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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action


Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 14, 2014


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Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • FIFA World Cup Trophy Presentation
  • UKRAINE/RUSSIA
    • U.S. Effort for a Diplomatic Solution
    • U.S. Prepared to Impose Further Sanctions
    • U.S. Concerned About Conflicts in Eastern Ukraine
    • $1 Billion Loan Guarantee Agreement / Other Forms of Assistance
    • Focus on Economic and Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve Crisis
    • Ukraine Exercising Restraint
    • President Obama's Executive Order on Sanctions
    • CIA Director Traveled to Kyiv
    • Crimea / Forum to Cover a Range of Issues
    • NATO / Factsheet Focuses on the Truth
  • SYRIA/RUSSIA
    • Reports of Chemical Weapons Use
  • ISRAEL/RUSSIA/UKRAINE
    • Israel / UN Vote on Ukraine
  • MEPP
    • Meetings Continue
    • Special Envoy Indyk in Washington
  • ISRAEL
    • Arrests of American Citizen
    • Reports of Journalist Arrest
  • MEPP
    • Parties Engaged in Negotiations
  • SYRIA
    • U.S. Engaged with the Opposition / Focus on Political Solution
  • NIGERIA
    • U.S. Condemns Violent Attacks in Abuja and Borno State
  • IRAN
    • U.S. Aware of Iran's Complaint to UN / UN Representative Nomination / Visa
  • TURKEY
    • Concerns about Due Process and Justice
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Chelsea Manning Conviction
  • GUINEA-BISSAU
    • Elections
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Election Results
  • IRAQ
    • Removing Travel Restrictions for Political Parties
  • CUBA
    • USAID Program
  • JAPAN
    • Internal Affairs Minister Visit to Yasukuni Shrine
  • IRAQ
    • Removing Travel Restrictions for Political Parties


TRANSCRIPT:

1:02 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Hope everyone had a nice weekend with the beautiful weather.

I just have one item at the top. Today, the State Department celebrates the arrival of the FIFA World Cup trophy. This is its first stop in the United States on the global trophy tour, presented by Coca-Cola preceding the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil, which begins on June 12th. Before the trophy presentation here at the Department, over 50 athletes from local youth soccer organizations will participate in a soccer clinic with DC United players and former U.S. national team members Cobi Jones and Julie Foudy. Beyond their participation today, Jones and Foudy are also sports envoys for the Department. And in that capacity, they hold sports clinics for young people and their coaches and participate in community outreach efforts. And the Secretary, I know, will be stopping by and we’ll see what soccer skills he brings to the table.

QUESTION: Who did you say it was presented by?

MS. PSAKI: Coca-Cola. What did I say?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Preceding – preceding – presented by Coca-Cola preceding the FIFA World Cup tournament.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Just curious. Can we go to Ukraine, please?

MS. PSAKI: We can.

QUESTION: So while many of us were enjoying the very nice weekend, it seems that you and the Russians were engaged in yet another round of name-calling and bickering over what’s going on in Ukraine, and I’ve got a couple specifics, but more broadly, first, is there any common ground here? Is there a point to having this meeting that’s being planned for later in the week? Or is it now, given the recriminations, given what we’ve been learning about what happened in the Black Sea over the weekend, is it just a waste of time – much like the Security Council meeting last night appeared to be?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly do not see it as a waste of time. We feel there should always be an opportunity and an opening for diplomacy. And our belief remains that there’s no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine. We remain engaged both on the phone, as well as later this week in person. And over the course of the weekend, you’re right, we did put out quite a bit of information, and we have a responsibility to provide the facts. And the best antidote to false information are facts, and so we’re trying to communicate to Ukrainians, to people around the world, about what the facts are in this case.

QUESTION: Do you believe that you have any common ground with Russia right now on this issue of Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we will see, Matt. We have seen the Russians say they respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. We’ll see. We’ve seen them say they don’t want to escalate, or they want to de-escalate. That was in one of their readouts last week. We’ll see. Obviously, actions are more important than words here, but we still think there is a value --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- to sitting down at the table and discussing.

QUESTION: Okay, fair enough. But “we’ll see” – aren’t you already seeing?

MS. PSAKI: We are seeing, but Matt, it doesn’t mean it’s over or we give up our efforts --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- at a diplomatic solution here.

QUESTION: Okay. The Ukrainian president has suggested the – floated the idea of UN peacekeepers for the East. Is that something that the United States would be prepared to take to the council to have vetoed by the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen those reports; they just came out naturally, as you know, right before I came down here, so I haven’t had the chance to talk to our team yet – or they were sort of exploring what our thoughts are on that.

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Can we go back to the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: As you are well aware, the Russians appear to have been laying down conditions for the meeting, notably that these separatists in eastern Ukraine – in eastern Ukraine be included. Is that remotely acceptable to the United States Government?

MS. PSAKI: No. This is a meeting that will be taking place at the foreign – at the level of foreign minister. That is true for Ukraine. It’s true for Russia. It’s true for the EU. It’s true for the United States. And we feel that the Government of Ukraine represents all of Ukraine.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that by adopting that position, you may be giving the Russians a pretext for calling off the meeting? Because they could say, “Well, we think the eastern Ukrainian separatists should be represented, and since they’re not, we’re not going to come?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand that’s their view, but they’ve indicated a desire to participate in a diplomatic conversation, so it is important that they deliver on that promise.

QUESTION: And Samantha – Ambassador Power yesterday was again beating the drum on potential additional sanctions. The sanctions that you imposed on Friday – if I’m not mistaken I think all of the individuals who were sanctioned are already on EU – analogous EU designations.

MS. PSAKI: There was an overlap. I’m not sure if it was exactly everyone, but yes, there was certainly an overlap.

QUESTION: And the sanctioning of the gas company was interesting in that it would seem to put it off-limits to Gazprom. But where are you in the debate on whether to impose additional sanctions on Russian individuals or entities, and on whether to impose the sectoral sanctions that the Secretary discussed in his testimony last week?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have the tools and the flexibility to move forward with those sanctions should we choose to. And the President has been clear that depending on Russian behavior we’re prepared to impose further sanctions, including on individuals and entities in certain sectors of the Russian economy, such as financial services, energy, metals, and mining, engineering and defense. I don’t have anything to announce or predict for you today, but certainly there is an ongoing discussion about next steps within the Administration.

QUESTION: There’s a big difference, though, between sanctions on individuals within various sectors and sanctions on those sectors themselves.

MS. PSAKI: I said: “And entities in certain sectors.” And --

QUESTION: Right. But individuals and entities is kind of – I think, is kind of one thing whereas something else that would affect the ability of the entirety of Russia’s mining industry, for example, or the entirety of its financial services industry, is a different thing, which is what I had thought sectoral sanctions was about. Maybe I misunderstood, but it sounds like --

MS. PSAKI: Well, companies within sectors, yes. That is something we have the capability to do with our executive – the executive order the President signed just a few weeks ago.

QUESTION: But you’re not looking at sectors as a whole?

MS. PSAKI: Those are the next steps that we’re looking at, Arshad, at this point – the ones I outlined.

QUESTION: Jen, can I go back?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You just said that you’d seen statements out of Moscow saying that they wanted to de-escalate the situation as of last week. But I wondered how you reacted to the Kremlin today saying that President Putin has had a lot of requests to help or intervene in some form in eastern Ukraine. Do you believe that’s threatening or helpful or --

MS. PSAKI: We have, of course, seen those comments. We are – as we’ve said over the weekend, but it’s worth repeating, we’re very concerned about evidence of Russian support for a concerted, orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state.

As you saw over the weekend with a lot of the documents or information we put out, and what UN Ambassador Samantha Power said, we feel very strongly that the pattern of activities bears striking similarities to the situation in Crimea, ahead of the illegal Russian occupation and purported annexation of that part of Ukraine. And the question to us is: What exactly – who are they referring to, what are they referring to? Because all evidence points to the likelihood that these are individuals with strong ties to the Russian Government who are causing these conflicts in eastern Ukraine.

QUESTION: Do such comments increase your concern that there could be some kind of invasion planned by the troops that are massing on the borders?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction of that. I know you’re not necessarily asking me to, but we are watching it closely, Jo. We are conveying very clearly that those steps would be completely unacceptable. We’ve been consistently doing that.

QUESTION: And I believe there was an instant over the weekend with the U.S. warship Donald Cook where there was a fighter that did some --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- low-altitude passes over this. Your colleagues at the Pentagon have already spoken to this, but they advise that it’s actually up to the State Department as to whether you’re going to formally lodge some complaint against Russia for a provocative and unprofessional act.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ve seen the comments that my Department of Defense colleagues have put out. They’ve put out some specific details on what exactly happened here. I’d have to check with our team and see if there’s any plans for that. Not that I’m aware of, but --

QUESTION: Okay. Just one more part on the money, is while there was also – this morning the United States signed the --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- one billion loan guarantee. And I just wondered if you’d found out any of the other pieces of the aid that I was asking about last week.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. And part of the challenge here is that things keep changing, and so hence we keep updating. But I can walk through some of that. And just to confirm what Jo mentioned, today Secretary Lew and the Ukrainian finance minister signed a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement for Ukraine. The $1 billion loan guarantee that USAID will implement will help Ukraine access capital at reasonable rates and manage the transition to a prosperous democracy. But let me go through some of the specific assistance questions that you all had asked about.

So just a couple of updates here. We are providing many forms of assistance to meet Ukraine’s most pressing needs and to help it enact the reforms needed to make its IMF program a success. This includes helping Ukraine carry out crucial economic reforms. We’ve sent Treasury Department and USAID technical advisors to work with Ukraine’s national bank, finance ministry, and deposit guarantee fund. We’re also helping – as Margaret noted, I believe, last week, we had announced our desire to help unfreeze stolen assets and reduce corruption. We’ve sent a team of experts from the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and FBI to advise the Ukrainian Government on how to investigate and collect evidence needed to recover stolen assets located abroad. The United States and the United Kingdom will co-host a multilateral meeting April 29th and 30th to bring together Ukrainian officials and their counterparts from key financial center countries to coordinate on tracing stolen assets.

In addition, USAID and the State Department have also provided over $11.4 million in assistance to promote free, fair, and peaceful elections on May 25th. This will include support for domestic and international election observers, transparent and effective election administration, and voter education campaigns, among other activities.

And finally, on the security side, as you all know, we have longstanding military-to-military cooperation with Ukraine. Our ongoing FMF and international military and education programs have focused on supporting defense reforms, military professionalization, increasing the interoperability of Ukrainian forces, and expanding Ukraine’s deployable peacekeeping capabilities. We announced this, or DOD announced this, but on March 29th the United States delivered approximately 300,000 MRE rations to Ukraine. And we will venture to get out if there are additional updates to that later this afternoon.

QUESTION: One more on aid. Counselor Shannon is quoted in Berlin as saying that the Administration is considering arming Ukrainians. He said I can’t tell you what the decision will be on that, but that it’s an option. Does the fact that he aired this publicly suggest this is under any greater consideration now than it has been in the past?

MS. PSAKI: No, it does not. Our focus remains on the economic and – on our economic and diplomatic efforts, as evidenced by the – some of – the signing today and our efforts later this week. We don’t see a military solution to this crisis, and that hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: And you’re – so you’re not – even though you’re thinking about it, you’re not particularly disposed to arm the Ukrainians?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed about our view or our consideration. I have nothing, of course, to announce, but obviously, they’ve made a range of requests. We have provided them with MREs, as I mentioned, and we’ll continue to consider those. But again, our focus is not on military assistance or a military solution.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you believe that it would be a good thing for the Ukrainian authorities to order their military to try to regain control of municipal buildings, other parts of their territory, that have been seized by whoever they’ve been seized by?

MS. PSAKI: Sorry, I didn’t understand your question. Do we believe it would be --

QUESTION: Is it a good idea for the Ukrainian authorities to order their military or other law enforcement forces to try to regain control of some of these buildings – police stations, et cetera – that have been seized by separatists?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we all, of course, saw the Ukrainian Government make some announcements this weekend and set a deadline which obviously has passed. We – they have shown first and foremost that their goal is to find a peaceful way forward. Certainly, they have the right to try to control challenging situations on the ground. They have the right to maintain in a peaceful way, as much as is possible, order in Ukraine. But again, time and time again, they have exhibited a remarkable level of restraint, and we’re continuing to encourage them to lead with that moving forward.

QUESTION: Sorry – to lead with restraint?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And sorry, one last one for me on this, please.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The stated purpose, if I understand it, of the now three rounds of sanctions, if you count Friday’s as the third, that the United States has imposed, have been – has been sort of two-fold; one, to make Russia pay a price for its actions, and two, to try to deter them from going further. The Russian response, as you yourselves described it over the weekend, was to completely brush aside your sanctions and to continue to support actions in eastern Ukraine that erode the government’s control of its territory and so on.

Given that, how can you not plan additional sanctions? What more do you need to see to impose additional sanctions, when even as you talk about negotiating with them, they continue, in your telling, their undermining of the Ukrainian state?

MS. PSAKI: Well, one of the reasons that the executive order the President signed was so broad and so flexible was to provide us with the ability to impose additional sanctions. So there are certainly conversations ongoing. As we noted a few minutes ago, there are many more individuals, many more sectoral sanctions that can be put in place should we choose to do that.

QUESTION: But no decisions yet?

MS. PSAKI: No decisions yet.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, on – a bit of a follow there. On the message to Ukraine’s Government and to the military to show some restraint, was that something that the Secretary delivered in a conversation at all over the past few days with Ukraine’s leaders?

MS. PSAKI: He had – he actually spoke with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk today. I wasn’t able to get a readout; it just happened. But over – and on Friday, he also spoke with him. It’s not a message of conveying what they need to do. They are already doing this. They are already exhibiting a remarkable level of restraint, so it’s applauding them for that level of restraint, encouraging them to continue that moving forward. And certainly, that’s part of the discussion that often occurs when the Secretary speaks with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.

QUESTION: It seems like the level of provocation, though, is being escalated by these separatists or whoever’s paying them or otherwise. So at what point will the U.S. message be one of understanding that you can’t just hold back here; you need to --

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, as I conveyed a few minutes ago, we understand, well, one, they have the right to control the situation and they have the right to maintain order, but I think we all want to see a peaceful outcome here and for all sides to deescalate. So that’s a message we’re conveying to all sides.

QUESTION: But their actions thus far on the security front have all been appropriate, in the U.S. view?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that is something we’ve seen across the board, that they have been remarkably restrained, and we’re continuing to encourage them to do so moving forward.

QUESTION: I have one question on the sanctions front.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it fair to understand that there’s a fair amount of broadening and sharpening of the existing sort of level of sanctions we’re in that can be done before we move up to sectoral sanctions, that there’s more room to tinker here?

MS. PSAKI: There are certainly more individuals. But again, I’m not going to outline when a decision hasn’t yet been made that far about how we would do it or what we would do because there are many options that we could undertake. So --

QUESTION: So on --

QUESTION: So it’s wrong to assume that the next round of sanctions would automatically be in that sectoral space. It could be a number of things.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t make any assumptions, given that hasn’t been decided internally at this point.

QUESTION: So Jen, consistent with your message that there is no military solution to this thing, are you impressing upon the president of the Ukraine, Turchynov, not to use force to sort of force these people out of these buildings?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, Said, I think I’ve answered this a few times, but we do feel that exercising restraint and having a peaceful outcome is what’s in the best interests of the people of Ukraine.

QUESTION: I guess my question is: Did you make this directly to him? Did anyone, whether the President or the Secretary of State, make that statement clearly to the president?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve already been exercising a remarkable level of restraint, and when the Secretary speaks – has spoken with the prime minister, he has thanked him for that and encouraged him to continue that moving forward.

QUESTION: So today – I don’t know if you saw Mr. Lavrov’s press conference, but he called the West’s hypocrisy as knowing no bounds, that on the one hand you called – you praised what was happening in Maidan, but on the other hand you are calling these people that took over the building thugs and so on, and not protestors. So --

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think it’s pretty clear all evidence points to the connection of these individuals to Russia, so I think that answers you question.

QUESTION: Exactly what I wanted to ask you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What kind of evidence do you have to substantiate your claims?

MS. PSAKI: I could go on and on, Said. We have talked about this last week.

QUESTION: Could you share some of it?

MS. PSAKI: We put out a range of documents yesterday. I would point you to all of that. And Ambassador Power also spoke to it.

QUESTION: Okay. And lastly, he also said that there was absolutely no Russian intelligence personnel, no forces inside of the Ukraine, and so on. So do you believe that the Russians’ foreign minister is actually lying?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would point you to the fact/fiction document we put out yesterday that outlines a number of the claims and what the facts are on the ground. That may be useful.

QUESTION: So what he is saying is basically fiction?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to that.

Do – Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Minister Lavrov has asked for clarifications from the U.S. regarding the CIA director visit to Kyiv.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you provided him with clarifications?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that the CIA has answered this, but let me just reiterate what they’ve said. We know that the CIA does not normally comment on the director’s travel. Given the extraordinary circumstances in this case and the false claims being leveled by the Russians at the CIA, however, we can confirm the director was in Kyiv this weekend as part of a trip to Europe. As you all know, senior-level visits of intelligence officials are a standard means of fostering a mutually beneficial security cooperation. That’s something we do with Russia, and certainly it’s not out of the norm we would do it with Ukraine.

There were some claims that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine. Those are completely false. I believe that all has been conveyed, but those are the facts of the matter.

QUESTION: May I ask – these are really quick, boom, boom, boom.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Okay.

QUESTION: One, are you able to repeat what Ambassador Shannon said in Berlin today that arming the rebels is an option, which came in – his reply came in response to a question about the Secretary’s formerly good friend, Senator McCain, who basically went on a rampage again this weekend against the Administration and the Secretary himself, saying that they need to arm – the U.S. should arm the rebels? So are you able to repeat what Ambassador Shannon --

MS. PSAKI: Our position is as I laid it out earlier.

QUESTION: Is it an option?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re of course considering their request. But again, our focus is on economic and diplomatic means.

QUESTION: I’m looking for you to say the words, arming – or “shipping arms or selling arms or giving arms to Ukraine is an option.”

MS. PSAKI: That’s --

QUESTION: That you’re – that the Administration is considering.

MS. PSAKI: That’s not at all what our focus is, Matt. I’m not going to eliminate in the future forever, but at this time --

QUESTION: Okay. So it is an option.

MS. PSAKI: At this time, our focus is on economic and diplomatic efforts --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- to de-escalate the situation. It’s not at all on military incursions.

QUESTION: All right. As it relates to Crimea itself, in answer --

QUESTION: Military incursion or military arming?

MS. PSAKI: Both, both. Neither.

QUESTION: As it relates to Crimea, your answer a while ago to Jo, you said the “purported annexation of Crimea.” President Putin has today appointed a head of Crimea.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: At what point or ever will the Administration concede that Crimea has become part of Russia?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict a point, Matt.

QUESTION: So as far as you know, never?

MS. PSAKI: I --

QUESTION: Crimea will always be part of Ukraine; it will never be part of Russia to the United States?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Crimea is a part of Ukraine. I don’t foresee that changing, no.

QUESTION: On --

QUESTION: But it – you don’t argue, though, that for all intents and purposes, it is part of Russia right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s how Russia treats it, but we don’t recognize that and neither does the majority of the international community.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on the meeting on the 17th?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: What is really expected to come out of the meeting? What are the points that you want to discuss?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a range of issues that we want to discuss: De-escalation, demobilization, support for elections and constitutional reform. This is a forum when the Ukrainians and the Russians will be at a table together for the first time since the – Foreign Minister Lavrov’s meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister. So it’s an opportunity for dialogue and that’s why we’re holding the meeting.

QUESTION: Will that meeting be the kind of forum where you can say, “Look, we’re going to give you a certain amount of time to rectify the situation, or we are going to do 1, 2, 3, 4?”

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make predictions of that, but to be clear, Said, we’ve already been conveying messages of what the consequences will be.

QUESTION: I just want to make sure. You are – the Russians are going? They’re going to Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, yes.

QUESTION: You’re sure of that? Because after the announcement on Friday by both you and by Catherine Ashton’s people, the Russians came out and said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, this is very premature. We haven’t agreed to anything yet.” You’re – as of today, they’re on board to get – as far as you know?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I will – our announcement was fully coordinated. They were aware of our announcement as well as the EU’s, and all parties are planning to attend.

QUESTION: Okay. So as far as --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Just as far as you know, it’s still on?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine or --

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. You mentioned that you are focusing on the economic and diplomatic efforts --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to de-escalate the situation. Regarding the economic, what you mentioned – you mentioned – most of the steps that you are mentioning is, like, somehow long term – it seems like it’s long-term project with – like, to take the frozen assets or whatever and related to the corrupted money.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re working on them as we speak. And just today --

QUESTION: I mean, I’m just trying to --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- ask two questions --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- regarding the economic measures to help the Ukrainians, is first: How the financial aid is reaching them as soon as possible?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The second is: How they – you are helping them regarding the energy problem, which is – like you mentioned in details last week. Are there any steps taken in these two fields?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I talked a bit last week about our coordination on the energy issues, and that’s why I didn’t mention it. And what I talked – the list I went through to Jo’s question. So that’s ongoing. We’re continuing to work with Ukraine, with the Europeans, to address their energy needs.

On the financial assistance, I mentioned a little bit earlier that just today, Secretary Lew and the Ukrainian finance minister signed a $1 billion loan guarantee agreement. Obviously, there’s a short implementation phase for that, but that’s something that should be moving pretty quickly.

QUESTION: At this point it will be reached as soon – I mean, possibly? I know it’s going to be approved by the Congress --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it helps – it’s a loan guarantee, so it helps the Ukrainians have access to capital at reasonable rates. But there is a range of assistance coming from the Europeans. They’re obviously working with the IMF. And I think every entity that has a stake in the future of Ukraine is working as quickly as possible to make sure they have the economic assistance they need.

QUESTION: Beside the 17 of April, I’m still puzzled and other people puzzled by your diplomatic effort insisting to go to UN, although it’s – the positions are really clear.

MS. PSAKI: The meeting yesterday?

QUESTION: Yes, for --

MS. PSAKI: That was called by the Russians.

QUESTION: By the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And – but you are ready – I mean, are you planning to attend more meeting like this, or it’s just useless?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our UN representative often attends the meetings, and there’s a range of diplomatic paths that we work through for every global issue. But that was a meeting called by the Russians.

QUESTION: Regarding the sanctions, recently, I mean, there are some observers who think – I mean, mentioning that the Europeans are not that much excited about these sanctions. Do you have any say to the – to say about that? I mean, I’m just trying to figure out what is your understanding of that. Is it exaggeration?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve continued to announce sanctions over the course of the last several weeks, just as we have. There’s no question there is strength in numbers, and we are working in close coordination and cooperation with the Europeans, but – and I’m sure that will be – continue to be a topic of discussion in the coming days.

QUESTION: The first week of this escalation of the tension in Ukraine and the Crimea, it was mentioned that one of the things that the U.S. is doing through NATO is to guarantee the neighbors of Ukraine --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that they are safe enough and nothing can be – even Poland and others --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are – these measures are still going on, or just like it was the first weekend, over?

MS. PSAKI: No, they certainly are. Vice President Biden announced a number of steps. A number of steps were taken by NATO, all in close cooperation and coordination to strengthen and bolster countries in Eastern Europe and neighbors, as you mentioned, and many are NATO allies, and we work closely to help make sure they have the resources they need.

QUESTION: The last question is regarding this Russian fiction/American facts game.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, I’m just trying to figure out is this a tool that you think it’s helpful, and what is the wisdom behind using this? And it’s done in English or other languages, too?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, it’s in English but we’ve translated different fact sheets or different materials in the past into other languages, so that may be the case here as well. And the purpose here is to communicate what the facts are, what the actual information is. And as I mentioned a little bit earlier, the best antidote to false information is the truth, and so that’s what our focus is on.

QUESTION: Which is related to this just follow-up because it was – for those who lived in ’60s or studied ’60s, it’s looking – it looks what was happening yesterday is kind of – the tools of the 19th century or 20th century, which is now we are in 21st century. You think that it’s exaggeration, this observation that the tools of using facts and propaganda machine which is like whatever is said, it’s this is the opposite version of it because it looks like those who – what those who are seeing the facts, they see it. Those who are seeing the fiction, they’re seeing it as fiction or facts for them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, if there wasn’t a great deal of propaganda happening on the ground, there wouldn’t be a need to lay out the facts. So that’s the reason we’re doing it.

QUESTION: Move to – move on?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have Ukraine or something else?

QUESTION: No.

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. PSAKI: I thought he had a Ukraine question in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, I just want to ask briefly – it is Russia-related but it’s also Israel-related. It has to do with Syria first. The reports of chemical weapons use that you were asked about last week, the Russians have now – Foreign Minister Lavrov in this same press conference, I guess, with whoever it was today in Moscow, talked about the Russians being concerned about this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more today?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: We’re not able to corroborate the claims, same as we were on Friday.

QUESTION: And then as it relates to Ukraine, I wanted to ask about Israel. There was a report in an Israeli newspaper over the weekend that the Administration is irate, infuriated with Israelis because of their lack of a position on – with Russia on – over Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is that an accurate statement or is this just – I mean, does it matter to you how Israel comports itself?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that wouldn’t be how we would characterize it. As you know, we work closely with a range of countries, not just European countries, on Ukraine and we have been for months. And so we were surprised that Israel did not join the vast majority of countries that voted to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity in the United Nations. But that’s more our view, not the way you just characterized it.

QUESTION: Well, surprised. You recall that they were – the foreign ministry was on strike at the time --

MS. PSAKI: I do recall that.

QUESTION: Do you not regard that as a – do you think that they were shirking their responsibility by observing the strike and not showing up? I mean, it wasn’t that they voted no or even abstained. They just didn’t even show up.

MS. PSAKI: No, no, I understand that. I understand that.

QUESTION: I mean, how problematic is this to you, to the Administration? Or is it – is it a major concern here?

MS. PSAKI: I would not characterize it as a major concern. We work closely with Israel on a range of issues and we can move forward.

QUESTION: Staying on Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay, the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. There’s a meeting that took place, I guess on Sunday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- between both the Israeli and the Palestinian negotiators without the presence of an American or the American envoy. Is that like a new trend? Is that the way it’s going to be, that they will meet independent of your presence?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make a prediction, Said. Obviously, throughout the last eight and a half months there have been meetings with a representative from the United States and there have been meetings without. And I’m not going to confirm, announce, or read out every meeting that takes places, just as we haven’t throughout the process.

QUESTION: So this is not a message to both sides that we’ve had it with you, we don’t want to be there during – while you exchange --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe either side has conveyed that as the message.

QUESTION: Could you tell us if there is going to be any kind of meetings in the next few days? We know that Ambassador Indyk is in town, so will there be ongoing meetings and will there be an American representative?

MS. PSAKI: In the region or --

QUESTION: Yeah, in the region over there.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to read out or announce every meeting that may take place, just as we haven’t throughout the process.

QUESTION: But --

QUESTION: Ambassador Indyk is back in Washington or he has returned to the region?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. He got back Friday night.

QUESTION: And any idea when he’s going back?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a prediction of that yet. It’s – we’ll see if there’s something I can report to all of you later today.

QUESTION: And is it not a good thing that the two sides should be talking to one another?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, it certainly – as it has been throughout the process, there are times when they talk without an American representatives, there are times when they talk with an American representative.

QUESTION: You still do expect him to return sooner rather than later, right?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow up as far as do you have any information that would lead you to sort of believe that the talks will go past the 29th, there will be an announcement on the 29th, they will end on the 29th?

MS. PSAKI: I just --

QUESTION: Just give us like a feeling --

MS. PSAKI: -- don’t want to make a prediction --

QUESTION: -- I mean, we’re two weeks ago --

MS. PSAKI: -- for you, Said --

QUESTION: -- or two weeks away.

MS. PSAKI: -- of where we will be two weeks from now. Obviously, we’re taking this day by day. Discussions are day by day.

QUESTION: Jen, can we just go back on where we left it last week as well, which was --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- where the Israelis had, according to you, reportedly said that they were going to freeze the taxes --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and you weren’t sure what your reaction was because it was only reports.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new on that. I just talked to our team about it this morning. Don’t have anything new to report.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I’ve got three really, really quick ones on this.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: On Israel, two of them have to do with arrests made by Israeli authorities over the course of the past week or so. One involves an American woman, Mariam Barghouti. Do you know anything about that?

MS. PSAKI: Due to privacy considerations and no Privacy Act waiver --

QUESTION: Oh, great. This is going to be another – we’re going to go through the --

MS. PSAKI: -- we’re unable to provide further or additional information, Matt.

QUESTION: So, okay. So we’re just going to go through the Egypt airport experience all over again.

Then there’s a second one. This is not an American citizen, but it’s a journalist --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Majd Kayyal. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing the name right. He was arrested over the weekend. Are you aware of this case?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen the reports, but – that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information.

QUESTION: Is this – recognizing that you don’t have an interest because he is not an American citizen, do you – is this the kind of thing that you – that causes you concern, these types of arrests, or is this something --

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, reports of journalists being arrested certainly cause concern, but we don’t have any confirmation of that specific case, so we’re just looking for more information.

QUESTION: Do you know if you have asked the Israelis about it?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I believe we were exploring through all avenues we have, but I don’t want to speak out of turn, so let me check back with our team.

QUESTION: Okay. And the PAW for Ms. Barghouti, that – you can’t say – because you don’t have a waiver, you can’t say whether you’ve raised her case with the Israelis? Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t – there’s no more details I can discuss.

QUESTION: Okay. And then the last one, which is very briefly, is that it’s come up that apparently the Israeli defense ministry has done something that would allow the construction of more housing in Hebron. Are you familiar at all with this?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I’ve seen some news reports about it, but I’m not sure what the impact of it is. But go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t know – no, no, I’m just wondering if you had seen it, and if you had, if you had any reaction to it or – beyond what you usually say about settlements.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything new to report, but I will venture to follow up on that one as well.

QUESTION: Can you check --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- because this just seems to be a new, or relatively new, development?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Happy to.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) issue of the tax that you raised, I think. I didn’t hear you properly. Did you call the Israelis about that this is not helpful? Did you tell them to release the taxes --

MS. PSAKI: I said that on Friday. I don’t have anything new to report.

QUESTION: But nothing has transpired. I know. I mean, Friday was 72 hours ago. Has anything transpired?

MS. PSAKI: I understand that.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new on that.

Syria?

QUESTION: So they did not – I’m sorry, but they did not – the Israelis did not tell you they will release these taxes and --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to tell you on it.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just what --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary has had any contact with either Foreign – Justice Minister Livni or Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Palestinian side over the course of the – over the weekend, or since Friday, since we last --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe so. Let me see if there’s anything else that’s added today, but nothing over the course of the weekend.

QUESTION: Sorry, Jen. Lastly, the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said today that he expects to have normal relations with Arab countries, suggesting that Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or many others. Do you know anything about this?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen his comments.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment?

MS. PSAKI: But certainly, we support strong relations between a range of countries, but I don’t think I have a – more of a comment to weigh on it than that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: To your knowledge, are there any kind of --

MS. PSAKI: Of course. I mean, if the Arab League – if there’s a peace agreement, the Arab League is prepared to move forward with some significant steps. But obviously, there’s a lot that would have to happen, and it’s between all those parties.

QUESTION: But you don’t have any information whether there are some behind the scene talks?

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

QUESTION: Sorry. There’s one more. Are you aware if the Palestinians have done – if President Abbas or any of his top people have done anything in response to your concerns about unilateral actions involving signing up to the UN conventions? Or to the best of your knowledge, are they ignoring you pretty much the same way the Israelis do when you --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any additional updates beyond the one that we provided last week.

QUESTION: So, okay. And just to make clear, that was they had deposited whatever it was that --

MS. PSAKI: But again --

QUESTION: -- their thing with in Geneva?

MS. PSAKI: -- both parties remain engaged in the negotiations. Both parties are in touch with our negotiators. So that tells you something as well.

QUESTION: Well, but you also acknowledge that both parties are taking steps that are negative and unhelpful to the process, correct? Right?

MS. PSAKI: But both parties have – but also, even with that going on, both parties have indicated they want these discussions to continue. So that’s an incredibly important point.

QUESTION: Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Syria? Sure.

QUESTION: I’m sure you’ve seen over the weekend there were some comments by President Assad that he believes that he’s gaining the upper hand in the conflict, saying it’s a turning point of the crisis. And then I wondered if you also had any reaction to that as well as the fact that Syrian troops have retaken the town of Maaloula today from rebels.

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen all those. Our analysis remains what it has been, that this is a war of attrition, and neither side has been able to deliver or hold onto significant gains. I’m not going to give ground game updates. Certainly, our efforts to engage with the opposition continue. As you know, we have a new envoy who has already made a trip to the region, and we’ll continue down that path.

QUESTION: I understand you don’t want to give updates, but if the Syrian troops have retaken Maalula, that’s obviously another reversal for the opposition. I mean, what are you doing in terms of trying to actually bolster them on the ground physically?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we work closely with them. As you know, we work closely with our international allies. This is an important issue that comes up even while we’re discussing Ukraine and other crises that are on the front of newspapers around the world. We’re also discussing Syria. So those efforts are continuing. I don’t have any specific update to provide you all with today.

QUESTION: This is a war of attrition, obviously, but I mean, if President Assad feels he has the upper hand, he’s clearly getting arms and help. Isn’t it --

MS. PSAKI: Well, and naturally, President Assad is going to make that statement. I don’t think that’s a particularly surprising comment from him, that he’s winning.

QUESTION: But isn’t it going to just be a war of attrition that’s just going to – I don't know what the verb is – to attrite in his favor in the end?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t make that assumption. Obviously, there is broad concern and there has been for some time about his actions. The international community is focused on this, and I don’t think we’re going to make a prediction of the outcome here.

QUESTION: Have you used that phrase before, “war of attrition,” and I’ve just missed it?

MS. PSAKI: I believe so.

QUESTION: You have?

QUESTION: But you would welcome to see that Maaloula, one of the oldest Christian towns in the world, set free from the hands of extremists, wouldn’t you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think our focus here is on a political solution, not a military solution, so I’m not going to do an evaluation of each report from the ground.

QUESTION: I understand, but your – but your position – would like to see that Maaloula, a very old Christian town where people still speak Aramaic --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything more to add. Do we have more on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes. Any ground --

MS. PSAKI: Go.

QUESTION: Yeah, ground up – you said that you don’t have any ground upgrade about these – the clashes, but I know that you had issued a statement on Kessab, and there are some ongoing clashes in Kessab.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So do you have anything? Because --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any updates for you all today. If – I will check with our team and see if there’s more. Often, we, as you know, put out statements when there are broad reports of casualties and issues related to humanitarian issues. I will see if there’s more that we can report today.

QUESTION: Can we go to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have Syria?

QUESTION: One question about Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I mean, you – I think you mentioned that the special envoy is going somewhere?

MS. PSAKI: He was. He did do a pretty extensive trip a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have any next updates. I know he plans to do a bit of traveling, but I’ll see if there’s anything to report.

QUESTION: Just in the last – a question – a request, actually, Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Last week there was a briefing in Turkish foreign ministry conducted by a senior official to journalists. And this senior official said that there are, right now, four border gates who are under control of the ISIL in Turkish-Syrian border. So I’m wondering how you are providing the assistance – humanitarian or either nonlethal assistance to rebels right now, and in which ways? Would it be possible to get a --

MS. PSAKI: Let me see if that’s something we want to talk about publicly. But I will talk with our team about that.

Syria?

QUESTION: No, different topic. Nigeria. Do you have anything on the --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- explosion in the capital today?

MS. PSAKI: I do. We condemn today’s attack on Nyanya Motor Park south of Abuja which killed over 70 people. We are outraged by these senseless acts of violence against innocent civilians. We also condemn the attacks in three villages in Borno State that took the lives of nearly 100 people over the weekend. We encourage the Government of Nigeria to conduct a full investigation to identify and bring justice to the perpetrators of these attacks. We continue to stand with the Nigerian Government and people as they grapple with violent extremism.

QUESTION: The Nigerian president has blamed Boko Haram for the incident, the bombing in Abuja. Do you see any evidence supporting that claim?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen that, but to our knowledge, no group has claimed responsibility yet. We continue to work closely with the Nigerian Government and its neighbors to address the growing threat of Boko Haram in a comprehensive manner. But again, it’s, in our view, preliminary to make that judgment.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we go to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Are you aware if the Iranian – or have you been made aware through the Swiss or through anyone, through the UN, if the Iranians intend to somehow contest your decision or non-decision on granting a – or deciding not to decide on granting a visa to the --

MS. PSAKI: We are aware of reports that the Iranians have filed a complaint with the host country committee. I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to. I would refer you, of course, to the UN or the chair of the host country committee, which is Cyprus, for additional details on that.

QUESTION: Cyprus?

MS. PSAKI: They are. I thought that was interesting as well.

QUESTION: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the regular part of Cyprus?

MS. PSAKI: Cyprus is the chair.

QUESTION: Has anything changed since your announcement that the Administration has decided not to grant Mr. Aboutalebi a visa. Have you, for example, actually denied the visa, stamped “no”?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed, Arshad. I don’t have any update for all of you.

QUESTION: Are you – sorry, on this committee, and I’ll check with our UN people --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- but is the U.S. a member of this committee?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question. I’m not sure we are. Let me check back with our UN – our USUN counterparts.

QUESTION: My understanding is --

QUESTION: Do you know if it has any – what it’s --

QUESTION: As I understand it, but you should – it’d be good to put this out as a TQ, but I think this committee simply has the right to consider stuff and then make recommendations to the General Assembly these decisions are not binding.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right. I mean, that’s just – so what kind of remedy is – could Iran be seeking, or what kind of remedy would the committee be able to offer it if it wasn’t – if the complaint was accepted or --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, that, I’d point you to them, but I would certainly find – take your question on whether the U.S. is a member --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and how the process works.

QUESTION: But in answer to Arshad, is it no, you’re not changing your mind? What you said Friday is --

MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed since Friday. No.

QUESTION: So you’re – I’m trying to understand.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Okay. Only on the premise or on the basis of this individual or any individual being a security threat to the United States of America, that you will not allow them or her or him entry into the United States. Isn’t that the case?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of reasons. I’m not going to outline them from here, Said. But what was announced on Friday was that we had made clear that we would not be granting him a visa.

QUESTION: Okay. But Hamid Aboutalebi acknowledged being at the embassy, but he said that he was a translator. So are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen a range of reports, Said. I don’t think I have much more to add to all of you on this.

QUESTION: And finally, the Iranians said that they will not replace him, that he will be their ambassador to the United Nations whether he works in New York or elsewhere. You would not have any comment on that, would you?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Can I do Turkey quickly?

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

QUESTION: Yes. Over the weekend, State Department Turkey official Amanda Sloat made a speech for a Turkish convention, and she talk about it – she said that U.S. deeply concerned over the allegations that the politics interfering into the judicial system in Turkey. Is there any way you can elaborate on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we have made clear in the past, including in our annual Human Rights Report, we remain deeply concerned about due process and effective access to justice in Turkey. Independent investigations and independent judicial processes are essential for the rule of law. We look to Turkey to uphold the essential elements of a healthy democracy such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and the system of checks and balances between branches of government. And as I mentioned, this is an issue we’ve raised in the past when warranted, and it’s also included in our annual Human Rights Report. So I’d point you to that as well as the text of the speech for more details.

QUESTION: While Ms. Sloat was making that speech, she talk about that over the last recent months that there were disturbing events. So apparently this is not the last year’s annual report, but something happened over the last two months. There were several incidents over the months --

MS. PSAKI: And oftentimes over those months we raised concerns as those instances occurred.

QUESTION: But you – also many times, you stated that these were the internal affairs, for example, when I ask about the judges and prosecutors, counsels, legislation. So if you are now deeply concerned, that means that you change your --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think so. I’m still not weighing into internal political matters in Turkey. But certainly, as we’ve expressed in the past, over – around a variety of events, when there are concerns to express about the independence of the judiciary, we’ll express those.

QUESTION: So they – can I just follow up? Is this about the prime minister or the leaders in the government talking about the Constitution Court, or is this something about legislations? I’m just trying to get a sense of what exactly are --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to detail it further. Our deputy assistant secretary did an entire speech just a few days ago.

Okay, a few more? Go ahead.

QUESTION: Quick question on WikiLeaks: I guess the Army announced today that commanding generals approve the conviction and 35-year sentence of Chelsea – formerly Bradley – Manning for leaking military and diplomatic data, as you well know the case. This announcement came today. Is there any comment or response to the --

MS. PSAKI: I hadn’t seen that. I will check and see if there’s anything we’d like to add from our end.

Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: I wanted to go to Guinea-Bissau.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: They had elections this weekend. It’s the first time since the coup in 2012. There was a large turnout, by all accounts. I just wondered if you had any reaction from the U.S. on it.

MS. PSAKI: I believe we put out a statement last week in advance of the elections. I don’t have anything new today. But let me touch base with our team and see if we can get you or anybody who’s interested a comment on that.

QUESTION: Anything on the preliminary results – and I realize it’s only on – based on, like, 10 percent of the vote – in Afghanistan --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure.

QUESTION: -- that suggests that Abdullah Abdullah is leading?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, as you mentioned, it’s – it was a step in the process that they outlined they would do from the beginning. But just to give a little more detail, the electoral process is, of course, ongoing. We look forward to the Afghan electoral bodies continuing to do their work and processing the outcomes. We – the initial tranche of results is part of the IEC’s announced process for providing results information. We all, of course, need to have patience to allow the Afghan-owned process to play out. So we will allow that process to happen. As you mentioned, it’s only a percentage of the votes that is being counted. So obviously, there is more work that the election committee needs to do.

QUESTION: And then I had one quick one as well. On Friday, you were asked by Matt about the bill put forward by Senators McCain and Menendez on removing the Kurdish – Kurdistan Democratic Party and the PUK from the terrorism list.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have some reaction on that? Is that – is this something that you would actively consider?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. There has been – I have something on this. But we have – we would support legislation in this case. There are – there have been a range of reasons why it’s been difficult for individuals to travel. I have more in-depth lines, so let me venture to get that to all of you after the briefing.

QUESTION: And I suppose the logical connection would be, then: What about the PKK, which is, obviously, Turkish?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Let me get you something after the briefing. I have something on it. I just don’t have it in front me.

QUESTION: How goes the USAID review of these allegedly political text messages?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing new to report today. It is ongoing. The review is ongoing.

Go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do two more here. Well, she hasn’t had one, so let’s let her have a question.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, but I’m just following up with that question.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: That’s why. Are there similar projects going on now in different countries, or not? Or that is by itself?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Absolutely we support programs around the world that provide people an opportunity to have their voices heard where that’s not possible. This is a particular program that USAID is doing a due diligence to make sure we have all of the accurate information and answers. And so that’s why they’re taking a review of the program.

QUESTION: The reason I’m asking the question is not the purpose. It’s the same company or similar companies are doing similar things, or not? Or you are reviewing --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any details on the particular company, but it – but we do support programs around the world that allow people to have their voices heard.

Last one. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Japan.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs Shindo visited the Yasukuni Shrine last weekend. And considering Shindo’s visit is right ahead of President Obama’s visit to Asia, do you have any comments on this?

MS. PSAKI: To the – can you – sorry, can you repeat your question one more time?

QUESTION: Japan’s Minister of Internal Affairs Shindo visited the Yasukuni Shrine last weekend. And his visit is ahead of President Obama’s visit to Asia. Do you have any comments on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve indicated many times, we encourage Japan to work through its neighbors to resolve concerns over history in an amicable way through dialogue. We believe that strong and constructive relations between countries in the region to promote peace and stability are in interests – are in their interests and in the interests of the United States. So that is the message that we are conveying to all of them.

Let me – Jo, I found the answer to your question. I don’t think it answers all of your questions, but let me give you this in the meantime.

Let’s see. The PUK and the KDP have not been designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and have been among our closest partners in the region going back decades. However, expansive language in our immigration law complicates their travel to the United States. We support, as I mentioned, legislative action to remove those impediments, and we look forward to working with relevant committees in Congress to accomplish this goal.

We will venture to get you answer on the other question you had as well.

QUESTION: Isn’t it the case, though, that Congress itself created this problem?

MS. PSAKI: That may be the case, but we will work with them to fix it.

QUESTION: Right. But does that mean – but it’s not a – it’s not something that the Executive Branch did in the first place. It was in the Patriot Act, right?

MS. PSAKI: That may be true, Matt. But we’re working with them now --

QUESTION: I think it is.

MS. PSAKI: -- to address concerns that have arisen.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:57 p.m.)

DPB # 65



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