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State Department Briefing by Jen Psaki, November 1, 2013

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 1, 2013.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies to Host Trilateral Meeting with Japan and South Korea
    • Secretary’s Trip to Poland / Economic Relationship / ISAF / NATO Missile Defense / Continuous Presence of U.S. Troops in Poland
    • Snowden / Felony Charges
    • Review Underway of Intelligence Programs / Concerns of Allies / Technology
    • Ongoing Dialogue with Germany
    • Relationship with Pakistan / Counterterrorism Cooperation
    • Secretary Kerry’s Travel
    • Political Arrests and Detentions
    • Negotiations with TPP / Extremist Violence
    • Geneva 2 / Geneva Communique / Transitional Government / President Assad
    • Conversations with Opposition
    • OPCW / UNSC Resolution
    • Humanitarian Assistance / Resumption of Deliveries
  • DPRK
    • 2005 Joint Statement / Coordination with Partners
    • Freedom of Speech / Journalism
    • Palestinians Committed to Process



1:25 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.


MS. PSAKI: How are you?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Good. Happy day after Halloween. Happy November. So we have one special guest in the room today. Jim Harf over here is the father of Marie Harf. Yes. Now, he taught – I don’t want you to be intimidated, but he taught national security policy at Ohio State for a number of years, probably —

MR. HARF: 32.

MS. PSAKI: 32. He may have some questions for all of you about your reporting afterwards. (Laughter.) So —

MS. HARF: So be nice to Jen.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll be doing a gaggle with Jim Harf after the briefing. (Laughter.)

With that, I have two items for all of you at the top. The first is that – and we’ll be sending a note on this, but to announce to all of you – Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies will host a trilateral meeting in Washington November 6th with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts to exchange views on a range of issues related to the DPRK. Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Cho and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanean Affairs Ihara will head the South Korean and Japanese delegations, respectively. And these discussions will, of course, reflect the close cooperation among our three countries and our continued focus on pursuing verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The second piece at the top: Jo – who’s not here today, but in her honor – had asked yesterday about Poland and our visit there and why we were going now. And I just ventured to get a few more details for all of you on the importance of our relationship and what we’ll be discussing while we’re there. As you may or may not know, Poland is the largest commercial partner of the United States in Central Europe and is one of the – and the United States is one of the top sources of foreign investment in Poland. So that’s an incredibly important economic relationship.

Bilateral trade has quadrupled over the past 10 years, and U.S. exports to Poland grew over 37 percent just in the first seven months of 2013. American companies have invested more than 20 billion in Poland and directly employ over 180,000 Poles. Polish forces are also making key contributions as part of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan with approximately 1,100 Polish troops serving side by side with us there. So certainly, they’ll discuss that.

And finally, as I talked about a little bit yesterday, but Poland is an important part of the European phased-adaptive approach to the NATO missile defense, and we will deploy a missile defense site in Poland in the 2018 timeframe.

As well – and finally, the last thing actually is that the November 2012 launch of a fulltime aviation detachment at Lask Air Base represents the first ever continuous presence of U.S. troops in Poland. So clearly, there are a number of important issues to discuss.

With that, Deb.

QUESTION: Let’s start with Snowden.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: He says he wants to seek some extra help from the international community in getting the United States to – to persuade the United States to dismiss the charges against him. And he says that he’s been willing to testify in Congress and – if the charges were dropped. Does the U.S. Administration have any reaction to this latest wrinkle in the Snowden affair?

MS. PSAKI: Our position has not changed, despite recent reports or recent pronouncements from Mr. Snowden. As we’ve stated many times before, he is accused of leaking classified information, faces felony charges here in the United States, and we believe he should be returned as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process and protections applicable under U.S. law.

QUESTION: So no reaction, basically? Same reaction?

MS. PSAKI: No change to our position that we’ve had. Exactly.

QUESTION: Do you like the fact that he’s running around doing this? I mean, is this —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have – we don’t have any particular analysis of it more – other than to say that our position remains the same and we continue to convey that to our international partners.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that while we’re on the subject, is there anything that Ambassador Burns, Mr. Burns, did – said in Russia that advanced discussions on Snowden’s return?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to touch base with him and his office on that. Obviously, his visit was focused on a range of issues and our cooperation and partnership with Russia on a range of issues and as well as discussing areas where we disagree. So I don’t have any more readout at this point. I will talk to them and see if there’s more to add to that.

QUESTION: Because I did ask about it during his visit in Russia but I hadn’t heard anything back from you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Well, we will follow up with them and see if there’s more about his visit there and any discussion of Mr. Snowden or any other issue they’d like to read out.

QUESTION: Can we change —


QUESTION: Is this the same subject?


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Were the comments that Secretary Kerry made yesterday, were they off the cuff or was this part of a planned message that he wanted to give?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what the Secretary conveyed yesterday is what we’ve been conveying really for the thrust of this week, which is that we want to make sure we’re collecting information because we need it and not just because we can; that we don’t think our intel gathering needs to keep up with the technology available. Obviously, there’s an under – a review underway we’ve talked about quite a bit to look at these programs and make evaluations moving forward. And as – if we need to make changes, we will. So that was the same message he was conveying that we’ve been talking about all week.

QUESTION: Yeah, but he said that some of it went too far, which is the first time I think that anybody’s really said that.

MS. PSAKI: I think that we wouldn’t be having a review if we didn’t think we should look at these programs. That’s exactly what we’re doing. So the Secretary was conveying what we all feel, which is that this warrants taking a close look at, evaluating our appropriate posture as it comes to heads of state, how we coordinate with our allies, addressing concerns expressed by our allies, working with them, taking into account their input as well, and seeing if we can strengthen our cooperation moving forward.

QUESTION: So the White House didn’t call him up and say, “Hey, why did you say that?”

MS. PSAKI: I think this is an issue that we’ve been talking about extensively publicly, and obviously, there’s discussions going on privately. But what I’m reiterating for you here is what the Secretary was conveying in his remarks yesterday, which is just a belief that we need to take a close look at this, and obviously, the review is underway.

QUESTION: Pretty candid. He was being very candid, though.

MS. PSAKI: He was reiterating what our position is, which is we’re having a review, let’s take a look at that review; we need to evaluate what we – how we approach this as it relates to heads of states, as it relates to our foreign policy relationships; that while technology has made great strides in recent years, that needs to be factored in with the steps we take and what’s appropriate.

QUESTION: Has the (inaudible) really said that, though? The President has not said that.

MS. PSAKI: He did an interview earlier this week where he made some points about the review and how we don’t need to keep up with technology, so those were points that were made earlier.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one at a time. Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Yeah. Is there a consistency between the Secretary’s position and the White House, or is there an inconsistency there?

MS. PSAKI: No, there’s – completely consistent. The Secretary agrees with the review that the President has called for. He agrees we need to be open and engaged with our allies and partners in having these discussions, addressing concerns they have. He obviously can play a key role in that process, and he – and that’s a discussion that’s gone on, of course, behind the scenes over the past couple of weeks.

QUESTION: Okay. So looking at the Secretary’s words, are we likely to expect a change in that policy in the near future?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think this is something that has been expressed, and that as we undergo the review, which I’m not going to get ahead at, is if there are changes that need to be made, that’s something that would certainly be open to.

QUESTION: And lastly on this point, is that impacting in any way the Secretary’s words – the kind of discussion that you’re having with the Germans —

MS. PSAKI: With the Germans?

QUESTION: — or have had with the Germans?

MS. PSAKI: I think that the Germans – part of our effort is expressing an openness to our allies that we want to have an engagement and a discussion about areas where they are concerned, that while we have a range of programs that are – that have a variety of purposes, including national security purposes and including keeping the United States and our allies safe, that we want to address their concerns and we want to strengthen our relationship moving forward. So that conversation is certainly ongoing.

Go ahead. I don’t think I know you.

QUESTION: Yeah. My name is Florens Herbst with ARD German Television.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Hello.

QUESTION: And I have two questions on the Snowden topic.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Is the visit of the senior German lawmaker to Moscow meeting with Mr. Snowden something that the U.S. Government might anger?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know – we’ve certainly seen those reports. This was, as I understand it, a German member of the parliament, so it wasn’t a member of the government, per se – a member of the parliament. Our position hasn’t changed. It remains the same. And we have an ongoing dialogue with Germany and Germans about these issues.

QUESTION: The German Government has talked about a possible interest in meeting with Mr. Snowden, may that be in Moscow or in Germany – that’s not clear – but what is your position on that possible interest of meeting with Mr. Snowden?

MS. PSAKI: I think that was, if I’m still correct here, a position expressed by a member of the parliament, not necessarily expressed by a counterpart of the Secretary’s. It’s something where our position hasn’t changed. I don’t know that I have much further evaluation of it at this point since it’s a hypothetical.

QUESTION: The Minister of Interior has said, “Well, we’re open to everything.” So he’s in the government, and I just wondered if you can comment on that.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further analysis or response given it’s a hypothetical at this point.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on this?


MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. Go ahead and we’ll go to you next, Lesley.

QUESTION: Last night, a few hours after John Kerry made his remarks, Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, blamed the State Department, ambassadors specifically, for the requests for – to place foreign leaders under surveillance. Do you agree that the State Department should be held responsible for the surveillance of foreign leaders?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is a review that the President has called for that’s looking at these programs. When the Secretary made his comments yesterday, he said “we.” He’s talking about a collective “we” as in the entire government looking at these programs. Beyond that, I don’t have any response to the – his comments.

QUESTION: Just to make sure I read that correctly, does that mean that he does accept State Department should be held responsible for this?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not what I said. These are programs we’re all working together – the White House, the State Department, every department that is – has any connection with foreign governments, has any connection with these programs. The Secretary talked about the great value of many of these programs. He talked about the review that will be underway and I think he gave a pretty extensive answer to it.

QUESTION: But on the narrower point, Kerry said that the NSA may have overreached and at times been on autopilot. Alexander laid the blame at the door of the State Department.

MS. PSAKI: He said “we.”

QUESTION: Sure, but my question is whether Kerry —

MS. PSAKI: That’s a relevant point.

QUESTION: Sure. My question is whether John —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think you’re acknowledging that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I am. I’m just asking a question —

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: — and it’s a narrow question that it would be good to have an answer to. It’s whether John Kerry accepts that on the issue of surveillance of foreign leaders, the State Department —

MS. PSAKI: I’ll let Secretary Kerry’s remarks speak for themselves, and I think I just addressed your question.


QUESTION: And I just want to make – I just want to be clear that I understand that you are saying that he – that what he said is what the rest of the Administration feels, including the White House.

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is —

QUESTION: Because the President has not said it in those words.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are different ways of saying many things. Everybody doesn’t use the exact same words. What he was conveying and what he was saying was consistent, which is that we – it’s important we undergo this review. That’s something the President has called for. As we undergo that, we need to look at how technology has exploded over the past couple of years and whether or not we need to keep pace with that. We need to look at how it relates to foreign policy and how it relates to our relationships with other governments. But we also need to look at the value of our national security programs and our intel-gathering programs, and that was the thrust of his lengthy answer.

QUESTION: And since Matt isn’t here, I’m sure you’re going to tell us that the review is ready, right? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: The review will be completed at – that’s right, in an exclusive for Reuters. The review will be concluded. The timeline is by the end of the year, so that remains the case.

QUESTION: But Jen, just to follow up on the issue of the inconsistency between what Secretary Kerry was saying and what General Alexander was saying, it seems like there’s a sort of – I don’t know – disagreement or maybe lack of understanding about where the responsibility ultimately lies for these kind of programs as they’re implemented, whether it’s the intelligence community or whether it’s policymakers in the White House and the State Department. So will the issue of accountability and where those directives ultimately come from and where the buck stops be a part of the review?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you can talk to the White House about the specifics of the review, but I don’t actually think there was an inconsistency. The Secretary was conveying that we’re all taking part in this process, we’re all taking a part of this review. He certainly wasn’t disengaging the State Department from looking at these programs and having conversations with leaders – something he’s already been engaged with. So I would just refute the notion of the question.

QUESTION: But he did say that – and the NSA has somehow – has stepped kind of out of the bounds at times of the umbrella of policymakers and their supervision, saying that – I mean, that’s what I interpreted the word “autopilot” to mean, and – whereas General Alexander said that the NSA only implements these programs when they have direct orders to do so from policymakers.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think representatives from all components of government are taking part in this review. There’s an internal and an external review. I’m sure there’ll be a range of feedback and discussion on all of these issues.

QUESTION: Just to pick up back on that question one last time: Do you think it’s – I mean, what the NSA Director specifically said was that ambassadors were responsible for the requests for information that then led to the surveillance of these leaders. And I just want to know whether you think – that’s the first time he’s blamed any specific group within government.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He’s previously talked generally about policy makers. Is it helpful for the NSA Director to pinpoint the State Department?

MS. PSAKI: I just have no – nothing further for you on your line of questioning.

Go ahead. Lalit.

QUESTION: Pakistan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’m getting news reports coming from the tribal leaders of Pakistan that Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed in a drone strike. Can you confirm it?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen those reports. I don’t have anything for you on it.

QUESTION: But is he dead or alive? Do you know?

MS. PSAKI: I know that – what you’re asking. I don’t have anything for you on the reports. I know they just came out just before I came down here, but nothing from this end or from the podium.

QUESTION: Because I have seen the news reports coming from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan, about their differing with the civilian causalities, which the Minister of Defense put it out. Do you have anything to say on it? Do you —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t.

QUESTION: Do you have any figures?

MS. PSAKI: We talked about this a little bit the other day. Not extensively, so – but I don’t have any analysis.

QUESTION: Do you think it’s more near to the Defense Ministry or the Foreign Ministry?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to get into analysis of numbers. It’s not something, as you know, we talk about, but we’ve, of course, seen all those reports.

QUESTION: But you are nowhere near to the Amnesty figures, right?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more for you on the range of numbers out there.

QUESTION: Can we go to (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Since Matt’s not here, I should ask about the review of the Amnesty report, but also —

MS. PSAKI: There’s so much support for Matt in this room.

QUESTION: But – yeah. Well, he got married today, so —

MS. PSAKI: That’s true.

QUESTION: But more – more back on the Mehsud thing —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, the wires are saying already that he has been confirmed killed, okay? Does this increase the leverage or the argument that the United States has for continuing the drones, or is this more like, okay, well, we got the head guy here, so we can back off a little bit? How does that change the debate?

MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your many different components of your line of questioning. Because we have nothing for you on the reports, it would be hard for me to give you any analysis. Of course, we have a close cooperating – cooperative relationship with Pakistan on a range of issues, including counterterrorism. But on these specific reports, I just don’t have anything for you guys on it.

QUESTION: Well, Kerry’s the one who brought it up. He brought it up in Islamabad, saying that we could – the United States could stop this program very soon, so, I mean, where are we with that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more on this particular —

QUESTION: On the review?

MS. PSAKI: The review, exactly.

QUESTION: Yes. Okay.

QUESTION: Jen, can we go to (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: So, let’s just go one at a time here. Why don’t we go, Samir, to you? Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Egyptian media is reporting today that the Secretary will visit Cairo on Sunday.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new in terms of stops or travel for the Secretary to announce for all of you beyond the trip announcement we did yesterday.

QUESTION: So, I mean, if he’s going to Egypt, why is that not announced? I mean, why wouldn’t he go to Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I don’t have anything new to tell you or to announce on the trip.

QUESTION: Because it’s not only the Middle East News Agency, the Egyptian one, it’s all over the place. I mean, either you say he is or he’s not going to go to Egypt. So is he not going to Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I also read the newspaper closely. I don’t have anything new to tell you or announce for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Is it likely that he will make an unannounced stop in Egypt? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I love your persistence. It’s admirable. I don’t – I just don’t have anything more for you on the reports.

QUESTION: So can I ask a question in a different way so maybe you change your mind?

MS. PSAKI: Perhaps. (Laughter.) I love how you’re laying out your agenda at the front. It’s very honest.

QUESTION: I know official – usually they don’t change their minds, but I will try.

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) Okay.

QUESTION: So I mean, the trip is going to, as you announced yesterday, including Saudi Arabia. And now it’s – Egyptians are saying it’s going to be a few hours stop in Cairo. So when people are going to know, Americans first and then Egyptians, that American Secretary of State is going to go to Egypt? Tomorrow or just on Sunday when he landed in the plane over there?

MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your line of questioning, but I have no – nothing for you on any trips or planned trips or future trips, whether it’s next week or two weeks or six months from now.

QUESTION: So I’m just trying to figure out, I mean – so it means that those news are wrong?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any reports – anything to announce for all of you.

QUESTION: You don’t comment on that news?

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

QUESTION: Would Morsy’s trial date have anything to do – have any bearing on whether or not he goes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, given we have no planned travel to announce, that’s speculative. However, broadly speaking, the purpose of this next trip is to go to the strategic dialogues in Morocco and Algeria, and we worked out some travel in advance of it that had important strategic needs, including Saudi Arabia, and for ongoing Middle East peace discussions around that. But that was the driving purpose of the trip.


QUESTION: I have a second question, but not related to Egypt.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The Secretary is going to discuss in this trip with the Saudis and others the file related to NSA? Because we know that the file talk about – some reports were saying about 35 countries, and the European countries that we counted, it’s a lot more than five. So we have another, at least, 30 countries, or 20 countries, whatever it’s the calculation is. So that – is this part of – because as a matter of fact, some media, Arab media, raised that issue. Is it part of it to discuss this issue too, or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the focus of the trip, whether it’s to Saudi Arabia or a range of the other countries we’re going to – Saudi Arabia is a good example – is to discuss global issues we work together on, so ending the war in Syria, our path forward in Egypt, the talks next week on with the P5+1, on Iran. Those are some pretty big, hefty topics. Those will be the focus of the trip. As with any of our friends, partners, and allies around the world. If there’s a desire to talk about these reports or these programs, certainly the Secretary would be open to it. But that’s not the focus or the intended desire of the trip.

QUESTION: So not to take more of your time, I mean, just trying to go back to Egypt and have a question related that I asked yesterday and the day before yesterday, a related question about the trial of former President Morsy —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — on 4th of November, which is on Monday.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And already there are some demonstrations and violent acts are going on because of that in Egypt. Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: You’ve been extremely patient, so thank you for that. Our position on this has been that the interim government needs to ensure that all Egyptians are afforded due process, transparency, and open trials, with civilians tried in civilian courts. That broadly applies. We’ve consistently called for an end to all politicized arrests and detentions, and will continue to do so in this case and others.

QUESTION: Including (inaudible) detention yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I think I called for it at the time.

Any more on Egypt? Okay. Oh, Said, did you have another on Egypt?


MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Lalit, and then we’ll go to you in the back.

QUESTION: I have one more on Pakistan.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Pakistan has started talks with Tehrik-e Taliban in Pakistan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything on it?

MS. PSAKI: I believe so. Give me just one moment here. So we, of course, are following it closely, as you would expect. The issue of whether to negotiate is an internal matter for Pakistan. We would refer you to them for further details. We work closely with them on a range of issues, of course, but this isn’t a dialogue or discussion that the United States would be involved in, as you know, I’m sure.

QUESTION: But in the past, whenever Pakistan has had talks, peace talks with the terrorist groups, there have been several instances in the past U.S. has taken a stand, either supported it or sometime expressed concern about those talks, like one during the period of General Musharraf. So this time, why you don’t have any stand on this? You are just monitoring it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re obviously monitoring it. We’ll see how things proceed, but again, it’s – the decision to negotiate with the TTP is an internal matter for Pakistan.

QUESTION: Do you believe that these talks will bring peace in Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to make a prediction of that. We certainly have a shared interest with Pakistan to bring an end to extremist violence and move the country forward toward a more prosperous and stable and peaceful region, so any step toward that is certainly a step we would encourage. But in terms of further analysis of these talks and the status and what they’ll – the outcome would be, we don’t have anything further.

QUESTION: But since you are holding peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, why you are not supporting them in TTP like –

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, every country is different, but with Afghanistan we’ve long said that those talks need to be between Afghans talking to Afghans. That remains, certainly, our belief and our view, and one we’ve communicated to all sides in that case as well.

QUESTION: Jen (inaudible) Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have anything —

MS. PSAKI: Sorry. I will go to you next, I promise. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. No problem.

QUESTION: — on the Israeli airstrike on a Syrian military base in Latakia?

MS. PSAKI: I do not.

QUESTION: Why? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I do not have anything for you.

QUESTION: A U.S. official confirmed this airstrike.

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen the reports. I don’t have anything for you on it.

QUESTION: You cannot confirm it or deny it?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have another Syria question? Perhaps I can help you on that.

QUESTION: Yeah, but this question first. You don’t have anything on it?

MS. PSAKI: I do not.

QUESTION: Okay. Syrian former Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil has said from Moscow that there is an international consensus or an agreement between the international community not to force President Assad to step down before Geneva 2. Is there such an agreement or consensus?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you heard, or you may have seen, Special Representative Brahimi say today there are no preconditions for Geneva. That’s something that we certainly support, and I believe the Secretary has said. The focus is the implementation of the Geneva communique.

As part of that, one of the – through implementation, which would be putting a transitional government in place through mutual consent, which, as we know, the opposition would never support Assad being a part of the transitional government – the implementation would – that would be the outcome of it.

So that is certainly – the goal is to create a transitional government. We know that’s likely where it would go. But I would point you to Special Representative Brahimi and his comments even just as recently as today on Geneva and the focus and the plans going in.

QUESTION: And that – does that mean that you are still calling President Assad to step down or —

MS. PSAKI: Of course. Our position has not changed on that at all.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. And one more. The Russian Prime Minister has asked for guarantees for President Assad. He said he’s not mad; he must receive some kind of guarantees, or in any case some kind of proposals on the development of political dialogue in Syria itself, on possible elections, on his personal fate. Are you ready to give President Assad such guarantees?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve, of course, seen – I think it was President Putin – or no, it was Prime Minister Medvedev, his comments. We’ve, of course, seen those comments. Our goal is not to analyze every comment out there; it’s to continue to work with our allies and partners. A big focus of the Secretary’s trip next week will be this as well and preparing for a Geneva conference, moving towards that.

Broadly speaking, our position hasn’t changed that President Assad is a brutal dictator who has killed over 100,000 people over the last two years. That’s why we’re at the point we’re at. And our view of him and of whether or not he has to go hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: But in general, are you ready to give him any kind of guarantees?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just made clear what our view of President Assad is, so we’ll – we can move on.

QUESTION: Why won’t you give —



QUESTION: — the guarantees, considering that there is a large segment of the Syrian society, or a big segment of Syrian society, that actually look to Assad as their leader – minorities, Christians, Druze and so on, I mean – and Alawite, many – big portion.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, he has brutally killed over 100,000 people. This is a country that is – people are literally starving because his regime won’t let humanitarian access into certain cities and suburbs of the capital. So I don’t think this is a case where we are considering requests from a typical interlocutor.

QUESTION: I understand. But you keep saying that the Syrians must be represented in any peace talks. Now 30 percent or 40 percent of Syrians say Assad represents us. Is that good enough?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the condition here is that he would not be a part of a transitional government given that’s by mutual consent. That’s determined by the Syrians. The negotiations would be between the Syrians, so a representative body from the opposition and one from the regime.

QUESTION: But are you certain that you can have someone from the opposition at this table that does have the consent of a large segment of the Syrian people?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s – what they are representing is the interests of the Syrian people. It’s —

QUESTION: Because —

MS. PSAKI: They are – we are working with them to determine the best representation for that.

QUESTION: Because time and again in this room you said that Assad’s days were numbers, and really looking at what’s going on, one can see that the coalition’s days seem to be numbered. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: I would not agree with that, Said. But just I would reiterate what we’ve – I’ve said a couple of times in here. This is not easy. We’re not naive about the challenges. We’re pursuing this on several paths. While it was a development yesterday in the announcement by the OPCW, our focus remains on a political solution because there’s no military solution. But we’re pursuing this on all cylinders and on several parallel complementary paths.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You were saying that you – that the U.S. agrees that there should not be preconditions for Geneva, right?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But all I’m hearing —

MS. PSAKI: The only one should be —


MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if this is where you’re going, but let me get ahead of it.

QUESTION: Well, I was trying to figure it out because all I’m hearing are conditions – that Assad needs to leave, that the Iranians can’t take place because – can’t take part until they’ve accepted Geneva 1.

MS. PSAKI: This is the – I should say – I wouldn’t call it a precondition, but the focus of Geneva is the implementation of a Geneva communique, so all of those components are applicable to that. And if a country is not interested in implementing the Geneva communique — yes, we don’t believe they should be a part of the conference.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) So we’re reporting that the opposition is not happy with Brahimi’s statements regarding the preconditions. Is that something that they have expressed to you? I mean, they obviously feel that there should be preconditions – number one, that Assad should leave and all these things. So have they expressed that at all to the U.S.?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’ve expressed – as you know, the Secretary has had a range of conversations with the opposition, and Ambassador Ford has had conversations with them nearly every day. So I’m sure they have communicated their desires, their frustrations, what they’ve said publicly in some capacity. However, our goal here is to bring both sides to the table, bring an end to the bloodshed, bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people. And we feel moving to a conference is the right way to do that despite the challenges. So that hasn’t changed. That’s what the Secretary, what Ambassador Ford has communicated to them in response.


QUESTION: So Jen, on the issue of the OPCW, it seems that Muallim, the Syrian Foreign Minister, submitted a request to maintain about a dozen facilities where chemical weapons are produced. Now, for civilians, would you agree to something like this? He submitted it to the


MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure that’s accurate. I will check. But my understanding from talking to our team is that there has not been a formal request submitted, that if a formal request were submitted it would go to the OPCW. The OPCW would then consider any request. However, as you know, the UNSCR and the OPCW Executive Council decision made clear that Syria’s chemical weapons program must be eliminated. That’s obviously what the development yesterday was an announcement of and what we’re continuing to work toward. So any decision by the OPCW or consideration of anything – there hasn’t been a request submitted yet – would, I’m sure, take that into account.

QUESTION: In theory, would retooling these facilities to produce civilian product, chemical products that Syria needs or any country needs, would that be something that you would sort of agree to?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that, Said. There hasn’t even been a formal request submitted from the regime on this to the OPCW.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Russians are talking about the necessity to hold a Geneva 2 before the end of the year.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does that mean that November is not on the agenda anymore?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think they said it wasn’t. I think – and also, Brahimi said just today that it would – we were still targeting November and aiming for the next couple of weeks.

QUESTION: One more on Syria?

MS. PSAKI: One more on Syria?

QUESTION: Syria, please.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Go ahead. Sorry, I wasn’t telling where the sound was coming from. Syria?

QUESTION: Yes, please. Yesterday you mentioned regarding the humanitarian aid that at least 10 trucks were stuck somewhere.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any update about that?

MS. PSAKI: I do have an update, and it was a good question from yesterday. So I think the line of questioning was what kind of trucks, was there anything in the trucks, et cetera. So these 10 trucks were unarmored Toyota pickup trucks. They did not contain any other assistance in the trucks.

QUESTION: So my question is not the nature of the trucks more than the – what we can call it, the flow of the trucks or the flow of the humanitarian aid. It was an issue yesterday. Is it solved today or it’s still we are stuck somewhere?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re continuing to, of course, work through the challenges of transportation and movement on the ground. Obviously, getting 10 trucks through is a positive step, but we continue to work through those challenges.

QUESTION: The other question is related – I know that most of the people in this room and other places are just fixated or obsessed with Geneva 2, and in same time there is a humanitarian disaster is taking place, whether it’s refugees level or polio level or this food humanitarian level. I know somehow people are following it, but we are not updated about it.


QUESTION: I mean, is like now what is the case of the refugees? Are they ready to face the wintertime crisis or not?

MS. PSAKI: This is a real —

QUESTION: I’m not looking for – I mean, if there is a definitely detailed answer in the coming days, that will be fine.

MS. PSAKI: Well – and I’m happy to go back and see if there’s more details to provide. But it’s worth mentioning since you asked that we are concerned, as is the international community, about the coming of winter, given the fact that men, women, and children are starving in cities and towns around Syria. We are concerned about how equipped they are to handle the cold weather. So that’s even more the reason why the Secretary recently did an op-ed about humanitarian assistance and the importance of getting it through. He talked about it just a few days ago at an event. And it’s something we will continue to press and work with our international partners on.

And one thing just to be completely clear, it’s important to note that we’ve been able to resume deliveries and our assistance is moving forward. So the 10 trucks are evidence of that. Obviously, I can’t get into details of how, but that’s evidence of that.

QUESTION: Jen, just a follow-up quickly on the trucks.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: During the hearing yesterday on the Hill, Senator Corker mentioned that these trucks were supposed to have been delivered back in August. But can you confirm that? Is it the same shipment of trucks that were held up due to – I don’t know why, but —

MS. PSAKI: I have to check on that. It’s a good question. Sometimes part of our – part of the process is actually consultation with Congress. I’m not sure if that was the case here, but there may be an irony. So I’ll check on that and see if we can get you an answer on whether this was planned to be delivered then. Obviously, we’re doing everything we can to expedite deliveries and we haven’t made a secret of the fact that we’d like things to move more quickly.

QUESTION: A follow-up on –

QUESTION: Can you put that in perspective in any way? Because the Congress – the senators were saying wow, 10 trucks, big deal. Can you put this in perspective, like how much is not getting through or how much you still need to get through?

MS. PSAKI: Well, sure. I talked about this a little bit yesterday, but let me give you just kind of a summary of the update here. I mean, I think one of the important notes here is that we’ve been able to resume deliveries, and there was question of that for some time. So that’s one piece.

In terms of our assistance, we’ve committed to approximately 200 million in nonlethal assistance. About 167 million of that is in train and being provided through a range of projects. So there’s a range of ways that’s being provided. I can go into details if that’s of interest.

In terms of the additional aid that has not gone forward, there is about – let’s see – approximately 35 million that is going to the civilian opposition to help prepare Syrians for governance in the future for training, equipment, support for independent media and support for the restoration of basic and essential services, as well as 55 million that will be used to provide additional nonlethal support to the SMC. That has not gone through yet. We are still working with Congress on moving that forward.

But it is important to note in the context that Ambassador Ford was certainly not suggesting that 10 trucks is all we’ve delivered. It was significant because trucks are of great value and they are something that have through our consultations with the SMC is something they have wanted. Obviously, we want to do more and we can – we have more to give. But we’ve already given – provided it’s in train – 167 million as well. So that’s an important contextual note.

QUESTION: Can these trucks change Assad calculations on the ground, do you think?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just gave you the full context of what we’ve provided, what we’re continuing to provide. As you know, we’ve also expanded the scale and scope of our aid several months ago. So I don’t think anyone is suggesting that. We’re suggesting that these are one of the pieces of equipment that we’ve talked to them about. It was important that they were delivered. They can now be put into use. But obviously, there are a range of ways and a range of kinds of assistance we provide.

QUESTION: On Syrian humanitarian aid?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: First of all, thank you for choosing (inaudible). But yesterday at the Senate hearing, the Administration said that U.S. humanitarian aid to Syria is far lead to other countries and also saying that Russia and China’s contribution is very small. Have you conveyed this officially to them?

MS. PSAKI: We certainly do speak with them about the importance of humanitarian assistance. When the Secretary spoke with – and that is true, the United States is the largest provider of humanitarian aid to Syria, so that was a simple statement of fact. I believe it’s about 1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance we’ve provided. But when the Secretary spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov the other day, he did talk about and has talked about in the past the importance of not only assistance but access and the ask to see if they can help play a role in improving that access, because it’s hard to get international organizations and NGOs in if they aren’t able to move through the roads. They also talked about polio and the recent confirmation of 10 cases and the shared concern about that, but the need to do more given that.

QUESTION: What about your wealthy Arab allies? Are they putting their money where their mouth is, like Saudi Arabia, the GCC countries on the humanitarian aid? All reports seem to be to fall far short of that.

MS. PSAKI: Said, I’m not – I know that they have been generous contributors to the opposition and to a range of assistance. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but certainly there is a shared concern about the need for more humanitarian assistance and more aid to refugees, whether they’re in or outside of Syria.

Go ahead in the back. Sorry, you’ve been so patient. In the black. Go ahead.

QUESTION: A quick one on the Tiananmen Square attack you mentioned yesterday. And after that, the Chinese security chief identified it was East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group, behind that attack. First of all, I wonder if you have more to add on what you said yesterday. And do you see any potential cooperation between the United States and China in Central and Western Asia?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to what I said yesterday on that front. Obviously, as more information is provided and as the investigation continues, which I know it’s ongoing, we’ll continue to consult. But I don’t have anything new to add to yesterday.

QUESTION: How about the second question on the counterterrorist cooperation?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, well, certainly we cooperate on a range of issues. I don’t have anything new as it relates to this, but we’ll certainly see as things move forward.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s go one more in the back here.

QUESTION: One more China. And recently, Chinese Six-Party representative Wu Dawei mentioned on his – I mean, sort of optimistic views of a resumption of a Six-Party Talk. What is the United States position on that? Is that optimistic or pessimistic or within this year the resumption of a Six-Party Talk?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position on this hasn’t changed. We remain – we believe that the ball is in North Korea’s court. They need to take steps, including abiding by the joint 2005 – September 2005 joint statement. They need to take steps to reassure the international community. Those steps, obviously, haven’t been taken. I don’t want to characterize his comments, but obviously, we’re all working to coordinate with our international partners, as is evidenced by the topper I gave about Glyn Davies’ meetings coming up. So that will, of course, continue.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Will this trilateral talk is going to be an occasion to explain to the Japanese and the South Koreans about the talk which just wrapped up with Mr. Wu Dawei?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure they’ll consult on a range of issues and share information amongst them. They all have meetings, a range of meetings that they do as part of their positions.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.) The IAEA chief this morning, he was talking about the IAEA’s ready to go back to North Korea but the stakeholders have to reach a consensus on this. So I’m wondering if this consensus is what you are discussing right now.

MS. PSAKI: In terms of the meetings on November 6th, or in general?

QUESTION: In terms of having IAEA go back to North Korea.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that. I’m happy to check with our team and see if that’s part of the discussion, but not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: On North Korea now, high-level officer Kim Hyong-jun visit Beijing two days ago. How did you feel about his visit to China?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that we have any particular analysis of that.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Mr. Amano met yesterday with the Secretary and Under Secretary Sherman. Did you put a readout on these meetings?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that, Samir, for you. I know we put out a readout – I think it was a few days ago. I believe we put out a readout on it, but I will double-check and make sure we did.

Go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: I’m going to move you from all the Eastern world, Asia to Latin America a little bit.

MS. PSAKI: All right. Let’s go to Latin America.

QUESTION: There is a lot of concern going on in the situation of the press in Latin America. For example, the Society of Inter American Journalists had a meeting in Denver two weeks ago. And also, they were – there are meetings today in the Commission of International Human Rights commission in the – in OAS, where cases in Ecuador, in Venezuela – today they are going to be talking about Argentina also – are being discussed. For example, in Ecuador, it was mentioned that there are hundreds of journalists that are accused legally and with (inaudible) in the courts because of their comments in the newspapers. I want to know if the U.S. is following this, if you have comments on this, or what’s going on with the press in Latin America.

MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, whether it’s Latin America or anywhere else in the world, we believe fundamentally in the right of freedom of speech, the right of – and that, of course, applies to journalists around the world. We’ve expressed concern in the past about the jailing of journalists and the targeting of journalists. I’m not making any specific accusations to here, but that certainly is one of our fundamental beliefs and something we would take to any of these reports, and I think we’ve spoken about some of them in the past. But of course we monitor it and we watch it closely, our bureau does, and we speak out about it when it’s warranted.



MS. PSAKI: Hold on. Let me go to Nicolas, and then we’ll go to you.

QUESTION: From Latin America, can we move to Africa?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: To Rwanda, please.

MS. PSAKI: Rwanda. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it – yeah. Is it true that Secretary Kerry had recently a very strong conversation with President Paul Kagame, pushing Kigali to cut ties with M23 rebellion?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve had conversations – let me just find, because I do have something on this, I believe, on whether he’s – Nicolas. Well, Nicolas, I will have to talk to our team on those recent reports. I thought I had something specific in here on it, but I can’t seem to find it. So that’s my fault.

QUESTION: I want to stay in Africa.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: In Mozambique, a large mining company, Rio Tinto, has just said they’re going to withdraw their expected employees – sorry, their families. There are U.S. companies in Mozambique.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I was wondering if there was concern from the U.S. about the deteriorating – if there is a deteriorating security situation in Mozambique, and number two, whether you are on the brink of issuing a Travel Warning regarding the situation there.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we would never predict that. So if we – we issue them as we issue them. In terms of our concerns about the situation on the ground, we of course closely monitor situations along those lines. I will check with our team as I’m checking with your neighbor’s question here and see if we can get you more specifics on what we’re seeing happening on the ground.


QUESTION: Jen, next topic – Ramallah?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In your travels —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — it seems to be going from Africa to Ramallah. There are reports that Palestinian negotiators submitted their resignation. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I do. Thank you for your question. We, of course, have seen the reports, as all of you have seen. We have been in touch with the Palestinian side. They remain fully committed to the negotiations for the nine months agreed upon, and they fully intend to participate in the next round of negotiations.

QUESTION: So there has been – these – you are refuting these reports, right?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: You are saying that these reports were not true?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not refuting what somebody said. I’m conveying this is an update, that we have been in touch with them, and they remain committed to the negotiations and will be participating in the next round and are committed to the nine-month timeframe.

QUESTION: And you feel that enough progress has been in the last few months, so at the end of the six month – upcoming six-month period, we can have an outcome that is consistent with your desires of a two-state solution?

MS. PSAKI: That is certainly our goal and what we’re pursuing, and one of the reasons the Secretary is traveling overseas next week.

QUESTION: There is a report that the Secretary called the King of Jordan today. Do you have anything on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that. He is going to see him next week, so that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. I can check and see if there’s any confirmation of that.

QUESTION: Jen, Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies will have a meeting with the Japanese and South Korea and the United States, trilateral meeting in the next week, November 6th. Then do you know that they have all completely discussed with – the resumption of the Six-Party Talk?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s what I announced at the top of the briefing, so I would point you to what I said there, and certainly they’ll be discussing a range of issues, including the ongoing threats from North Korea. And that will be a big focus of their conversation.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:21 p.m.)

Source: state.gov


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