Department Press Briefing - October 24, 2017

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 24, 2017


2:30 p.m. EDT

MS NAUERT: Okay, got a couple top pieces of other news I want to start bringing you right now. Hey, Michelle. How are you? And starting out with something that’s taken place and that is a trade forum right now.

The Central Asia Trade Forum, a USAID-funded project, took place in Kazakhstan on October 18th and 19th. This year’s forum saw a new record for participation with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs, industry leaders, donors, and government officials from 15 countries in South Central Asia, including Afghanistan and other countries as well.

The forum focused on future growth, trade, transport, and horticulture. The forum hosted discussions on trade and economic growth in Central Asia as well as business-to-business networking opportunities, a trade exhibition, national – pardon me – exhibits, and certification standards training for horticulture specialists. Business-to-business networking is just one aspect of this. Preliminary results saw more than $15 million in signed letters of intent to conduct future deals in the region. We’re looking forward to Uzbekistan holding next year’s forum.

In addition to that, I’d like to mention to you our Deputy Secretary John Sullivan was in Mexico yesterday. He traveled to Mexico, and during his trip he delivered remarks to the annual Mexican Business Summit, where he reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship. Deputy Secretary Sullivan also met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who delivered a keynote address at the summit. The deputy secretary then hosted a meeting with U.S. and Mexican business leaders who attended the summit. They discussed business opportunities and challenges for both countries.

Throughout the events, Deputy Secretary Sullivan reaffirmed the strong collaborative bilateral relationship with Mexico, a relationship that goes beyond economic ties and contributes to the security and prosperity of the American people.

Today, the deputy secretary met with the Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, in Mexico City to discuss our continuing joint efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations. Additionally, the two leaders noted their mutual concern about Venezuela’s retreat from democratic principles. The deputy secretary and Secretary Videgaray also reviewed other issues, including migration from Central America. Deputy Secretary Sullivan also met with American and local staff at our U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where he had the chance to learn firsthand about the good work that our folks are doing down in Mexico. If I get any further – anything further on the deputy secretary’s trip, I will certainly bring that to you.

In addition to that, I know we have a few – fewer bodies in this room today this week because a lot of folks are traveling with Secretary Tillerson, but also with Ambassador Haley. So I’d like to give you a brief update on some of her travel and some of his travel as well.

Ambassador Haley is visiting Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo this week. She’s currently in Ethiopia, where she held meetings with the prime minister and also African Union commissioner for political affairs. USUN has provided some readouts of those meetings, so I’d refer you to USUN for those specific readouts.

Today, Ambassador Haley visited Nguenyyiel – that’s a refugee camp in Gambela. It hosts thousands of refugees who fled the violence in South Sudan. Ambassador Haley is investigating the critical role that the UN and the United States play in humanitarian assistance, facilitating a political process and promoting peace in those countries. She’s looking at ways to make the UN operations, especially peacekeeping missions, for which the United States is by far the largest donor, and they’re looking for things – to do things more efficiently.

Ambassador Haley will deliver a strong message that the governments of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo – that we need to make progress towards sustained political solutions as soon as possible, and that their governments need to stop making the work of aid workers and peacekeepers more difficult. She’ll also hear directly from refugees and internally displaced people, as she did today in Gambela. They’ve fled the violence, especially the children, who have been affected in so many ways by that.

Finally, the President has announced his travel to Asia. That is upcoming, so I’d like to provide a few details for you on that. The President, as announced by the White House, will make his first official visit to Asia from November 3rd to November 14th, with stops in Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Vietnam, and also the Philippines. The President’s travel will underscore his commitment to longstanding United States alliances and partnership, call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea, and reaffirm the United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The trip will be the President’s longest trip to date, underscoring the importance he places on the Indo-Pacific region, and demonstrating the importance of robust international engagement in defense of U.S. national security and economic prosperity for the American people.

And finally, a little bit about Secretary Tillerson’s travel. As many of you know, he departed the United States late last week for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He took part in discussions in Riyadh, in Doha. He made a trip to Afghanistan; also going to Iraq; Pakistan as well; New Delhi, India, where he is right now, and then he will head on to Geneva. And I believe he returns on Friday.[1]

So a little bit of an update for you there. And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.


MS NAUERT: You want to start?

QUESTION: Yeah. Let’s pick it up right there at the Secretary’s travels to Afghanistan, just a little bit of housekeeping.


QUESTION: Why did the State Department tweet out that the Secretary was holding meetings in Kabul when he was actually at Bagram?

MS NAUERT: Well, first of all, I think it was a mistake on the part of our folks, the traveling staff and so – and in addition to that, our embassy. That was something that the – that we didn’t put out from this building, and I think it was just a simple mistake that happened.

QUESTION: So that wasn’t connected then to the Afghan Government’s decision to publicly release a doctored photo of the Secretary?

MS NAUERT: Not to my awareness. No, no.

QUESTION: Okay. Does the – is the State Department okay with the Government of Afghanistan putting out doctored photographs of the Secretary?

MS NAUERT: I think I’d have to refer you to the Government of Afghanistan and also the Secretary’s traveling staff. I’m not there, so I don't have awareness of how all of this unfolded. But I think it was a simple mistake.

QUESTION: The – the part – on the U.S. side it was a simple mistake, not as far as the doctored photo?

MS NAUERT: On the U.S. part in terms of putting Kabul versus Bagram. I think that was a U.S. mistake. I think the Afghan Government changed those photos probably to make it aesthetically more pleasing, but I’ve not talked to Afghanistan about that, and I’d just refer you to the Secretary’s staff about it.

QUESTION: Heather --

QUESTION: Does it bother you at all that they did that?

MS NAUERT: Again, I think probably why they did it is to make the photo look better. I mean, we never like doctored photos, but also understand that perhaps they wanted to present a better image than having met at Bagram. But again, that’s really all I have for you on that.

QUESTION: Why did the Secretary go from, let’s say, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region, went to Afghanistan, then back to Iraq? Wouldn’t it have been better to go directly, let’s say, from the region to Iraq and then on to Afghanistan, then on to Pakistan? Was there any reason for that?

MS NAUERT: Well, I’m not a pilot and I’m not a part of our Diplomatic Security, so I’m not --

QUESTION: Obviously. What I’m saying was there --


QUESTION: -- did that trip happen so suddenly, that there was an urgent that forced him to do that, to Iraq?

MS NAUERT: Well, I think – I mean, there’s a clear security issue in the region, Afghanistan in particular. We’re all aware of that. So for security reasons, we don’t announce some pieces of travel, so it can be unannounced travel and happen just at the last minute if it’s determined that it can be safely done.

QUESTION: Are you disappointed that, according to press reports, he was received rather tepidly, there was a tepid reception for the Secretary in Iraq, in Baghdad?

MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that.

QUESTION: Follow up to that?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Hi, Laurie.

QUESTION: What’s your response to the statements of Iranian-backed militia figures, like Qais al-Khazali that – and they’re responding to Secretary Tillerson – that it’s the United States who should leave Iraq and not them? And are you concerned now about increased terrorism – Iranian terrorism against U.S. troops, as we saw during Operation Iraqi Freedom?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. So the United States operates in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi Government. We are there, a part of working in concert with the Iraqi Government and the many members of the D-ISIS coalition. Our aim is to take out ISIS and to assist with that. So when the Iraqi Government tells us they’re done with us, I guess that that would be the case.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, despite Secretary Tillerson’s warnings to Baghdad against further aggression against the Kurds, there were another three attacks today. He said in Baghdad – he said to the prime minister that’s it, don’t attack the Kurds anymore. They’ve attacked again. What is your response to those attacks?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I would say we’re certainly aware of those reports, Laurie. We’re monitoring the situation very carefully, very closely in Iraq. We have maintained, from this podium and throughout the building, in addition to our people who are on the ground working with Iraqi Government officials every single day, also our friends in the north, that we want dialogue. We want calm; we want dialogue. We don’t want any violent acts being taken by anyone on any side.

QUESTION: But do you consider punitive measures if the Iraqis don’t listen?

MS NAUERT: I’m not going to forecast what we may or may not do. I can just tell you that we’ve had a lot of conversations with the Government of Iraq and others as well in the region.

QUESTION: Follow-up?

QUESTION: Follow-up?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Yeah. Let’s stay on Iraq for now, if we have additional questions on Iraq.

QUESTION: Follow-up?


QUESTION: Thank you. So Amnesty International has collected what it calls evidence from satellite images, videos, and witness interviews and victims that tens of thousands of Kurds, mostly Kurds, have been displaced from Tuz Khurmatu in Diyala by Iran-backed – because of the attack from the Iran-backed militias and Iraqi Government. Have you seen that report that came out today from Amnesty?

MS NAUERT: I have not seen the report and I’ve not seen any pictures. So I’m sorry, I’m not going to comment on something that I haven’t seen myself.

QUESTION: And just on Secretary Tillerson’s warning that the Iran-supported militias have to leave the country, do you have a timeframe during which they must leave, or just a warning?

MS NAUERT: I think the Secretary was – was really speaking to what a lot of people are concerned about, and that is Iranian influence in the region but also in Iraq. So that is a concern of the Secretary’s. I think we’ve made that clear in the past and that’s as far as I’m going to go on that.

Okay. Hey, Michelle.

QUESTION: On that same subject, Iraq is one that didn’t seem to be concerned in response to the words that the Secretary used. So what do you think of the way that they framed it, that there are no foreign troops here, that people who are here are just advising and assisting? Does that just add to the State Department’s concern?

MS NAUERT: Well, I think we recognize that there are various groups, that there are Iraqi forces that are – the PMF, for example, that are a part of the Iraqi Government forces, but where there is also an Iranian influence, so that’s something that we fully recognize.

QUESTION: But the fact that – I mean, the Secretary uses such strong words saying that these militias and these Iranian-backed groups need to get out. Iraq doesn’t seem concerned about it in the least. Is that going to be a problem?

MS NAUERT: I don’t know, Michele. I don’t know the answer to that. If – for any additional questions on that, I’d just refer you to the Secretary.

QUESTION: Iran’s chief of staff today said that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani had spoiled an American-Israeli plot to create a second Israel in the Kurdistan region.

MS NAUERT: What? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: They said that --

MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that, Laurie.

QUESTION: Well, that --

MS NAUERT: I’m not. Really, I mean --

QUESTION: But don’t you think that stopping the fighting would be an effective – a good counter to Iranian efforts to extend its influence into – into Kurdistan?

MS NAUERT: We would certainly call for calm on all sides. We talk about that a lot. We expressed a lot of concern about the pending referendum prior to the referendum, the concern that this would back Iraq away from a unified government. That remains a concern of ours and that is being borne out in some of the actions we’re seeing taken in Iraq right now.

Okay. Shall we move on?

QUESTION: Turkey? (Inaudible.)

MS NAUERT: Okay. Go ahead. Let’s – we’ll go to Pakistan real quick. Hey, Rich.

QUESTION: Staying on the trip --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Qatar.

QUESTION: -- the Secretary in Islamabad today, following the meeting, Pakistani Government essentially says it denies that there is a safe haven issue within its borders. Does that mean that the next step is cuts in aid sanctions? What’s the consequence of today’s meeting?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. That I’m not sure. We – I don’t want to forecast anything that could come in the future. The Secretary said that today and so I’m just going to have to let his words stand for themselves.

QUESTION: And do we have a readout of how the meetings went?

MS NAUERT: I don’t have a readout, I’m afraid.

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

MS NAUERT: If I do get one, I will certainly provide it to you. If Robert has one that I don’t have access to, I will let you know. Okay?

QUESTION: Heather, on the refugees. Heather --

MS NAUERT: Anything else on Pakistan?


QUESTION: North Korea?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Okay. Hi.

QUESTION: I wanted to go to the refugee situation and the fact that today --


QUESTION: In the United States, and the fact that today was the last day of a suspension of refugee processing. I wondered if the issues that had cause for the suspension itself had been resolved and if new measures have been implemented for screening, or what the timeline might be on that taking place?

MS NAUERT: So the announcement will be made – as many of you are aware, the State Department is participating in that along with – I believe it’s DHS and the White House later today. So I don’t want to get ahead of any of those conversations or what they will be presenting, so I’m just going to have to ask you to hold off on that until that takes place later. I think it’s 3:30 or so, so we’re trying to be wrapped up so you all can join in on that one.

QUESTION: North Korea?

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

QUESTION: North Korea?


MS NAUERT: Okay. Let’s go to Syria, then.

QUESTION: Very quickly, first of all, are you aware of the Security Council resolution that failed? You – sorry, you called for the Security Council to meet so they can extend the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism?

MS NAUERT: On the Joint Investigative Mechanism, yes, yes.

QUESTION: And the Russians just cast a veto.


QUESTION: You have any comment on that?

MS NAUERT: I do. Bear with me one second. Okay? I’ve got a lot of stuff to go through today.

So what Said is talking about, for those of you who haven’t followed it, the UN Security Council voted to not renew the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism. That is set to expire in mid-November. You may recall a couple months ago the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the OCPW, had a Fact-Finding Mission that would determine whether or not chemical weapons were used in Syria. They issued the report – the OPCW – confirming that chemical weapons had been used. The next step in that was for the Joint Investigative Mechanism to determine culpability, who is responsible for that. That is something that is still underway.

Today’s piece of news is that the UN Security Council voted with the participation of Russia to not renew that mandate. That is, of course, a concern of ours. We see that as important in determining who is responsible for those attacks that killed so many innocent people – women, children, the elderly – in Syria.

The mandate of the JIM is to identify who used the chemical weapons. Russia had indicated that it would veto that measure. They say they wanted to wait until the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s forthcoming report that’s set to be released October the 26th. They said that they would do that before deciding on whether the mechanism should be extended or not. Russia and also Bolivia voted against the measure, China and Kazakhstan abstained, and 11 countries voted to extend.

In addition to that, I just want to make it clear that we are disappointed. We are very disappointed that Russia put what it considered to be political considerations over the Syrian people who were just so brutally murdered.

QUESTION: So what is the fate, in your opinion, of the JIM? What happens next?

MS NAUERT: That I don’t know. I’m not going to forecast what then happens. I can put you in touch with our folks at the UN who might have a better answer on that.


QUESTION: If we may stay on Syria just for a little bit.

MS NAUERT: Okay, yeah. We’ll stay on Syria for a minute. Then we’ll --

QUESTION: Of course, the State Department issued a statement about the victory in Raqqa and so on, but again, we go back to the same questions we asked you last week: What happens next?

MS NAUERT: You’re not going to ask me about passports and health insurance, are you?

QUESTION: No. (Laughter.)

MS NAUERT: Okay, okay.

QUESTION: You’re doing – you’re providing a great deal of help to that area.

MS NAUERT: (Laughter.) We’re trying to provide you information, but that I can’t get for you.

QUESTION: Yes, absolutely. No, I’m saying that there were reports, all kinds of reports alleging that the coalition and the United States Air Force has been guilty – or not – may be responsible for some bombings that resulted in many civilian deaths. Do you have any comment on that?

MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that, what you’re referring to, in particular. I’d have to refer you to the Department of Defense if you have any specific questions about that. I mean, I can say overall – and we’ve said this a lot before – that the U.S. takes civilian casualties and the issue of that very, very seriously. There is a reporting mechanism for that. There are a lot of investigations that are set off when there are accusations of that. But any specific accusations or claims of that taking place I’m just not aware of today.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the race between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian army toward Deir ez-Zour and that – and the surrounding areas and so on might result in some sort of a clash that the U.S. might be drawn into?

MS NAUERT: I think that’s just a hypothetical situation, okay? Where we are right now is a tremendous success over ISIS in Raqqa. This is still a very long road ahead of us. I’m not going to say victory for all of Syria because we are certainly not there yet, but the fact that Raqqa has been taken back from ISIS – and let’s just go back to remembering what Raqqa stood for, what Raqqa was all about for this so-called caliphate. And that is where some of the attacks against Europeans that killed so many civilians were plotted. You all will recall the Nice attacks, where a truck drove through a group of civilians in Nice; where the Brussels bombing was plotted. That was one of – one of Syria – excuse me, one of ISIS’s so-called twin capitals.

So it’s a tremendous success that finally, under this administration, Raqqa was taken back, and I don’t want us to lose focus on the significance of that. That’s not a U.S. success necessarily, although we were certainly part of that. It’s a Syrian success for the Syrian people, and frankly, it’s a success for all peace-loving people who want to do away with ISIS and see ISIS taken out. So if I can impress upon anything for you today, it is let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’ve had that success from afar.

QUESTION: And finally --

QUESTION: On Syria? On Raqqa?

QUESTION: And finally, the Russians are saying that 80 percent – ISIS used to control like 80 percent of Syria; today they only control 5. Do you agree with that assessment or have any figure on that?

MS NAUERT: I think we have some different figures on that. I just don’t have them in front of me. But nevertheless, we’ve helped, with coalition backing, retake much of Syria from ISIS.

QUESTION: On the Raqqa question?


QUESTION: Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said at a conference earlier this week that the ouster of ISIS from Raqqa marked the physical annihilation of the Islamic State caliphate. Given that there is still ISIS territory in the Deir ez-Zour area and others, do you consider the caliphate to be defeated? In other words, the President’s goal of defeating this – has that been accomplished, or can you give us some ballpark of how close we are to that point?

MS NAUERT: We’re not there yet.


MS NAUERT: I would love to be able to claim that we have fully defeated ISIS, but what is significant is that we’ve been able to take back now two of their twin capitals from ISIS. One was Mosul and the other was Raqqa. And so the fact that the coalition, 73 countries and partner organizations, have collectively defeated ISIS in that area and taken that back. We hope to be able to get people, civilians, back into Raqqa when it is safe to do so. We have not won the fight yet, but we’ve won the battle, and this is a significant battle.

QUESTION: A question on Syria?

MS NAUERT: Okay. Anything else on --

QUESTION: Syria? On Syria?


MS NAUERT: Okay, on Raqqa. Hi.

QUESTION: Heather, you said a moment ago that Raqqa was – under this administration, Raqqa --


QUESTION: -- was retaken. But you would acknowledge, right, that this was a multi-administration effort and the whole counter-ISIS strategy was originated under the previous administration?

MS NAUERT: The previous administration tried. But President Trump, and under this administration, we have doubled down on the efforts to take back all of the territory that had been taken by ISIS. There were so many horrific things that happened over the past few years. Let me please remind you of the burning of the Jordanian Air Force pilot by ISIS, the beheadings of adults and children, what had been done to Yezidis, what had been done to Christians – you name it, horrific acts. Those horrific acts will still happen on occasion now, but they are not happening the way that they were before. This administration has redoubled its efforts, and we are having success and we are seeing that now.

QUESTION: But the previous administration got this started, right?

MS NAUERT: Look – well, they were forced to. Right? We had ISIS taking over large swaths of country that our men and women had fought alongside not just Iraqis but other governments. We had fought to take these lands on the part of the Iraqi Government in many of these places, and then we saw all of those successes disappear when ISIS came in with their black flags and took over Fallujah, et cetera, many other places as well.

And now we have been able to successfully, with the backing of the coalition partners and the Government of Iraq and others, take back this territory. And hopefully, we’re going to be able to get civilians back in place again.


MS NAUERT: Okay. Anything else?


MS NAUERT: Go ahead.

QUESTION: North Korea?

QUESTION: In response to your statement that said PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan doesn’t merit veneration, YPG released a video featuring its fighters in Raqqa praising Ocalan. So U.S.-backed YPG militia believes Ocalan merit – merits veneration. Do you have a response to this?

MS NAUERT: These are the posters, right, of what I would – what I’m saying --

QUESTION: Yes. After the posters, they released a video basically in response to your comments.

MS NAUERT: Okay. I’m not aware of this video that was released, and a lot of comments and things that come in from either leaders or groups around the world, I’m not going to comment on in particular. But --

QUESTION: But these are your partners.

MS NAUERT: Hold on, hold on. But what I can tell you is that the liberation of Raqqa has been a clear accomplishment not just for the coalition, but most importantly, for the Syrian people. We expect all parties – and this would be included in this video, I suppose, that you reference – to avoid actions that would be seen as offensive or create any additional tensions.

The United States Government works closely with Turkey, as you are well aware. You’re a reporter from Turkey; you work for the government publication, government-private partnership publication. We work with Turkey to try to fight terrorism and increase regional stability.

QUESTION: So it’s a private company. It doesn’t --

MS NAUERT: Oh, yours is?


MS NAUERT: Okay, okay.

QUESTION: It’s not owned by the --

MS NAUERT: No government funding, right? No government funding?

QUESTION: No, no government funding.

MS NAUERT: Okay, okay. Mm-hmm. Okay.

QUESTION: Heather?



MS NAUERT: That’s all I have on Turkey.


MS NAUERT: Okay. Let’s go to North Korea, and then we have to wrap it up, gang. Hi.

QUESTION: Heather, thank you very --

MS NAUERT: By the way, I saw you at the Pentagon briefing yesterday.

QUESTION: Oh, thank you very much.

MS NAUERT: So yep, I saw you on TV.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I’m over – everywhere. (Laughter.)

On North Korea, recently North Korean foreign ministry officials emphasized that North Korean nuclear is non-negotiable on the table. In this regard, what is the United States expect for dialogue with North Korea and what issues would be concerned?

MS NAUERT: Look, Janne, we’ve talked about this a lot before. The United States would very much like to be able to negotiate with North Korea. We are not there yet. North Korea continues to test ballistics; in addition, conduct nuclear tests. That is an indication that they’re not serious about sitting down and having conversations, and I’ll just leave it at that. Okay?

QUESTION: But doesn’t United States have any preconditions to talk to the North Korean (inaudible)?

MS NAUERT: They are not showing us that they are interested in sitting down to talk. Our position on this hasn’t changed. It was the same last week; it was the same the week before. Okay. They need to show us that they are serious.

Anything else on North Korea?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: On North Korea?


QUESTION: What is the State Department’s position on the President potentially visiting the DMZ?

MS NAUERT: I’m not aware that we had – I’m certainly aware that that is under conversation, under negotiation, whether or not the President would visit there. I’m just not aware if the Secretary has had that conversation with the White House.

QUESTION: Heather?


QUESTION: A quick one on Indonesia, if I may.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Can we – anything else on DPRK before we move on?

QUESTION: North Korea?

MS NAUERT: Hi, how are you?

QUESTION: Senator Corker said this morning that the President should leave foreign policy – in particular, he referenced Secretary Tillerson’s efforts to talk to North Korea, and he said the President should leave foreign policy to the professionals. And so at the State Department, what is your reaction to his comments? And also, can we expect to see North Korea back on --

MS NAUERT: Let me get to your first one first. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of all the United States. The President sets the standard. The President and his administration will give us our marching orders, if you will. The Secretary and the State Department do all of this – our actions, our diplomacy – on behalf of the administration, on behalf of the President, on behalf of the American people and the White House as well. So that is where things stand. Our diplomacy effort, our peaceful pressure campaign certainly continues. The United – United Nations just announced some devices and things that could no longer be sent to and from North Korea. We were pleased to see that action take place. We continue to pursue our peaceful pressure campaign. The Secretary, I know, looks very much forward to traveling with the President on the President’s Asia trip and helping the administration any way he can.

Okay, anything else on DPRK?

QUESTION: North Korea.


QUESTION: You said the President – he’s looking forward to traveling with the President.


QUESTION: Can you tell us which parts of the Asia trip he’ll be traveling with the President?

MS NAUERT: I don’t have any of the actual dates to be able to provide you just yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know.

QUESTION: But he’ll be traveling to participate in some of the multilateral meetings?

MS NAUERT: Yeah, some of the meetings and some of the stops. I’m just not sure which ones exactly. We’re still working out the details.

QUESTION: India. India.

MS NAUERT: Okay, anything else on DPRK?

QUESTION: North Korea.




MS NAUERT: Okay. Okay. We’ll go --

QUESTION: I want to stay in Indonesia, Asia.

MS NAUERT: Okay, all right. We’ll stay in Asia before we go to Russia. Okay. Hi.

QUESTION: A quick one on Indonesia.


QUESTION: Do you have anything to add on this unfortunate incidence that its military chief was denied boarding to a – a flight to the United States? And then could you please address the anti-U.S. sentiment because of this incidence, and is there any diplomatic repercussion? Thank you.

MS NAUERT: Okay, hold on. Okay. So my understanding is and I’ve been told that this was all worked out, that our embassy has discussed the matter with the foreign minister on October the 23rd. We conveyed our regret and also our commitment to the partnership with Indonesia. It’s certainly an important one. The United States and Jakarta are in close communication with the Indonesian Government. This was not a decision that was made on the part of the State Department – I want to make that clear. So for anything else, I would just have to refer you to Customs and Border Protection for various decisions that were made prior.

QUESTION: So my understanding is he was given a chance to rebook but he choose not to come here. Why is that – why did that happen?

MS NAUERT: I would have to refer you to him, but I – to him or his office, but I know we would certainly look forward to welcoming him here. Okay?

QUESTION: Could you address the anti-U.S. sentiment --

MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that. Okay? All right. Last one.

QUESTION: I wanted to follow up on a bill passed earlier this year by Congress which required the identification of intelligence and military sectors within Russia to be sanctioned, and the deadline was October 1st. I believe senators are calling for the sanctions to be made and the authority was designated to the State Department.

MS NAUERT: Yeah. So we’ve certainly heard that some members of Congress are concerned about the timeline of this. I know this was something that was discussed on Capitol Hill and this is something that the Secretary discussed recently in some of his media interviews. The sanctions bill includes a requirement that the State Department identify individuals linked to Russian defense and also intelligence operations that could be subject to new penalties, so we are working to try to complete that process. I believe the original deadline that we were given was about a two-month process. My understanding – and I’m not working on this myself – but from our people who are working on it, they tell me that it’s pretty complicated, that it can take some time, that they’re working to complete the process and provide the public guidance to – certainly to the relevant people just as soon as possible. I know that Congress is concerned about it. The Secretary addressed this about a week or so ago, and he said we’re being “careful to develop the guidance that companies need, because there are business entities that need guidance” and “there are important allies and partners in NATO, other parts of the world, who need specific guidance so that they do not run afoul of the sanctions act as well.” So as soon as we get that all put together, we’ll certainly let you know.

Okay, I’ve got to leave.

QUESTION: Can you comment on the tit-for-tat between you and the Russians as far as the press is concerned? You are de-credentialing, let’s say, Russia Today and Sputnik --

MS NAUERT: That we are doing what?

QUESTION: I mean – you are taking – you wanted them to register as foreign agents, Russia Today and Sputnik and so on, and in turn they want to do the same thing to Radio Liberty and Voice of America and other places. So do you have comment on that?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. So first, I can tell you a little bit about the – there are a couple things. There’s the Russia’s foreign agent law, and that is very different from what we have here. Russia’s foreign agent law has been interpreted to apply to organizations that receive even minimal funding from any foreign sources, government or private, and engage in political activity, defined so broadly as it covers nearly all civic advocacy.

Now, in the United States, FARA, as we call it, that is a registration that is simply triggered when an entity or an individual engages in political activity. When the United States tells someone to register under a foreign agent requirement, we don’t impact or affect the ability of them to report news and information. We just have them register. It’s as simple as that. Russia handles things very differently. But all they have to do is register, and it’s a pretty simple process, okay?

All right, guys. I’ve got to leave it at that. Thank you, everybody. Thanks for joining us.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:02 p.m.)

DPB # 59

[1] He returns on Thursday