There’s just – this is very logistic.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: That Embassy is still being run by – I’ve forgotten who went there.

QUESTION: The DCM, Satterfield?

QUESTION: Satterfield.

QUESTION: David Satterfield went out there?

MS. PSAKI: That hasn’t changed. Yeah.

QUESTION: Is the – and I realize this is a White House question in terms of personnel --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in terms of the nomination of a new ambassador. But is there – do you know – are you aware of any thought, given the fact that you decided to suspend the aid, if keeping the representation at a DCM level, is that part of this – the equation of showing displeasure with the government?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t read too much into that. I think vetting, as we’ve talked about in here, often takes time and the process of deciding.

QUESTION: No, I understand. But it’s been a while since the former ambassador came back to the States.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It’s been a while since she was nominated for her position that she’s about to assume, and it’s been a while since she was confirmed. So if you’re not moving or they’re not moving expeditious --

QUESTION: She hasn’t been confirmed.

QUESTION: She hasn’t been confirmed yet.

MS. PSAKI: Not yet. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, her hearing was a long time ago.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Correct? Right?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. She had --

QUESTION: And then we had that shutdown thing?

MS. PSAKI: Yep.

QUESTION: The full Senate vote didn’t happen.

QUESTION: Regardless, the nomination of a new ambassador to Egypt has not yet happened.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: And so I’m just curious to know if that is another sign of – if it’s intended to be a signal of your ongoing displeasure with the government, or if it’s simply a vetting and screwed up personnel process.

MS. PSAKI: And decision-making process.

QUESTION: Or indecision-making process.

MS. PSAKI: It is the decision-making process and is not meant to send any other signal.

QUESTION: All right, thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:17 p.m.)

DPB # 171 



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