2:42 p.m. EDT

MS ORTAGUS: Good afternoon, everyone. Several things to start off with today. Okay, first an announcement. On Thursday, Secretary Pompeo will depart on a trip to Latin America to further strengthen our partnerships with likeminded countries and to keep all of our citizens safe and prosperous. Following on the Secretary’s trip to the region in April, a frequent high-level engagement by the deputy secretary, under secretary for political affairs, and other U.S. Government officials in the last few months, this trip highlights the priority the Trump administration places on strengthening our ties in the Western Hemisphere.

From July 19th to the 21st, the Secretary will visit Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ecuador, Mexico City, San Salvador, where he will expand cooperation on security issues; reinforce U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy, particularly support for the people of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and their struggle for freedom; and to enhance economic partnerships and to expand economic opportunities for our citizens.

Before heading to the region, the Secretary will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 18th, where he will meet with the State Department staff to express his appreciation for all of their hard work. The Secretary will then travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he will join regional leaders for the second Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial to deepen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime on July 19th. This ministerial will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the deadly Iran-backed attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society community center in Buenos Aires. While also in Buenos Aires, the Secretary will meet individually with Argentine President Macri, Chilean Foreign Minister Ribera, and Bahamian Foreign Minister Henfield.

In Ecuador on July 20th, the Secretary will meet with President Moreno and Foreign Minister Valencia as we reinvigorate bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including strengthening democratic and transparent governance, expanding commercial ties, and increasing cultural and educational exchanges.

The Secretary’s visit – his first visit to Ecuador and the first secretary of state to visit Ecuador since 2010 – indicates that the relationship between the United States and Ecuador is stronger than ever.

On July 21st, Secretary Pompeo will head to Mexico City, where he will meet with Foreign Minister Ebrard to continue ongoing conversations with the Mexican Government on illegal migration, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, and promoting opportunity and prosperity in southern Mexico.

He will then travel to San Salvador, El Salvador, where he will mark the first visit by a secretary of state to that country in 10 years. Secretary Pompeo will meet with the president to discuss our shared interest in reducing illegal migration and support the president’s efforts to create economic opportunity, combat corruption, and to build a strong, self-reliant El Salvador. The Secretary will also reinforce our bilateral security cooperation by signing a lease extension for U.S. use of facilities at the airport, which has played an important role for the U.S. in the region in support of counternarcotics operations.

Before heading back to D.C., Secretary Pompeo will stop in Orlando, Florida on July 22nd, where he will speak with the Veterans of Foreign Wars president, deliver a speech at the VFW, and meet with the VFW Kansas delegation.

QUESTION: Just on that, would you —

MS ORTAGUS: I’m not ready for questions yet, but I’ll get back. Thanks.

QUESTION: I know, but on that you said something that I think you might want to clarify.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay.

QUESTION: And that would be about the Puerto Rico part of it. Do you want to explain as the statement that – which State Department staff in Puerto Rico he’s going to be meeting with? Because I think that people might be confused into thinking that – Puerto Rico is part of the United States, so it doesn’t have a U.S. embassy or consulate in it, right? So these people work for what part of the State Department?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t know.

QUESTION: They work for the —

MS ORTAGUS: Commemorating five years since MH17: We remember the victims who lost their lives in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine tomorrow on July 17th, 2014. It’s been five years since 298 innocent civilians lost their lives. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims. As we said in our June statement, we call on Russia to ensure that individuals currently in Russia who were indicted by Dutch prosecutors in June will face justice. We fully support the ongoing work of the Dutch authorities and the joint investigation team to bring those responsible to justice.

Next on Tunisia: The Secretary today met with Tunisian foreign minister as a part of the third U.S.-Tunisian Strategic Dialogue to reinforce the strong relationship between our two countries. In support of this engagement, officials from our governments reviewed Tunisia’s political, economic, and security situation, and welcome upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections as important milestones for Tunisian democracy. The Strategic Dialogue capped off a series of high-level bilateral engagements. The Defense Department hosted the 33rd Joint Military Commission in April, and the United States Trade Representative organized the eighth Trade and Investment Council in May, and the Departments of State and Commerce held the second Joint Economic Commission in June. The United States strongly supports Tunisia, and we recognize the importance of a successful and secure Tunisia to the entire region.

The Secretary today also met with Colombian foreign minister in Washington, D.C. The two leaders discussed the ongoing political and man-made humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The Secretary expressed gratitude for Colombia’s continued leadership and extraordinary generosity in hosting displaced Venezuelans.

The Secretary and the foreign minister also discussed recent progress on combatting narcotics and the need to do more to meet the shared goal of reducing coca cultivation and cocaine production by half by the end of 2023.

Matt.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you what is going on in terms of discussions, deliberations about Turkey and its purchase of the S-400s? I saw that the President said at the top or during the cabinet meeting today that the F-35s are no longer a go.

MS ORTAGUS: He did say that.

QUESTION: But we had all been – that had been previewed well in – even if the final, final decision had been made. But there are other things that could be triggered under CAATSA, and I’m just wondering where things stand in the discussion.

MS ORTAGUS: Right. So the Secretary and the President are examining all of the options that are in the CAATSA legislation. I think that we’ve been pretty clear from this podium what the ramifications could be, and I think that you saw those ramifications today when the President talked about the inability of Turkey now to have the F-35.

As it relates to which sanctions options will be chosen, we don’t preview those sanctions in advance, but know that the Secretary is obviously reviewing and working on this with the President.

QUESTION: Right. But if you had – if you could, where are we in the process? Are they close? Are they far away? Are they middle distance? When do you —

MS ORTAGUS: They’re in the process. As soon as we have an announcement to make, I’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah.

QUESTION: On that topic, you said you’re not going to preview which sanctions they’re going to use. Does that mean that they won’t – the prevailing wisdom is they are going to go ahead with sanctions? There’s not an effort to try to maybe do a workaround or waive those sanctions, or is that part of the discussion at all?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t know what workaround you’re referring to. I mean, I think we could all go to google.com and look at the CAATSA sanctions and see the 12 options that are available there and what can be done in that legislation. And I think that the Secretary and the President will make a decision based off what they’re required to do according to U.S. law, and once they have that decision, we’ll certainly inform all of you.

QUESTION: Follow-up?

MS ORTAGUS: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The EU also – it imposed some sanctions for Turkish drilling in Cyprus economic zone, and Turkey strongly rejected that. What’s your position on the issue?

MS ORTAGUS: We’ve talked about – I think we’ve talked about this before here. We certainly have expressed similar – similarly to the Europeans, we’ve expressed deep concerns over Turkey’s assertions that it is going to continue to drill in these waters off of Cyprus. And I think that I’m pretty sure that I released a statement on this back on July 9th, and so I refer you back to that statement. I could read it, but you could probably easily get a copy. But again, we similarly share the concern that the Europeans have displayed today.

Yes, hi.

QUESTION: Yes, hi. As you know, there was a report that Imran Khan, Pakistan prime minister, will visit Washington next week.

MS ORTAGUS: Yes.

QUESTION: Regarding Pakistan, there are human rights violation happening in Quetta, Balochistan and other part of Pakistan and some Afghan Hazara people living in Quetta. Do you think that the U.S. administration will discuss about this important issue?

MS ORTAGUS: So we have actually talked about this quite a bit here from the State Department. Number one, you could always go to our Human Rights Report. But secondly, I think that’s a timely question because we have the religious freedom ministerial that’s going on right now. I think many of you have probably attended some of the sessions. I will be there tomorrow, so I encourage you to attend tomorrow.

And as it relates to the report that Ambassador Brownback puts out that he spoke about at the podium last week, he is actually – they talked about this issue as it relates to Pakistan.

So the visit, of course, between Khan and President Trump will be at the White House, and that’s, of course, their – I’ll leave it to the White House to talk more about what will happen in that visit. But here from the State Department regarding the issue that we referred to, we have, I think, at least two instances where we have talked about this in our public reports.

Hi, Shaun.

QUESTION: Can we stay on that – can we stay on the same topic?

MS ORTAGUS: Go ahead, Shaun.

QUESTION: A different topic, on North Korea.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay.

QUESTION: North Korea —

QUESTION: Can we stay on the same topic?

MS ORTAGUS: Did I call on you? I didn’t – no, I called on Shaun. Thanks.

QUESTION: Sure. On North Korea, the – North Korea has made a statement saying that talks that have been – had been agreed to by President Trump and by —

MS ORTAGUS: Yes.

QUESTION: — Chairman Kim will not go forward if there are joint drills going ahead between the United States and the Republic of Korea. What is the U.S. response to that? Will drills be again either taken down to a smaller level or postponed? Do you expect talks to go ahead?

MS ORTAGUS: Right. So I’ll leave it up to the Department of Defense to speak to those because that’s under their purview. We saw, of course, overnight the press statements from a person within the foreign ministry. We would say from our perspective we would hope that no one would try to block – in their government or our own government – the ability for President Trump and Chairman Kim to get – to make progress on the commitments that they made to each other in Vietnam. We will look forward, of course, to resuming those negotiations, and we hope to talk about all ways that we can advance progress on these commitments.

And so I think that, as we’ve said here – we talk quite a bit about North Korea from the podium, because there’s always a report here and a report there, and I think our position – we talked about this actually pretty extensively last week – is going to remain the same, that the President feels very confident. The Secretary was there; Steve Biegun was there. They feel confident in the discussions and the meetings that they had with Chairman Kim at the DMZ, and we hope Steve Biegun and his team will quietly continue to make progress behind the scenes. Yes. Hi.

QUESTION: Your comment just there – are you suggesting that there are people in the U.S. Government who are trying to prevent talks from Chairman Kim and – or the talks that Chairman Kim and President Trump have agreed to from going on?

MS ORTAGUS: I’m not suggesting that anyone would ever undermine the President.

QUESTION: Or are you suggesting that there’s some kind of a – some kind of a —

MS ORTAGUS: Jennifer.

QUESTION: Thanks, Morgan. Just a bit ago in the Cabinet meeting Secretary Pompeo that Iran, for the first time, had agreed to negotiate on missiles. Can you say what comments he’s referring to? The Iranian foreign minister has pushed for – rather their UN mission has pushed back on the comments to Lester Holt, their characterization of that. Is – are those the comments he’s referring to?

MS ORTAGUS: The Iranian foreign ministry pushed back on which comments?

QUESTION: Sorry. The UN mission. The UN Iranian mission —

MS ORTAGUS: Oh, okay.

QUESTION: — has pushed back on the characterization that those comments were at all about missiles.

MS ORTAGUS: I didn’t see what the mission said. I’ll definitely look that up and respond to that specifically. As far as the President and the Secretary’s comments in the meeting, I’ll certainly – I think they should speak for themselves. I think it goes to show, though, what we have talked about consistently from this podium. Our messaging has been that we are willing to talk to the Iranians. The President and the Secretary has said several times that they will talk without preconditions. The Iranians just need to show that they’re ready to talk.

This, of course – I think one of the more frustrating things about this is that the Iranian regime – and Brian Hook talks about this quite a bit – often meets our diplomacy with continued aggressive behavior in the region. We saw, of course, when President Abe was in Iran, the attacks on the Japanese tankers. We’ve seen the regime attacking Emirati, Norwegian tankers. We also saw – what was it, two weeks ago now? My days start to run together – we saw the IRGC navy harassed a British vessel. I think that was two weeks ago.

So despite some of the rhetoric I think that has been inflamed in Washington over the past two months that this administration was somehow rushing to war, we think it was – this was quite the opposite, and we think that this is just a continuation of what we said, that we will meet and talk and negotiate with the Iranians without preconditions. But they should know that the 12 steps that the Secretary lined out over a year ago will be on the table, and that is the destabilizing behavior that they’re going to have to address beyond just their – the purported program.

QUESTION: But can you say was he talking about a different – what comments was he referring to when he said they would be talking without – without conditions?

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah, I think he was responding to the media report.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah.

QUESTION: Morgan, just real quick on North Korea.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay.

QUESTION: When you got – you said that Special Representative Biegun continues to make – and his team continue to make quiet progress with the North Koreans, has he had much success since the impromptu meeting at the demilitarized zone in communicating with his North Korean counterparts? What has the contact been like?

MS ORTAGUS: So that’s – and I know – I certainly understand why you have to ask that. But when and where and how the U.S. has talks, whether it’s through Biegun or Pompeo or the President or anyone else, is not going to be announced here from the podium. We’re going to give this team space to do the work. I think the Secretary laid it out best. He said that he hopes these working-level negotiations with the North Koreans – he said this in an interview yesterday with someone from your network – will come to the table with ideas that they didn’t have the first time, and we hope that they can be a little more creative too. So, again, we’re going to give them the time and space to make this happen. And I understand why you have to ask that, but I think as it gets into the tick-tock of who’s meeting when and how. We’re just not going to get into that here.

QUESTION: And you can’t say if they have met yet?

MS ORTAGUS: No.

QUESTION: Morgan?

QUESTION: More on North Korea.

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you, Morgan. On the sanctions against North Korea, do you think South Korea is doing well in implementing UN sanctions against North Korea? Or do you have anything – evidence for North and South Korea has any (inaudible) sanctions against North Korea?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t have a specific update about South Korea, per se, but we would continue to encourage every country in the world to abide by U.S. sanctions, to abide by comprehensive UN sanctions of course as well. And we would hope especially that all of our friends and allies would continue to do so.

Anybody else have anything on North Korea?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS ORTAGUS: North Korea? Okay.

QUESTION: I just want to clarify your stance on the joint military drill? Do you think it’s —

MS ORTAGUS: You’re going to have to talk to DOD about that. Yeah, I’m not going to comment on that.

QUESTION: But do you think it’s – is there daylight between State Department and the DOD?

MS ORTAGUS: No, it’s just – we don’t do military drills at the State Department.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s —

MS ORTAGUS: That’s in my reserve duty.

QUESTION: But isn’t it counterproductive?

MS ORTAGUS: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Thank you, Morgan. I have two quick questions on the Palestinian issue.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay.

QUESTION: Last week, it was said that the Palestinian official and Mr. Majid Faraj – he is the head of the Palestinian intelligence, someone who garnered closely – a close relationship with Secretary of State Pompeo when he was at CIA. Can you share with us if he was here, if he met with anyone and so on?

MS ORTAGUS: No.

QUESTION: What was the nature of his visit?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t have anything on that. Thank you, Said. Sorry.

QUESTION: Okay. And just to follow up, if I may, on the Palestinian issue. Yesterday, the Israeli army shot a boy, a ten-year-old boy in the head. It was a sniper, target a child, and so on. Do you have any comment on that?

MS ORTAGUS: We are —

QUESTION: They were demonstrating in Kafr Qaddum. It’s a small village that was closed by the Israeli army.

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah. We’re certainly aware of these reports. I don’t have complete details yet regarding the incident, and of course, I think the Government of Israel would be happy to answer this question as well. I would say as a general matter at the State Department we continue to encourage both sides to take appropriate actions to ease tensions and to build an environment that is conducive for peace.

QUESTION: Right. But these are villagers that are protesting against the occupying force. I mean the people (inaudible).

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah. I’m that sure that the embassy —

QUESTION: There are no both sides.

MS ORTAGUS: — here in the U.S. or the Government of Israel, their foreign ministry, would be happy to continue along the questions, but that’s all I have for that today.

QUESTION: Can I ask a quick question on Iran?

MS ORTAGUS: Sure.

QUESTION: Really, a quick follow-up. It seems that the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is restricted to three places in New York: the mission, the UN, and the ambassador’s house.

MS ORTAGUS: Yes.

QUESTION: Is that – isn’t that in violation about protocol between the host country and the United Nations because they have a 25-mile radius? Can you share with us something?

MS ORTAGUS: No, it’s not a violation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS ORTAGUS: Carol?

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow on Janne’s question about Iran.

MS ORTAGUS: Okay.

QUESTION: Could you shine any light at all on how you communicate with Tehran? This may have been an issue – say it came from a media report – that the Secretary had this impression. But when you need to get a message to Tehran or – on say a potential breakthrough on negotiations, what kind of back channels do you have available?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t think that that’s something that I could discuss from the podium.

Yeah, hi.

QUESTION: Just quick question on Iran, and with regard to the international coalition to safeguard shipping in the Hormuz Strait, specifically which country had the U.S. requested to join the coalition?

MS ORTAGUS: I don’t have a list on that. I mean, that’s something that I know, as we’ve traveled throughout the Middle East and Europe, I mean – for all parties that are – have an interest, including those in Asia as well, that’s something that we’ve been talking to a host of countries about. I don’t have the specific number. But as we continue to urge de-escalation in the region and continue to encourage Iran to stop their provocative actions, that’s a part of the larger conversations that we have with many friends and allies.

Yes, ma’am. Hi.

QUESTION: Just to follow-up —

MS ORTAGUS: No, that’s okay. Let’s go to the lady behind you, please.

QUESTION: The U.S. has already requested Japan to join the coalition, Japan – about Japan? The U.S. has already requested Japan to join?

MS ORTAGUS: Oh, have we asked Japan? I’d have to double check. I would assume we have, but I would have to double check.

Yes. Hi. Where are you from?

QUESTION: AWPS News. Kris Anderson.

MS ORTAGUS: Great.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on Algeria? There are ongoing reports of journalists that are within the civilian population and people being beaten up and arrested.

MS ORTAGUS: Well, I don’t have anything specific on Algeria. I would say that we talked about – just last week from the podium – about the journalism symposium that Phil Reeker attended. Forgive me for forgetting the specific name, but it was in London last week, and that was of course on media freedom. We talked about that quite extensively here from the podium last week. It’s something that we, of course, support.

And as you can tell, while the commission – excuse me – while the ministerial this week is on religious freedom, Ambassador Brownback had talked in an interview about how more religious freedom opens up to more freedoms, more of the ability for free speech, for journalistic freedoms. So that’s obviously something that we try – I personally try to talk about as often as possible from this podium, so thank you for asking.

Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up and a question. The follow-up is that (inaudible). Imran Khan’s visit. Will he be visiting and meeting – have meetings in this building also?

MS ORTAGUS: So this is an official White House visit, so at the moment we’re going to let them speak to the details of the visit.

QUESTION: Okay. And the question is that: Are you satisfied with the recent visit of two USTR officials to Delhi about U.S.-India trade talks?

MS ORTAGUS: Right. Well, I was actually just in Delhi with the Secretary, where he met with his counterpart, and they were, of course, incredibly effective meetings. We talked there quite a bit, both in our meetings and to the media, and many – you probably know this already how India is – United States is India’s most important trading partner. I believe we’re their top market for exports.

And as it relates to our trade relationship – and the President has said this – excuse me, the Secretary has said this as well when we were in India – that we see a lot of opportunity for growth in our relationship. We see enormous potential. And he is confident – the Secretary is confident – he has reiterated this – that any sort of trade negotiations that we have, any issues can be worked through because of the friendship between our two countries.

QUESTION: Just a quick one. Do you have any comments on that Kartarpur Corridor that is being built between India and Pakistan for Sikh pilgrims?

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah, that was certainly a good news report, wasn’t it? We encourage it. Anything that increases people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan is something that we’re incredibly supportive of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS ORTAGUS: Ben.

QUESTION: Thank you, Morgan. This morning, Special Representative Brian Hook said that this Friday he was inviting members of the diplomatic corps to the State Department to present a maritime security initiative. Do you know who these diplomatic corps members are? And he also mentioned he was going to give a briefing. Do you know who’s invited?

MS ORTAGUS: Was his discussion off the record?

QUESTION: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that.

MS ORTAGUS: Was his discussion off the record?

QUESTION: I don’t know.

MS ORTAGUS: Oh, you don’t know.

QUESTION: It was broadcast.

MS ORTAGUS: It was broadcast?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS ORTAGUS: Oh. I have it confused with another one.

QUESTION: By Axios.

MS ORTAGUS: In terms of who he’s inviting, we’ll get that answer for you. I don’t have the invitee list with me, but we’ll be happy to share. I think you know Brian is – goes around the world, of course, working on his portfolio not only on Iran but in his advisory capacities to the Secretary as well.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that.

QUESTION: Just one more – sure.

QUESTION: Was that – the security initiative he was talking about, was that the Project Sentinel that was discussed on the Secretary’s trip to the Middle East a couple weeks ago?

MS ORTAGUS: I think it’s been called various names. We’ve been just – I’ve been informally referring it to the – as the maritime security initiative, but I will double-check with Brian if we – which name we’re going to officially call it.

QUESTION: But it’s the same – that’s what he was talking about, the same (inaudible).

QUESTION: Yes, one or two more on Iran?

MS ORTAGUS: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There’s a French-Iranian dual national, a professor at Sciences Po, who was arrested in Iran for —

MS ORTAGUS: What was the name?

QUESTION: Fariba Adelkhah.

MS ORTAGUS: I think I remember this.

QUESTION: I believe she’s a French-Iranian dual national. I was wondering if the State Department has anything to say about her detention and the nature of the charges against her.

MS ORTAGUS: I saw that report this morning. I think maybe I heard about that report on NPR, actually. And we do have information for you on that, Shaun, and I don’t think that I remembered to bring it with me, but we’ll get it to you, absolutely.

QUESTION: Can I ask about detainees? I want to go to Egypt, though.

MS ORTAGUS: Egypt?

QUESTION: So yeah, last month, this working group on Egypt – they call themselves the Carnegie Endowment – wrote a letter to the Secretary talking about Americans jailed unjustly in Egypt, and yesterday I think they said and published the Secretary’s response —

MS ORTAGUS: Yes.

QUESTION: — in which he said yes, this is an issue of concern to us, and et cetera, et cetera. I wanted to ask about one specific – or two specific detainees who are not American citizens but whose families are American. That’s Ola al-Qaradawi and her husband Hosam Khalaf, and they’ve been in now for roughly two years each and the wife has just been – again today had her detention extended for another 15 days. What exactly are you telling the Egyptians about this, about what your concerns are in this specific case?

MS ORTAGUS: Yeah. Just so we don’t conflate the two issues, if I could just go back to the first issue that you were referring to, the letter from Carnegie, which, of course, you read the Secretary’s response. I just want to – the reason why I want to respond to that direct is because I think it’s important to note that we do take all allegations of abuse and torture extremely seriously, and that’s, of course, why we read and responded to that letter.

And then so, again, not to conflate the two, but the second issue on the case of this couple – al-Qaradawi and her husband, I believe, is Hosam Khalaf – we actually cited this case in our annual Human Rights Report on Egypt, so I would refer you to that. The State Department has met with the family members, which some of them are American citizens, to discuss this case. We actually did so again yesterday. Anything further in terms of – as it relates to their incarceration the Government of Egypt will have to answer, but we are – we’re meeting regularly as of yesterday.

QUESTION: Do you – was that here or there? Where – do you know where that meeting was?

MS ORTAGUS: We met with the family, so I’ll have to confirm. I don’t know if the family happened to be in Egypt or in the U.S., but I’ll confirm that for you.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other – and but have you gone as far as to call for their release or are you just saying that – you’re just expressing concern about the conditions of their detention?

MS ORTAGUS: We’re expressing concern about the conditions.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I have one question about Afghanistan, please.

MS ORTAGUS: Sure.

QUESTION: Any update about peace talks with the Taliban (inaudible) —

MS ORTAGUS: No. We did talk – I can’t remember the – which day I briefed last week, I think it was Thursday – but we talked a little bit about the – Ambassador Khalilzad’s travels. We just finished this seventh round of talks with the Taliban in which the ambassador indicated that he had made substantial progress. He was in Doha and I believe I indicated last week that he was in China. He had a previously – excuse me, scheduled meeting, trilateral meeting with China and Russia. Pakistan also joined the meeting. So we will certainly talk about what sort of specific update that we can give you, but I don’t think anything has changed in terms of public readouts since the seventh round of talks with the Taliban which happened last week.

QUESTION: Any update —

MS ORTAGUS: Let’s make that the last one, sure.

QUESTION: Excuse me.

QUESTION: Any update on the EAP Assistant Secretary Stilwell visit to South Korea?

MS ORTAGUS: I actually emailed with him this morning because I saw some of the media reports that you’re probably referring to, and the assistant secretary told me that his schedule has not at all changed. So I believe late last week, I gave all of you a readout – or excuse me, I previewed his travel schedule, and that hasn’t changed at all. And I did confirm that with him myself this morning.

I will see some of you if you’re covering the religious freedom ministerial tomorrow. I’ll see you there. And some of you are going with us on the trip that we referenced at the beginning to WHA, so if you’re not on the trip with me and you’re not at the ministerial tomorrow, I will see you next week. Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:10 p.m.)

 

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