11:32 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Welcome to the daily briefing. Two quick items at the top and then happy to open it up to your questions.
First, on Libya, as we congratulate the Libyan people on yesterday’s elections and taking an important steps towards advancing a free, prosperous, democratic, and secure Libya, we also condemn in the strongest terms the senseless and brutal murder of Libyan human rights activists Salwa Bugaighis, as we condemn all terror, violence, and intimidation in Libya. We mourn Salwa’s death with her family and with all Libyans. She was a courageous woman and a true Libyan patriot. She was an advocate for political prisoners during the Qadhafi regime; an organizer of demonstrations against the regime during the February 17th, 2011 revolution; a political activist; and an original member of the transitional national council after the uprising began.
Salwa resigned in protest over the absence of women’s voices in the council, but continued to play an active and powerful role supporting democracy, human rights, and the participation of women in Libyan politics, until she was murdered on the day she and other Libyans went to the polls to elect a new government. Her voice will live on fighting for the causes that inspired her and will mean so much for all Libyans as well.
Second item at the top on Ukraine. Today marks one month since Russia based backed – excuse me – Russia-backed separatists kidnapped four OSCE special monitoring mission observers in eastern Ukraine. Three days later, separatists abducted another four OSCE observers. These eight international observers continue to be held hostage. OSCE monitors are in Ukraine to observe and report the facts impartially. We condemn these abductions and call on Russia, indeed itself a member of the OSCE, to use its influence with the separatists to secure the immediate release of the monitors and to guarantee the security of the OSCE monitoring teams.
With that, kick us off.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s try and make this one quick.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: On Ukraine, earlier today, as you are well aware, the Secretary met with French Foreign Minister --
MS. HARF: Fabius. He did. Yes.
QUESTION: -- Fabius. And he – I’m curious if you can extrapolate a little bit or elaborate a little bit on his – what he meant when he said that Russia has hours, literally hours --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- to basically show goodwill to move to disarm the separatists. What – hours is less than days, clearly. What exactly happens if they don’t meet this “hours, literally” deadline?
MS. HARF: Well, a couple points on timing. The weeklong ceasefire expires tomorrow, so that’s partly what was driving the Secretary when he was talking about timing. Also, the European Council is meeting tomorrow to discuss among other things possible additional sanctions against Russia. We’ve been very clear that we remain prepared to impose additional sanctions, including sectoral, should circumstances warrant. I think there were some questions about this the other day, but the March 20th executive order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to sanction any individual or entity determined to operate in such sectors as – of the Russian economy that we would want to sanction. So we have in place the infrastructure to do this very quickly if we want to.
The Secretary wasn’t outlining specific timing for additional sanctions but underscoring the need that this needs to happen quickly.
QUESTION: But --
MS. HARF: Including partly because of the ceasefire expiring tomorrow.
QUESTION: Right. But there has been discussion on both sides about extending the ceasefire.
MS. HARF: There has been.
QUESTION: That’s still something you’re supportive of, correct?
MS. HARF: As long as the parties that have signed up to it abide by it.
MS. HARF: So yes, if – of course, if we could get an extension that people abide by, that would be a good thing.
QUESTION: Have the parties, to date, abided by the ceasefire?
MS. HARF: Some of them have and some of them haven’t. Some of the separatists have, some of the separatists have not.
QUESTION: Would – but the Ukrainian Government?
MS. HARF: The Ukrainian Government has abided by the terms of the ceasefire. The only time they have taken action is after they have themselves been attacked.
QUESTION: All right. And – but given what the Secretary said in terms of “hours, literally,” is it not more likely that sanctions would come later today or tomorrow, given the fact that the ceasefire expires in --
MS. HARF: I don’t have any predictions for you on timing.
QUESTION: But he wasn’t (inaudible) discuss the timing of sanctions with that comment.
MS. HARF: He was not. He was not. No. I mean, in general, we’ve said we could do it very quickly. But no, he was not talking about anything specifically.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a couple of follow-ups on this?
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Is the United States, as it has done in the past, willing to move forward on additional sanctions on Russia, without the European Union if they do not vote for such sanctions?
MS. HARF: Well, in general, as you know, we’ve remained very coordinated with them on the sanctions. We think that’s important to do. But we make sanctions decisions on our own based on our own economy and our own interests, but again, believe that they’re strongest when they’re in partnership with each other.
QUESTION: But you reserve the right to do it on your own if you feel necessary?
MS. HARF: Certainly, but obviously we’ve remained coordinated with them because we think it’s important to do them together.
QUESTION: The authorities under the previous – under the executive order that you referenced I think are – and as you read them – are targeting individuals and companies, correct?
MS. HARF: So they authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sanction any individual or entity determined to operate in such sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined by, again, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State. These sectors include financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, or defense or related materiel.
QUESTION: Okay. And the pings are from Europe that they’re not going to go forward tomorrow, although obviously --
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve obviously been talking to them and I think we would just need to wait and see what happens tomorrow.
QUESTION: Change topic. Iraq?
QUESTION: I have one more on Ukraine, actually.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers took out a full page ad in three leading U.S. publications. I wanted to know if you had any comment on that.
MS. HARF: They did. So since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, we have had frequent conversations with business leaders and the business community on this issue to explain exactly our policy and understand their concerns. And in general, our sanctions policy towards Russia has been designed to maximize the pressure and the impact on Russia while minimizing the impact on the West and the United States economy as well. So we’re trying to do things to change Russia’s decision making, obviously, in a very strategic and targeted way that increases the pressure on them while, again, not doing so in a way that doesn’t come back on us. We’ve had those conversations with the business community since the beginning of this crisis.
QUESTION: And you’re still continuing to have those conversations with them?
MS. HARF: We are. We are. Yes.
QUESTION: And so does that mean that the business community is aware of the sanction – of what the sanctions are?
MS. HARF: That have already been put in place?
QUESTION: No, the ones that are potentially coming.
MS. HARF: We don’t discuss with anyone outside of the government what sanctions might be coming for obvious reasons in the future. What I’ve said, in our discussions we’ve talked to the business community about what we’ve already put in place and our overall strategic goal for how we decide on sanctions.
QUESTION: Well, that doesn’t seem to make – if you’re trying to minimize the impact on American companies, it would seem to be – it would not seem to make sense not to tell them what you’re thinking about for this in the future.
MS. HARF: There’s plenty of people inside this government that do the calculations about minimizing the risk to our companies and our economy. Obviously, there are good reasons not to tell people outside of the government what sanctions might be coming, because if someone were to find out they might be coming, they could take steps to move their assets around. So that’s why we keep that private and internal. But we have the discussions with the business community in general about this issue.
QUESTION: No, no, no. I’m not talking about sanctions that you would impose on Russian individuals, but sectoral sanctions that might limit U.S. companies’ ability to do business in Russia.
MS. HARF: Well, we talk in general about the concept and how it might impact our economy. That’s certainly true. But we don’t specifically talk about new sanctions that might be coming specifically in terms of what individuals or what companies with folks outside of the government.
QUESTION: It’s my understanding that some of the sanctions that are in the --
MS. HARF: Pipeline.
QUESTION: -- ready to go if and when a decision’s made would impact U.S. companies doing business in Russia.
MS. HARF: Well, we’re considering a wide range of sanctions and don’t have any comment on the specifics of what they might impact.
QUESTION: Okay. I’m not – but I’m not even talking about the specifics. I just – but if you don’t consult with businesses --
MS. HARF: We’re consulting with them, obviously --
QUESTION: Well, but --
MS. HARF: -- in general, about the concept, Matt. But there are very good reasons not to tell people outside of the government what specific sanctions we’re going to put in place.
QUESTION: Well, then I don’t see how that minimizes the impact on U.S. companies.
MS. HARF: There are a lot people inside this government who can do very good calculations about how potential sanctions might impact U.S. companies or U.S. – the U.S. economy.
QUESTION: Well then, why don’t --
MS. HARF: And they do those calculations, and we take them into account when we’re deciding what additional sanctions to put in place.
QUESTION: Right. Well, yeah. But who knows better how a specific sanction is going to affect a U.S. company than that company itself?
MS. HARF: Well, again, we have people who are very good at looking at that inside the Department of the Treasury.
QUESTION: And I’m --
MS. HARF: And we have good reasons not to discuss specifics with people outside.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I’m sure that Fortune --
MS. HARF: Do you want Russian oligarchs moving assets around because they might accidentally find out it’s coming?
QUESTION: No. No, no, no. I’m not talking about – no. I’m not talking about the impact on Russians or telling them that person X in Russia is going to be affected. But if there are sanctions that are going to impact U.S. companies’ ability to do business in Russia, which I am led to believe there are in the pipeline, it strikes me as a bit unusual that you wouldn’t talk to the companies about what could possibly be coming so that they could protect themselves.
MS. HARF: We talk in general about what possibly might be coming.
QUESTION: I understand, but you’re saying that there are people in the government who know – you’re suggesting that people in government know better about --
MS. HARF: I’m not saying that, Matt. Look, you’re taking us down a rabbit hole here.
QUESTION: I don’t want to, especially today, but --
MS. HARF: I know, but you are. But wait, let me finish up with one point. We talk to them in general. I just read a bunch of sectors, right?
MS. HARF: We talk to them in general about what those might look like and how they might impact the American economy and American companies. Those discussions can be very robust without saying on X date we’re going to sanction X company, because there are very good reason we don’t give that information out to people. But we are very – we have very robust discussions about ways to minimize the impact. We really do.
MS. HARF: Yes.
MS. HARF: On Ukraine?
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am.
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: Ma’am, as far as sanctions against Russia is concerned, are you in touch with other countries other than the NATO or Europeans, like China and India and other countries?
MS. HARF: We’ve been in touch with a wide range of countries on this issue. I don’t have a full list in front of me, but I’m happy to see if there’s more specifics.
QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.
MS. HARF: Yeah, Said.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Today Prime Minister Maliki claimed that his government forces are taking back the initiative. First of all, do you agree? And second, is this attributable to, let’s say, U.S. advisors on the ground, Iranian boots on the ground, or the Syrian air strikes, or all three, in your opinion?
MS. HARF: Well, Said, the situation on the ground remains very fluid. And to be very clear, Iraq’s security situation cannot and should not be resolved by the Assad regime, by air strikes from the Assad regime, or by militias funded and supported by other countries in the region stepping in. What we really need to see is the army get back on its feet. We have folks there trying to help these elite units do that and start to retake territory. But the situation on the ground is still very serious.
QUESTION: So you agree that these elements coming together may have affected the situation on the ground?
MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said actually the opposite, that it’s – the security situation can’t be resolved by the Assad regime.
QUESTION: Cannot be?
MS. HARF: Cannot, correct. That that’s not the situation that we need to see here in Iraq; that what we need to see is political leaders step up and military leaders step up, bring the army back together, push back – with help from us, of course.
But look, the situation on the ground remains very serious, very fluid, and there are still huge security challenges for the Iraqi forces.
QUESTION: Seeing how the meeting, the planned meeting between Secretary Kerry and the King of Saudi Arabia --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- after he met with the Saudi foreign minister, is it – are we likely to see an American request or an American demand that the Saudis cease their support to ISIL?
MS. HARF: Well, as I said yesterday, we don’t have evidence that any government is supporting ISIL in the region, so I want to be very clear about that when we’re talking about funding. We’ve worked very closely with the Saudis and other partners in the region who are very concerned about the security situation in Iraq. They don’t want to see what’s happening in Iraq. They understand the terrorist threat as well; the Saudis have suffered at the hands of terrorists for many years. So we’ll have the conversation – the Secretary will tomorrow with King Abdullah. The President asked him to go update him on his meetings there. And again, we’re in this fight together for the sake of Iraq and encouraging Saudis and other regional partners to use their influence with different parts of the Iraqi leadership to push them to all come together to form an inclusive government as soon as possible and help Iraq get back on its feet.
QUESTION: When you mentioned “with help from us” --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: -- the Iraqi Government, so – but you don’t want anyone else to help them or --
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: -- is there --
MS. HARF: -- any kind of assistance that anyone could give here needs to be towards the goal of a inclusive government.
QUESTION: And are you specifically referring to Iran?
MS. HARF: Well, any assistance, and we have said that --
QUESTION: So you’re not necessarily opposed to Assad helping them as long as it meets your criteria for not inflaming the sectarian tensions?
MS. HARF: I’m not sure how anything the Assad regime could do could be anything other than inflaming sectarian tensions, to be clear. So --
QUESTION: Okay. But you don’t feel the same way about Iran?
MS. HARF: No, look --
QUESTION: That Iran could play a positive role, but Syria – Assad’s Syria cannot?
MS. HARF: Well, anything that Iran or anyone else should be doing in Iraq should not be sectarian in any nature, and anything that were to be sectarian would be very problematic. So we’re watching right now certainly what the Iranians are doing there. We’ve all seen the reports, and I can’t confirm them, but we’ve seen the reports and we would not support anything that was sectarian in nature. So while we may have a common enemy, we don’t always have the same strategic interests.
QUESTION: I understand that --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- but you don’t think that Assad at all, regardless of what he says he’s doing or regardless of what he actually does, is able to play a helpful role here, but Iran is? I’m just trying to make a distinction if --
MS. HARF: Well, I’m --
QUESTION: I’m trying to find out if you make --
MS. HARF: You’re trying to make it very black and white.
QUESTION: Well, I’m trying to find out if you, if the United States believes there’s a distinction between Iranian help and Syrian help.
MS. HARF: I think there’s a distinction, and let me see if I can explain this in the right way. Iran could play a constructive role if it did things to promote an inclusive government. I’m not saying they have done those things, but they could.
MS. HARF: That is very different than an Assad regime who is responsible in large part for the rise and strength of ISIL, who has created a security situation where ISIL could flourish, and now may be taking some action – I have no reason to believe that they’re not. That’s not in any way helpful to Iraq’s security.
QUESTION: Okay. But you could not repeat that sentence: Iran could play a helpful role with – replace Iran with Syria, saying Syria under Assad could --
MS. HARF: I mean, I guess everything’s possible in a hypothetical, Matt, but --
MS. HARF: -- they’re very different situations.
QUESTION: Got it.
QUESTION: Could you repeat something that you said? You said we have – we share a common enemy, but we don’t share --
MS. HARF: But we may not --
QUESTION: -- a common purpose. Is that what you – no?
MS. HARF: No. You got to listen, Said.
QUESTION: Okay. I’m --
MS. HARF: I said --
QUESTION: That’s why I asked.
MS. HARF: I know you are. No, I said we may share a common enemy. Look, we all understand the threat from ISIL, including the Iranians. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have a shared strategic interest. We would like everyone to, because we think that’s what’s in the best interests of Iraq.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes. And I know you’re listening. You listen better than most in this room. So, yes.
QUESTION: Maliki confirmed to BBC that the Syrian air forces bombed the area in Iraq. Can you confirm that today?
MS. HARF: Well, as I said yesterday, I don’t have reason to believe it’s not the case. I think Prime Minister Maliki probably has the most up-to-date information on that. But again, this isn’t what we need to see for Iraq going forward. We know, look, any action that hinders ISIL’s ability to move is tactically maybe a good thing, but strategically this is not what needs to happen to get Iraq back in a better place.
QUESTION: There --
MS. HARF: Yeah, Elliot.
QUESTION: Sorry. There were reports from Baghdad that reprisal killings against Sunnis are becoming more and more frequent. Is the U.S. doing anything at this time to try and prevent this from becoming more of an issue than it already is?
MS. HARF: Well, we are following the reports closely, certainly. We’ve seen execution-style killings of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, policemen, government leaders, also some of the ethnic minorities and religious minority populations as well. So we are working with our international partners very closely to see how we can deal with this sort of what I would call an even worse than humanitarian situation. We’re working with the Iraqi Government to help on this, also with the UN as well. So we’re monitoring it, and obviously that’s – I think just underscores the notion that Iraq’s political leaders needs a form of government as soon as possible, bring the country together, and use their influence to try and stop some of this.
QUESTION: This might be better addressed to DOD, but do you have any – are you aware of any specific role that U.S. special forces are playing in that regard as they try to train and --
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. Let me check with – you can check with them, I can check with them as well and see if they are. I know that the folks they’ve sent in are in, at the moment, an assessment role working with the army about the ISIL threat. But let me see if there’s more I can share.
QUESTION: Can we go to --
MS. HARF: Yeah. Go ahead.
MS. HARF: So before I came out --
QUESTION: Oh, rereleased.
MS. HARF: -- again, this is a very fluid situation, and things are happening every minute here, but before I came out, it was our understanding that she was still at the police station, which was where she was being held this morning D.C. time. Again, very fluid situation, so I can’t confirm these reports that she has been released. We are in communication with the Sudanese foreign ministry to ensure that she and her family will be free to travel as quickly as possible. Again, she had been detained while issues related to her travel and identification documents were sorted out. And from our perspective, Meriam has all of the documents she needs to travel to and enter the United States. It’s up to the Government of Sudan to allow her to exit the country. As I said, we’re working with them on that right now.
QUESTION: Okay. “From our perspective?” Can you just – can you eliminate that and just say she has the travel – valid travel documents and --
MS. HARF: Again, we’re working with the Government of Sudan on that.
QUESTION: Can you – would – are you hopeful that she’ll be able to get out today?
MS. HARF: We’re hopeful that she’ll be able to get out soon. I just don’t want to predict.
QUESTION: And would you expect her destination, when she does leave, to be the United States?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything specific, but as I just said, we – in terms of our perspective, she has the necessary documents she needs to travel to the United States.
QUESTION: Does that mean she has a visa to enter the United States?
MS. HARF: I don’t have more specifics for you on what documents – what those documents might look like.
QUESTION: Why not? Just out of curiosity, why not?
MS. HARF: Because we don’t always give out those specific details for a variety of reasons, some of which are privacy, some of which are bureaucratic. Just don’t always share those. But I gave you a new line today on travel documents.
QUESTION: I did notice that.
MS. HARF: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: A new topic?
MS. HARF: Yeah.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- today. Does this raise concerns that North Korea’s increasing its provocations?
MS. HARF: I think we’re always concerned whenever North Korea launches anything. I think that’s probably fair to say. And we are aware of, I think, three projectiles. Did you say three or four? I’m sorry.
QUESTION: I believe it’s being reported as three.
MS. HARF: Okay, right. So that North Korea launched three projectiles from its southeast coast. We’re monitoring the situation, and we’re still evaluating the available information to identify the exact type of projectile that may have been launched.
QUESTION: And assuming that they did launch these projectiles, would this be a violation of UN resolutions?
MS. HARF: It depends. It depends on what they were. Technically, obviously any launch of anything is problematic, is escalatory in nature, is threatening. So obviously, we wouldn’t agree with any launch, but in terms of the technicality, it depends on what they were.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Quick question for --
MS. HARF: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh?
QUESTION: One more on North Korea. One question – I realize that North Korea has a very different system of freedom of speech and different ideas on that than the United States. But the North Koreans --
MS. HARF: That’s the understatement of the day, I think. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: The North Koreans called on the United States to ban the film, “The Interview.”
MS. HARF: I was wondering why I didn’t get this yesterday. I was surprised.
QUESTION: Do you have a response to that?
QUESTION: Great film.
MS. HARF: I really don’t. They, I think, had a fairly strong reaction to it, and really I think I’m going to steer clear of commenting on it, so --
QUESTION: Do you see a connection between the movie and the projectile launch?
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, but I’m happy to check. I just – I don’t think I have any analysis to do on that.
QUESTION: A quick question --
QUESTION: Are there any observations of why the North Koreans might be so upset about this? Does it show that more outside information is seeping in?
MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I’m happy to check with our folks. I just don’t know the answer.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Apparently, today Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his meeting with Secretary Kerry suggested that Israel would help moderate Arab countries to fight ISIL. Is this something that the United States would look kindly on, or would encourage Israel to do --
MS. HARF: Well --
QUESTION: -- or would advise against?
MS. HARF: Just a quick little readout of that meeting. They talked about the long-term relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They obviously talked about the missing Israeli teenagers, and the Secretary reiterated his concern over the missing teenagers. They also talked about Iraq and ISIL, as you mentioned, and they had really a discussion about the longer-term threat coming from some of these groups.
And we welcome anyone in the region who is willing to stand up and help fight the threat that ISIL poses. Again, really when it comes to Iraq, though, this is a fight the Iraqis need to take on themselves through their army and through their capabilities.
QUESTION: Well, how can you say that you welcome anyone in the region and then tell Assad that he can’t?
MS. HARF: Assad – when you brutally massacre --
QUESTION: Anyone but Assad?
QUESTION: Anyone else?
QUESTION: Anyone other than Assad is welcome to help, then?
MS. HARF: Look, if Assad were to stop killing his own people, to stop using barrel bombs, to lay down his weapons and agree to a transitional governing body, sure. We can have that discussion. I’ll – I will wait for that to happen.
QUESTION: Can I ask you --
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: You said any help is welcome as long as it is not based on sectarian considerations.
MS. HARF: Right. It needs to all be in the service of an inclusive government.
QUESTION: Is any Iranian help – could it be anything else but sectarian?
MS. HARF: Well, we judge actions by each one specifically. And again, I don’t have all the details on what may or may not be going on, but we know the history there. But again, I don’t have more details to share with you on what Iran is doing.
QUESTION: Another --
MS. HARF: Go to you next.
QUESTION: Madam, as far as security in South Asia is concerned, it depends on all stability in Pakistan. Innocent Pakistanis are being killed every day, and there is civil and political unrest going on in the country. And also now jihadists, al-Qaida and Talibans are now standing up against the innocent Pakistanis, that they will wage war against Pakistan if the military operation continues against them in Waziristan and all that.
My question is that India is also worried, and also because you have a strategic interest in next-door neighbor in Afghanistan. So how U.S. is helping, or has Pakistan asked for U.S. help?
MS. HARF: Well, you asked a lot about a lot there, so let me just address a few quick points and then I’m going to Arshad next.
Look, we’ve worked very closely with the Pakistanis. The threat from the Taliban and other terrorist groups is not new. We’ve worked with them very closely. It doesn’t just threaten the Pakistanis; it threatens Afghanistan and India, and has the United States in the past as well.
In terms of the current operations Pakistan is undertaking in North Waziristan, this is an entirely led – Pakistani-led and executed operation. Obviously, we have long supported their efforts to extend the writ of government throughout their country and to increase internal stability and security. But again, these are – these current operations are an entire Pakistani-led event.
Thank you. Arshad.
MS. HARF: Iraq, Syria. Clean and succinct enough for you?
MS. HARF: I’m sure.
MS. HARF: Yeah. I’m sure they will as well. So obviously, the ISIL threat in Iraq, how we’re working with the Iraqis on this, what the conversations the Secretary had in Iraq were like. When it comes to Syria, we’ve said we will continue increasing our support to the opposition. I think we’ll have conversations about that. Next week we start the next round of the P5+1 talks with Iran over its nuclear program. I’m sure there will be mention of that. Oil is always a topic of conversation, but I can’t predict whether it will come up, but frequently does.
QUESTION: And lastly, would you expect, regardless of what the Secretary might say about this, that the issue of ISIL financing will come up?
MS. HARF: I don’t know. I don’t want to predict. As I said, we don’t have any information that the government is – has supported from a funding perspective. We’ll see if it does. I don’t want to predict. Obviously, it’s something we’re worried about.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. HARF: Yes. Last one.
QUESTION: I’ve got two very brief ones.
MS. HARF: Okay, okay. All right.
QUESTION: India. Thank you.
MS. HARF: You’re welcome.
QUESTION: Madam, yesterday the Carnegie experts were discussing about the new government of Narendra Modi in India and the U.S.-India relations. What they were discussing was that India and the new government now needs a massive investment to go forward and move forward the country because the 60 years, corruption and all those things were going on.
My question is here: So many things going on between the two countries; official visits to India and all that. During these visits, have you been discussing about the massive investment in India?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly – and I think this is what you’re asking about. We certainly talk quite a bit about the economic relationship with India, whether it’s investing in certain parts of its economy; whether it’s increasing exports and imports and private sector trade. That’s certainly been a key part of our discussions with the Government of India, not just since Mr. Modi has been in office, but before that for a long time as well.
Yeah – two, yeah.
QUESTION: Making good --
QUESTION: Staying on India.
MS. HARF: Okay, stay on India.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Today in Lahore, JUD chief Hafiz Saeed said that if U.S. can do whatever it wants, don’t care, they should prove if they have proof. And then the foreign – Pakistani foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said that Pakistan is not under any obligation, because it’s from U.S. and not from UN.
MS. HARF: Are you referring to the --
QUESTION: Yesterday’s --
MS. HARF: Yesterday’s – well, the – or the designations that we’ve had on LET have been in place for some time now, for years. And yesterday what we did was add additional aliases to make sure that we can increasingly cut off the funding and support to LET through other – these other aliases that they use for their activities as well. And look, we’ve been very clear about the threat LET poses.
QUESTION: I know, but --
MS. HARF: And we have shared information from our assessment about the attack in Herat with the Indian Government.
QUESTION: No, but --
QUESTION: Marie, the UN has also imposed sanction on LET and Hafiz Saeed.
MS. HARF: Yes. Yes.
QUESTION: So Pakistan is under obligation to implement --
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check with our UN team about those specifics.
QUESTION: No, but when the foreign – foreign office spokesperson says that no obligation from the U.S., it’s a partner state. So what have you spoken --
MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen those comments, and I don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat with my counterpart in Pakistan without seeing them. So let me check. Obviously, we’ve made very clear our concern about LET. That’s why we put them on our designation list; that’s why we try to cut off funding and support to them. Let me check on those comments, and I’m happy to see if there’s more to share.
QUESTION: Oh, and if – I know – two very brief --
MS. HARF: Yeah.
MS. HARF: Nothing new. We’ve been in continual contact with them, but nothing new to highlight.
QUESTION: And then --
QUESTION: Any more deliveries? No deliveries of additional material?
MS. HARF: No, nothing has changed there. No.
QUESTION: And then, making good on my promise from yesterday, you have anything to say --
MS. HARF: Uh-oh.
MS. HARF: Excuse me. Okay.
MS. HARF: So let’s see. Well, much to your dismay, I am not going to take a position on the naming of the street. But I will say a few things about this gentleman. The Secretary put out a statement – I believe it was December 9th, 2013 – marking the 5th anniversary of this Nobel laureate and writer’s detention; have called very clearly for his release from the Chinese authorities, to end his wife’s house arrest, and to guarantee him and his family members all internationally-recognized human rights protections and freedoms.
So clearly, we think this gentleman has played an important role in advancing dialogue. And I think we’ll probably leave it at that.
QUESTION: Which gentleman? Which --
MS. HARF: So the person they want to name the street after – you want me to try and pronounce it? Is that what you’re trying to get me to do?
QUESTION: I’m just trying to – I’m wondering if you’re not willing to say the name.
MS. HARF: No, I – oh, no, no, no. I just didn’t want to mispronounce it.
QUESTION: Okay. Oh, okay. Okay, that --
MS. HARF: It’s Liu Xiaobo.
MS. HARF: So --
QUESTION: So --
MS. HARF: My pronunciations aren’t always the best, though, so --
QUESTION: I didn’t --
MS. HARF: So in general, what I’m saying is, look, I’m not taking a position on the legislation. Clearly, we think that he – this person has been a voice, should be released from prison. His wife’s house arrest should end – making very clear our feelings on him. I don’t want that to be caught up in the confusion of the fact that we won’t take a position on this legislation.
QUESTION: So you won’t take a position on the legislation?
MS. HARF: I will not from here at this time, no.
QUESTION: But the Administration will and has?
MS. HARF: Publicly, we’re not taking a position on it at this time.
QUESTION: Well, it – will there come a time when you --
MS. HARF: There may.
QUESTION: -- will take a public – given the fact that this street is --
MS. HARF: There may. Often, as you know, with legislation we don’t take positions for some time, and then we eventually do.
QUESTION: Right. But given the fact that this is – this street is under federal – it’s the federal government’s street --
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- and you have jurisdiction over it, I would think that you would have an interest in – an interest that shouldn’t – there’s no reason for it to be a private position.
MS. HARF: Well, we’re having those conversations with Congress. Again, I’m happy to take your advice about the fact that we should make those public back to them.
QUESTION: So you believe that this guy should be released --
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: -- but you’re not – but you won’t say whether you think he should be – whether it’s appropriate to --
MS. HARF: For a street to be named after him, yeah.
QUESTION: Any street anywhere?
MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any more on this street.
QUESTION: I mean, look --
QUESTION: So it sounds like you don’t support.
MS. HARF: That’s not what I said. I did not at all say that.
QUESTION: Well, if you’re questioning the appropriateness of a street being named after him --
MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I didn’t question it. I said I’m taking no position on whether or not this street should be named after him at all.
QUESTION: So do you know if the Chinese have made their public complaint to you guys in private?
MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know.
QUESTION: Well, without taking a position on the legislation, do you think that such a move could aggravate your relationship with the Chinese?
MS. HARF: Well, I think by definition that would mean I was taking a position on the legislation if I did any analysis on it. So as I said, we think we’ve made very clear that he should be released. We’ve made very clear that we think he’s played an important role in advancing dialogue in China, but again, nothing – no position on the proposed legislation.
QUESTION: I think we’ll take that as a “No.”
QUESTION: Right, but either the Administration thinks that it’s --
MS. HARF: I think you can assume what you want, but you might be wrong.
QUESTION: The – I don’t understand this at all. The Administration either thinks it’s a good idea or an appropriate idea to honor him with – by renaming the street in front of the embassy or it thinks it is not appropriate or it takes no position. You say --
MS. HARF: I said publicly we are not taking a position, which happens all the time with proposed legislation. All the time, Matt. This is not breaking news.
QUESTION: Forget about the --
QUESTION: Well, it isn’t all the time because sometimes you take a very public position on legislation.
MS. HARF: Actually, it – much more often, we don’t take a position than we do. Much more often. It is the – actually the exception to the rule that we will take a position on pending legislation.
QUESTION: Marie, do you know who owns the street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing?
MS. HARF: I don’t.
QUESTION: Do you know who owns the street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington?
MS. HARF: As you noted, I think it’s been widely reported that it is the property of the federal government.
QUESTION: Would you object to the Chinese – if it is that the Chinese who own the street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, would you object to them doing the same thing?
MS. HARF: I am not even going to entertain that hypothetical.
QUESTION: Really? If the Chinese decided they wanted to come out and rename the street in front of the --
QUESTION: Edward Snowden Way. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- Edward Snowden Avenue or --
QUESTION: Benedict Arnold Boulevard? (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’d be happy to have that conversation.
QUESTION: -- or something like that?
QUESTION: Robert Hanson Way. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’m sure the Chinese Government is taking all of your suggestions on board right now.
QUESTION: I’m sure that they had them – they were in their minds before.
MS. HARF: We’re just not, at this point, look, going to take a public position on this.
QUESTION: I just can’t see how it’s helpful to your diplomacy with the Chinese not to take a position.
MS. HARF: I will take your advice on board, Matt.
QUESTION: All right. Let’s go watch the soccer game.
QUESTION: Game time?
MS. HARF: Yes, thank you.
QUESTION: Game time.
MS. HARF: Yes, thank you. And you saw the note. We’re going to – in case people want, we’re going to have it on the big screens here --
QUESTION: Well, can we ask you about your attire today?
MS. HARF: -- so people can watch the game. Yeah.
QUESTION: She’s ready.
QUESTION: Well, tell us about why you --
MS. HARF: About my Team USA shirt?
QUESTION: Well, tell us about why you’re not in your regular professional garb.
MS. HARF: (Laughter.) This isn’t professional? Look, all joking aside, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that, look, I get – we stand up here and represent the United States and the World Cup is a huge international event, and it’s all about sports diplomacy and bringing people together. And where else can you get all these countries in one place to do something that’s positive, right? And that’s kind of amazing. And I’ve become a pretty big fan, so I think – thank you for giving the pleasure of briefing early today.
QUESTION: There is a potential that the results of today’s matches could result in the United States playing Russia --
MS. HARF: Well, there you go. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: -- in the next round. (Laughter.) Would you like to comment on that probability or is that a hypothetical question at the moment that you do not --
MS. HARF: It is a – but I do think it’s cool, when we’re at the P5+1s, I mean, the one thing that brings people together often is sports, and is soccer, and is the World Cup. And what better way to talk about something positive than for me to wear my Team USA colors. And I’m surprised Matt’s not wearing a scarf today.
QUESTION: It’s too hot.
MS. HARF: I know. Anyway, if you guys want to stay, we’re going to show the games up – the game up here. So grab a soda and lunch and come back, and thanks for coming to today’s briefing.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:08 p.m.)