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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
November 19, 2013


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TRANSCRIPT:

1:19 p.m. EST

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. I just have one item for all of you at the top, just a quick update on our aid to those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines. The U.S. has now – the United States has now provided more than $37 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the typhoon. Five airlifts from USAID warehouses have now arrived in the Philippines. The flights contained water containers for household water needs, heavy-duty plastic sheeting to build temporary shelters, family hygiene kits to help prevent the spread of illness, and specialized food products to help feed hungry children and adults. The Philippines Government, working with USAID partner WFP, has provided food aid to nearly two million people. These food parcels include rice that was locally procured with funding from USAID.

With that, let’s move to what else is on your minds.

QUESTION: Yesterday, the Iranians came out and said that it is not necessary for their quote/unquote “right to enrich uranium” to be recognized. Does the United States regard this as a concession, significant or otherwise?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just restate first that our position, of course, as you’re all familiar with, is that we don’t believe Iran or any country has the right to enrich. In terms of what it means for the negotiations, I don’t have any prediction of that. I think it was just a statement of their view on this particular issue.

QUESTION: Right. But do you regard it as a concession, a significant one, a minor one, or it’s just there?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t analyze it one way or the other in terms of the impact it will have.

QUESTION: I’m not asking what the impact is. I’m not asking you to predict what the impact is. I’m just asking if you believe that this is a sign that Iran may be flexible. Is – do you regard this as a concession, as a positive thing, or is it nothing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I’m getting at is I think the more significant signs, in our view, is the willingness of the Iranians to sit down at the table, talk through a possible agreement, as we did 10 days ago, and as we will do in the coming days. So that’s more what we’re focused on than these comments from yesterday.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: But isn’t – I don’t understand. You’re saying that just sitting down at the table is a big – is – that that is the positive thing here and that – then – and that dropping a longstanding demand is not a positive thing?

MS. PSAKI: I think you were asking me, Matt, as to broadly what the impact would be.

QUESTION: No, no. I wasn’t at all.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: I’m only asking you if you think that – if you regard this as a concession. Or is it just a meaningless drivel?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any particular analysis on it.

QUESTION: Jen, just to make sure I understand --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- does the United States have the right to enrich?

MS. PSAKI: I think broadly speaking, we don’t believe it’s a right in general. Obviously, there are different programs, peaceful programs. We’re working with Iran, as we work with many other countries, on what’s acceptable moving forward. So that’s – but there’s no right to enrich in the NPT or other international agreements.

QUESTION: Well, but isn’t there like a legal – I’m trying to find another word --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but right, the legal justification for enriching? After all, there are several nuclear countries that enrich, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That’s true. What I’m referring to is what is included in international agreements of which the United States is a member, many other countries are a member. And included in there is not the quote/unquote “right,” so that’s what I’m referring to. Obviously, there are a range of programs different countries have, and each country we work with differently.

QUESTION: So when you look at Iran, they would say we have a peaceful program, therefore if we want to enrich – just a principle, not saying percentages – we do have a right to a peaceful program for which we want to and need to enrich, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re kind of having a conversation about a couple of things here. We’ve long said that certainly we’re open to discussing a peaceful program. That is a separate conversation as to whether there’s a right to enrich or not, which we don’t believe there is.

QUESTION: But – sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Iran?

QUESTION: Yeah. Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But it seems every time Barack Obama and John Kerry ask for a little time and space to test new Iranian leadership claims, Mr. Netanyahu responds back the proposed agreement is a bad deal. So some experts say the Obama Administration’s overtures to Iran are straining the U.S. alliance with Israel in ways not seen in decades. How do you see their comments?

MS. PSAKI: What is your specific question? What do we --

QUESTION: I mean, for example, the Obama Administration’s overtures to Iran are kind of straining the U.S. alliance with Israel, so – some ways or another, not seen in decades.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to comments the Secretary made yesterday and refute the notion that our decades-long relationship with Israel will be impacted over the long term by a disagreement on tactics as it relates to Iran. We continue to consult with the Israelis on the diplomatic path forward with Iran. There is no secret, as you referenced, that we still have disagreements. The question, in our view, is what we can accomplish in a first step, what is realistic. We believe we can accomplish more through a first step than we’ve have had the opportunity to do in the past. So that is what we are moving forward with. That is the message we’re conveying and communicating with the Israelis and any of our partners around the world.

QUESTION: But yesterday, John Kerry also said that he had great respect for concerns by Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And we know that another round of talks will start on 20th.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So doesn’t U.S. Government still optimistic about the result of this negotiation this time?

MS. PSAKI: As we said last time, we were – came out of Geneva closer to an agreement than we came in with. We narrowed the differences. Obviously, we’re returning because we’re hopeful about the path forward. But I don’t have a prediction of what will come out of it. It’s just, of course, we feel – we continue to feel we’re closer than we have been to coming to an agreement.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Jo, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Article IV of the NPT states: “Nothing in this treaty shall be interpreted as affecting any inalienable right of all parties to the treaty to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II,” which is basically about peaceful use. So the right to develop, research, and production of useful energy is – it’s your contention that doesn’t include a right to enrich?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m just clarifying.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, sure.

Matt.

QUESTION: So do you have anything – is there anything logistical you can tell us about the delegation in terms of meetings? They’re arriving, presumably, late tonight or tomorrow morning.

MS. PSAKI: I believe tomorrow morning. I think they put a note out, so I’m remembering some of this from memory and I don’t have it in front of me. I believe there’ll be some meetings with EU High Representative Ashton. But beyond that, I don’t have any other specifics on what they’ll be doing tomorrow. They arrive tomorrow in Geneva.

QUESTION: So you don’t know, then, if there is going to be a meeting with the Iranians --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- a separate U.S. --

MS. PSAKI: -- I’m happy to send to those of you who did not receive the update from the negotiating team --

QUESTION: Yeah, I didn’t.

MS. PSAKI: -- what the details are of their plans tomorrow.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: We can send that out more broadly after the briefing.

QUESTION: And then the other thing you said in response to an earlier question was that you refute the notion that our decades-long relationship will be impacted – this is with Israel – impacted in the long term. What about in the short term?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m happy --

QUESTION: You refute the notion that there is a difference of opinion and that there is a tension in the relationship right now?

MS. PSAKI: I certainly don’t refute the notion there is a difference of opinion. It’s no secret that we have some disagreements about the path forward in Iran and what the best path is. The point I was making – and I’m happy to add in the short, medium, and long term – is that we have a decades-long relationship with Israel about a range of issues, and we are confident that that will continue moving forward.

QUESTION: So you don’t think that pursuing a goal – or pursuing tactics, to use your words – that the Israelis believe fundamentally threaten their existence is a problem for the relationship?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we just disagree with that notion --

QUESTION: Right. So --

MS. PSAKI: -- given one of the reasons we’re pursuing this is because of Israel’s security and security around the world. And that’s a message we’ll continue to convey and a discussion we’ll continue to have.

QUESTION: Can you explain how exactly it is that you can say or the Secretary says that he respects Prime Minister Netanyahu’s concern and yet – concerns and yet completely dismisses them as unwarranted? How is that respect?

MS. PSAKI: I think he hardly dismisses – I think you can respect while also disagree, and that’s part of many diplomatic conversations we have around the world.

QUESTION: Okay. I respect your concerns but you’re wrong and we’re right; is that pretty much the bottom line here?

MS. PSAKI: I think you can both respect concerns and hear them and also disagree with them.

QUESTION: Jen, sorry for coming late.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: You may have covered this issue. But aren’t you disappointed at the tone and the rhetoric that is still prevalent coming out of Israeli voices and so on, even as we get so close to the negotiation? Aren’t you a bit disappointed in that?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would point you to what the Secretary himself said yesterday: There’s no one more committed or invested in the success of an agreement with – with a strong agreement with the Iranians through the P5+1 process. And he conveyed very clearly that he respects the views of the Israelis, and certainly, it’s their prerogative to voice them. And we’ll continue to have diplomatic discussions with them about why we think this is the best path forward.

QUESTION: So – okay. So you are not concerned about the sort of alarming tone that the Israelis have and as something that may in any way put obstacles along the way in these negotiations, are you?

MS. PSAKI: I would not want to make a prediction of that, Said. Obviously, there are proponents and there are opponents of a path – a diplomatic path forward. That is not unexpected. It was not unexpected when we began this process, and we’re continuing to pursue it with the goal in mind of a strong agreement.

QUESTION: Okay. And if the Iranians still insist on their right to enrich, and you say that this is a no-no, complete no-no, what is there to talk about?

MS. PSAKI: Well, no one is going to agree to a deal – not the United States, not the French, not any member of the P5+1 – to a deal that doesn’t address the stockpiles of uranium enrichment, the plutonium track at Arak, centrifuges, and the need for transparency and increased monitoring. Those are our principles going in. I can’t outline for you or detail what a final agreement would look like at this point. I’m hopeful we will be able to do that. But beyond that, that’s what we’re looking to achieve. We have a high bar, a bar we want and we’re hopeful we can meet. And that’s what the purpose of the next couple of days of negotiations will be.

QUESTION: Okay. So your position is a total rejection of any level or any percentage of enrichment by the Iranians of uranium?

MS. PSAKI: I – that is not – I’m not going to get into more details, Said, but I just outlined for you what our principles are in terms of what we’re looking to achieve through a negotiation.

QUESTION: Jen, there’s just one – you’ve been down this road --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- a million times. But I’m just getting an email here from Chairman Royce saying --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- which is really the gist of the argument out there, which is he is saying we want to help, we want to support your diplomatic efforts, buttress them with tough pressure on Iran. In other words, they support a diplomatic approach, but they say the best way to achieve that is to continue with the sanctions and maybe even increase them. So just really clearly --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- can you tell us what the Administration position on that is?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s important to note that the sanctions are in place because President Obama and Secretary Kerry, in part, along with other partners, pushed for these sanctions to be increased over the past couple of years when Secretary Kerry was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and President Obama was obviously in his current role. We are proponents and advocates of sanctions. We are at this point because sanctions have worked. One of the goals of sanctions, a primary goal, was to get to the point of putting the necessary pressure on Iran to get to the negotiating table. That’s where we are now.

So the question is not whether or not we support or don’t support sanctions. Of course, we support sanctions. Secretary Kerry – you couldn’t find a bigger advocate for the impact of sanctions. It’s: Why not wait a couple of weeks, a month, and see if the diplomatic path can move forward? And the negotiators are literally soon on the way to the airport to go to Geneva, so let’s give them the room and the environment to see if they can move this process forward.

QUESTION: Jen, correct me if I’m wrong. Was not the point of the sanctions in the first place to get Iran to comply with the Security Council demands? It wasn’t to get them to the negotiating table where they might talk about maybe complying one day with the Security Council demands.

MS. PSAKI: Certainly – yes, Matt. Certainly, complying.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I said one of the goals, of course, is to get to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: And do you think that this first-stage agreement that you’re – that will be negotiated starting tomorrow --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- will – does that meet the Security Council demands?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to outline – obviously, it meets a range of demands. It would have to meet a range of demands.

QUESTION: But it falls short of --

MS. PSAKI: Given it’s not complete, I’m not going to outline how it lines up with any other proposal in the past.

QUESTION: Well, after it’s completed --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- if it is completed, I will ask you to make the comparison --

MS. PSAKI: I am happy to.

QUESTION: -- between this first agreement, this interim deal, and what the Security Council has demanded over and over again.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s be hopeful we can have that over turkey.

QUESTION: The other thing – (laughter) – before turkey perhaps.

MS. PSAKI: Before turkey.

QUESTION: The other thing is that in an answer to Said’s – one of Said’s questions, you said you always expected there would be opponents of a diplomatic path forward. Does that mean that you do not believe Prime Minister Netanyahu when he says he wants a diplomatic path?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not about believing or not believing. Perhaps I should have said about a path forward that would be – would involve an agreement – a diplomatic agreement between all sides.

QUESTION: Well, do you think that people who are opposed to this deal right now are opposed to a diplomatic path forward?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t --

QUESTION: I mean, you’ve said – you said that the alternative to this is aggression, hostility, and war. So it would stand to reason that you think that anyone who disagrees with you on this is not in favor of a diplomatic path forward and really just wants a fight. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I think that the important point here, Matt, is what is possible and what is realistic in a first step, and the need to recognize this is the best chance we’ve had in years, if not decades, to move this process forward. So yes, there are – there’s either a diplomatic path or there is a path toward aggression. We continue to believe that.

QUESTION: Okay. Does it not follow though, if this is the best path that you have had, the best opportunity that you have had for years --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and that that path – that opportunity has presented itself because of the sanctions that you put in place, does it not follow logically that more sanctions would give you – or tougher sanctions would give you an even better opportunity to move forward?

MS. PSAKI: I – we understand, certainly, that is the view of some. It is not the view of the Administration that that is the right step now. If this does not work, we will be leading the charge for more sanctions. But what we’re talking about now is giving this particular process an opportunity to work itself through.

QUESTION: So at what point do you determine it’s not working? If you don’t get an agreement this weekend, does that mean it’s not working?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to get ahead of what may or may not come out of this weekend. Obviously, we determine step-by-step what’s appropriate at the time, and I’m sure coming out of this weekend we’ll determine what our recommendation and ask would be, depending on where we stand.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the Secretary’s trip to Israel?

MS. PSAKI: I think he said yesterday, so I’m happy to reiterate, that he’s looking forward to going back. Obviously, there are a range of issues to talk about, including the direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as ongoing discussion on Iran. He thinks it’s unlikely – it’s not possible for him to go before Thanksgiving, given he’s testifying on Thursday on the Disabilities Treaty, and given we’re seeing how this weekend works through, and of course Thanksgiving, he’d like to spend time with his family. So he’s hopeful to go in December.

QUESTION: And did he talk to any Israeli officials in the last 24 hours?

MS. PSAKI: He – I – let’s see, I think he did speak with – I think he mentioned this yesterday that he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu but --

QUESTION: After this --

MS. PSAKI: I think it was earlier in the day yesterday.

QUESTION: Jen, I want to ask a question on communicating with your allies, how you communicate with your allies, in particular the Saudis --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the Israelis. They seem to be singing off the same page of music, but they have no relations with one another. Are you working together? Are you talking to them separately on the issue of Iran? Now there are rumors and talks that the Saudis will allow their airspace for Israeli fighter jets to go through to bomb Iran and so on. I wonder what you’re comments are on these --

MS. PSAKI: I know I’ve seen the same reports you have, and I think, if I’m correct here, the Saudis, I think, spoke to some of those reports, so I’d refer to them. In terms of – we certainly are through our own diplomatic relationships in touch with both the Israelis and the Saudis about the diplomatic path forward with Iran as well as another – a whole other range of – set of issues.

QUESTION: Okay. Could you quantify the position of your allies in terms of their rejection or their opposition to any kind of deal, the Saudis versus the Israelis, in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I understand your question.

QUESTION: Could you tell us who is more opposed to a deal with Iran, whether it’s Saudi Arabia or Israel in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I will leave that to you to analyze, Said.

QUESTION: No, I don’t want to analyze. I’m asking you because you are talking to them. I don’t talk to either one --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: -- so I want to hear from --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak for them. I leave to you to make that determination.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you finding that you have, like, a very rigid opposition from the Saudis?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to do analysis on this, Said.

Jill.

QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: Wait, wait.

MS. PSAKI: What --

QUESTION: Are you aware of more? Because you said reports, plural. Are you aware of more than one report about Israeli-Saudi – alleged Israeli-Saudi cooperation?

MS. PSAKI: I was more referring to what – news stories.

QUESTION: Are you aware of more than one?

MS. PSAKI: More than one news story?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I know I read one this morning.

QUESTION: I’m just curious if you --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure if there was more than one news story, but could have been.

QUESTION: There could have been, but you – okay. So you’re not aware of anything other than the Sunday Times report?

MS. PSAKI: I read a range of clips this morning, so I don’t remember where I read it.

But go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Any more on Iran?

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Iran, please.

MS. PSAKI: Iran? Okay, one more on Iran and then we’ll go to Jill and Afghanistan.

QUESTION: At the end of the first round, Secretary Kerry said no deal is better than bad deal. Do you still believe this --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- after all these ongoing discussions and this about --

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. No one is going to agree to a deal that it does not address the issues I just outlined, including stockpiles of enriched uranium, the plutonium track at Arak, centrifuges, as well as the need for more transparency and monitoring, among other issues. Those are principles we’re going into the discussions with.

QUESTION: Part of this ongoing discussion --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is the timing and the interval of 180 days or what Iran may do after 180 days.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you still believe it that’s ongoing? So from your perspective, this ongoing discussion help or hurt this – the best – that what you describe as the best chance of opportunity and to make a diplomatic deal with Iran in Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I think you’re referring to is the first step, approximately six months. Obviously, that’s what we’re discussing. Our goal here is, of course, a comprehensive agreement, but the first step is what we’ve been discussing and we’ll continue to discuss in Geneva.

QUESTION: And something that I want to understand, maybe it was repeatedly said in the last few days --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- especially when you are talking about Israel or Saudi Arabia, we have the same aims but we have different tactics.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you explain to me what exactly that means?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what we mean is no one wants to see Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. We have agreed on that. We, of course, believe there are different tracks to getting there. You’re familiar with our track and how we think that this path to diplomacy is an opportunity and one we want to see pursued and worked through. And the Israelis have their own approach, and I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Do we have any more on Iran, or we can go to Afghanistan?

QUESTION: The Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I see there is a statement from Secretary Kerry --

MS. PSAKI: Yes, I just --

QUESTION: -- condemning the attack.

MS. PSAKI: That just went out, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: How do you compare this with what happened a few month ago where a booby-trapped car exploded also with civilians dead but there was no condemnation from the State Department?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look back at that. Obviously – I don’t remember that specifically. Obviously, as you saw in the Secretary’s statement, we strongly condemn today’s terrorist bombings in Beirut that targeted the Iranian Embassy, and we extend our condolences, of course, to the victims of the tragic event. We continue to urge parties to calm – to exercise calm and restraint to avoid inflaming the situation further, and I’ll let you, of course, read further his specific statement. I’m happy to look back at the circumstances around the past incident.

QUESTION: Is there any extra courtesy due to the ongoing talks?

MS. PSAKI: I think this was just, obviously, a tragic event that we felt was worthy – it was important to condemn and send that strong message. Beyond that, I don’t have any other analysis for you.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: Tangentially related?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The United States still considers Iran to be the world’s leading sponsor – state sponsor of terrorism. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think our views have changed.

QUESTION: So that is correct?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Yes.

QUESTION: Afghan --

MS. PSAKI: Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Why don’t we go to Jill and we’ll go to you, Margaret, next.

QUESTION: Well, let’s start with the reports that the security pact – U.S.-Afghan security pact has been finalized, at least a draft. And there is one part of it that says the U.S. President will write a letter to the Afghan people acknowledging mistakes made in the war on terror ahead of the key vote by the elders, the Loya Jirga. That’s coming from a Karzai spokesman. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first, let me start by, of course, confirming – I think this was a readout of a call. So Secretary Kerry did speak with President Karzai this morning. As we saw, when the Secretary and President Karzai met last month and reached general agreement on the BSA, they have a good, constructive relationship. So we felt it was useful – I think both sides hopefully felt it was useful – for both sides to work toward concluding an agreement.

Obviously, there has been some progress made to resolve outstanding issues that – I think it’s no surprise that given we’re close to the final stages here and close to the text going to the Loya Jirga, that’s the stage we would be at, and it would be at this high diplomatic level. We’re not there yet. I don’t have specific details, or I should say I’m not going to read out specific details for anyone on what may or may not be in contention, and certainly wouldn’t speak to the possibility of diplomatic correspondence from the President.

But I can say that obviously, we continue to make progress. They spoke this morning. We are still, of course, working closely with the Afghans and hopeful about the outcome of the Loya Jirga.

QUESTION: But you cannot confirm --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Sorry, just – but you can’t confirm that the President would actually acknowledge mistakes made to the --

MS. PSAKI: I can’t confirm plans or – plans, whether they exist or not, for diplomatic correspondence.

QUESTION: So you’re denying that there’s a final version? Is he wrong in saying that?

MS. PSAKI: I just am not going to – obviously, there are still some final issues we’re working through. We are not there yet. But it was important they spoke – they speak this morning. As you know, they already had general agreement on the text when we left Kabul just a few weeks ago, so it’s natural we’re working through final issues at this point, and that’s to be expected at this stage.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: Are you not wanting to talk about this potential diplomatic correspondence because you would refer us to your colleagues at the White House? Is it the – because it’s a presidential thing?

MS. PSAKI: I’m --

QUESTION: Or are they going to say the same thing, “Sorry, we’re not going to -- ”

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to refer you there. I would suspect they may say something similar.

QUESTION: And they would say what? They would say they’re not going to get into the details?

MS. PSAKI: They’re not going to speak to diplomatic --

QUESTION: So if the President of the United States is going to offer an apology to Afghanistan on behalf of the American people, it’s going to be a secret?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Matt, there was a report coming from a phone call this morning. We have nothing further to confirm.

QUESTION: Well, there was a spokesman who --

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- named spokesman, not an official speaking on condition of --

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I read the same reports.

QUESTION: Well, it’s not – but it’s not a readout. I suppose in some way it might be a readout, but it’s him saying what has been agreed to and what the Secretary talked about with President Karzai this morning. If the Secretary is not speaking on behalf of the American people and this was a purely private phone call, then I guess, fine. But if it was – if he was speaking on behalf of the American people and if, in fact, it is the case that the President is going to apologize on behalf of the country for mistakes made, I think that – I don’t think that that’s a – that can – that’s – I don’t see how you can keep that a secret.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to tell you about whether there will or won’t be a letter. I would, of course, refer you to the White House, but I think I conveyed what they will likely say.

QUESTION: All right. The other thing is that when we left Afghanistan, I mean, I think all of us who were on the plane were under the impression, at least after we were – spoke to some people on the plane – that the deal was done.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there was an agreement in principle on the text. Obviously, as you get down to the final days, it’s natural that there’ll be kind of some final discussions. That’s where we are at this stage, and as you know, the Loya Jirga will commence later this week.

QUESTION: Are you of the opinion that the phone call between the Secretary and President Karzai this morning has made it – has made passage or approval by the Loya Jirga more likely?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to make a prediction of that. I think it was important, given they have a strong relationship and given we’re close to the text going to the Loya Jirga, for them to communicate this morning.

QUESTION: But do you believe that some of these final issues were resolved in the phone call?

MS. PSAKI: I think they – we continue to make progress, and we’ll continue to do that on the ground following the phone call.

QUESTION: So what are the final issues you’re still working through?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into the specifics of the final issues. I know there have been a range of reports, some who have been read out by our counterparts in Afghanistan. But beyond that, I’m not going to get into specifics.

QUESTION: But you’re not – are you denying what the counterparts in Afghanistan are saying about this letter from Obama?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not denying what they convey – I’m not denying their – I don’t have anything to say on it, I guess is what I should say, on whether there’s a letter, whether there will be a letter. I just have nothing to convey on whether there will be presidential correspondence on this.

QUESTION: So they could be right? I mean --

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

QUESTION: Because your Afghan counterparts are saying the deal’s sealed, virtually, then you just have to – they’re going to attach this letter and it’s going to go to Loya Jirga on Thursday. You’re saying let’s don’t – we’re not there yet, so --

MS. PSAKI: We’re still working through --

QUESTION: -- who’s right?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just here to convey what our view is as the U.S. Government, so that’s what I’m doing.

QUESTION: Well, it’s --

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s a bit confusing and it considers that --

QUESTION: It is kind of ridiculous that the President – that Karzai’s spokesman is speaking on behalf of the United States now, and you’re unable to --

MS. PSAKI: I’m speaking on behalf of the United States, not his spokesperson.

QUESTION: Well, he’s saying that the President is going to apologize – the President of the United States, not the President of Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: I understand what he said. I don’t have any update for you or prediction of whether there will be a letter.

QUESTION: Well, I hope your colleagues at the White House have a better answer.

QUESTION: But if that’s wrong, shouldn’t you steer us right? Don’t you see what I mean?

MS. PSAKI: I will steer you right when there’s an appropriate time to do that. Beyond that, I don’t have any updates beyond what I’ve just conveyed.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When Karzai’s spokesperson discussed this with the press, he said there will be this evening further communication with the U.S. when he was talking about that conversation between Karzai and Kerry.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So presidential letter aside, will there be communication between the U.S. and Afghanistan this evening?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think, Margaret, that would be a surprise given that Ambassador Cunningham on the ground has been leading the efforts in the negotiation. I don’t know specifically of his plans, but certainly I would expect that he’s in close contact with the Afghans as we get closer to the Loya Jirga.

QUESTION: But would you dispute the idea that the conversation – that the idea of some communication, written form of letter, was proposed by the Secretary of State. Some are suggesting that it wasn’t an Afghan idea; it was Secretary Kerry’s idea.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more for you on the specifics of the call.

Catherine.

QUESTION: So just generally on this, NBC has obtained a draft of the text, if you have any comment on that. And then if I could try one more time on these issues, going back to what Matt was saying, when we were on the plane leaving --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it seemed like they were resolved and there was maybe one issue that was a sticking point, and that seems to have been resolved – the issue of legality in some of these drafts that we’ve seen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you talk about that?

MS. PSAKI: The issue of jurisdiction, you’re referring to?

QUESTION: Jurisdiction. You got it, yes.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any specifics for all of you to lay out at this point. This may change day to day on specifics being debated and what the final issues are. As I said, we’ve made progress. We continue to work closely with the Afghans. Obviously, it’s in the interest of both the United States and the Afghans to come to an agreement on the BSA. But given the sensitivity of the negotiations, I’m just not going to get into specifics.

In terms of the text, there have been many, many, many drafts of the text, so I would caution anyone into reading into whether or not the text is accurate or whether – how many changes will be made. There have been a number of texts, and until the text is final and released – which once it’s final it certainly would be – I would caution anyone to believing that that has all the final details in it.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: And then yesterday you were asked if anyone from the State Department --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or the U.S. Government is attending the Loya Jirga is an observer or --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have an answer on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t, at this point, have anything for you on whether there will be someone attending. We, of course, as you know, respect the Afghan process. But again, we can keep talking about this, and if there’s an update tomorrow or the next day, I’m happy to provide it.

QUESTION: And one more.

MS. PSAKI: Oh. Go ahead, Catherine.

QUESTION: After the Loya Jirga concludes, what are the next steps going forward and what’s the timetable? How quickly could this agreement be signed?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a very good question. Obviously, as you know, our interests are to – if it does move forward to that point - would be to signing it sooner rather than later, given, as we’ve talked about a bit in the past, it creates certainty for the U.S. and allies. It helps us plan. Any delay would make it challenging to do that. So – but beyond that, I’m happy to check and see what the steps would be following the Loya Jirga.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) In light of the violent reaction to the would-be agreement in Afghanistan by the Taliban and others and so on, will – is the United States prepared to have the kind of force that could stem that kind of violence, or is it going to sort of – we see what happened in Iraq, for instance, when the U.S. withdrew most of its forces?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any update for you on troop numbers – no surprise. That’s obviously a decision the President will make, Said. Obviously, there’s a range of factors that are under consideration, and as soon as we have a decision, we’ll be able to explain more about our thinking.

QUESTION: A question related to the agreement --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is those who work with the American troops and the possibility of give them asylum or kind of protection, is it a part of this agreement, or it’s just another topic within discussion?

MS. PSAKI: Are you talking about refugees or special immigrant visas or --

QUESTION: No, I’m – there are those who are – they work with the American forces, interpreters, translators --

MS. PSAKI: Right. Okay, I think you’re talking about refugees, perhaps, or --

QUESTION: Yeah, refugee status, maybe.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’d have to check on that for you. Obviously, that’s a program that we run separately and it’s one where the Secretary has been very engaged in putting more resources toward it, improving the efficiency of it. It’s one where we have to balance the importance of helping those who help us, despite the risks and the danger, as you’re referencing, while also having a proper process to ensure that no one is coming to the U.S. to endanger Americans.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, the numbers have increased over the last two years. We continue to be focused on it. I’m not aware of its connection to this. I’m happy to check if there’s --

QUESTION: No, I’m just trying because it was raised in the last few weeks, and I was wondering --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- if it’s part of this agreement or not, or you discussed it when you were in Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe it was part of the discussion there. Obviously, it’s a focus – a priority of the U.S. Government – the Secretary’s – in terms of helping those who help us. And that’s a program we work through with our Embassy there on the ground, the Embassy in Iraq as well.

QUESTION: There’s a related issue which is like – it was reported that because of the withdrawal of American troops or maybe NATO troops too, some of them, there is – already there is a movement or dislocation of people of like between 700, 600- to 700,000 people because of the fear what is coming next. Is this something that present a challenge, or we don’t – we have to think about it when you come to bridge?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what those numbers are referring to. Obviously, one of our goals here has been to empower and train, advise the Afghan forces as we move toward the transition, so we certainly keep that in mind as we are making decisions about future resources.

Any more?

QUESTION: Do you find it unusual at all that the Afghans apparently don’t share the – your feeling that the – sense that this is so sensitive that it can’t be talked about?

MS. PSAKI: Do I find it --

QUESTION: Unusual. This is a deal that would – correct me if I’m wrong – keep American troops or allow this country to keep troops in Afghanistan --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in harm’s way, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt --

QUESTION: I mean to protect --

MS. PSAKI: I can only make --

QUESTION: Isn’t that --

MS. PSAKI: I can only convey what is --

QUESTION: I mean, it would --

MS. PSAKI: -- what our negotiating team feels is --

QUESTION: It would leave – it would allow the U.S. to leave forces – soldiers – in Afghan, a foreign country where they could potentially be attacked.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. As you well know, jurisdiction is one of the – was one of the sticking points, yes.

QUESTION: Right. No, no, no. But I’m not asking about jurisdiction. I’m – I want to – I’m trying to get the point of sensitivities. I don’t understand. It’s just mind-boggling to me that the Afghan presidential spokesman can come out and basically spill the beans about all this, and you can’t either say, “No, he’s wrong,” particularly when it involves an apology on behalf of an entire nation – this one. I just – I can’t get my head around why it is that you think that this is so sensitive when clearly they don’t share that feeling at all.

MS. PSAKI: Noted.

More on Afghanistan?

QUESTION: Is it the diplomatic thing to do to issue an apology, perhaps, for some mistake that may have been made?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more, Said, on this, and I’m not going to speculate on a step that I don’t have any details on.

QUESTION: Can we go to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So as you know, the foreign – the Defense and Foreign Ministers of Australia are here in town for ministerial-level discussions.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: So seeing as Australia is a key ally and part of the so-called Five Eyes security arrangement to share intelligence, will Secretary Kerry seek any input from the Australians as the Administration continues its review of its intelligence collection practices? And what would be the tenor of those kind of discussions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously there’s a great deal to discuss with the Australians when they’re here tonight and tomorrow. I know we’ll have more of a briefer or preview of that for you tomorrow when we come back to the briefing.

As the Secretary has long said, if there are allies or partners around the world who want to have a discussion about intel gathering and how we can work closely together, we’re happy to have that discussion. But I think it’s fair to say, and fair to assume that there are many, many other issues on the agenda. And given they only have about 24 hours together, my bet is they’re on the other issues.

QUESTION: Jen, today the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Vienna and discussed a peace settlement process --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is their first meeting for about two years. And the American Ambassador, U.S. envoy to the Minsk Group, was present.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any statement about this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see. I believe I do, and if I don’t, I know we were working on something for all of you on this specifically.

So to give you a little more backstory here, and then I would – we’ll have something to send to you all after the briefing, but Secretary Kerry spoke to both presidents in advance of the Vienna meeting to underscore U.S. support for dialogue and a real peace process. This, as you mentioned, is their first meeting in almost two years. We certainly hope it will mark the start of renewed dialogue at this high level.

But we’ll get a readout if there’s more to say given the – on the conclusion.

QUESTION: Also, Jen, yesterday Secretary met Davutoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And based on the official statement, I noticed that they also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, I did not get the impression that Armenian-Turkish process – Armenian-Turkish relations were discussed. Could you please elaborate on this? Did they spoke on Armenian-Turkish relations?

MS. PSAKI: There were a range of issues discussed. That was one of them, as they mentioned. I don’t have any more of a readout for you on the content of their discussions on the issue.

QUESTION: The 2015 will mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide. Do you anticipate any new initiatives and openings from Turkey toward Armenia?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to Turkey on that specific question. I’m not sure if they’re still in town, you can catch them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yesterday’s meetings, after Foreign Minister Davutoglu met, he said that about Chinese missile defense that --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- he stated that U.S. is not troubled at all by this. This discussion was part of the discussions, but he said that there is no trouble, basically. Would you be able to confirm on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can convey that during his visit – as you know, they discussed a range of issues and had a lengthy press avail yesterday. But Secretary Kerry reiterated our concerns and the importance of procuring a NATO interoperable system, which has long been a concern we’ve expressed to Turkey. And that was how he conveyed it during the meeting yesterday.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Davutoglu also said that these discussions regarding the Chinese missile defense system started in 2009. This is quote: “For four years, nobody raised any concerns. Nobody said this is not good for NATO.” Would you – I mean, he’s – basically is that you have been quiet for years, and after Turkey makes its decision --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’d have to check on that. It’s hard to believe we wouldn’t have concerns about an agreement with a – on a system, a potential agreement on a system that’s not interoperable with NATO and with a company that has U.S. sanctions against it. So – but in terms of the timing, I don’t have any details on that.

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

MS. PSAKI: Sure, and then we’ll go up to Jill next.

QUESTION: Very quickly, now that the Palestinian President recommitted himself to continue the course --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- through the nine months, do we have any increased activities in these meetings, or would-be meetings, or ongoing meetings?

MS. PSAKI: I think that’s what he conveyed yesterday when he made those comments. Beyond that, I don’t have any new updates on numbers of meetings or timing of meetings for you.

QUESTION: Okay. So with the expansion of the team, now that you have new personnel joining, it seems that there would be increased activity. Should we draw that conclusion?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I – again, Said, I wouldn’t draw the conclusion of the number of meetings to how many staff there are on staff. Obviously, the negotiating teams on all sides will work together, and they’ll determine the appropriate path forward. You’re right that we do have more staff that the team has added, which is only natural, given the importance of this issue, given the work they’re doing in the region. But beyond that, I don’t have any updates on numbers of meetings for you today.

QUESTION: And finally, it is alleged that Mr. Makovsky’s joining in the team. He’s actually brought in for his map capabilities or talents, whatever, for land swaps and so on. Could you confirm that to us?

MS. PSAKI: I cannot. He is brought in because he obviously has a extensive background on these issues. But beyond that, I don’t have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Jo.

QUESTION: I think Tzipi Livni actually said that there might be another round of talks this week.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that?

MS. PSAKI: Let me check with the team. And obviously, I know there have been a range of reports, but I don’t have any new updates on any meetings.

QUESTION: And I wanted to ask you about apparently a conversation that happened between President Abbas and the Secretary back in Amman before --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the talks were launched in July, when he – apparently, Secretary Kerry told President Abbas that there will be no building new settlement blocs; the only building will be settlement blocs under my supervision. Can you confirm that and say what does he mean by that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t even remember the conversation back three months ago. I mean, I think what the Secretary said the last time we were in – he met with President Abbas, it was very much the understanding of the agreement, which is that there was an agreement about not going to the UN, the release of prisoners. Obviously, there was knowledge that there would be ongoing settlement activity. Our position hasn’t changed on that. You’re all familiar with it. But beyond that, I don’t have anything specific on a three-month-old conversation.

QUESTION: So he wasn’t trying to tell President Abbas that there wouldn’t be any settlement building. Your understanding is there was knowledge there would be and everybody would have to live with that.

MS. PSAKI: I think the Secretary said that when he was in Amman – or I’m sorry, Bethlehem, just about two weeks ago.

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

QUESTION: Jen, on Syria, Ambassador Ford has said that the U.S. is against the participation of Iran in Geneva II. Is this the final stance, the U.S. --

MS. PSAKI: That’s consistently been our position. That hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: But your position has been that if Iran accepts the principles --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- of Geneva I, then they are welcome to join, right?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: So that is still the position?

MS. PSAKI: That’s still our position.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And are you aware of the clashes going on in Qalamoun area on the border between Syria and Lebanon and thousands of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon?

MS. PSAKI: We are certainly aware of that. I believe this was a couple of days ago when it --

QUESTION: It’s still going on.

MS. PSAKI: --started. It’s still going on. We’re following the developments closely. We strongly condemn the regime’s recent offensive in that area, which has already sent thousands of refugees into neighboring Lebanon. As we’ve made clear, we demand that SARG and other parties to this conflict cease attacks on civilian populations, infrastructures, and fulfill their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. And those held – those responsible must be held accountable. So we’re certainly continuing to monitor. I know it’s been ongoing for the last couple of days in terms of the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: And there is a feeling among the Syrian opposition that there is a green light to the Syrian regime to crush the opposition since there is no pressure on the regime to stop fighting or crushing the opposition. Do you have anything on this?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen those specific reports. I think we’ve been very clear about our concerns across the board in our support for the opposition on the ground.

Some more on Syria?

QUESTION: Just to follow up on Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: This question was asked before as well, but under the latest circumstances it looks like the Syrian regime, the Assad regime, has been taking many towns and cities, especially at least six, seven cities in Aleppo or towns in Aleppo and also western Damascus, and these fights in the western Damascus mostly led by Hezbollah fighters. Under latest circumstances, last couple of weeks, given the regime’s taking many towns, would you now confirm that the Assad regime is indeed gaining ground and the balance of power on the ground?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about this a bit in the past. I’m not in any position to give a battleground update from the podium. Obviously, we’ve said – and the Secretary has said – that there would be ups and downs on the ground game. This is one of the reasons why we’re pressing so hard to move towards a political resolution, towards a Geneva conference to be the vehicle for doing that. But beyond that, I don’t have any independent confirmation of specific towns or success on the battlefield.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry also said that his main game plan basically on Syria to make sure that Assad knows he won’t be able to win on the ground, on the battleground. And after almost a year, would you be able to confirm that basically U.S. policy over Syria within the last year has failed?

MS. PSAKI: No, I would not.

Do we have any more on Syria?

QUESTION: How it is that? I mean, the goal was stated very clearly by Secretary. A year later now, we are seeing opposite effect. How is that you can argue it is not a failed --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary wasn’t even the Secretary a year ago. But I’m happy --

QUESTION: Almost a year ago.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I’m happy to look at what comments you’re referring to. Obviously, he’s made many comments on Syria. One that’s most common, I should say, is that we – there’s no military solution on either side. That’s why we need to have a political solution, and that’s what our focus is on.

QUESTION: Well, maybe the question is best asked this way: The Secretary, when he came in 10 months ago, or almost 11 months ago, said that the goal was to get – was to change Assad’s calculation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you believe that you have changed or that the policy has changed President Assad’s calculation?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, Matt --

QUESTION: Not yet.

MS. PSAKI: -- this is a complicated situation on the ground.

QUESTION: Well, that’s the answer to his question then.

MS. PSAKI: It’s – we remain committed to working toward it.

QUESTION: But – so it has not yet changed the calculation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Assad is still in power --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- I think we all know.

Syria? Okay. Any more on Syria?

QUESTION: Quick one on Foreign Minister Zarif.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you seen his video about the right and respect? Do you have any comment on it?

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen his video. No, I have not seen it.

QUESTION: You should check it out. It’s got a very nice musical accompaniment. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I will check it out after the briefing.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Senators Schumer, Graham, Menendez, McCain, Casey, Collins, some others have just published a letter that they sent to Secretary Kerry talking – I know you talked a great deal about Iran in the beginning, but just about specifics that this agreement that it’s been – as it’s been explained to them does not roll back the program to even the point of where United Nations Security Council resolutions do. And they’re urging a kind of relitigation of the agreement that’s already kind of on the table.

MS. PSAKI: I have not yet seen the letter. I’m sure we will reply to the letter and we’ve been, of course, in touch with all of those members. As you know, this is – we’re talking about a first step here that would halt and roll back the program. The end goal here is a comprehensive agreement. What none of – what changes none of this is what – the question is what is the alternative they are proposing. We feel this is the best path to a diplomatic solution. We’re not going to accept an agreement that doesn’t address all of the core issues we talked about.

QUESTION: My question – I see what you’re saying, but my question is you have what your parameters are, and a lot of this is going to be a continuation of the negotiations that left in Geneva.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When Under Secretary Sherman goes to Geneva --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is she – does the – is the U.S. position going to be amended or be couched in some way to incorporate what these senators are telling you now?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly any of the consultations would, of course, be thought about as we’re pursuing these negotiations. The question is – and I said this a little bit in the beginning – is what we can accomplish in a first step and what is realistic to accomplish in a first step.

QUESTION: So it’s not realistic for the senators to expect that Iran halts its entire enrichment right now or some of the things that they’re asking for?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to every claim or every ask that people think should be in agreement. What we are pursuing is the strongest possible agreement and the strongest possible first step. But certainly the consultations with Congress, discussions with our allies, outside parties is all thought about. But these negotiations have also been ongoing, as you all know, for several weeks now.

QUESTION: So – you just said, “What we are pursuing is the strongest possible agreement in the strongest possible first step,” correct? That’s what you just said.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But that’s fundamentally not correct. Because these – the Israelis want the strongest possible agreement and the strongest possible --

MS. PSAKI: I also stated in there, Matt, in terms of what is realistic and what is possible.

QUESTION: Are you saying – what is – okay, in other words --

MS. PSAKI: The strongest possible --

QUESTION: -- that Iran will accept.

MS. PSAKI: The strongest possible to reach an agreement.

QUESTION: Strongest possible agreement that Iran will accept.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, you need both sides in order to come to an agreement.

QUESTION: Right, but I just want to make sure because it’s not the – it’s not flat-out the strongest possible agreement because the strongest possible agreement would be Iran just dumps all of its stuff into the --

MS. PSAKI: It wouldn’t be an agreement then because nobody would agree to it.

QUESTION: Right. And the other thing is that you said in response to Elise that this agreement, this interim deal would halt and roll back the program.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But that’s not correct either, is it?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, it is.

QUESTION: It would halt the program.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: It would halt --

QUESTION: It would halt the amount of 20 percent enrichment, but it wouldn’t halt --

QUESTION: It doesn’t halt the program at all. It allows them to continue to enrich at less than 20 percent. So I’m not – I don’t understand how you can say that it halts the program.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into any more details. We can have more of a discussion about this when we have more details to talk about.

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re saying right now that this interim deal, if it – when it – if and when it is agreed in Geneva, halts and rolls back --

MS. PSAKI: Halts progress of its program. Halts progress of its program.

QUESTION: Halts progress in its program. Okay, that’s different than halts the program.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Do we have any more on Iran?

QUESTION: Yes. Is it possible for Iran to have any level of enrichment, like 2 percent or 3 percent, that would disallow from ever weaponizing?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into details of the specifics, Said.

QUESTION: Okay, and one last question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In the event that there is no deal, are you concerned that the sanctions regime may begin to break down?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I --

QUESTION: In the aftermath of a failed agreement in Geneva.

MS. PSAKI: I think one of the things we’ve talked about here, Said, is the importance of keeping the international community coordinated and aligned on sanctions, and certainly there’s a risk. But as I also said in the beginning, we the United States, if this deal didn’t work out, would be leading the charge here, working with members of Congress on pursuing additional sanctions.

QUESTION: North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: North Korea? Sure.

QUESTION: The U.S. Special Envoy to North Korea Glyn Davies arrived in Beijing on Tuesday.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Any more information on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more. I know I talked a little bit, I think it was earlier this week or late last week about his planned meetings, and they were adding them as they were going along. I’m sure he’ll be providing updates on the ground, but I don’t have anything more specifically here.

QUESTION: Do you – I have a question about Bahrain.

MS. PSAKI: Bahrain? Okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Are you – yesterday there was – a court upheld a travel ban on this prominent opposition guy. I’m just wondering, there have been a couple of recent reports – one recent very critical report about human rights in Bahrain --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- human rights protection in Bahrain, and a member of Congress – at least one, and I think several though – have said that one way that you could pressure – and I’ve brought this up before – one way you could show Bahrain that you were serious about your concerns is to just raise the possibility of a contingency plan for the 5th Fleet home there.

MS. PSAKI: You have asked me this in the past.

QUESTION: I have. I have. I know I have. So is there anything – one, do you have anything to say about the just general human rights situation in Bahrain, particularly given this court ruling yesterday. And two, do you have anything more to say about whether a – the Administration would consider just raising the possibility of a potential move for the 5th Fleet?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that being under consideration. I’m happy to check back with our team. Obviously, we closely monitor and are concerned about any human rights issues around the world, including in Bahrain, but I can check and see if there’s more to say on this specifically and send something around to all of you guys.

QUESTION: Okay, but that’s on the first question about the court ruling.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Opposition. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you know if you have any statement on the death of the former president of Cyprus?

MS. PSAKI: Cyprus? Mm-hmm. We mourn the passing of former president Glafcos Clerides of Cyprus. As the White House noted in its statement, Clerides was a devoted public servant who helped lead Cyprus to independence and worked tirelessly to heal the division of the island and bring it into the European Union. We honor his courage and commitment as well as his statesmanship, and we extend our deepest condolences on his passing.

Thank, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:22 p.m.)

DPB # 190



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