State Department Briefing by Jen Psaki, Nov. 14, 2014

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 14, 2014.

TRANSCRIPT:

 

1:12 p.m. EST

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Happy Friday.

MS. PSAKI: Happy Friday. I actually do not have anything at the top for you.

QUESTION: Really?

MS. PSAKI: So why don’t we get straight to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Okay. I just have a brief one. I realize that the President has already spoken to this, but that was before the House actually passed this legislation, and of course, we all know that it is the State Department where this review of Keystone resides now. So my question is: Does this vote and a potential similar vote in the Senate have any effect on the review that is currently underway?

MS. PSAKI: No, it does not. We are continuing to move ahead with our thorough, transparent, and objective review of the Keystone pipeline application. And in accordance with the executive order, this review includes consideration of many factors, including energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; foreign policy and compliance with review, law, and policy.

As you know, there were a couple of factors including the Nebraska court case as well as the number of public comments that led us to make a decision about delaying that earlier this spring. Certainly, on any decision about legislation, we’d refer to the White House.

QUESTION: Right. But is it the Administration’s view that the State Department process, this review process, can be circumvented by the Congress?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the State Department process is continuing. Obviously, if there’s a decision made by the President on legislation, we’ll proceed from there.

QUESTION: No, but as a general principle, do you think that they – that Congress can legislate approval of something like this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a process in place for a reason, but I’m not going to parse the legislation and what may or may not be done about it any further.

QUESTION: But – okay. My frustration with this is that I’m not asking you to parse the legislation. I’m asking for the Administration’s view of whether Congress can legislate approval of something like this.

MS. PSAKI: And I’m pointing you to the White House for any further comment on the legislation.

QUESTION: But – okay. And the review stands where?

MS. PSAKI: It’s ongoing, as I mentioned.

QUESTION: And with still no anticipated —

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I – as you know, but – I pointed to this, but since we haven’t talked about this in a while, there’s, as you know, litigation pending in the Nebraska Supreme Court that could ultimately impact the pipeline route in that state, and that in turn could affect the assessment of the permit application. So we’ve been monitoring those developments. We’ve also been using additional time allotted to agencies to continue reviewing and considering the unprecedented number of new public comments. Obviously, the court case and the findings of a court case which we don’t have any control over could impact the timing.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Are you still getting public comments (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: No, there’s no —

QUESTION: That’s finished, right?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, correct. But we’ve obviously taken the time to continue to review those. The permit process will conclude once factors that could have a significant impact on the Department’s national security – national interest determination regarding the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents, but obviously, the court case has an impact on that. We don’t have any control over the timing of that.

QUESTION: And have you been in contact with your counterparts in Canada about this legislation, or are you just waiting to see how it plays out in the Congress?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to read out from here. I think that would take place in the White House if that did —

QUESTION: In the Administration’s view, is it wise for a legislative body to try to interrupt or to supersede the review that the State Department is doing now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think my colleague over at the White House spoke to this a couple of days ago before the vote, which is fair, and said that in the past we haven’t looked fondly on efforts to circumvent the process in place.

QUESTION: Fondly?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Dim view?

MS. PSAKI: A dim view.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: That wasn’t an exact quote.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: It was a paraphrase.

QUESTION: I guess —

MS. PSAKI: Do you have any more on Keystone?

QUESTION: No.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Can we go to Israel?

MS. PSAKI: Israel, sure.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the meetings that the Secretary held yesterday. There was a press conference afterwards at which he said that there have been – they had agreed to some steps to de-escalate the tensions in the region. Today out of the region, they’re saying that the Palestinians have – all restrictions have been lifted on men wanting to go and pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I just wondered what it was – first off, if the – your reaction to the news that today seems to be free movement into the mosque for Palestinian worshippers – or Arab worshippers, I guess; and then secondly, what it is that you’re asking the Palestinians to do to de-escalate tensions.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me talk about this a little bit, and as you mentioned, the Secretary spoke about it. I will mention one thing at the top just to manage expectations. One of the discussions they had was the fact that we were not going to announce on their behalf any steps, specific steps, they were going to take. And we feel it’s much more important that they take steps than it is that it’s publicly announced. But I can talk a little bit more about the meetings.

As you mentioned, last night the Secretary had the opportunity to sit down with leaders, have these discussions in person. The parties – as he mentioned, the parties agreed to take affirmative steps to restore calm and implement practical measures to prevent further escalation of tensions.

Obviously, you saw the lift on age limit restrictions for Muslim men entering the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. This is an important development, one we certainly welcome, and a positive step toward maintaining the status quo of the site. Forty thousand Muslims were able to visit the site today, and although tensions remain high, this is a positive step.

They also – during these meetings, President – Prime Minister Netanyahu strongly reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to uphold the status quo, and you’ve seen some of those actions. And President Abbas restated his firm commitment on – to nonviolence and made it clear that he will do everything possible to restore calm.

Now, the situation is still very tense. We have our eyes open. We will remain engaged and in touch with the leaders. And of course, actions by the parties going forward are the key to restoring and maintaining calm.

QUESTION: So on the Palestinian side, one of the issues that we’ve seen has been this spate of sort of lone attacks either by car rammings or stabbings or the instance of such ilk. Could you tell us what it is you are hoping that the Palestinians will be able to do to avoid those kind of actions taking place in the future?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as I just mentioned, President Abbas made it clear that he is willing to do everything possible to restore calm. Broadly in the discussion they talked about a range of areas, including access to holy sites, security for holy sites, coordination among security forces and authorities, regional security architecture, incitement, and settlements. Those are a number of the pool of areas that obviously need to be addressed.

And I think the fact that there was a commitment to take affirmative steps we obviously feel is positive. Now, of course, the proof is not in the words. The proof is in the actions. So we’ll see what happens over the next couple of days. But we’re just not going to get into more specific details.

QUESTION: Jen, you mentioned that the proof is in the actions, clearly, but you’ve only cited one action and that was on the part of the Israelis to open up – to drop the age restriction. Have you seen any affirmative action from the Palestinians to do what President Abbas said that he was going to be doing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, obviously, these discussions happened last night, and we certainly anticipate that there will be in the coming days.

QUESTION: Right. But there was – I mean, there was pretty quick and demonstrable action taken by the Israelis. I’m just wondering if you saw any quick and demonstrable action taken —

MS. PSAKI: There’s public and private actions, but I don’t have anything more specific.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see what happens in the next couple of days.

QUESTION: Is it – I’m not sure I understand why you think that it is wise to announce that the two sides have – or that three sides have agreed to steps to calm things down and then to keep them secret. It seems to me that this is exactly the way the peace talks collapsed by you and them trying to keep everything secret, which only leads to all sorts of speculation and tempers flaring based on inaccurate speculation and information and flat-out erroneous reports that are driven by people with agendas that you – with the – I don’t want to use the word “extremist,” but people with agendas to try and disrupt or continue the – continue the conflict.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt —

QUESTION: I just – it doesn’t make any sense to me that you wouldn’t want them – that you would want these alleged steps that were agreed to to become public. That way, people know what to expect.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we sent a strong message that there were – there was an agreement to take affirmative steps in order to hopefully generate some calm in the region. There was an evaluation and discussion made by all the parties involved that this was the best way to proceed.

QUESTION: Right. But there was an evaluation and discussion made by all parties involved when they agreed over a year ago that they would get a deal by – within a year’s time or within nine months’ time. And look where that is – nowhere.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we still have no regrets about how we handled or how we managed the process last year either.

Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up very quickly. What would be demonstrable and quick action by the Palestinians that you would like to see?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to spell it out further, Said, other than to convey that President Abbas made clear that he’ll do everything possible to restore calm. He restated his firm commitment to nonviolence. They talked about a range of issues that both sides can work on, including regional security structure, coordination among security forces, incitement, settlements – a lot of the issues that have been causing tensions in the region.

QUESTION: But really, when you go through it, you’ll find that he’s only able to sort of demonstrably and quickly sort of lower the level of incitement. Because the Palestinians have no control over East Jerusalem or any part to sort of dissuade the public from going out and demonstrating and burning tires and throwing stones and so on – so you’re expecting —

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, he committed to the Secretary he was going to do everything he could to restore calm.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into more details.

QUESTION: Now, I know that you, from this podium – and, of course, the Secretary in his press conference – emphasized that it was really most – they were focused, as you suggested, on what’s going on in Jerusalem. But also he mentioned at the end of one statement or one question that – the talks and restarting the talks and going back to the talks. Could you give us a broader picture or maybe a clearer picture on what future is there for these talks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it remains the case that there won’t be long-term peace and stability without a two-state solution. But I can – there’s no plans to restart the peace talks. Right now we’re focused on reducing tensions and creating a climate where it may be possible to address the underlying causes of the conflict in the future. That was the focus of their discussion.

QUESTION: Okay. And also the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Nasser Judeh, said or suggested that they will not send back their ambassador until they see on the ground. So would the action today – the Israelis allowing 40,000 worshipers of all ages, as a matter of fact, to go into al-Aqsa Mosque – is the kind of action that should give incentive to the Jordanians now to send their ambassador?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll let Jordan make that decision, but I certainly can convey to you that, of course, diplomatic relations between Israel and Jordan are critical, given the two nations share security challenges and economic opportunities, and the importance, of course, of the Jordan-Israel Treaty of Peace and Jordan’s special role in Jerusalem’s Muslim holy places. The Secretary spoke with King Abdullah about this yesterday and about Jordan’s decision to withdraw its ambassador to Tel Aviv and how tensions can be reduced going forward. But we’ll let them make decisions moving forward.

QUESTION: And finally, anything new or an update regarding the Palestinian efforts in the UN?

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

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So have you raised the issue of the continuing settlement activities, and do you think that any freeze of this activity will actually be helpful in maintaining calm and stability for a while?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I mentioned, that was one of the topics that was discussed. Obviously, as we’ve also stated here before, we believe that ongoing settlement activity or construction in East Jerusalem is contrary to the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution. And that continues to be our view. But there are a range of factors at play here; that’s not the only factor.

QUESTION: So what was – did you get a clear reaction or commitment from the Israeli side on this?

MS. PSAKI: I think as I stated earlier, I’m not going to lay out more – further what – where they’ll go from here.

QUESTION: Jen, just a couple brief things on this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: A lot has been made about the incitement or alleged incitement coming from the Palestinian side, and the – I’m just wondering, in view of the last questions about settlement activity and construction in East Jerusalem, does the Administration regard Israeli announcements of these kinds of things as incitement?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to put a new label on it other than to convey it’s contrary to the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution —

QUESTION: Right, but —

MS. PSAKI: — and contrary to what they want to achieve.

QUESTION: But do you believe that contributes to the —

MS. PSAKI: Tension?

QUESTION: — to the tension, and also can spark protests, some of which turn violent?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly contributes to the tension, yes.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there are a range of factors at the same time that are in play contributing to the tension.

QUESTION: Secondly, are you disappointed that you didn’t get a firm commitment from the Jordanians to return their ambassador?

MS. PSAKI: I think the Secretary felt they had a good discussion about it. Obviously, Jordan will make their own decision. I think the —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — foreign minister spoke to this yesterday a little bit, too.

QUESTION: Right. He said that it would depend on whether Israel actually does what it says it’s going to do. But is it your understanding that if Israel – that if the Israelis actually follow through on whatever it was the secret steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to take, that the Jordanians will return their ambassador?

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see, Matt.

QUESTION: Is that your understanding? You don’t know?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the foreign minister’s comments.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: But I don’t have anything more to explain on that.

QUESTION: And then lastly, I’ve got two brief ones on something you said yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You were asked about the home demolitions.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And – well, you had a brief line that – you said “punitive demolitions are counterproductive to the cause of peace and exacerbate an already tense situation.” I’m wondering, the – do you regard that, these home demolitions, as – you didn’t say this, but some have interpreted it to mean that you believe that these home demolitions constitute collective punishment?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t convey that. I think —

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: — they’re one of the factors that contribute to tension.

QUESTION: So there are some in Israel who read that – who took what you said yesterday and said flat out that you had condemned what – collective punishment and that these – you condemned the housing demolitions as collective punishment. That is incorrect?

MS. PSAKI: We said – I said, as you just quoted, they were counterproductive.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Jen, can I just —

QUESTION: Meanwhile – hold on. I just – because I want to ask now about Egypt and home demolitions, because yesterday or earlier this week, there were – the Egyptian Government demolished several hundred homes in the Sinai. Do you take the same view of those home demolitions as you do of the Israeli demolitions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, every – as we often – as I often like to say, every situation is different, Matt. And as you know, there have been some serious security challenges in the Sinai. We respect Egypt’s concern about their security in the area and support its right to self-defense. We also expect that they will ensure the rights of those being displaced are respected and that they are adequately compensated. That continues to be what we have conveyed to the Egyptians.

QUESTION: So you don’t regard that as being counterproductive to the cause of peace or fighting extremism, these home demolitions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s an entirely different scenario, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. But you would not argue that – I mean, you say that there are serious security problems in the Sinai for the Egyptians. Are there not also serious security concerns and security problems for the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re not – Egypt is not predetermining what borders would be by taking these steps. It’s a different scenario.

QUESTION: Oh, I understand it’s a different scenario, but it’s the same tactic, as it were, to fight what is believed to be by a government to be terrorism or extremism.

MS. PSAKI: With entirely different context.

QUESTION: Yeah, but it’s not okay for the Israelis to demolish homes, but it’s okay for the Egyptians to demolish homes?

MS. PSAKI: We believe it’s counterproductive to their stated goals. In Egypt, we understand their concerns about their security. We’ve seen recent threats to that in the Sinai, as you all have reported on. I think I’m going to leave it at that. They’re different scenarios.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I just quickly follow up on something that Matt said?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: On the issue of the settlements, you may not consider it incitement, but you do consider it provocations, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I said there are a range of factors that contribute to the tension, Said.

QUESTION: But you – you consider it to be a provocative action, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. I’m not going to have you put words in my mouth. I’m going to leave it at what I just conveyed.

QUESTION: Okay. I wonder if you would consider – would, let’s say, statements by Naftali Bennett, a cabinet member, yesterday – only made yesterday, that he actually killed many Arabs and there was no problem with that. Is that an incitement?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to put further labels on it, Said. We speak out against issues when we have concerns.

QUESTION: And finally, on —

MS. PSAKI: I just mentioned – let me finish – that settlements is one of the discussions – one of the topics that was discussed.

QUESTION: And on the home demolitions, since Israel, if it says someone is a terrorist they’d kill him or whatever, do they go afterwards to demolish the home, which is really punishing the family, and these families are quite large. That wouldn’t be considered collective punishment?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just gave an answer to that question.

Go ahead, Samir. On this topic or a new topic?

QUESTION: On the meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Secretary briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu about his meetings with the Iranian foreign minister in Oman and the talks with Iran?

MS. PSAKI: They did talk about Iran, as well – and of course, the ongoing discussions that are happening, and we’ll reconvene next week. The Secretary made it clear that our position has not changed and that we are working to close off all possible pathways to a nuclear weapon for Iran, in order to ensure the peace and security of the international community, including Israel. And we will continue to keep all of our friends and allies informed of what we are going to be doing in the days ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Any more on this topic, or —

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: On this? Oh, on this topic. Okay, and Jo, you too? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: When you were talking about the issues discussed this, you mentioned the expression: pool of ideas need to be addressed – need to be addressed. I mean, you mean the regional security and different issues related to the conflict – Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Are these issues part of the deal or an agreement or there is a mechanism to do it, or the first thing is to – is just to lower the tense between the two parties?

MS. PSAKI: So just so I make sure I understand your question, are you talking about the topics I referenced that were discussed?

QUESTION: Yes. Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Those are the topics that we’ve all seen have contributed to the tensions on the ground. So it’s natural they were discussed as a part of the meetings.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, it’s important that both sides agree to take affirmative steps. We’ll see, though. It’s not words, it’s actions that matter. I wouldn’t call it a deal. I would call it an agreement by both sides to take positive steps to reduce tensions. And that certainly is separate from, as I mentioned, any effort to restart a peace process.

QUESTION: So it’s – so there is – first to handle the situation now, and then to take care of these issues, and then peace process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our focus is on reducing tensions.

QUESTION: You’re focused on.

MS. PSAKI: There’s no plans to restart the peace talks at this point in time.

QUESTION: On another issue, the Baghdadi message – alleged – the one. First, can you confirm the authenticity of the message? And second, do you have any reaction to the threats he made in his message in general?

MS. PSAKI: I spoke to this yesterday in terms of his message in general. I don’t have any confirmation or – I can’t authenticate the calls or the comments, just like I couldn’t yesterday. And just to reiterate what I said yesterday, it should come as no surprise that an organization like ISIL would be putting out these type of threatening rhetoric that’s conveying and calling for more brutality, and it’s just a reminder of the threat that the group poses to the region. But I don’t have any —

QUESTION: But – so you take these threats seriously?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s not new. I don’t know about taking seriously – as you know, we’re implementing an aggressive military campaign with a number of other components to go after ISIL. That hasn’t changed since yesterday, regardless of whether we can authenticate these comments.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to —

QUESTION: ISIS and Iraq?

QUESTION: Sorry. I just wanted to go back to Israel just very briefly.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure. Sorry, Jo. Go ahead.

QUESTION: No, that’s okay. I just wondered, very quickly, you keep saying that – or you said that we will see where these steps were implemented. Did – was there any kind of understanding about a timeframe within which these steps would be implemented? Was that something that you discussed with the leaders?

MS. PSAKI: I think, obviously, it’s important that they happen soon in the coming days. We’ll see what happens, but some of these pieces will be up to them to, of course, implement.

QUESTION: I mean, it’s just that it goes back to sort of Matt’s question about why not lay out what it was that you agreed? For instance, I know it’s a different situation, but when we had the Syria chemical weapons, Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov came out and laid out a plan and a timeline, and in some ways that was kind of helpful, I guess, for the international community to sort of see —

MS. PSAKI: Because there’s always a decision made through diplomatic channels on what’s most appropriate. At that – for that scenario, we felt it would be effective to communicate publicly. We certainly understand the appetite for that. It’s not a misunderstanding of that. We’ve already seen one step taken. We’ll see how things proceed from here.

QUESTION: But it’s just a question of accountability, of holding two sides to their commitments that they made. If you know what they are but nobody else does – nobody in the wider – and I’m not even talking about the press; I’m talking about the Israeli and Palestinian community know what they are. How do those communities and the Arab world in general hold – how they – how can they hold the leaders accountable for what you say happened?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s clear what’s happening on the ground now and the level of tensions, the level of violence, the level of rhetoric is something that needs to change. I think we’ll be able to evaluate, as will people in the region, whether there’s a change to that.

QUESTION: Yeah, but they can’t – this is the problem, and I get back to – you say you understand there’s an appetite for it. The appetite is not particularly for us wanting to know just so we can know; it’s for the people whose lives are affected by this. If they don’t know, if I’m a Palestinian who wants to go to al-Aqsa and worship, I want to know if I’m going to be able to get in there. I want to know if – and if I’m an Israeli —

MS. PSAKI: Well, the 40,000 Muslims who went to the site today certainly know, don’t they?

QUESTION: Well, right. But if I’m an Israeli, I want to know what President Abbas said that he was going to do about incitement. I want to know – if I’m a Palestinian, I want to know what the Israelis are going to do about checkpoints and things like that. Keeping it secret means that they don’t – there’s no – they don’t have to do it. It’s a question of accountability. If you keep – if someone —

MS. PSAKI: They just took a step. It doesn’t mean they don’t have to do it.

QUESTION: That’s one step. But —

MS. PSAKI: And as I said, they’ll be taking additional steps.

QUESTION: But we don’t know what they are, so we can’t know if they don’t follow through on them.

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’ll just have to see in the coming days.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: And can I just ask one more? Sorry. This is just to clear it up, I guess. There was some reporting that during the meetings there was a phone call in from Sisi or a phone call to President Sisi. Can you just clarify if that was the case, and which meeting and what was said?

MS. PSAKI: It’s a very good question. I didn’t have a chance to talk about that level of specificity.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I know there have been different versions of the report, so let me get a little more clarity for you on kind of when that call happened, which I believe it did.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sorry, Jen. Very quickly – you always talked about maintaining the status quo ante, things as they were, but the Israelis are introducing metal detectors that each worshiper has to go through. Do you have any comment on that? Was that something that was discussed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as we stressed, it’s obviously absolutely critical in our view that all sides uphold the status quo regarding the administration of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and take affirmative steps to prevent provocations and incitement. We appreciate the prime minister’s commitment to uphold the status quo. We’ll see what happens. I know that step was referenced and reported, but obviously it hasn’t happened at this point in time, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. So you would discourage them from doing so?

MS. PSAKI: I think – obviously, the status quo does not include that.

Did we – on this topic or a new topic?

QUESTION: On this topic.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen, I’m from Northern Ireland. I have firsthand experience of construction being used to advance a political agenda. Your verbatim quote yesterday from this podium was “punitive demolitions are counterproductive.”

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now, if punitive demolitions are counterproductive, are punitive settlements counterproductive?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t know that we’d call them punitive. But settlements are counterproductive to the goal of achieving a two-state solution, absolutely, because it prejudges the borders, it creates tension, and that’s one of the reasons we speak out every time, unfortunately, there are announcements about it.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Any more on this, or should we move on?

QUESTION: India.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can we go back to ISIL? We were talking —

MS. PSAKI: Go to – to where?

QUESTION: You were – in the middle we talked about ISIL.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, we can go back to ISIL.

QUESTION: Okay. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Sorry.

QUESTION: So – because we stopped in midstream.

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Bring us back to ISIL, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m going to bring you back to ISIL. I have a very quick question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Yesterday Chairman Dempsey said – he was talking about the cost of the fight against ISIL and so on, but he said something very interesting about Iraq. He said that we expect them to have an inclusive government and inclusive participation of all parties, otherwise you are going to leave them – I’m paraphrasing – to their own volition, so to speak. Is there like a time limit to see how inclusive the Iraqi Government is and is functioning and so on before you say, “That’s it, we give up on you”?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t – I don’t think that’s exactly what he said. I know you’re paraphrasing in your own way —

QUESTION: I’m paraphrasing.

MS. PSAKI: — but I think, one, we do think, absolutely, that it’s very important that not only they govern in an inclusive way but that the Iraqi Security Forces are inclusive and the way that they fight back against ISIL is inclusive. Now, Prime Minister Abadi has done a great deal of outreach to the Sunni tribes. He’s visited a number of regions to do that outreach. There was even an event just a couple of days ago earlier this week at the Al Asad Air Base where the speaker made reference to weapons and supplies that tribal fighters will be provided.

So certainly, just – the proof is in what happens, of course, as is true in any scenario. But we have seen them attempt to do a great deal of outreach. We’ve been doing a great deal of outreach through General Allen, through Ambassador McGurk, and we do feel that’s an important part of how things will be effective moving forward.

QUESTION: Okay. Seeing how the Sunni tribes were – felt alienated or felt abandoned, as a matter of fact, after the Americans left Iraq and their pay was cut off and so on, and everybody’s talking about some sort of a national guard that will bring in the Sunni tribes, is there any movement in that direction? Has any – has there been any progress, let’s say, in that area?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just mentioned the fact that Prime Minister Abadi – he visited Sunni tribal leaders in Amman and Baghdad and stressed in public remarks that he will advocate for all Iraqis. We’re in the implementation stage – they are – of the national guard program, but obviously, beyond that it’s also about incorporating and including people from many different backgrounds into the ISF forces.

QUESTION: Yes, please —

QUESTION: So you are satisfied with his efforts so far on bringing the leaders of the —

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen him take a number of – make a number of steps – take a number of steps, I should say – as well as people within the Iraqi Government to be more inclusive. Obviously, this is something that they’ll have to continue to work hard at implementing. There’s a great deal of mistrust, as we all know, and it’s going to take some time to incorporate everyone back in together.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: General Allen yesterday – I think today he’s in Europe, and then tomorrow is going to Abu Dhabi. Do you have any readout of what his – what is the purpose of his visit?

MS. PSAKI: I believe he was just flying there yesterday and may have had some internal meetings in France. I expect I’ll have more either over the weekend or on Monday.

QUESTION: So the other question related to – somehow to Syria, because it’s this ISIL issue – not the case that it’s the Administration is reviewing the policy towards ISIL and Syria and the presence of Assad. The issue of – at UN commissioner to Syria, he kind of – the media in the region is talking about a plan or an action plan that he is trying to put in place in Aleppo. And consequently, it’s going to be a transitional period. So it’s a political solution for what’s going on in Syria. Do you have anything —

MS. PSAKI: You’re referring to de Mistura’s proposal —

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: — about the local ceasefires?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I spoke to this a little bit over the past couple of days, and what we conveyed is that obviously, if this is something that President Assad agrees to or actually takes real steps toward, that that would be a completely different approach from the months and months of brutality that he’s instilled upon his people. We’ve seen local ceasefires be attempted in the past. They have not worked out in quite the way that they had been planned at the outset of them. We’ll see what happens. We certainly commend Minister de Mistura for his efforts and we support his effort to achieve a political solution.

QUESTION: So you support his effort. Do you – how do you react to this? I mean, you are – in your mentioning you are talking about the past that Assad – or he was acting different, the same way but with the same result. So do you really, let’s say, not appreciate, at least give a hand to the de Mistura or the UN —

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the reason I mentioned the past and why it’s relevant in this particular case is because there have been attempts at local ceasefires before, and we would need to see – the international community would need to see considerably more than just words to demonstrate a genuine interest on the regime’s part in moving this forward in a productive way.

QUESTION: So the idea why I’m asking, because it seems that the UN commissioner is visiting Cairo and other places and meeting people, and some media reports saying that there is some different capitals in the region they are presenting or, let’s say, reacting to this proposal or whatever action plan – I don’t know how to call it. Do you consider it’s a good step or a positive step or – I’m not trying to evaluate it more than to see if you are going —

MS. PSAKI: Sure. We, of course, support ceasefires that would provide genuine relief to Syrian civilians and are consistent with humanitarian principles. But obviously, everybody needs to go into this with their eyes wide open.

QUESTION: So my last question regarding this. So do you still – do you believe that there is a still possibility for a political solution, or it has to be solved militarily?

MS. PSAKI: We continue to believe that the only solution is a political solution.

QUESTION: Jen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you think Ambassador de Mistura is wasting his time?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say that at all. I said we support his efforts. He’s been running point and working quite hard, as we’ve seen him travel all around the region. And we certainly support his efforts to pursue a political process, to pursue the ceasefires and any effort that would bring relief to the Syrian people. We just all are aware of what has happened in the past when these ceasefires have been attempted.

QUESTION: Do you think there’s —

QUESTION: Can I ask a very basic question? Why is there a political solution – why is – Syria has to – why is there only a political solution to Syria when there is only a military solution to ISIS?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t believe there’s only a military solution to ISIS either. So —

QUESTION: So you’re willing to negotiate with them?

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: Well, right. So —

MS. PSAKI: But we believe there’s many other important components and that it’s hardly just a military approach to ISIS.

QUESTION: All right. Can I ask a tangential question to Iraq and Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And that is – it has to do with Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The – I just want to know if there was any – if you are aware of any conversations you had with the Turks about the incident involving the sailors and whether you’re satisfied with the Turkish response. Is there anything that you would like them to see? Do you think that these – what the Navy called thugs should be prosecuted? And if you do, has it – have you seen any movement toward that end since they were all caught on film?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. We are satisfied that the Turkish Government is taking this incident seriously. The Turkish foreign ministry, the Turkish interior minister, and the Turkish ambassador to the United States have all issued statements condemning the incident, and prosecutors are currently pursuing a criminal investigation of those suspected in the assault. We’ve certainly been very close touch – in very close touch with Turkish authorities on the ground through our embassy.

QUESTION: And do you know – have you – because these sailors were targeted because they were Americans for this abuse and attack, has there been any – have you increased security or told your diplomats who are stationed in Istanbul and Ankara and at your other consulate, which – Adana, I think – to be extra vigilant?

MS. PSAKI: We haven’t put out a new travel advisory, which, as you know, we typically do if there’s new information that needs to be —

QUESTION: No, but I mean, these guys were – I mean, they were – they’re military and —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — and they were official American people as – unlike a tourist, say, who might be there, but – and your diplomats are officials as well.

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: So you’re not aware of any —

MS. PSAKI: — changes to our instructions?

QUESTION: — caution to diplomats and others who work at the embassies?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. Thanks.

QUESTION: Can I stay on ISIS?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Chairman Dempsey’s comments yesterday that he can envision – I’m paraphrasing – that he can envision contingencies in which U.S. troops would accompany Iraqi troops. Is there a disconnect at all between the DOD’s desire to preserve options for the battle and the Administration’s stance that no ground troops will be sent at all to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Chairman Dempsey also made clear in his testimony that he has not made that recommendation. And he also stated that he does not see a scenario when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent. So it was obviously a large hearing, but he was consistent with our view, which is that yes, there are challenges on the ground; yes, there’s a need to continue to train and support and build up the Iraqi Security Forces; but obviously, the President will make any decision, and the chairman hasn’t even made a recommendation to him.

QUESTION: Sure. And he was talking about the future, but he didn’t explicitly rule it out. And he did say that for example, the fight to retake Mosul could be a situation where the Iraqi army would have difficulty on their own, which might require some close support from the U.S. But do you not agree that that is any – that there’s any kind of gap there between what you and Josh Earnest have said?

MS. PSAKI: If you look at the full context of his entire remarks, he also made clear that he doesn’t see a scenario where we would get more engaged with a larger military contingent. So yes, he was having a dialogue with members of Congress, and certainly, that’s part of what happens in any testimony, but the fact is the President makes the decision anyway. So —

QUESTION: Can I ask you, please, about the Justice – the Department of Justice said yesterday they’re sending prosecutors to Balkans and North Africa and Mideast to deal with the people who are coming from Syria, the part of the ISIL they are now coming to home countries. And the Mr. Holder said that they are doing that in cooperation with the State Department, your bureau of counterterrorism. They mentioned for Balkans countries, and do you have any comment on that, and how do that, and what is behind that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I have anything to add to what Secretary Holder said. Obviously, part – sorry, Attorney General Holder – thank you, it’s a Friday afternoon – Attorney General Holder said yesterday. Obviously, part of our efforts is to crack down on foreign fighters from Western countries, including the United States. That’s something we’re working not only with other countries in the world on, but also through the interagency. And there’s certainly a role Justice plays in that.

QUESTION: But how come that any embassy here from Balkans countries and anybody in those countries – I don’t know, justice departments in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo – they have no idea what is going on? They never heard of that action.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re working with a range of countries who are part of the coalition and talking about all five lines of effort, of which cracking down on foreign fighters is one of them. But I don’t have anything to read out for you in terms of why individuals at embassies would be informed or not.

QUESTION: But those governments in those countries, they don’t know anything about that.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on this.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So based on what Attorney General Holder said yesterday, did the State Department get in touch with the governments of the four Balkan countries on this initiative?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details on it. I can check and see if there’s more we can —

QUESTION: So you don’t know if or not?

MS. PSAKI: I said I don’t have any more details on it. I will let you know if there’s more we can share.

QUESTION: I have a somewhat Balkan-related one.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you took a dim view of the Russian announcement that they were going to be flying long-range patrols into – around here. But I’m wondering if you have – and you said that you didn’t think the security situation warranted it. I’m wondering if you have any comment, if you have any objections to the Russians who are now having a military drill with the Serbs in Serbia. Do you have anything on that, or is that something that you don’t have anything on?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific on that, Matt.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: I can follow up with our European team if you’d like.

QUESTION: All right. So keeping on the Russia and Ukraine theme, one, have you seen anything new in terms of evidence of the – of a Russian incursion or Russians sending troops and tanks into —

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

QUESTION: There is a photograph that Russian television news is putting out – apparently it’s been all over the place today, in Moscow and elsewhere – that purports to show a Ukrainian fighter jet firing a missile at MH-17. Do you have any reason to believe that this is a faked picture, a fake satellite photo? Or have you seen it at all, and if not, can you look into it?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen the photo. I can check with our team and see if we have any analysis of that, and certainly I would point you to those who are leading the investigation, of course, as well.

QUESTION: All right. And another thing somewhat related to this is the Russians say the Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov again today. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: He was supposed to, and I didn’t get a readout of that. I believe – and we can get you one after the briefing. The plan was certainly to talk about the Iran – ongoing P5+1 negotiations as well as the situation in Ukraine, but —

QUESTION: Right. Okay. The —

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Russian readout of the call, presuming that it is – I mean, it’s dated today so I assume the call —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — was today and that this did happen, but it did mention all of those things – the Iran talks, Ukraine – but it also mentioned that Foreign Minister Lavrov is upset at – or that Russia – that he expressed to the Secretary that Russia unhappy with the pace of the MH-17 investigation, which the Russians say is not proceeding according to the Security Council resolution and the ICAO guidelines. Do you share that view or do you have anything more to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe we share that view. I would also think it’s important to note that it was delayed for quite some time in the beginning because of the fact that the Russian-backed separatists not allow access to the site to the investigators to gather the information and the proof that they needed.

QUESTION: Okay. And then on – well, I’ll let someone else go.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Lalit.

QUESTION: I have one on Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The Afghanistan president is currently visiting Pakistan. Do you have anything on this? How do you see —

MS. PSAKI: Well, we welcome the prospect of improved cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and certainly, a trip there, a visit, an opportunity to have a dialogue is a good opportunity for that.

QUESTION: Also, the Pakistan army chief is visiting the city next week. Is anyone from the —

MS. PSAKI: Visiting the – Washington, D.C.?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: The Pakistan army chief, you said?

QUESTION: Yes, yeah. Is —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead. Sorry.

QUESTION: Is anyone from the building planning to meet him?

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t we check for you and see if there’s any meetings scheduled next week.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Follow on Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Madam, what do – what will – what U.S. wants India’s role in the new Afghanistan, since India has invested billions of dollars there in the past as far as construction and other things, and security. What will be the role, you think?

MS. PSAKI: Well, India has been an important partner in Afghanistan. We’ve been in close touch over the course – not just of the last few months but over the course of the last few years, and we’ll certainly continue to coordinate with them as we work to help Afghanistan maintain the progress they’ve made on certain areas moving forward after we remove our troops.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: North Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Have you seen the reports that North Korea will be sending a senior official to Russia for a week-long visit, and do you have any comment on it?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen those reports. We of course maintain regular contact and have consultations with Russia on issues related to North Korea. We closely coordinate with Russia, as well as many partners, to address the global threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. I don’t have any other further details on the visit, but we don’t have a concern from our end.

QUESTION: No concern, though, that closer ties between North Korea and Russia could make it difficult for the U.S. and other countries to pressure North Korea in the UN Security Council.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we have that concern. We’re in close contact with Russia about our concerns and their concerns about North Korea’s aspirations.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Nigeria?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you saw the reports today that Boko Haram has apparently seized the town in the north of Chibok where these girls were from. I wondered if you had a reaction to that. And it sort of further shows how difficult or – the situation is and how really the Nigerian army really isn’t managing to take control of it at all.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware of the report. And while we’re closely monitoring it, we don’t have confirmation of all the specifics that have been out there. We condemn these attacks in Chibok, a community that has already suffered too much. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims. We remain committed to helping the Government of Nigeria address the threat posed by extremist organizations and to assist – assisting Nigeria and its neighbors – Cameroon and Chad – to address critical security needs.

We have provided, as you know, a range of assistance to the government over the course that I outlined, I think, just a couple of days ago, in the form of everything from military equipment to ISR. We continue to work very closely with them on addressing this threat.

QUESTION: Are the American military advisors still on the ground? They were sent out in the back end of April to – specifically to —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — try and find these girls. Given that the girls haven’t been found, are they still there?

MS. PSAKI: I believe there is still a presence there. I don’t have the exact specifics on the numbers on that front.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we stay in Africa?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: There are officials in Somalia that are saying that you – that the Administration has threatened to withhold aid, several millions of dollars worth of aid, unless basically, they get their act together politically. I’m just wondering if that’s correct. I know you put a statement out earlier in the week talking about – well, expressing your unhappiness with the fact that they can’t seem to get along and also saying that you did not see the utility in this conference that’s happening and that you’re not going to go. But I’m just wondering if that was accompanied by – have they been told that they risk losing U.S. assistance unless they play nice?

MS. PSAKI: Shape up? Let me talk to our Africa team. Beyond the statement we put out a couple of days ago, I haven’t received an update on this particular issue.

QUESTION: Can I – I had another Africa question, actually.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: This time about Equatorial Guinea and what I would call football —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: — and you would call soccer. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Football/soccer, we’ll call it.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay. So the Africa Cup of Nations has been moved from Morocco, which asked for a postponement due to the Ebola situation and was not granted it. So it’s now going to be held in Equatorial Guinea next year sometime. I just wondered if, from this building, you had a view about how appropriate it would be to hold what is quite a premier football event in a country where there have been serious concerns about corruption and human rights abuses.

MS. PSAKI: It’s – I’ll take the question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to. I’ve seen the reports, but I haven’t discussed with our team whether there’s a particular view, concerns, et cetera, from our end about where they’ll host the soccer/football.

QUESTION: Your role in the Confederation – the African Federation Football is what?

QUESTION: None.

MS. PSAKI: There is not one.

QUESTION: None.

QUESTION: None? Is it – does the State Department or the United States Government have any interest at all in where this event is held? And it’s a serious question because you do have sometimes concerns or views about certain events.

MS. PSAKI: We —

QUESTION: And if you’re going to take the question, I’d like to ask you about the World Cup in Qatar.

MS. PSAKI: All right, Matt. We’ve spoken to that one —

QUESTION: Can you take that one?

MS. PSAKI: — quite extensively. To the degree we have a desire to speak to it, but —

QUESTION: Well, you actually have a team —

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: — that plays sometimes in the World Cup, which is a bit different than – unless you have a team in the African Cup that would be —

MS. PSAKI: We do not, but I believe what Jo was asking —

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. PSAKI: — and we may or may not have a comment on this – was about particularly reports of corruption and concerns —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — about that as it relates to —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — them hosting a major sporting event.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you have any – no, never mind.

MS. PSAKI: We don’t have a team to announce for this. That’s not changing. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, I mean, maybe you have an idea of where the Asian games should take place next time they have it or —

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see, Matt. We try to be responsive when we can.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, a question again on Nigeria.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: President Goodluck Jonathan announced a few days ago his intention to seek re-election. Was there any U.S. response to that? And secondly, on the subject of locating the missing girls who have been missing now for a very long time, is the U.S. still actively involved in the search to locate those girls?

MS. PSAKI: We are actively involved. We – I talked about a little – a couple of days ago – obviously, we’re very closely involved with the Government of Nigeria in taking on the threat of Boko Haram.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: We had shared surveillance capabilities several months ago. We’ve also provided a range of military equipment that I talked about a few days ago. In terms of the – tell me again your first question. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Any comment on the statement that President Goodluck Jonathan is seeking re-election?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we have any particular comment from here.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: East Timor?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I believe Monday was the last time you talked about the Stacey Addison case. Do you have any update on that? And have you been given any clarification on what the evidence is against her, when charges might be filed?

MS. PSAKI: I have a little bit of an update on this, so let me just talk through that. One, we saw Dr. Addison three times on the week of her re-arrest and visited her most recently on November 10th, so just earlier this week. Our understanding is that Dr. Addison is currently being detained as a witness to a crime. We’re currently trying to verify if charges have been filed against Dr. Addison by the government. We understand there are questions as to whether there’s any evidence linking her to these allegations, and we have requested that the legal process be expedited.

QUESTION: So you also said on Monday that State officials had raised the case in meetings with the East Timorese ambassador last Friday, that you received assurances that U.S. concerns would be raised at the highest level. Have you received any word that they had been raised at those levels? Do you get the sense that the government there is addressing those concerns? And then also, is it – are you –have you expressed further concerns about the fact that if she’s being detained as a witness, as opposed to necessarily as somebody who’s committed a crime, is that something that you’ve raised separately?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have raised questions about whether there’s any evidence linking her to these allegations. So we’ve certainly raised that, and that’s a more recent development. And we had that meeting a couple of days ago that I spoke to. I don’t have any new updates for you other than to convey that we remain in a dialogue with officials on the ground there about this particular case and we, of course, remain in close touch with her as well.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: India.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, no, no. Go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: All right, thanks. I wanted to know if you had the answer to my question yesterday about Russia’s decision to limit its effort in securing (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Well, a couple of updates on this. On a programmatic – sorry, tongue-twister – on a programmatic level we’re still working closely together. We believe that there is still very important work to do for the United States, for Russia, and for the world, and we remain ready to work with Russia. We haven’t received any official notification from Russia about canceling nuclear security cooperation. And of course, we continue to believe that we have a shared interest and a shared responsibility in promoting nuclear security, and we have a long-established partnership with Russia on a broad range of activities designed to prevent the spread of WMD by securing and eliminating WMD-related materials and technology.

We also have agreed and have in place a new framework for a nuclear security cooperation, which replaced the Nunn-Lugar CTR umbrella agreement as a mechanism for continuing to conduct nuclear security activities of mutual interest. That’s a kind of – takes place in a third country. So there’s a range of work that’s continuing on the working level, and again, we haven’t received official notification in this regard.

QUESTION: But wait, wait. You haven’t received official notification in what regard?

MS. PSAKI: Related to – she was asking about reports about cancelling nuclear security cooperation for 2015.

QUESTION: Well, yeah. But you have gotten an official notification that they’re not going to take place – take part in the Nuclear Security Summit, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s one component —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — but that’s not the entire component of work that’s done behind the scenes.

QUESTION: Understood. I understand that. But you have gotten formal notice that they are not going to participate in the summit, so it’s not entirely true, is it, that you haven’t gotten any formal notification that they’re not —

MS. PSAKI: Well, a formal notification related to them not participating at all in any effort to —

QUESTION: Right. I think the question, though – the question that was raised yesterday, and that you’re answering today, refers to one specific program.

MS. PSAKI: No, I think it refers to cooperation and the general effort, and it was a new story that published yesterday.

QUESTION: It refers to a story in The New York Times, right?

MS. PSAKI: Right.

QUESTION: Which was about a program. But you say that you haven’t gotten any formal notification, but in fact, the Russians have formally notified you that they’re not going to take part in the summit, which, writ large, is nuclear security related, right?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, and is one component —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, so that context is important.

QUESTION: So you’re saying – okay. So you’re saying that you haven’t gotten any formal notification that the Russians are not going to cooperate on – across the board?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Go ahead. Elliot, did you have something, or did I —

QUESTION: No.

MS. PSAKI: You were kind of dancing or moving your arms.

QUESTION: Just pondering. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Okay, pondering.

Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: I have one more on Hungary, and I don’t know – you may want to take this. The Hungarian prime minister today, Viktor Orban, is saying that his government has received a document from the United States which sets out what he calls a loose collection of accusations. This relates to the visa lifting, which goes back to last month. And apparently, it raises concerns about VAT fraud, institutionalized corruption, whistleblower protection, and so on. I just wondered if you could confirm that the United States has handed over such a document, and if so, what’s in it?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to speak to or comment on private diplomatic communication. We, of course, have a dialogue with the Hungarian Government at many levels on a wide range of issues, including the fight against corruption. And obviously, as you know, we’ve spoken to the recent decision to apply Presidential Proclamation 7750 to current and former Hungarian officials, which, of course, is related to the visa ban, et cetera.

QUESTION: So there was a document that was handed over; you just did not – you confirm that? You’re not – just not going to tell us what’s in it? Is that —

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to confirm details of how we communicated or what we communicated, but obviously, we have a dialogue about corruption and our concerns about that issue, among others, with the Hungarian Government. We’re just not going to speak to it in more detail.

QUESTION: Well, when this came up last week, or the last time it came up, I thought you said that you were going to – that the Hungarian Government had raised – had asked questions about it and that you were going to respond through diplomatic channels. Is that not – is my memory wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Well, but that can happen through dialogue, that can happen through a means of communication. I don’t – I will see if there’s more to confirm. I doubt there’s more we have to say on this.

QUESTION: Well, I guess I just don’t understand. What do you mean, it can happen through dialogue or a means of communication? You mean —

QUESTION: A letter?

MS. PSAKI: There’s a range of ways we can answer questions.

QUESTION: What —

MS. PSAKI: That’s what I was getting at.

QUESTION: So the head of the tax office – the Hungarian tax office who is called Ildiko Vida has actually outed herself as one of these people who’s on the list. Could you confirm that, since she’s said that she is?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, and she’s put her name out there, yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Last one on —

MS. PSAKI: I think we have to wrap this up. Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:08 p.m.)

Source: state.gov