Background Briefing with Senior State Department Officials on Security Assistance to Pakistan
MODERATOR: All right, everybody. I’m glad we have a chance to go a little bit further on a background briefing now with [Senior State Department Official One] and [Senior State Department Official Two]. They are here to talk to us a little bit more about the announcement today regarding security assistance to Pakistan. This is on background, attributable to a senior State Department official.
And we will begin, I think, here with [Senior State Department Official One], who will be Senior State Department Official Number One.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks, [Moderator]. So first of all, I want to say that so far, the reporting that I’ve seen – and I’ve seen about three or four articles – has been very good. So I want to make it clear that we’re not here because we saw any mistakes, but we wanted to make sure – because there is a lot of technicalities involving security assistance – that there aren’t any misunderstandings about what was briefed today.
I also am aware that a number of you have received from congressional contacts some briefing materials that we had provided in advance of briefing the press, and I thought it might be useful for me to reiterate those points at the – on the top of the briefing. And then, obviously, we’ll open up for questions.
So as the spokesperson said, the announcement today involved the suspension of security assistance to Pakistan. The United States will not deliver military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless required by law. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if they are determined to be critical to national security interests.
The suspension is not a permanent cutoff at this time. Security assistance funding impending deliveries will be frozen, but not canceled, as we continue to hope Pakistan will take the decisive action against terrorist and militant groups that we seek. We do not intend to reprogram any funds at this time. The suspension includes FY16 Foreign Military Financing, as well as prior year FMF that has not yet been spent or delivered. It also includes coalition support funds for Pakistan. U.S. civilian assistance programs in Pakistan are not included in the suspension.
QUESTION: What was that again?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: U.S. civilian assistance programs in Pakistan are not included in the suspension. Pakistan remains an important country in the region and in the world, and has historically been a vital partner for the U.S. The United States remains committed to the development of Pakistan as a stable and prosperous democracy, at peace with itself and its neighbors.
The United States acknowledges and appreciates Pakistan’s successful efforts to combat militants that threaten the Pakistani state, such as the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS. And Pakistan has sacrificed a significant amount, including tens of thousands of military and security officials, as well as civilians killed in the fight against terrorism over the last couple of years.
Pakistan military operations against these groups were done in Pakistan’s own interests, and the United States has strongly supported these efforts with billions in security aid to the Pakistani military. The United States has conveyed to Pakistan specific and concrete steps that it could take toward these ends, and we stand ready to work together with Pakistan to combat terrorist groups without distinction. We will continue these conversations with the Pakistani Government in private.
So with that, I think we’ll just open it up for questions.
QUESTION: How much money?
QUESTION: Can we go through – just to make sure that we understand precisely what you can tell us about what exactly has been suspended. So you said it includes the FY16 FMF. According to the latest CRS report, that’s $255 million.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is correct.
QUESTION: Is that the amount that was suspended in August?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: In September. That’s correct.
QUESTION: In September? Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s correct. Yeah, the Secretary – in the last couple years of appropriations, there’s a requirement for him to certify --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- for appropriate cooperation on CT and whatnot, or to waive it in national security interests. And what he did this time was to – those were two-year funds, FY16. So they were appropriated in ’16; that’s why they did – they were not going to expire until September 30 of this past year.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So they were on the verge of expiration, again, but he made the decision to go ahead and obligate those based on a waiver --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- a national security waiver, but gave direction to the Department of Defense, who was our implementer on these, to withhold placing any of those funds on actual contact – contracts.
QUESTION: Okay. So that amount, that 255, was already known in September.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is correct.
QUESTION: So is any FMF from – you then said – well, when you say any FMF from FY17 being suspended --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: FY17, again, isn’t a – no, FY17, again, it’s almost a carbon copy of ’16. The Congress appropriated in two-year funding.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So it was appropriated in – this past fiscal year. We have two years, in fact, to do that. So that – those funds do not expire until September 30th of the current year, 2018. So – and there’s a very similar – in fact, I think it’s almost the exact same requirement for a certification or waiver – no decision has been made on those funds --
QUESTION: Only --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- nor – nor -- FY17 --
QUESTION: Only FY17. And --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- nor does any decision have to be taken until prior to 30 September, 2018.
QUESTION: And do you --
QUESTION: But those types of --
QUESTION: And do you have any estimate – just – sorry, last --
QUESTION: Those funds have been set aside but they hadn’t been spent?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, not set aside. I mean, it’s like any other two-year funding. I mean, you have a period of time – most of FMF is one-year funding, and it is obligated upon – it’s – actually, it’s one of the easiest ones. It’s obligated upon apportionment to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, who is our principal – who is our implementer for FMF, DSCA, on that.
So you have ESF – all sorts of other [inaudible] are two-year funding, so there is no requirement – it’s not set aside, it’s just no action has been taken on it right --
QUESTION: Can you just say – I’m Nick Wadhams from Bloomberg – setting aside the 255 million that we already know about, how much money is affected by this announcement today?
QUESTION: How much more than the 255?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, you’ve got all the prior year and whatnot and all that, but that’s – we’re still working through the details of exactly what that’s going to – what’s going to be captured by --
QUESTION: So can I just jump on that? So the fact that you guys are rolling out this announcement today but are unable to tell us what the numbers are suggests that this was basically thrown together haphazardly to justify the President’s tweet as opposed to a thought-out policy process.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This has been part of an ongoing conversation, and [Senior State Department Official One] can provide additional thing on the – why we’re doing this. But this is – this has been an ongoing conversation not only within the U.S. interagency but with Pakistan. Well, actually, over many, many years, and then specifically over the last couple of months. So we’re not prepared in this forum to provide any of the details on implementation numbers, anything like that, but I would take issue with the fact that --
QUESTION: So when you say “in this forum,” do you mean that you know the number, but you’re just not telling us what it is? Or do you not know what the number is?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m not prepared to address those – the details of implementation right now.
QUESTION: But when --
QUESTION: Could you tell us how much CSF was frozen in the previous year?
QUESTION: When you said it’s a “mirror image,” it’s – do you mean it’s another 255 for this year?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes, yeah. That’s right. That’s right.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: FY17 – exactly, it was $255 million. It wasn’t --
QUESTION: And it’ll expire in September --
QUESTION: But you’re not making – but you’re not making any --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It was appropriated.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And has not been obligated.
QUESTION: It’s just not been authorized.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s – no, obligated.
QUESTION: Obligated. Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s been appropriated. So the fund – the Congress said, “Here you go, Executive Branch, Secretary of State. There’s 255 million in FY17; you do not have to obligate it.”
QUESTION: But you haven’t taken action on that.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No action’s been taken.
QUESTION: So that isn’t suspended? That’s just --
QUESTION: So you are not taking actions --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, that’s not saying – that – no action has been taken.
QUESTION: Got it.
QUESTION: So except for the – and I asked a question about reimbursement of coalition forces’ money --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: That’s DOD money.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I would refer those questions to the Department of Defense.
QUESTION: But she said that that’s included.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It is included.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is included. It is included. But details --
QUESTION: But other than that, is there anything else beyond the 255 that’s actually being frozen – suspended?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: As per the announcement, prior year FMF, that currently has not been expended, and deliveries, are part of that.
QUESTION: How much you think?
QUESTION: Do you know how much of that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m not – I’m not prepared to --
QUESTION: Are we talking hundreds of millions, ten million? I mean, it’s very hard for us to write a cogent, accurate story and reflect what this policy means without knowing what kind of ballpark we’re --
QUESTION: Yeah, because we were just told that this is more – that the additional amount is more than 255 million. So it would be the old 255 that we knew about, plus at least 255 million more. I mean, we were just told that by someone here.
QUESTION: Or at least something. He didn’t say how much.
QUESTION: Is that not accurate?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I’m not tracking your 255 more.
QUESTION: No, that wasn’t it. That wasn’t part of --
QUESTION: That’s what I was told.
QUESTION: Well, we were told in the briefing that it was the 255 plus some X number, and they couldn’t tell us what. So this --
QUESTION: What is – had said the figure was northward of --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re – yeah, we’re just not going to be able to provide additional numbers right now.
QUESTION: Can you give us a ballpark? You’re on background here.
QUESTION: Could you tell us how much CSF was spent last year?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes. Last year it was --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: How much what?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, how much the CSF was --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Oh, CSF. I don’t know. For Department of Defense, I don’t know. I don’t know.
QUESTION: So according to this CRS report, CSF for FY16 was at – estimated at 550 million. Is that right?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: You’d have to ask DOD. It sounds right to me, but I would not – I would ask DOD.
QUESTION: Is IMET money?
QUESTION: Okay. So here’s a simple question. Is any FY --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: IMET is very small amounts of money.
QUESTION: Is any FY17 money implicated by this decision?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: FY17 CSF money is implicated in this decision.
QUESTION: Is? Okay. And then one other thing – yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And – but as [Senior State Department Official Two] said – and I – I mean, this is something that I really want to reiterate: Everything that we’re talking about is reversible.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: These are suspensions in assistance. [Senior State Department Official Two] keeps emphasizing there are things that we do not have to make a decision on right now, and we will not make decisions --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: -- until we have to. So CSF is a perfect example. That money is – they don’t have to make a decision right now, so they will make a decision when they have to make a decision.
QUESTION: How much money has been appropriated, and how much money has been given?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Over what, over --
QUESTION: Over the last two-year window that you’re discussing. How much --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’d have to get back to you on the – the two – why two-year --
QUESTION: Well, when I asked you --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- because we’re not talking about a two-year window. There is money – there is pipeline money that goes past – earlier than the last two years.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. We don’t need to get into all the technical terms, but it’s obligated once it’s transferred to Department of Defense.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Okay. So FY16, the 255 is over there.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It’s obligated. It’s sitting in an account. But again, the Secretary of State made a decision not to apply any of those funds to contracts. So it’s just – it’s just sitting. But it’s obligated. That money is good for – well, FMF is good for seven years on that.
FY17, which is two-year money – again, just to reiterate, no decisions have – that’s – no decisions have been made on that, nor does a decision have to be taken by the Secretary until 30 September of --
QUESTION: And when you say the Secretary, you mean --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Secretary of State. Secretary --
QUESTION: -- this Secretary, not Mattis?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. No, these are – CSF is a Department of Defense authority. Foreign Military Financing is – that’s the Secretary of State, under Title 22 of the U.S. Code and whatnot. So there’s – that’s an important point, because whenever you hear arms transfers and whatnot, we deal with it all the time with – within the interagency, about – “well, that’s secretary of defense.” Those authorities rest with the Secretary of State.
QUESTION: Which is why you all should know the numbers.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re not prepared to talk to it at this point.
QUESTION: So just to be – just to understand – so is counter-narcotics, CN funding, implicated by today’s decisions?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Again, as we – what was noted here is Foreign Military Financing --
QUESTION: Yeah. And CSF.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- and CSF.
QUESTION: Nothing else?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Those are the two that have been identified.
QUESTION: Not IMET, not – okay, great.
QUESTION: Is IMET – I mean, it’s a small number, but is it suspended or not suspended?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: As of right now, it’s not suspended.
QUESTION: So the exception that you guys have allowed yourself in the future for if there’s a national security need to (inaudible) --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Right.
QUESTION: -- all of our security assistance to Pakistan is predicated on advancing our national security. So I don’t understand how all of this would --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Right. So I mean, I think the exact language – but I mean, you’re right. I mean, we don’t spend assistance that we do not believe advances our national security. The issue is whether it advances critical national security needs, and that’s going to be a much more limited subset than the overarching amount. There are – there are certain types of things that we may want to continue to do because they substantially advance U.S. interests, regardless of Pakistan, that we may continue to do.
QUESTION: But what precipitated this decision, then?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, so I was going to go --
QUESTION: What incidents --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I was going to come to that because the gentleman in the back had alluded to that question as well. The President made the speech announcing the policy in August, August 21st of last year. It had always been our intention to evaluate on an ongoing basis Pakistan’s responsiveness to our requests for support on the South Asia strategy; and as we evaluated, if we felt that Pakistan was not addressing the requests that we had made, that we would take further actions to put pressure on Pakistan or to underscore our dissatisfaction with their lack of responsiveness.
QUESTION: What are – what are your metrics?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I’m not going to get into the details of the metrics or the details of the asks. But what I can say for sure is that we have been detailed and have had numerous conversations with the Pakistanis. I mean, I’m sure those of you who have been following Pakistan know that both Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson visited Pakistan over the last two months, as did General Votel. The Pakistani foreign minister was here, I think in September. We have had – we had an interagency team go out also in the fall. And in each of these conversations, we had detailed conversations with the Pakistanis about what they could do to support the South Asia strategy, and specifically on the issues that we’ve been focusing on, which are the allowance of safe havens for the Taliban and the Haqqani Network.
So they know exactly what it is that we’ve asked of them, and the evaluation to date has been that they have done – they have not taken decisive action on our requests. And so the decision was made to take this step as one step to indicate that we cannot continue business as usual with the Pakistani Government if they are not going to be a partner with us.
QUESTION: Can I just say something for the record?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Sure. For your record, not for mine.
QUESTION: For my record. (Laughter.) For my record, and I believe for some of my colleagues. In the past, we would have been much better informed about all of this because we used to travel with the Secretary of State, and we would have been on the plane to and from Pakistan, and we would have been on the ground with him for that brief visit.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Noted.
QUESTION: Can you – can you tell us when you notified Pakistan and how you notified them of this?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’m not going to get into private diplomatic discussions, but I will say that Pakistan was briefed in general terms that this decision was going to be announced. And in the coming days, we will be having further private conversations about the details and reiterating the steps that we would like them to take in order to be able to put our relationship on more solid footing.
QUESTION: So over these numerous conversations over months if not more than a year, why are they not living up to this? What is the sticking point in what you want?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, you’d have to ask the Pakistanis why they’re not living up to it.
QUESTION: But I want to hear it from your perspective.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. What I would say is that the Pakistanis have repeatedly underscored that they support the South Asia strategy and they support our objectives in the strategy, but they have publicly disagreed with us on what we believe is happening on the ground. I mean, it is no surprise to any of you because I’m sure you’ve heard the Pakistanis say it over and – repeatedly, that they deny that there are safe havens. They deny that they provide any kind of sanctuary to the Haqqani Network or to the Taliban. And they state that their leverage over the Haqqani Network and the Taliban is very limited.
We disagree. We believe that there is significant evidence that leadership of the Haqqani Network resides inside Pakistan and is able to plan and execute from Pakistan attacks inside Afghanistan. So the disagreement is much more about those facts than it is on our overarching goals in the strategy. And we need them to address these sanctuaries in order for us to be able to be enabled to succeed in Afghanistan.
We need Pakistan to succeed in South Asia. I mean, Pakistan is a critical country. It’s about to become the fifth largest country in the world, a nuclear-armed country. Success in Afghanistan relies on better – the Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, and it relies on Pakistan being an active, constructive player in the South Asia strategy. And although they have repeatedly stated that they want to be, the actions that we need of them so far have not taken place.
QUESTION: So the –
QUESTION: Can I just ask you –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes.
QUESTION: Pakistan’s argument is that CSF money is a reimbursement for money they’ve already spent to assist U.S. – provide logistical support for the U.S. forces and things like that. So what’s the advantage in denying Pakistan money that is a reimbursement for money – how do you ensure further cooperation if you say, hey, we’re not going to pay you money that you have already spent?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, on the CSF question, I’m going to refer you to DOD because it’s their – it’s their account and they’re the ones who administer it. The broader question, which is why deny assistance, I mean, you could – one could make the same argument that you just made about FMF as well. I mean, we provide FMF to Pakistan to enable their counterterrorism and their counterinsurgency capabilities, which are things that we need them to do.
The bottom line is that we can’t continue to have a relationship that has business as usual with Pakistan. This conversation is not new to this administration. There have been concerns about Pakistan’s – and I focused on the issue of sanctuaries for the Haqqani Network and the Taliban, but we have concerns about their nuclear program; we have concerns about the ability of anti-India groups like Lashkar-e Tayyiba and Jaish-e Mohammed to fundraise and operate; and Hafiz Saeed, the head of Lashkar-e Tayyiba, who was recently released from house arrest. All of these issues have been a feature of our relationship or a feature of our conversation with Pakistan for many years, and this administration felt that we needed to take additional steps to underscore that we’re not going to be able to continue the relationship on autopilot; we can’t continue a status quo relationship; we need to be able to move beyond these challenges and put our relationship on more solid footing.
QUESTION: So last year --
QUESTION: In the last few days we have seen the statements coming out from Pakistani leaders and – particularly that they are not going to take actions that you are asking, for instance for LET, Hafiz Saeed. So what are you going to do then?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I – I mean, I have not seen them say they’re not going to take any of these steps. As I said, I think what the Pakistani Government has objected to is our characterization of the situation on the ground. But I have never heard the Pakistani Government say they’re not going to re-arrest Hafiz Saeed or they’re not going to prosecute him, so I don’t think that what you’re saying – I have not seen those statements.
The Pakistanis have clearly indicated that they are unhappy with our public rhetoric. What I would say to that is we had a number of months where we have had very senior conversations and private discussions with them and have not seen the responsiveness that we need. And at some juncture, they knew that we were going to take additional steps if they did not respond to the requests that we made of them.
QUESTION: So --
QUESTION: In addition to this 255 million, what are the other steps that you are taking now?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’m not going to discuss further steps today.
QUESTION: And so you --
QUESTION: But are there any other steps beside this?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We are always evaluating our relationship, as we would with any country, and looking what we might do to strengthen that relationship. But I’m not going to go into details.
QUESTION: The administration seemed pretty pleased last year when the Pakistanis helped get this American couple, American-Canadian couple, out.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes.
QUESTION: What changed? I mean, was there any incident or things that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No. One very positive step is – it’s a data point. It’s not the totality of the relationship. Absolutely, Pakistan’s support for securing the release of the Coleman-Boyle family was a very positive step, and we appreciated it. We said publicly we appreciated it.
But at the same time, if there is an ongoing relationship between elements of the security forces and Pakistan and the group that took the Coleman-Boyle family hostage, that is a concern. I mean, that’s always going to be a concern. And it’s always going to be an obstacle in our relationship.
QUESTION: So you obviously have reason to believe that this action will spur them to do more, and that would be greater than the risk of them being so furious about this that it further hurts cooperation.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Our hope, and I won’t say our expectation, but our hope, is that Pakistan will understand our seriousness, that they appreciate the value of this relationship – which they clearly have indicated that they do, and I believe that they genuinely do – and that they will see what – they will look at what additional they can do to try to address our needs, or our – not our needs, our requests.
QUESTION: But you don’t see this as being risky that this will just erode the cooperation that you want to have?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think both countries are committed to this relationship. And we are doing our best – both countries are doing our best – to try to move the relationship forward on – and put it onto more positive footing. That being said, we need to see Pakistan take additional steps.
QUESTION: What’s the rationale for not cutting civilian programs?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The civilian programs benefit the Pakistani people in a way that – first of all, we have no reason to believe that civilian assistance represents any form of leverage. The elements of the Pakistani Government that need to take the steps that we’re talking about are not touched by civilian assistance, and so it wouldn’t make any sense to tie civilian assistance to those steps that we’re asking for. I mean, that’s the main reason.
QUESTION: What’s the mechanism for the exemptions you discussed? Occasionally there will be exemptions to this in the --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’re going to look at all of the cases and we’re going to decide what cases we believe need to be forward is --
QUESTION: Well, what level is that – does – is that the Secretary decides that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’re not going to talk about the internal deliberations.
QUESTION: How many exemptions are there going to be? Is it going to be – is all this money going to go to them?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We haven’t – we haven’t worked through that so I’m not going to – but – I’m not going to – I’m just not going to answer that.
QUESTION: Is the legal criterion for an exemption critical, critical national security?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I would not call critical national security a legal term.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It’s not a legal term.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It’s a – it’s a policy term.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: It’s a policy decision. It’s not --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The goal was to ensure that we – everybody understood that it was – as the gentleman in the back said, all FMF, we believe, advances our national security interests. It needed to be a level of criteria that was higher than that.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: But it’s going to be a policy decision. It’s not going to be a legal decision.
QUESTION: So did you feel like talks were at an impasse and --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No, we don’t feel that talks are at an impasse. Absolutely not. We are having conversations on a weekly basis at senior levels with the Pakistanis. So our hope is not that they will see this as the end of the road. Our hope is that they will see this as a further indication of this administration’s immense frustration with the trajectory of our relationship, and that they need to be serious about taking the steps we’ve asked in order to put it on more solid footing.
QUESTION: So it’s only CSF and FMF funding; is that correct? It’s not IMET? It’s not NADR. It’s not – I mean, this that we’ve got shows --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Not NADR, not – yes. Those are not security ‑‑
QUESTION: CSF and FMF. We can – we can just – and then we can extrapolate. Okay, CSF was 550 million for 2016 --
QUESTION: Can you give any sort of broad historical context at least, maybe – or maybe just looking at the last 10 years of what – what change you see in the funding that you’re providing this year or the suspension of funding that you’re doing compared to past attempts by administrations? Is this a bigger step than has been taken ever before in – as far as what you are doing in suspending funds? I mean, obviously this has been attempted in the past.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I don’t think you can make that kind of comparison because, I mean, for example – and [Senior State Department Official Two] probably have – you have better detail on this. But when we suspended, for example, the delivery of F-16s in like ’89, ’90, that was a very different circumstance. I mean, there was no off-ramp there. Once the Pressler Amendment was invoked, that assistance was cut off. There was no mechanism by which – so it’s comparing apples and oranges. We have not done anything that’s irreversible here. All of this funding is available to Pakistan if they undertake to take the measures that we’ve asked of them.
So I would just avoid historical comparisons because I think many of the historical comparisons will be irreversible steps. And obviously, a country is going to react very differently to an irreversible step – whatever the volume that we’re talking about – differently than they would react to something which is reversible.
QUESTION: Building on what --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’re hoping this is an incentive, not a – we’re hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment. The Pressler Amendment was a punishment or – I mean, you can call it a punishment – for having a launched nuclear program.
MODERATOR: We have time for two more questions. Rich.
QUESTION: Building on what Abbie asked, since 9/11 has there been a situation where Pakistan has responded positively to a suspension or a withholding of funding? Is this something that gives – is this maneuver – has it been tried before and have you gotten positive results from it before? Or what surrounds your thinking as to why this is going to work this time?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’m not – I don’t feel comfortable making a historical comparison. What I said before was Pakistan clearly values this relationship. I would see – from a Pakistani perspective, what I think would matter most is not the actual assistance but – because Pakistan has a huge economy – but – and the Pakistanis have repeatedly said – I mean, if you’ve been following their statements, they’ve repeatedly said, “We don’t care about this money.” What matters, I think, to the Pakistanis is the – is the symbolism of doing this, that it represents a deterioration of our relationship, something that they care about a great deal.
And so as I said, I’m hoping that – we’re hoping that this is an incentive that they don’t want to see this relationship deteriorate any further and that they’re going to commit to working with us to try to find a way to put it on more solid footing. But I mean, I just – I personally don’t have a strong enough historical perspective on this to be able to answer your question. I’m sure others who – like in the academic world who have been following this for 20 years could give you a better answer.
MODERATOR: Okay. How about Conor, last question.
QUESTION: Given China’s growing involvement in Pakistan and the growing investment in Pakistan, how are you so confident then that they’re – they still appreciate the relationship and they still believe in that symbolism?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, number one, we have no problem with Pakistan and China’s relationship. I mean, China has invested a significant amount and plans to invest a significant amount more, and then Pakistan is in need of economic development and economic growth. Insofar as China is able to contribute to that, that will contribute to Pakistan’s stability and security and economic well-being, and that’s perfectly – I mean, that’s not only fine, but that’s a good thing.
Pakistan and China have had a longstanding and very strong relationship. That relationship has never come at the expense of U.S.-Pakistan relations. I think Pakistan clearly understands that our relationship and what we bring to the table internationally is different than China, and they shouldn’t want to choose between China and the Pakistan – and the United States. They should want to be able to build – and I believe they do want to build strong relations with both countries. But they’re – what they get from China is not necessarily going to be the same thing they get from the U.S. and vice versa. I mean, we’re not directing – we don’t have the capacity to direct state banks and state companies to invest $55 billion in China – in Pakistan, but at the same time, China does not have the capacity to provide the highest-quality military equipment in the world.
MODERATOR: Thank you, all, everybody. Thank you, [Senior State Department Official One], thank you, [Senior State Department Official Two], and we’ll wrap. There will be a transcript available and --
QUESTION: Thanks for doing this.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Good, my pleasure.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Yeah, thanks a lot.
QUESTION: Can I give you a really quick summary to make sure I got it correct? It affects only FMF and CSF?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And PCCF if you want to be very technical on this.
QUESTION: Really – yeah. Secondly, on FMF, it affects FY 2016, the 255 billion, plus --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Million.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Million.
QUESTION: Million, excuse me.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Plus unspent prior years.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is correct.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Exactly.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes.
QUESTION: It does not, however, affect FY17 because you don’t have to make any decisions on that yet.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No decision has been made.
QUESTION: Got it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No – I wouldn’t say affect or not affect, said no decision has been made for FY17.
QUESTION: Got it. And then thirdly, on CSF, if I remember correctly, you said that it affects both FY16 and potentially ’17?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: FY16 – you need to go back to DOD on these questions because FY16, I believe – but I do not want you to take it out of my mouth – I believe that ‘16 has already been --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: -- the amount that was provided to Pakistan has already been provided to Pakistan. The amount that isn’t going to be provided hasn’t been provided.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And I believe nothing has been decided on FY17.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And they have all sorts of constraints and limits and things on that too. So again, really --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes, there’s sub-categories.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: To be precise, you need to go to Department of Defense.
QUESTION: But can you just tell us generally on CSF, the way that generally works is they ask for a reimbursement at the end of the year, right, as opposed to not, like, in January? Is that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, it’s – it was – I think it’s been done quarterly or semi-annually or whatnot. But again, process-wise and mechanics and what the constraints are, how much is there, how much not – I mean, it’s a whole different appropriation.
QUESTION: These are funds that they applied for, that Pakistan applied for?
QUESTION: So you can’t even say what fiscal years it applies to? You can’t even say well, yeah, it would apply to FY16?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I can tell you what I believe to be the case, but you can’t use it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: You have to ask DOD. I believe it’ll only apply right now to FY17 because I don’t believe that there are any unspent prior year monies out of CSF.
QUESTION: What’s that – what’s that figure, FY17?
MODERATOR: Okay. We got to wrap it up here, guys. Sorry. Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes.
MODERATOR: Thank you, all.
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