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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 23, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing
    • U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue
    • Washington Passport Agency
    • Review of Reports
    • Former State Department Employee, At Some Point This Summer Made National Security Staff Employee
    • DNI Statement / France
    • Bilateral Discussions with Countries / Review Board
    • Vital Allies
    • U.S. Relationship with Saudis / Secretary Kerry's Meeting with Saud al-Faisal
    • Trilateral Meeting / Geneva 2
    • Ambassador Ford Meeting with Opposition
    • Geneva 1 Communique
    • Nonproliferation Disarmament Fund / OPCW Effort
    • Assistance
  • IRAN
    • Experts Meeting / P5+1
    • Detention of Mr. Romero
    • Sanctions
    • Commitment to Justice for Terrorists / Rewards for Justice
    • Greenpeace / Detention of Americans / Consular Access
    • Jewish State
    • Dr. Afridi
    • Prime Minister Sharif's Visit to Washington
    • Counterterrorism
    • Contract Discussions / Sanctioned Chinese Company / Missile Defense System
    • Aware of Reports re. Child Found in Greek Roma Camp That May Be a U.S. Citizen
    • Department Employees / Twitter
    • Review of UNSC Request / Cooperation with ICC


1:36 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a couple things at the top, and then I’m happy to open it up for questions.

The first: Today at the State Department, we are hosting the U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue, the highest level regularly scheduled diplomatic meeting between the two countries. The last time we met was – under the auspices of the Strategic Dialogue was in July 2012 in Jerusalem. Deputy Secretary Burns is leading the U.S. delegation. He is joined by several other U.S. officials who will be discussing a wide range of issues with their Israeli counterparts. The Israeli delegation is led by Minister for Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Responsible for International Relations Yuval Steinitz. Obviously, I don’t want to get ahead of these meetings as they are currently ongoing – excuse me, I’m about to sneeze – I don’t want to get ahead of these meetings as they are currently ongoing. We’ll have a readout of the dialogue later today once they conclude. So I know you’ll be all waiting for that.

And the second thing I have to announce that – I know you’re all waiting for this – the Washington Passport Agency will relocate this weekend. Starting next Monday, October 28th, the agency will be open for business at 600 19th Street, NW. The new facility will have a larger lobby, additional service windows to assist customers. The Special Issuance Agency is also located at the new address. As you know, I think the Washington Passport Agency serves individuals with urgent travel plans, and appointments are required. Last year, the agency issued more than 200,000 passports and assisted approximately 30,000 customers at its public counters.

QUESTION: I’ve got two things, one on each of them.

MS. HARF: Yes. On the Passport Agency?

QUESTION: Well, one on the Strategic Dialogue.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: So today is a pretty big day for Israel, then, isn’t it? Not only does the Prime Minister meet with the Secretary of State, but this is going on --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- as well.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: What – did – is there any overlap in these? I’m not quite sure I understand the timing here. Not – I don’t think there’s anything nefarious about it, but what – I don’t – I’m not sure – presumably, the Secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about many of the same things that are being --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, absolutely.

QUESTION: So what’s --

MS. HARF: And we have conversations at all levels regularly. I don’t know if there’s something special about the timing.

QUESTION: Are you expecting any significant announcement or news to come out of the meeting here?

MS. HARF: Not necessarily. These are topics we discuss all the time.


MS. HARF: And I just don’t have any other preview for what we’ll say at the end of them, but these are fairly, I think, regular discussion topics.

QUESTION: All right. And then on the Passport Agency relocation --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Are you going to make it possible for the same extortionate passport photo shops that are around the old location to relocate to the new one?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any additional information, Matt. Happy to look into that.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Thank you. What else?

QUESTION: I want to go back to yesterday --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- unless someone wants to go on Israel. I just want to go back to the – have you had – the drones, the reports, the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reports. Have you now had a chance to take a fuller look at these reports?

MS. HARF: The reviews are still ongoing. I don’t have any updates for you on that.

QUESTION: So your positions from yesterday that you disagree with the idea that – or the allegation that somehow there was a violation of international law --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and that the casualty figures are incorrect, you stick with that?

MS. HARF: Absolutely.


MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: So is there – is the Administration’s – in the Administration’s view, is it above criticism, or should it be immune from criticism over --

MS. HARF: Not at all.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you --

MS. HARF: Why would I come out here every day if we didn’t have that discussion?

QUESTION: Well, you come out here every day and reject the criticism. So I’m just wondering if --

MS. HARF: Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Is there anything – is there anything in these reports that you’ve seen so far, recognizing that the review isn’t done --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that you accept criticism for?

MS. HARF: I can check with our folks who are looking at them. I don’t have a detailed breakdown in terms of a response beyond what I said yesterday.

QUESTION: But – okay. Well, can you --

MS. HARF: I’ll check with our folks and see.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you recall if – any time the Administration has been criticized on a foreign policy issue where you have accepted that criticism and believed that it was, in fact, correct?

MS. HARF: I think there have been times, Matt, when we have complex issues to discuss, whether it’s on counterterrorism, whether it’s on – we’ve talked a lot about alleged reports of intelligence activities. These are complicated issues that we’re happy to discuss with folks around the world when they bring up concerns they have. We’ve been happy to have that conversation, absolutely. Bilaterally, we’re happy to discuss these issues.

QUESTION: But that’s not saying – the same as accepting the criticism. Do you believe --

MS. HARF: Well, it’s not a yes-or-no question, right?

QUESTION: Well, do you believe the Administration --

MS. HARF: It’s a question about having discussions when people raise concerns about things.

QUESTION: Okay. Fair enough. But do you believe that the Administration has – that the Administration has deserved criticism for any of its foreign policy actions over the course of the last five, five and a half years?

MS. HARF: Look, I think we’ve all been clear and the President’s made clear that we value a wide range of opinions both inside the government and out. We always listen to them, take them into account when we’re making policy decisions, and these are tough decisions to make.

QUESTION: Well, can I just ask you what it is that you think the Administration has been correctly or fairly singled out for criticism over?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to – I’m not going to get into that conversation here. We’ve talked individually about each policy as it’s come up. When people have concerns, we’ve addressed them. We’ve talked from here about why we believe the policies we are pursuing are the correct ones, and we’ll keep doing that.

QUESTION: So is it – so is it the view of you, and speaking for the State Department and speaking for the Administration, that it has done nothing over the course of the last however many years --

MS. HARF: I didn’t --

QUESTION: -- to warrant any criticism, and that all complaints or criticism about it are unjustified?

MS. HARF: That’s a ridiculous question, Matt. I would never say that. I would never make that claim from here.

QUESTION: Okay, but then tell me --

MS. HARF: Can I finish, please, before you continue asking questions?

QUESTION: Yeah. Yeah.

MS. HARF: Thank you.


MS. HARF: What I would say – and I’ve never made that claim. We are – we – look, we live in a democracy where there’s healthy debate. If we didn’t want to talk about these issues publicly, we wouldn’t be doing it every day from here, from the White House, and in a lot of different fora.

QUESTION: Well, but --

MS. HARF: We always say that we’re open to discussion. That’s why we value the kinds of conversations we have with folks in the country, with our partners and allies around the world. In no way would I ever make that kind of blanket statement.

QUESTION: Well, then can you identify --

MS. HARF: I’m not sure why you’re trying to get me to.

QUESTION: Can I – can you identify one instance where you accepted – where you believe that criticism has been warranted?

MS. HARF: I’m just not sure there is utility in answering that kind of question. When we have discussions and concerns people raise with us, I’m happy to address them individually. I don’t want to make a blanket statement like that. I just don’t think it’s useful.


MS. HARF: Yes, Jill.

QUESTION: I’m not asking you for a blanket statement, because you’re not going to make the blanket statement. I’m asking you if you can think of one time that the Administration has done something that it deserved criticism for.

MS. HARF: I’m happy to engage individually on policies as they come up. I just don’t think this is a useful line of questioning.

QUESTION: And the --

MS. HARF: And we’re, I think, going to move on now.


QUESTION: Whether you think it’s useful or not, it’s useful to me. It’s useful to my understanding of what’s going on if the --

MS. HARF: I just don’t have an answer for you.

QUESTION: If the Administration believes they can do no wrong --

MS. HARF: Have I ever said that or made that claim?

QUESTION: Well, you’re not – but you’re saying that you’re open to discussion, but you’re not saying that --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- but you’re not identifying any instance where you’ve been criticized that you think that, wow, hmm, maybe they’re right.

MS. HARF: Again, I’m happy to engage on specific policies and specific criticism.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to engage in intellectual discussion overall about what we have done right in the last five and a half years.

Go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: We talked yesterday about the NSA spying --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in France. There’s also – now Reuters is reporting that Secretary Kerry, when he was in Rome, this issue was brought up with the Prime Minister and that he promised that U.S. authorities would look into whether intelligence services may have illegally intercepted Italian telecoms.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I didn’t see that in the readout, by the way, so is that correct?

MS. HARF: Let me check with our folks on the ground. The answer is I just don’t know. So let me check with our party who’s still on the ground in Rome in the middle of a long series of meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’ll check, Jill, and see if I can share anything.

QUESTION: All right. And --

MS. HARF: I just don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: And just one quick thing that just came out. This Jofi Joseph, who’s the NSC tweeter, he now, according to Jay Carney, was an employee of the State Department on temporary duty there. Is that correct?

MS. HARF: No, that’s not. I’m sorry, I haven’t seen Mr. Carney’s comments. My colleague, Jay, who I talk to frequently, he at one point, without getting into the specific personnel matters, which I’m not going to do here – I don’t think Jay did either or should have done – but at one point he had been a State Department employee detailed to the White House. But it’s my understanding as of at some point this summer he was actually made a National Security staff employee. That’s why they’re handling the questions about the personnel matter and we’re not doing that from here. So I’ll take a look at what Jay said, but it is my understanding that he was not a State Department employee on detail recently.

QUESTION: Staying with – excuse me. Staying with the NSA, last night James Clapper came out and said – gave a statement --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about the claims particularly which had been in Le Monde about – excuse me – about the intelligence --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- activities in France. And he said that the specific claim about the 70 million phone calls was false.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Could you tell us in what way it was false?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I’m going to expound more on what the DNI said. I’ll let his statement speak for himself – for itself.


MS. HARF: But I will point you to the fact that he did note that that was false.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, was – were you actually – was it 90 million phone calls then, or was it --

MS. HARF: I --

QUESTION: Was it more? Is that why it was --

MS. HARF: I’ve seen a lot of these questions out there. I’m just going to have to let the statement speak for itself. If the DNI folks have anything else to add, they can.

QUESTION: But other than – I suppose the question is: Why should anybody believe you that it’s false if you don’t back it up with proof that it’s false?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the DNI coming out and making a statement addressing this is important. We’ve tried, as much as we can, while protecting intelligence activities or alleged intelligence activities, to be – to put out as much information when things are false. We can’t always do it, but we think it’s important to say when things are false, even if we can’t give granularity about what backs that up. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t because of sources and methods that we need to protect.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t think he speaks to sources and methods. I mean, he’s talking about a particular claim that was made in a French newspaper and he’s saying that it was false.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But without any – without giving us any proof of why he thinks or maintains that it is false. I mean, if it was a court of law, which it isn’t, you have to provide evidence to back up your statements. And I mean, it would surely --

MS. HARF: And sometimes that evidence could point towards either a specific intelligence activity that obviously we can’t talk about public, or specific parts of those activities that for reasons have to remain classified. I know it’s frustrating; I do. Believe me, it’s frustrating on this end as well, if you can believe that. But I think I’ll let his statement speak for itself.

QUESTION: And what about – I mean, he also said that more broadly the reports in Le Monde were inaccurate and misleading.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, can you give us more granularity on that?

MS. HARF: Unfortunately, I can’t. I appreciate the question. I think I’ll let them – if they have anything to add from the DNI shop, I’m happy to let them do so. As you know, the President called President Hollande. They spoke about this issue. Secretary Kerry was just there as well. So those discussions will be ongoing bilaterally with the French.

QUESTION: Are you giving granularity of detail to your – to the French?

MS. HARF: We’re having the discussions with them. Obviously, it’s an important discussion to have, and I’m just not going to read out what those look like specifically.

QUESTION: No, I didn’t ask you to read it out. I just asked you --

MS. HARF: Are we giving granularity --

QUESTION: -- are you giving them the details? Because they have stepped back a bit from their shock and horror a couple of days ago. They seem to be willing to let it drop a little bit. So I’m wondering if they actually have got a few more kind of insights into actually what this program is all about.

MS. HARF: We certainly have as detailed a discussion as we’re able to with our allies and partners like the French when they raise these concerns with us.


QUESTION: Marie, just one more on NSA.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: If you look at this, the timing is very interesting because you have the Secretary arriving in Paris --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and you have the leak about that. It appears, if you find that this is correct, that he arrives in Rome and there’s a leak on the doorstep waiting for him about NSA activity in Italy. You had the release with Brazil that was timed just before the official visit to the United States. I mean, are – I am interested in whether you are drawing any conclusions from this, whether you’re worried that the next stop the Secretary goes to there will be another leak.

MS. HARF: Well, I think it’s a good question and an interesting one. I think I probably long ago stopped trying to figure out why people leak things when they do it. I think that’s a game that’s probably pretty fruitless at this point. But obviously, I would refer to the folks who are actually leaking this stuff and printing it to talk about timing. I don’t have any special insight into that at all.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on leak again, but the other subject. This David Ignatius Post a couple days ago about Turkish intel chief Hakan Fidan some revelations. Israeli Foreign Minister spokesman yesterday came out and said that this source or leak did not come from Israeli side and it doesn’t serve for Israeli interests. Would you be able to also deny or (inaudible) like Israeli Foreign Minister – would you be able to deny this leaking without a problem?

MS. HARF: I have no information at all about who may have been sources of this kind of stuff that’s out there in the press. We spoke about this a little bit before. Obviously, Turkey’s a close friend and ally. Turkey and Israel are both vital allies and friends of the United States. And beyond that, I don’t even want to play a guessing game as to where this stuff comes from that ends up in the press.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but there’s just one more thing that literally is coming out right now.

MS. HARF: I love those questions.

QUESTION: Yeah, well, we do too. Germany’s spokesperson for the federal government, Steffen Seibert --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- says the federal government has received information that the mobile phone of the Chancellor possibly has been monitored by American services. Have they contacted you at all about this?

MS. HARF: I haven’t, honestly, seen those reports. I’ll take the question and – I just – if you say it’s just coming out now, I just haven’t seen those reports.


QUESTION: Okay. Just back to the DNI statement --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and recognizing it doesn’t come from this building, but you’re certainly endorsing the same – you’re agreeing with it. You have no reason to doubt that --

MS. HARF: Not at all. Absolutely endorsing it.

QUESTION: -- Director Clapper. Do you understand, though, why this kind of a denial is problematic?

MS. HARF: In what way?

QUESTION: Because if you say the story is erroneous and that the U.S. did not vacuum up records on 70 million French telephone calls, that leaves huge openings for what might be accurate. It could be 65. I don’t think that it would – it could be more, as Jo suggested.

MS. HARF: Would you rather us not make a statement on it at all?

QUESTION: No, I’d rather – and I think the public and I think also the countries involved would appreciate a straight answer and one that gets to the heart of the actual question, not saying that the story is inaccurate because – potentially because of a punctuation error --

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: -- which is what that statement leaves open.

MS. HARF: Two points. The first is that obviously we’re having as detailed discussions as we can bilaterally with countries when they raise this. So obviously, this isn’t going to be the entirety of the discussion that anyone’s having with the French.

The second point is that there are good reasons – and I know they’re frustrating for all of us, but there are good reasons why sometimes we can’t give more granularity into why something might be inaccurate or why it might be misleading. I know that’s frustrating. I know that only goes halfway, or maybe not even halfway in some people’s minds, but there are good reasons to do so.

So in our mind, and I think I can speak for my friends in the intelligence community, when we can give even a little bit of guidance about whether accusations are true or false, we think that’s helpful, even if we can’t go into all the underlying reasons that that is true or not.

QUESTION: Well, in fact, I think it raises more questions than it answers, and I’m not sure that anyone has been reassured by that statement in itself. If you were giving --

MS. HARF: Well, I’ll certainly take your criticism on board.

QUESTION: If you’re – you will? Okay.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But if you’re giving – if that’s what you expect people – publics who are not getting this more detailed information that you just talked about, that’s not going to be particularly satisfactory to them. It’s not going to assure them that you are not engaged in some kind of massive surveillance of other people’s --

MS. HARF: Again, we put out as much information as we possibly can.

QUESTION: -- of other people. Right.

MS. HARF: Even when we can’t put out all of it, we think it’s important to do what we can.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand how it could affect sources and methods if you say, okay, it wasn’t 70 million, it was 65 million.

MS. HARF: Or if it threatened certain platforms or certain things we were doing?

QUESTION: That’s already – don’t you see that the horse is already out of the barn? That damage has already been done by the --

MS. HARF: Matt, again, I’m going to leave it to my intelligence professionals who do this every single day to determine what would hurt things that we either do or don’t have ongoing and what wouldn’t. I value their judgment --


MS. HARF: -- and think they have tried to be as forward-leaning as possible --


MS. HARF: -- while protecting things we have to protect.

QUESTION: But the damage has already been done. This program – no?

MS. HARF: Again, I appreciate your criticism, but I --

QUESTION: Has it not?

MS. HARF: In what way?

QUESTION: I don’t – because you’ve got a guy who revealed huge amounts of information that he shouldn’t have. He’s sitting now in Moscow --

MS. HARF: And we believe he should return to the United States to face justice, absolutely.

QUESTION: Exactly. He’s sitting now in Moscow, whatever, eating caviar and drinking vodka, for all we know, scot – he’s totally free. And the revelations that he made, that he’s been responsible for, have upset quite a lot of people. And if you’re only able to come out and say that this is not true and trust us, you’re not going to get a very --

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a couple more points. First of all, we are having more in-depth conversations bilaterally with the governments.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Second, the President came out several weeks ago and made a statement about this, how we were reviewing it. At the end of the review process, I’m sure we’ll be talking about it more publicly then.

QUESTION: Several weeks ago. That would be about 20 weeks ago, right?

MS. HARF: No, actually, it wasn’t that long ago when we announced the review board.

QUESTION: You said it was April yesterday, yeah?

MS. HARF: No. No, the NDU speech was in May.

QUESTION: May, okay.

MS. HARF: That’s what I talked about at length yesterday. The speech about disclosures was actually fairly recently, when he announced the review board that had been created.

QUESTION: At the UN. All right.

QUESTION: So is it --

MS. HARF: So that was actually only several weeks ago.

QUESTION: So is it up to the governments involved in these cases – France, Brazil, Mexico, Italy possibly, maybe Germany too – to take what you’re saying and then disseminate the information to their publics? How do the people of France and Germany – I’m British – how do we feel that we’re not being monitored by a giant machine back in the United States?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the President first coming out and publicly speaking about it recently, in the last several weeks, is one way to do that. Obviously, there’s a lot of ways for people to get information around the world. And that’s why we’re having the conversation bilaterally, because we know leaders of other countries will go out and talk about these issues. And hopefully, we think these conversations will help in that discussion with their own countries as well.

QUESTION: But I mean the President’s speech, as Matt has pointed out and you said, was back in May.

MS. HARF: No, not this speech. This was only – the May speech was counterterrorism, was drones. The speech on disclosures was only a few weeks ago when we announced the creation of the review board.

QUESTION: Right. Yes, right. Okay.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So, I mean, I just don’t see how that’s supposed to absolve the concerns of people abroad that they’re being spied on massively by America.

MS. HARF: Well, we’re going to keep having the dialogue.

QUESTION: I mean, the American President – his speech may or may not have been watched by people in Europe. I don’t know. Given the time differences and things like that, probably not. And the Europeans have their own concerns too --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- as do the Latin American countries --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about what is going to be on the front pages of the newspapers or put on their TVs and put on their radios. I’m just trying to understand how they are supposed to not think that you have America on one hand policing the world and nobody has a right to get upset about their phone calls being monitored, possibly.

MS. HARF: Well – and I think one thing – and again, you’re right, I’m not sure everyone saw the President’s speech. But one consistent message, whether it’s him, whether it’s our bilateral discussions, whether it’s me up here or other folks, that there are specific limited reasons we conduct intelligence activities of the kind that many, if not all, countries around the world conduct. They’re for limited aims. They’re to protect American national security, to thwart terrorist plots. There’s a lot of limited ways that we – or I guess for ends that we collect intelligence for. And that’s why, when we get out and say look, this isn’t just some massive – and the President has said this, actually at a press conference in Europe, I think not too long ago – that this isn’t some massive sweep of all the information in the world. These are intelligence activities that many countries do with purposeful, limited ends, for purposeful, limited goals. And we are going to keep saying that message over and over again, and – because we think it’s an important one. And that’s why we have the discussion bilaterally so other leaders can also come out and say, “I’ve spoken with U.S. Government representatives and this is what we talked about, and we’re going to keep working together on this going forward.”

QUESTION: So I understand that. But 70 million phone calls in France over a 30-day period --

MS. HARF: Which we said is inaccurate.

QUESTION: Okay. So if you were to tell us it was --

QUESTION: It was only 29 days.

QUESTION: If it was – 29 days then. If it was a lot lower, then it would be in your interest to say that. I think – I’m not exactly sure, but I think the population of France is around the 70 million mark.

MS. HARF: I don’t – I will admit I don’t know what the population of France is. But look, I take all these points. We want to have a discussion about this. The President was very clear and the Secretary’s been clear, we want to talk more about this publicly. We think it’s important not just for our own country, but for countries around the world. That’s what we’re endeavoring to do right now.

That’s what the review process is looking at – what can we talk about publicly, how can we reassure people that this isn’t some giant intelligence dragnet all around the world, but it’s for limited, purposeful aims to protect our national security and protect security of other countries, intelligence that we share with our friends and allies all over the world. So we’re going to keep having the discussion and moving the ball in the right direction because we do think it’s important.

QUESTION: The problem is, is that you can say it’s not a giant, massive dragnet of information all you want, but everything that’s coming out from these leaked documents suggests that it is. And --

MS. HARF: I think we’ve stood up here and said when things were not accurate in these leaked documents. And I think some of it’s been skewed and misrepresented in a way that is not accurate, and we’ve said so.

QUESTION: But see, that kind of a rejection of it without saying what is – exactly is wrong with it is really kind of meaningless.

MS. HARF: Again, I will take your criticism on board, Matt. I don’t know if there’s a question there. If not, I’m going to move on.

QUESTION: All right. Yes. I –

MS. HARF: Go ahead, Jim.

QUESTION: I would like you to go back to your colleague – your former colleagues and tell them that their answer is not good enough for us.

MS. HARF: I will be sure to pass that message along.

QUESTION: One last – why can’t we have a briefing from them in here?

MS. HARF: Well, look, this is a discussion – I’m being totally frank here – this is a discussion we know we’re going to have to keep having in here, with partners around the world, with other folks in other countries as well that are concerned about it. We think it’s an important discussion, and we’re pushing as far forward as we can in terms of talking about this stuff publicly, but it’s hard.

QUESTION: And the review that you’re doing, are you planning to make – is that just an internal review, or will you make it public?

MS. HARF: It’s a U.S. Government review, as I think it’s cutting across different agencies. The President announced it a couple weeks ago. I don’t know if there’s a timeline. I’ll check and see what will happen at the end of it.


MS. HARF: There will be some public discussion at the end of it, I’m sure.

QUESTION: Can I have a change of subject?

MS. HARF: Wait. Let me go to Jim and then I’ll come back up to you.

QUESTION: Can I talk about Saudi Arabia?

MS. HARF: Always, yes.

QUESTION: You’re aware of Prince Bandar’s comments yesterday about a major shift away from the U.S., Turki al-Faisal jumping in as well with arguably even stronger words I’ll just quote from: “The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious, designed only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down.”

These are strong words in public from a very close ally in the region, and particularly in a relationship where those public comments from both directions have been very well managed in the past. This is a marked change. I’m curious if the Saudis are, in private, saying anything less incendiary than this, friendlier, to balance those public comments, one.

And two, and I just wonder, on the part of Secretary Kerry and the State Department, if there isn’t a certain amount of pique at this kind of very public, brutal, and personal criticism in light of the depth of the relationship and the investment of American resources in this relationship, certainly on the business side, oil, but also in defending Saudi interests, shared interests in the region, the first Gulf war, Iran, you name it.

But first --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- I’d love to hear what they’re saying in private, but also, what is the – what’s the emotional reaction from this building to this kind of commentary?

MS. HARF: No, it’s a good question. We talked a little bit about this yesterday. And what I said then still stands; that fundamentally, our relationship is a very close and strong one with the Saudis. We have the same goals in the region, whether it’s ending the civil war in Syria and destroying their chemical weapons, preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Middle East peace we work very closely with the Saudis on. The discussion is about how we get there, and there are complicated issues, and we don’t always disagree with every one of our allies and partners. But I think I would note that Secretary Kerry had over a two hour – about a two and a half hour lunch with Saud al-Faisal in London on Monday, I believe, if my days are correct.


MS. HARF: Paris. Thank you for correcting me, Matt. And it was actually --

QUESTION: Will I ever hear those words again?

MS. HARF: I know. Everybody record that. Write that one down.

But it was actually a very productive and positive meeting. The kind of tone you’re talking about, that just wasn’t the tone of the private meeting. It was a very good meeting, and we’re focused on how we can work together even with some differences going forward. And we really do have a strong fundamental relationship with them.

QUESTION: These are severe differences, though, and traditionally, as the Foreign Minister, Saud al-Faisal will be softer. That’s his role. These are two – Turki al-Faisal, very senior, and you can bet that King Abdullah would not let this kind of commentary get out there unless he approved of it.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to make an assessment on that. You’d have to check in with the Saudis on how they make decisions about what they say publicly. But look, we work very closely with Prince Bandar, with Turki al-Faisal, with the King, and Saud al-Faisal and others. That’s not going to change. We’ve been very clear that, again, we have the same goals.

And I would take a little bit of disagreement with your notion that this is some massive policy disagreement. We want to get to the same place. The question is always on how you do it. The devil is in the details, right? And these are complicated enough issues where we will have debates and discussions with our allies and partners, and hopefully get to a place where we can move forward together.

QUESTION: Well, to be clear, I didn’t say there was a policy disagreement. Turki al-Faisal did in very severe terms.

MS. HARF: Again, we’re going to keep talking to the Saudis, and we believe that the relationship is a strong one, and we believe it’s a very important one.

QUESTION: Finally – just if I can?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any pique on the part of the people working very hard in this building on, as you say, shared goals in the region, but a severe disagreement here, at an ally speaking in such brutal terms after the investment of American resources there over the years?

MS. HARF: No. I think what we’re focused on, honestly, Jim, is how we can work together going forward, how we can sit down with the Secretary at the London 11, which we did yesterday, work together at the API on Middle East peace, and how we can move forward. That’s what’s important to us. Making progress on these issues is what’s important to us, not – even though I hesitate to say this as a press person – not necessarily what’s out there in the press. We’re focused on the actual policy and getting results.

QUESTION: But can I follow up on this one?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it possible that it wasn’t raised during the lunch because the Secretary didn’t know about those comments yet? Was it raised later?

MS. HARF: Was what? Which specific part of it?

QUESTION: The reports of what – the remarks of what Prince Bandar had said. Was it raised after the lunch in another session?

MS. HARF: That day, no. To my knowledge, having checked with the team on the ground, that this idea that’s out there about reducing cooperation was not raised in any fora that day with the Saudis.

QUESTION: How about at all since? Do you know?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we’ve actually since then had – we had the London 11 yesterday, but just haven’t had a chance --

QUESTION: You’re not aware of any --


QUESTION: -- high-level contact --


QUESTION: -- since --


QUESTION: -- these reports? Okay. Can we stay on Saudi? But a – just a slightly different subject?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yes.

QUESTION: You’re aware that there’s supposed to be this protest about women drivers coming up on Saturday? Yesterday --

MS. HARF: I am not familiar with it. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: You’re not? Okay.

MS. HARF: I will familiarize myself with it.

QUESTION: If you could get familiar with it --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it would be helpful because there are some conservative clerics in Saudi Arabia who believe, and who staged a protest or demonstration, I believe, yesterday, maybe the day before – that they think that the United States is behind this. This would be women going ahead and driving against the wishes of – apparently against the wishes of the government.

MS. HARF: And that’s supposed to happen on Saturday?

QUESTION: I believe it’s supposed to happen on Saturday. I would --

MS. HARF: I honestly haven’t seen the comments, but I would reject a notion that we were behind --

QUESTION: Right. Well, my question is not – well, one, my question is: Are you sponsoring this in any way as they claim? And two, even if you’re not, are you supportive of the – of the goal of these women who want the right to drive?

MS. HARF: Let me – I just haven’t seen those reports. I’ll take the question.

QUESTION: Marie, change subjects?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On Syria – they announced a trilateral meeting in Geneva today?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: What is the --

MS. HARF: We’re just spending time in Geneva left and right.


MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I think Matt would argue that it should be a cheaper place. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, no. I don’t mind it, as long as it’s being paid for by someone else. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: But the – what exactly is the aim of that meeting?

And number two, is – have you set a date, or has there been a proposal for a date set on the 23rd, 24th of November, is one that seems to be floating around. So can you just let us know a little more about what’s going to happen at the trilateral?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. So the UN announced this yesterday. Mr. Brahimi, as you said, will convene a trilateral meeting with U.S. and Russian officials in Geneva on November 5th. The U.S. delegation will be led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and include U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. This is a chance – another meeting to have a trilateral dialogue to review progress towards a Geneva 2 conference, and hopefully work out some of the issues that we need to work out before then. They’ve had some of these meetings in the past as you know as well.


MS. HARF: We don’t have official dates yet. I know there’s a couple different ideas and suggestions out there. We just don’t have anything official yet. But we’re still tracking towards late November.

QUESTION: Can you assure us on that date that the United States will oppose the date of the 28th?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. Why?

QUESTION: That would be Thanksgiving. (Laughter.) Can you say at this point --

MS. HARF: We’re not going to let – if that’s the right time for Geneva 2, Matt, we’re not going to --

QUESTION: Really? Okay.

MS. HARF: We work around the clock here.

QUESTION: I have a few --

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m sorry. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have a few more on Syria. The other one is, in the communique from the London 11, it did talk about assurances of more aid. Is there more aid coming from the U.S. and what is that aid?

MS. HARF: Let me check on that. I know we obviously continue our aid. Let me see if there’s anything new. I don’t believe there is but let me see.

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, my question – did they commit to something more yesterday?

MS. HARF: Let me double check on that. I’m not sure that we did but I could be wrong.

QUESTION: And then what did the U.S. – what is the U.S. doing between now and the November 5th meeting about trying to get the opposition on board?

MS. HARF: Well, Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul as we speak, having meetings with the opposition to help continue – to get them to increasingly coalesce. They will also be convening their own general assembly meeting in the next several weeks to make a final determination about attending the Geneva conference. As I said yesterday, their participation is pivotal. We will continue encouraging them to attend and that’s why Ambassador Ford’s on the ground talking to them right now in Istanbul.

QUESTION: But do you expect that out of the November 5th meeting, you could be announcing a date for the Geneva 2?

MS. HARF: Possibly.

QUESTION: Possibly. And I mean, the opposition’s main --

MS. HARF: But we won’t be announcing it. To be fair, the UN will be the ones officially announcing it and sending out invitations.

QUESTION: So Mr. Brahimi – Mr. Brahimi did?

MS. HARF: Actually I think probably the Secretary General will be sending out invitations.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MS. HARF: I think.

QUESTION: So the – I mean, the Syrian opposition’s main reason why they won’t go to the Geneva talks at the moment is because they don’t want to sit down at the same table as the regime. And since Assad also said a couple days ago that he didn’t think it was going to be useful, again – I guess I’m repeating a question from yesterday – do you believe it could be possible to hold a Geneva 2 meeting without the Assad regime?

MS. HARF: Well, we are still determining, and I think one of the things we’ll talk about on the 5th is determining who will represent all the different sides and parties. The purpose of Geneva 2, as we’ve talked about, is to implement the Geneva 1 communique. And as the Secretary said yesterday, I believe, the opposition has said their condition is that the intent of this process is to see that Assad goes. And that’s, of course, our intent of the process and indeed the Geneva communique, which outlines the mutual consent clause, would lead to that end as well. So we’ll keep working with the opposition to get them to the table. But those discussions are ongoing.

QUESTION: Would there be utility in holding a Geneva 2 without the regime present?

MS. HARF: I just don’t want to venture to guess that. Obviously, we’re still working out participation. But the goal and however we can achieve that – we will attempt to make that happen – is to implement the Geneva communique.

QUESTION: Just on Geneva as a venue. When is the Iran – when is the next P5+1?

MS. HARF: The 7th and 8th.

QUESTION: 7th and 8th.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: So basically, Wendy Sherman --

MS. HARF: Under Secretary Sherman will be in Geneva for a few days.

QUESTION: Is she looking at property there or anything? Is she going to rent an apartment? It might be cheaper than staying at the hotel all the time.

MS. HARF: It’s a great location, makes sense for everyone, good UN facilities.

QUESTION: Can I – sorry.

MS. HARF: I sound like a tourist --


MS. HARF: -- advertisement for Geneva. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It’s very lovely in October, November. On Syria, though.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you see the reports of these women prisoners being released by the government?

MS. HARF: I did not.

QUESTION: Okay. We’re just wondering if you have any --

MS. HARF: I’ll take it. I just haven’t seen it.

QUESTION: -- reaction to that.

QUESTION: And the other one on Syria is on NATO and Russia – could play a role in eliminating. And there was discussions on Norway today as well talking about that. Where does the U.S. – I mean, I think Norway said that the U.S. had asked them whether they would be involved in that. It also brings the question of – raises the question of the cost of eliminating this, and can you give us an update on – for the U.S. to say it gave two million already for that, but it was willing to give more?

MS. HARF: Actually, the U.S. – we’ve pledged six – nearly six million from the nonproliferation disarmament fund. This is in financial in kind contributions to both the UN and the OPCW. So I think there’s a couple different buckets of money here, but overall, we’ve – our assistance has totaled nearly $6 million. Just recently we put out a Media Note on this that we paid 1.55 million for 10 armored civilian vehicles to assist in the OPCW effort. That’s the kind of thing I think you’ll see more of going forward.

Obviously, every country – we encourage any country who wants to help with technical support, monetary support, any of these things we’ll need going forward to do so, and it’s up to each country to make their own decisions. I’m not going to outline individual discussions that we may or may not be having. But I would also say that in terms of cost, it’s a little early to determine overall cost for this. I think we’re still evaluating that, and if we have an update I’m happy to provide it.

QUESTION: On those trucks --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you know, do you guys pay General Motors directly for them? The – I think they were Suburbans, right? Or do you – or are they already out?

MS. HARF: I don’t know exactly what make and model they were.

QUESTION: It said in the note. I think it said they were Chevy Suburbans.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: I’m just curious if you actually bought them and then had them shipped over?

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Or if they were already kind of like in some motor pool someplace.

MS. HARF: They were out back and we just put them on a plane --

QUESTION: Well, you know.

MS. HARF: I – the answer is I don’t know.

QUESTION: There’s a lot of armored Chevy Suburbans lying around Tel Aviv.

MS. HARF: Around Washington?

QUESTION: No. Places that are close by – in Beirut. Anyway.

MS. HARF: I’ll check on it. I know we worked, I think, with the Canadians on this one. So let me check on it and see if logistically I can share anything.

Mm-hmm. Yes. I’ll go around the room. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Great. On Iran.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Syria? Can I go Syria?

MS. HARF: Oh, yeah, sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Recent days, many U.S. officials have been stating that Assad’s grasp on the ground is better than couple months ago. Would you be able to confirm that or what’s your assessment that?

MS. HARF: I’m not really sure what reports you’re referring to. We’ve talked a lot about how there are going to be gains on one side or the other on a day to day basis, that the general lines of control there haven’t changed. But I just don’t have any – anything on those reports that quite frankly I haven’t seen.

QUESTION: Okay. So your assessment is Assad regime is not powerful than couple months ago in August – during the --

MS. HARF: I know we go back and forth about what the ground game looks like. I haven’t heard that there’s been a change in assessment over the last few months, but I’m happy to check and let you know if something’s different.

QUESTION: With the new Secretary, Kerry came to power a year ago and main points – argument was that the new policy is going to change the balance of the power on the ground for – in favor of the Syrian opposition forces. After almost a year, would you be able to tell us that this very open and clear policy goal failed so far?

MS. HARF: Well, no. And I’m not sure exactly what announcement you’re referring to that Secretary Kerry made. I think we talked in June, I believe, when we first made a determination that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons, that we were increasing the scope and scale of our aid to change the balance on the ground. That’s always been our goal.

It’s a tough challenge, but that’s why we’re going to keep increasing our assistance and our aid to the folks on the ground and hopefully get everybody eventually to a Geneva 2 conference. That’s actually the ultimate goal, right? Changing the balance of power on the ground is an end – or it’s a means, not an end. Excuse me. We need to get everyone to the table because the only solution here is a political one, not a military one.



MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Turkish Daily Hurriyet reported that the United States has suspended providing aid to the Syrian opposition until some conditions are met and that decision was taken at a meeting by a special team of State Department officials this month. Is that true? Is that case?

MS. HARF: Not at all. Not to my knowledge. No, our assistance continues. Ambassador Ford’s on the ground meeting with them right now. That report would seem to be pretty false to me.

Anything else on Syria? Yes? No? Okay. Go ahead. Change subject.

QUESTION: Great. So before the next P5+1 round, our understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, is that there were supposed some highly technical --

MS. HARF: An experts meeting. Yes.

QUESTION: Right. So is that scheduled?

MS. HARF: I don’t think the dates are officially locked in yet. Obviously, it has to happen fairly soon. It will include scientific, nuclear, and sanctions experts. If we – when I have something to announce, I’ll let you know. I just don’t think we’ve locked in a date yet.

QUESTION: Okay, and the Secretary --

MS. HARF: But it’s an important meeting, because obviously these are very technical issues.


QUESTION: I don’t --

MS. HARF: I think it – we don’t have a location, I think, locked in yet. I think maybe Geneva. It won’t be here.

QUESTION: What a surprise. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And the Secretary said today, “We will need to know that actions are being taken, which will make it crystal clear, undeniably clear,” he said, “fail safe,” that the program is peaceful in nature. We will need to know when, because there are lots of moving parts here, including the bill in the Senate that’s going through the banking committee --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- with senators who are very interested in knowing some sort of timeline.

MS. HARF: Timeline for what? For what part of this whole process?

QUESTION: Well, in a letter to the President, a bipartisan group of senators said if Iranian actions fail to match the rhetoric – rhetorical reassurances, we are prepared to move forward with new sanctions to increase pressure on the government.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, in terms of – I’m not going to get into a timing game here. We were very clear going into the last round and going into this round that this is an important issue and progress needs to happen quickly. I’m not going to further define what that means. I think we’ll be having these discussions on the ground in a couple weeks in Geneva. Again, we’re going to keep working with Congress on this issue. Obviously, we all agree that it’s an important issue, we all believe that Iran should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

But as we said coming out of the last round that we had technical discussions that we’d never had before. They were serious and helpful in way they hadn’t had before. Now, we’re not naive about how hard this is going to be, but we have an obligation to pursue this diplomatic path, which is the preferred path, to its conclusion, to see if we can indeed resolve this peacefully.

QUESTION: Can I have two small Iran ones?

MS. HARF: On Iran?

QUESTION: Well, not – I guess they’re not so small.

MS. HARF: And then Lucas, I’m going to you next.

QUESTION: One is, were you able to get any – to grab from the lawyers any additional information about this guy who was arrested and detained?

MS. HARF: I have a little bit more for you.


MS. HARF: I was hoping you would ask.


MS. HARF: So as I said yesterday, we’re aware of reports that a U.S. dissident had been detained in Iran. We have been in contact with the Swiss regarding Mr. Romero’s case – wait for it – however, due to privacy considerations, we have nothing further at this time.

QUESTION: Right, but that’s all I was asking yesterday, recall?

MS. HARF: And I got your answer for you today.

QUESTION: And – yes, exactly – but you were telling me that you couldn’t even say if you talked to the Swiss --

MS. HARF: I just said I wasn’t sure.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Could you spell his last name for us, please?

QUESTION: No, that would violate the Privacy Act.


QUESTION: And then, my second one is – has to do with Iran and people like – people in the same position as Mr. Romero that have been detained for a while – but it has to do kind of with the Secretary’s meeting with Nawaz Sharif because the Pakistanis, as you know, host the interest section for the Iranians here in Washington, and I’m curious to know if you could find out, because I’m sure you don’t know off the top of your head whether or not the issue of Americans detained in Iran – not obviously including this latest guy --

MS. HARF: Right. The other three.

QUESTION: -- what – yeah – has come – came up between the Secretary and the Pakistani, or between State Department officials and the Pakistanis during this current visit to Washington by Sharif?

MS. HARF: I will check. I will check. I didn’t hear that it did.


MS. HARF: Obviously, it’s an issue of great concern to us. We raise it constantly in various ways. But I – let me check on that.


QUESTION: Also on Iran?

MS. HARF: No, wait. Hold on.

QUESTION: I have one quick on Iran?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Marie, as you know, today is the 30th anniversary of the marine barracks bombing in Beirut, and the new Iranian defense chief Hossein Dehghan was responsible for that bombing. I was just curious, is that man allowed in the United States today?

MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I don’t know the answer. I’ll check on it for you.


QUESTION: Still on Iran, yeah.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: AP had a story earlier this week quoting diplomats with knowledge of Iran’s proposal in Geneva --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and it looked disappointing, based at least on that reporting, that on the specific issues at the heart here, on the suspension of enrichment up to 20 percent, that the Iranians made an offer; that on limits on all – on the Fordow facility, they’re willing to discuss, but no more specifics; on limits to all Iranian enrichment, willing to discuss, but no specifics; and on uranium stockpiles, no discussion of that. Now, based on that read, that is not as much as I understand we were expecting from the Iranians at these talks. And I wonder, can you get into whether that’s an accurate portrayal of what was on the table in Iran?

MS. HARF: I think --

QUESTION: First question.

MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll answer your first one; then we’ll go to a second one. We’re not going to negotiate this in public, and we’re not going to talk about the details of what was put on the table at the last round in Geneva. And we believe, actually, that it’s a sign of the seriousness that we and the Iranians take this process. We’ve all committed to not talk about the details publicly. Those of us who here are involved in this process aren’t doing so, and on the Iranian side they’re not as well, so I would urge a little caution into reading too much into reports out there. We’re keeping them private for a reason, because we think it gives them the best chance of success.

QUESTION: No question. It’s a fair point, same as what you were saying last week. But invariably, this --

MS. HARF: And you’re trying to get me to change it.

QUESTION: Well, invariably, some of the details are going to come out as people talk about them.

MS. HARF: Some will be correct and some won’t be.

QUESTION: Right. Are you saying that those details as mentioned are incorrect?

MS. HARF: I’m not commenting on those details in any way, shape, or form.

QUESTION: And can you give any more detailed characterization of --

MS. HARF: Of the discussions?

QUESTION: -- disappointment, discussion, or --

MS. HARF: No. I mean, in fact --

QUESTION: -- impression of the Iranian offer?

MS. HARF: We’ve talked about this since the P5+1, that for the first time we had a level of technical discussion we had not had before. We engaged in these discussions with a seriousness of purpose and a specificity that we hadn’t had before. For the first time since 2009 at the P5+1 we had a bilateral meeting with the Iranians, and we hope to have more in the future going forward in these rounds.

So I think we are encouraged by some of the signs we saw, but the devil is in the details – I’ve said that a few times today – and we will see what happens at the experts meeting, where the Iranians will have a delegation as well, and we’ll see what happens in the next round. There’s a lot of work still to be done here. This was always the beginning of the process.

QUESTION: Marie, one more on Mr. --

MS. HARF: Iran?

QUESTION: -- Dehghan. Yes. Is there any plans to bring him to justice or to pursue any – go after him about the bombing?

MS. HARF: I’ll check in – I just don’t know any of the facts here, Lucas. I’m happy to check into it for you.


MS. HARF: Anything else on Iran?

QUESTION: Iran, yes.

MS. HARF: Okay, wait. Let’s go here. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Just – is there any reason that you can think of to – why the Russians would’ve characterized the last round of discussions as no more productive than before Rouhani took office?

MS. HARF: I think every delegation is free to make their own statements. I think you saw certainly what we said and I think you said what the Iranians said. You saw what Cathy Ashton said, what other folks have said as well. So, again, no one’s naive about how much work we have to do here or how hard it is, but we have an obligation to pursue this diplomatic path to see where it will go, because the alternatives are not the preferred path, certainly, to diplomacy.

Yes. Iran.

QUESTION: You know Ahmed Shaheed, UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, he just issued the latest report, and he’s mentioning about the fact that sanctions are causing lots of job shortages – medicine shortages in Iran. And he’s asking the sanction imposing countries like the U.S. to make sure that is – it doesn’t have any side effect in terms of human – Iranians’ basic human rights. This issue is causing a lot of resentment toward the U.S., the sanctions. This is the side effect it is having. What’s the U.S. response? I mean, what are you guys doing in terms of at least lessening the effect of sanctions on shortage of medicine?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points on that. The first is that the sanctions are in place because the Iranian Government is in violation of its international obligations, and there needs to be consequences when they are. The onus is really on the Iranian Government to take steps to come back in line with their obligations. That’s exactly what we’re talking about right now. And I’m not a sanctions expert, I will preface this by saying, but there are ways for certain things like medicine or food to get to the Iranian people that are not, in fact, sanctioned, because we believe that’s important. So we’ll keep working on this issue.

And look, the purpose of the sanctions was to get the Iranians back to the table to talk about a diplomatic solution to their nuclear program. That’s what we’re trying to do right now. And indeed, we believe they’re back at the table to pursue diplomacy because of the severity of the sanctions.

QUESTION: But does U.S. has any concerns about what’s happening to the Iranian people, even when they might – they don’t support U.S. – Iranian Government’s position on --

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve always said that we don’t have – there’s – we stand with the Iranian people, that this isn’t about disagreements with the Iranian people. And that’s why, under sanctions, certain things are exempt, like medicines, for example, because we do believe it’s important for companies to be able to get important medicine into Iran. So we’ll keep having those discussions, and I’m sure we’ll talk a lot more about this issue in the coming weeks.

QUESTION: A new topic? Benghazi?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Marie, as you may or may not be aware, there’s new evidence linking two Benghazi suspects to senior al-Qaida leadership. Does the State Department have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: I think for any of those questions, I’d refer you to the FBI. I know they’re the ones handling the investigation and that part of it, so --

QUESTION: Okay. Yesterday, Chairman Mike Rogers said that the Intelligence Committee has been – who is studying the attacks said that planning went on for weeks. Is there any reaction to that? To Benghazi.

MS. HARF: Oh. Again, I’d refer you – the FBI, I know, is looking into all of this right now.

QUESTION: Does the State Department own the Reward for Justice program?

MS. HARF: Own it in what way? Run it? I believe so, yeah.

QUESTION: Why is it --

MS. HARF: But let me double-check on that, though.

QUESTION: Okay. Why is it --

MS. HARF: Where is this question going? I’m not sure.

QUESTION: I’ll tell you. Why does the State Department refuse to put any of the Benghazi suspects on the Reward for Justice program?

MS. HARF: Let me go back to our folks and see how – (A) if it’s actually run out of here – I believe it is, but let me double-check – and (B) what the process is for putting people on that list. I just don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: Okay. It is --

MS. HARF: But I’m happy to look into it for you.

QUESTION: Okay, because it is – your email address is on the bottom of the Reward for Justice program.

MS. HARF: Well, then, it’s probably – I’m probably right that it’s ours, Lucas.

QUESTION: And this gentleman, Adam Gadahn, is wanted by the United States. He’s an American citizen.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I’m familiar with Adam Gadahn, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. He’s on this list, yet he hasn’t killed any Americans in this.

MS. HARF: Let me check and see what the standards are for putting people on it. The answer is I just don’t know. But I’m happy to look into it. Obviously, it’s not the only way we identify people that have committed terrorist acts or have done bad things. There’s designations; there’s other things we can do as well.

QUESTION: Right, but in --

MS. HARF: It doesn’t comprise the entirety of how we look at the terrorist threat.

QUESTION: Understood, but 1996 we captured Ramzi Yousef and constantly other terrorists using money. Nobody works for free here. You don’t work for free, our soldiers don’t work for free --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so wouldn’t it be helpful if we had these suspects in the Rewards program.

MS. HARF: Let me check on that. I really just don’t know what the process is. But it’s a good question. Let me check on it.

Yes, Jill.

QUESTION: Russia Greenpeace?

MS. HARF: Russia Greenpeace, yes.

QUESTION: They reduced the charges from piracy to hooliganism. Any --

MS. HARF: Is that an official charge?

QUESTION: I’m sorry?

MS. HARF: That’s an official charge?

QUESTION: It is, actually.

MS. HARF: It’s a technical term.

QUESTION: Yeah, the word is. Which – and it still has a sentence attached. Do you have any reaction to that? And are the consular folks involved with the two Americans on this?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. We – yes. So on the consular question, we have visited both of the two Americans, Peter Willcox and Dimitri Litvinov twice, I believe, since they have been detained. Russian regulations permit two consular visits during the investigative period – in a 30-day period. We will continue to request consular access and monitor the case closely. I know there are some concerns about Mr. Wilcox’s health. We’re following that closely and will provide all consular access.

In terms of the charges, we – I said this before, but we believe that the purpose and nature of the actions taken by the defendants in attempting a peaceful protest should be fully taken into account as the Russian investigation proceeds. I don’t think I want to further comment on their process, but we’re going to keep monitoring it closely. And if I have an update, I’m happy to get it for you.

QUESTION: What’s – on --

MS. HARF: Oh, go – is it still Russia? New topic?

QUESTION: Oh, yeah. I was going to ask whether Mr. Burns had brought this issue up while he was there? Do you have any readout --

MS. HARF: I can find out.

QUESTION: -- from his visit on how the talks went? And yesterday I asked about whether he’d raised the issue with Snowden with Russia.

MS. HARF: Of Snowden, yes. I don’t – I unfortunately did not get an answer for you on that. Let me see if I can get a fuller readout of his discussions. Obviously, he’s back today at the Israeli Strategic Dialogue.


MS. HARF: Let me just see if I can get some more.

QUESTION: On Middle East peace.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of a possible Israeli release of Palestinian prisoners next week, and also of the possibility of a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu?

MS. HARF: Don’t have any update for you on Middle East peace efforts. I know the Secretary spoke to it a little bit in his press avail yesterday, was it? All the days are running together. I haven’t seen those reports. If we have anything new to share, I’m happy to do so.

QUESTION: One last one. When – during their joint appearance, Netanyahu spoke of – as Secretary Kerry has spoken of many times and the President – two states for two peoples. Is that an endorsement of Netanyahu’s condition of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state?

MS. HARF: I think we’ve been very clear, separate and apart from anything the Prime Minister has said, that Israel is a Jewish state. That the President – our President has said that, the Secretary has said that. I wouldn’t read any more into that, but I think we’ve made our position on that very clear.


QUESTION: Does the State Department care if the suspects in Benghazi are ever brought to justice?

MS. HARF: I think the people in this building who were so affected by that day – there’s almost nothing more important right now than bringing these folks to justice, that these people in this building were the ones who lived through that, whether it was on the ground or back here. These were our friends, these were our colleagues. Absolutely we are committed, and it is important to the people in this building that we do everything to bring these terrorists to justice. It’s hard. It took us over 10 years to find Usama bin Ladin. When people are attempting to evade justice, we will do everything in our power to find them and to take them off the streets. Absolutely.

QUESTION: And we used a reward to capture Usama bin Ladin.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: We used a reward to capture Usama bin Ladin.

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’re all well aware of the intelligence case that eventually led us to Usama bin Ladin. I wouldn’t put it all on one thing. It was a multifaceted intelligence case that led us to him.

QUESTION: Well, would you agree in principle that a reward provides some incentive to help discover the captive?

MS. HARF: In some cases it may; in some cases it may not. Each case is different. Obviously, we believe that the Rewards for Justice program is important. It doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in every case.

QUESTION: When wouldn’t it?

MS. HARF: Again, I will sit down with our Rewards for Justice folks this afternoon and get more answers to your questions on this. It just – there are a variety of different ways we have to find and take terrorists off the battlefield. We don’t rely on any one way to do that.

QUESTION: Wait, are you – are you saying – has the – the premise of the question is that there was money paid out for Rewards for Justice for bin Ladin.

MS. HARF: Not to my – no, I actually don’t know the answer. Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Can you check that? Because I don’t believe there was.

MS. HARF: I don’t think there was, but I’ll check.

QUESTION: But they had a – there was a bounty on his head.

MS. HARF: He was on the Rewards for Justice list.


MS. HARF: Yes. That’s what I was referring to.

QUESTION: There’s a whole list of names and faces --

MS. HARF: He has the list right here with the pictures.

QUESTION: I know, but I’m not sure that anyone took you up on that offer.

MS. HARF: I don’t think they did.

QUESTION: Right. But if they did --

MS. HARF: But I’ll double-check.

QUESTION: -- it would be interesting to know.

MS. HARF: I’ll double-check. But I don’t think that they did. That’s why I said we’re all familiar with the intelligence case that actually led to finding Usama bin Ladin.


QUESTION: But Dr. Afridi actually remains in jail today as the Prime Minister visits --

MS. HARF: He does. It’s something we’re very concerned about. We raise it frequently with the Pakistanis.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Real quick on Turkey. Today Prime Minister Erdogan basically argued that Turkey’s selection of the Chinese air and missile defense system is sovereign decision and responded to criticism came out from here, basically, indirectly. What’s your response to that?

MS. HARF: Well, we will continue to convey our serious concerns about the Turkish Government’s contract discussions with a Chinese company, a company that’s currently sanctioned by the United States, for an air and defense – air and missile defense system that will not be interoperable with NATO systems or collective defense capabilities. The Secretary General of NATO yesterday reiterated the long-held importance of having interoperable systems for a number of very good reasons.

QUESTION: Another argument used by Ankara’s officials is that other NATO states like Greece or some Eastern European countries also are using some Russian air defense systems and they get away with that, but when it comes to Turkey – this is the argument.

MS. HARF: Well, I would make the point that some NATO allies inherited stockpiles of Soviet weaponry – that’s what we’re talking about if we’re talking about Eastern Europe – when the Warsaw Pact collapsed. But legacy Soviet hardware is very different than new purchases, and of course would not be interoperable, I believe, with the current NATO system that we’re talking about now.

QUESTION: I’m – obviously I’m not expert, but I think one of the examples, that Greece purchase of Russian S-300s very recently.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard about that example. I’m happy to look into it.

QUESTION: Can I just – the original question was about whether this was a sovereign decision by – of the Government of Turkey. Surely you don’t think that the Turks have to buy from your preferred seller, right?

MS. HARF: Not at all.

QUESTION: So it is a sovereign decision for the Turkish Government to make. I mean, you’re not going to --

MS. HARF: Correct.


MS. HARF: But we have also said two points: That this company is currently sanctioned by the United States and that as part of NATO and a NATO ally, it is important to have systems that are interoperable.

QUESTION: Well, I understand that. But I mean, the Turkish argument that this is a sovereign decision is not something that you can test.

MS. HARF: Test in what way?

QUESTION: Well, it’s – you’re not arguing --

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, I’m just trying --

QUESTION: -- that they don’t have a choice in the matter, are you?

MS. HARF: Of course they have a choice.

QUESTION: Exactly. Right.

MS. HARF: But we believe interoperability --

QUESTION: You think this is the wrong choice.

MS. HARF: -- is important – well --


MS. HARF: We believe that it’s important for our systems in NATO, as allies, to be interoperable.


MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I have one more on Turkey. I asked this question the Defense Department and they referred to you. This about – this Hakan Fidan revelations that 10 Mossad agents’ outing. According to reports, that was the reason Congress vetoed some of the weapon systems to Turkey, I believe, last year. Would you be able to --

MS. HARF: Well, as I said earlier, Turkey and Israel are both vital allies and friends of the United States, and we attach great importance to the need for and benefit of positive relations between them. I defer you to Congress if there are questions about why they make or don’t make certain decisions, but obviously we’ll keep working with both of these governments going forward.

QUESTION: So you are not aware of that Congress was cancelling --

MS. HARF: Again, I will refer you to folks on the Hill to speak for their own actions.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie, I have a very quick one --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And then I’ll go to you, Catherine.

QUESTION: Mr. al-Libi -- he’s now had two court appearances, I believe, in New York. Has he been given consular access?

MS. HARF: I will check. I don’t know the latest. I’ll check.

Yes, Catherine. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Just two quick ones. On the little girl in Greece, do you have an update on that? Or any new info?

MS. HARF: Let me see what I have on that. So we are, as I said yesterday, aware of reports that a child found in a Roma camp in Greece may be a U.S. citizen. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is in contact with Greek authorities, and any further questions about the ongoing investigation, I think, should be directed to the Greek police. We have no information still to indicate that this child is a U.S. citizen.

QUESTION: And then going back to Twitter, are there any guidelines or rules and regulations, handbook manual type things that are given to employees? I know you said he wasn’t an employee of the State Department anymore, but --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- over the time period that the account was up and running, I think you said it was switched – he was switched in the summer, so he would have had some time as a State Department employee.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Again, without speaking to this specific personnel matter, State Department employees are, of course, able to have personal Twitter accounts. There are regulations that guide this kind of public – I would call it public speaking, for lack of a better term – publishing that all State Department employees have and are subject to. Those are well known to all of our folks, and need to, of course, be followed when people are employed here.

QUESTION: Okay. Can I just follow on (inaudible) just to find out?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When – you say that he – this person became an employee of the National Security Staff --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- over the summer, can you be more specific about when?

MS. HARF: Let me see.


MS. HARF: I believe it was in August.

QUESTION: You believe or you know? You know it was in August?

MS. HARF: It was in August, yes.

QUESTION: So – and was he --

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to speak to his case any more in detail. I would defer to my colleagues at the White House to do so.

QUESTION: Well, okay, but I mean, this is like a, “Hey, he’s not – he wasn’t ours.” You’re trying – they’re trying to foist him off on you and you’re trying to foist him off on them. So I just want to know, was he working – was – had he – had this person been seconded to the NSC before August?

MS. HARF: Yes, he had been on detail at the NSC since 2011, I believe, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So did this person ever work in the State Department, for the State Department?

MS. HARF: Yes.


MS. HARF: Before he went to the NSC in 2011. Again, I’m not going to get into --


MS. HARF: -- more personal details about him, guys. I’m just not.

QUESTION: But you’ve already gotten into quite a bit of them, right? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Well, I can give you an employment history. I’m not going to talk about the details of his case.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay, but that’s what I want to know. So what – was he – to the best of your knowledge, was he working – was this person working at the State – in the State Department, for the State Department, when this blog or Twitter account was opened?

MS. HARF: Again, I don’t want to speak to the specifics of this case. I can double-check.

QUESTION: Well, was he working --

MS. HARF: I believe the answer is yes, but let me double-check.


MS. HARF: I just don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole. It’s a personnel matter that, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speak to.

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you’ve already taken great --

MS. HARF: I can confirm his employment.

QUESTION: You made – yes.

MS. HARF: Certainly I can confirm his employment.

QUESTION: Well, that’s all I’m looking for. What was this person doing --

MS. HARF: Let me see what other details I can share with you.

QUESTION: -- working in the State Department, for the State Department?

MS. HARF: Let me see what other details I can share with you.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: I have a follow-up on Kenya from yesterday.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: The African Union and Kenya have asked the UN Security Council to defer the trials of the President and his deputy.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. agree with that while they deal with the

aftermath of the Nairobi mall attacks?

MS. HARF: So we’re aware of the request. We’re in the process of reviewing it. We, of course, are – continue to encourage Kenya to meet its commitments to ensuring accountability for the victims of the post-election violence, including by cooperating with the ICC, and remain committed to our 50 years of partnership with the Government and people of Kenya. Again, we’re reviewing that current request but don’t have anything further on that.

QUESTION: So you don’t have a – I mean, you don’t – you haven’t said whether you agree with it or not. You’re just --

MS. HARF: We’re still reviewing it. We’re still reviewing it.

QUESTION: But a decision will be made by the UN Security Council, presumably, with your input?

MS. HARF: On which – oh, I’m sorry, on the AU specifically?

QUESTION: On the AU, yeah.

MS. HARF: Yeah. Again, we’re reviewing it. If I have any more specifics about our position, I’m happy to share them. We just, at this point, are still looking into it.


MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: One more final one. There’s no question that many in this building, throughout this country, and abroad want to see the terrorists who attacked the Benghazi compound brought to justice.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: However, I just wanted to ask you, what signal does it send the world when, on those Reward for Justice programs, we rank the – our adversaries according to their importance – their kill, capture, their importance. But when the suspects of the Benghazi attacks are not on the list, what message does that send?

MS. HARF: Again, Lucas, I said this isn’t – this doesn’t represent the entirety of the way we look at the terrorist threat out there. We have designations. We have the Reward for Justice program. I have stood up here and said we are committed to bringing the Benghazi terrorists to justice, period. I don’t know what crystal – more of a crystal clear message I can send to them than that, and I’m happy to say it every day until we do.


QUESTION: On – just moving back to Syria, there was the New York Times piece today that led with a leak of a top secret letter warning the President. It came from the State Department, warning the President of the consequences of inaction after multiple small-scale uses of chemical weapons. This was back in June, the article alleges. Do you have comment on that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any comments on reports about possible internal deliberations.

QUESTION: Do you have comment on the leak?

MS. HARF: No, no comment for you. Thank you.

Yes. Wait, one more back here.

QUESTION: Thanks. On the drone strike issue, so the Prime Minister Sharif just called this drone strike a major irritant to the bilateral relationship between U.S. and Pakistan. Do you agree with him? And you have other – more comments on his statement?

MS. HARF: Well, I would note a few things – that the President and the Secretary, we’ve all looked forward to welcoming Prime Minister Sharif here for a visit in Washington. And I would note that this visit comes as we are actually strengthening U.S.-Pakistan relations. We are going to have an ongoing dialogue, a very strong ongoing dialogue, about a number of issues, whether it’s education, energy, economic issues, and also counterterrorism as well. It’s a shared threat, it’s a common enemy, and we’ll continue these discussions while they’re here and certainly going forward.

QUESTION: But you do acknowledge that the Pakistanis are troubled by this, don’t you?

MS. HARF: We’re having discussions about a host of counterterrorism issues.

QUESTION: You can’t even acknowledge that this is a problem in the relationship, that the Pakistanis have expressed concerns about this operation?

MS. HARF: We have a close partnership with the Pakistanis. We both face the shared threat of terrorists. The Pakistani people more than anyone have suffered at the hands of terrorists.

QUESTION: I understand this.

MS. HARF: We’ll keep having the discussion, Matt.

QUESTION: Yes, Marie, but the problem is that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is going around town saying that this is a major irritant, publicly. You can’t even acknowledge the fact that he’s saying that?

MS. HARF: What I’m saying is that we have a strong relationship with --


MS. HARF: Do you want to hear my answer or you just want to ask a follow-up?

QUESTION: Well, I think you’re going to tell me the same thing that you just did.

MS. HARF: Then why do you keep asking?

QUESTION: I just don’t understand how – I don’t understand how you expect to get the – how you expect to improve this or to fix the situation if you just --

MS. HARF: Our relationship has already improved.

QUESTION: -- ignore the fact that the guy is standing up, screaming, saying drone strikes are a major irritant in our relationship, and you won’t even – you’re covering your ears, saying – and not even being --

MS. HARF: Again, we have these discussions privately with the Pakistanis –

QUESTION: Well, I understand that, but --

MS. HARF: -- about a range of counterterrorism issues, and I would note our relationship has improved quite a bit since 2011 and 2012.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, then – well, can you at least acknowledge maybe not specifically saying that this particular thing, the drones – can you acknowledge at least that you do – that there are differences of opinion between the U.S. and Pakistan over counterterrorism issues?

MS. HARF: No, I’m not going to do that.

QUESTION: No, there aren’t any, there are none?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that either. I’m saying we talk about the range of counterterrorism issues directly with the Pakistanis. We have those discussions privately and we’ll continue to do so.

QUESTION: But if you refuse to acknowledge that they – at least that they have concerns about something publicly, how do you expect it to get – how do you expect the Pakistani people, for one, much less the Pakistani Government, to think – to expect that you’re – to think that you’re serious about smoothing things over?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the fact that you have an incredibly high-level visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister who has been at the State Department, the Defense Department, Energy, Treasury, USTR – I think the fact that they’re meeting with the President and other senior officials today shows how committed we are to this relationship, and how we think it’s important to --

QUESTION: Yes, but it --

MS. HARF: -- to discuss this privately.

QUESTION: Yes, but at every stop --

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything further for you on that.

QUESTION: At every – at virtually every one of those stops, the Prime Minister has said that it’s – that drones are a problem, and you can’t even --

MS. HARF: So we’ll have the discussions privately about counterterrorism.

QUESTION: -- and you can’t even acknowledge that it is?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything else for you, Matt.

QUESTION: The ostrich – sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to make the problem any better.

MS. HARF: And pushing me to say something that you want me to say that I’m not going to say doesn’t get us anywhere either.

QUESTION: Well, it’s not really you, the issue.

MS. HARF: I think we’re probably done with this discussion.

QUESTION: It’s not the issue – the issue I have is not with you. It’s with the people who write the guidance, the people who think that it is somehow smart, and I --

MS. HARF: I also do think independently. I don’t just read what’s on the paper, Matt.

QUESTION: No, I know, but if you --

MS. HARF: But thanks for the confidence there.

QUESTION: Yeah, but if people think that you’re going to make the problem better by ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist, they’re just flat wrong.

MS. HARF: We believe that the way to improve a relationship, which we’ve done over the past several months, is by having high-level dialogue like we’re doing now, working together on a host of issues, whether it’s counterterrorism or other issues like the economy, education, and energy, which we’ve been doing for months now. The Secretary had a good visit there. The President will have good meetings this afternoon as well.

QUESTION: But if you’re not willing to acknowledge their concerns in public, why should they have any confidence that you’re willing to address them in private?

MS. HARF: Again, we have a very strong relationship, and we’re going to keep talking about these issues privately.

Anything else? (No response.) Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:44 p.m.)

DPB # 175

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