75.2 F
Park Forest
Monday, August 8, 2022

State Department Briefing by Jen Psaki, October 31, 2013

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 31, 2013.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Kerry’s Travel
    • Welcome OPCW Announcement that Syria’s Chemical Weapons Are Rendered Inoperable
    • Purpose of Secretary Kerry’s Trip / Ending Civil War in Syria / Successful Egypt / Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons / P5+1 Talks / Geneva 2 / TTIP
    • Testimony of Ambassador Ford on Hill / Delivery to the SMC
  • IRAQ
    • Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s Comment at the U.S. Institute of Peace
    • U.S. is Monitoring Suicide Car Attack at Tiananmen Square / Human Rights
    • Chinese Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks
    • Update on the Status of President Morsy’s November 4 Trial
    • Status of Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund
    • Letter to Secretary Kerry from 83 Congressional Members
    • Readout of Secretary Kerry’s Meeting with IAEA Director General Amano



1:28 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Happy Halloween, everyone. Feel like Nicholas is theme-dressed here a little bit, like a pumpkin.

QUESTION: An orange orangutan. (Laughter).

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: And a pumpkin in the front. All right.

QUESTION: Yes. Well – (laughter) —

QUESTION: (Inaudible) bringing a fez. I would have brought my fez.

QUESTION: And I’m not taking it off. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: That is excellent. I’m going to try to remain as serious as humanly possible for the remainder of the briefing.


QUESTION: This is the (inaudible) Sydney Greenstreet, in honor of the Secretary’s upcoming trip to Morocco.

MS. PSAKI: How thematic of you.

QUESTION: Dude, I don’t want you to ever wear that hat again without letting me know.

MS. PSAKI: You’re just – you want a matching one, perhaps.

QUESTION: I have a matching one at home.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. For next year. Until then.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) them on either side. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I have two items for all of you at the top. You all should have seen the trip announcement we put out this morning. Let me just give a few highlights of that. The Secretary of State will travel to Riyadh, Warsaw, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Amman, Abu Dhabi, Algiers, and Rabat from November 3rd to November 11th.

In Riyadh, Secretary Kerry will meet with King Abdullah to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. He will reaffirm the strategic nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, given the importance of the work between our two countries on shared challenges and the leadership Saudi Arabia provides for the region.

In Warsaw, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior Polish officials to discuss our close defense alliance and partnership with Poland across a range of global issues as well as Poland’s key contributions on democracy promotion and in enhancing NATO capabilities. He will also meet with representatives of U.S. and Polish businesses and young innovators, highlighting our strong economic ties and mutual commitment to transatlantic prosperity.

In Jerusalem and Bethlehem, he will meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss the ongoing final status negotiations as well as other regional issues of mutual concern. He will also discuss issues related to Iran with Israeli officials.

In Amman, he will meet with senior Jordanian officials to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues as part of our close coordination on key issues.

In Abu Dhabi – we’re still moving through the trip here – he will meet with senior Emirati officials to continue our close coordination. This visit will provide the leaders the opportunity to discuss the important role the U.A.E. plays in promoting stability and prosperity in the Middle East.

In Algiers, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior Algerian officials and co-chair the U.S.-Algeria Strategic Dialogue with Algerian Foreign Minister Lamamra. The dialogue launched in October 2012 demonstrates our close coordination and strong partnership with Algeria on a range of issues, including political issues, security and counterterrorism, economics, and civil society.

In Rabat, he will co-chair – Secretary Kerry will co-chair the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue with Moroccan Foreign Minister Mansour and will meet with senior Moroccan officials to discuss a range of issues. This dialogue launched in September 2012 underscores our ongoing close cooperation with Morocco and will focus on four working groups: political, economic, security, educational, and cultural affairs.

I have one more item for all of you. We would like to applaud the OPCW, the United Nations, and the joint mission staff for their unprecedented work to date on behalf of the international community in working toward the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program. Today, the OPCW, as many of you may have seen, announced that it has verified that Syria’s declared critical production mixing and filling equipment has been rendered inoperable. Rendering this equipment inoperable is an important step in ensuring that chemical weapons are never used again by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. While important progress has been made, this will be a long and complex process. Syria’s obligations are clear, and it will need to fully comply with the requirements established by the UNSCR and the OPCW Executive Council’s decision. We continue to review and assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria’s declaration to the OPCW, which is more than 700 pages. However, in accordance with OPCW regulations, Syria’s declaration, as we mentioned the other day, is confidential.

One other point to highlight for all of you: If it’s not out already, there’ll be a statement from the Secretary on this coming out shortly as well.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — as the Secretary prepares for his trip to several formerly fez-wearing countries —


QUESTION: — I’m wondering how mindful he is of the tensions and the strains in relation — you can keep a straight face.

MS. PSAKI: I’m just looking at kind of the long, flowing ribbon on the side. (Laughter.)



MS. PSAKI: Tassel. Sorry. Thank you.

QUESTION: How mindful is the Secretary of the tensions and strains in the relationships between the United States and the Saudis, between the United States and the Europeans, and between the United States and the Israelis, at least as it relates to the rapprochement or the tentative outreach to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a couple of questions in there. But the Secretary, overall, believes that rolling up his sleeves and having personal diplomacy is the way that we should continue to approach either issues we work together on, global challenges, or issues where there may be concerns as it relates to the intel-gathering reports.

We’re going to – let me take them each at a time here, perhaps. Saudi Arabia – as you know, the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Saud just two weeks ago, had a productive two-hour lunch with him. We’ve been engaged with the Saudis closely long before that, but certainly since then as well. And there was a discussion that it would be a good time for the Secretary to come visit and talk about all of the issues we work together on where we share our goals, whether it’s ending the civil war in Syria or a long-term successful Egypt or bringing an end to – or preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That’s the purpose, in part, of that visit. We’ll be previewing it, of course, more in advance, in all likelihood tomorrow.

In terms of Israel, the Secretary has a very close working relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, especially given the ongoing direct negotiations. They met just a week and a half ago as well. They discussed Iran, discussed the P5+1 talks. We expect, as I mentioned and was in our trip announcement, that they’ll continue to discuss that, especially given the return to Geneva next week. The Secretary is open and willing to talk about what our goals and our bottom line is, and he looks forward to doing that, as well as discussing direct negotiations.

And as is evidenced by the fact that we’ve had multiple delegations, many – most of them were pre-planned – from Europe here, we’re also open and willing to have conversations about the issues that are of concern to them as we work to continue to make progress on issues like TTIP and all of the other global issues we work with Europe on.


QUESTION: Can I ask another one about the trip?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Why is – two, actually.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why is the Secretary not going to Tunisia, which is a country that, historically at least, when secretaries of State have gone to Morocco and Algeria – not always, but they tend to also go to Tunisia.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So why skip Tunisia?

MS. PSAKI: Every time we make a – we schedule a trip, we balance many, many priorities. I don’t think it’s anything against our desires to go visit. He has to be back early the following week, so we have a timeline of when we need to return. And so that’s part of our limitations.

QUESTION: And he had mentioned the possibility of coming to Egypt the other day.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Why not Egypt now?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other stops to announce. Obviously, he has talked about his desire to go there. That hasn’t changed, but I don’t have anything else to announce on the trip.

QUESTION: The reason I ask is that Tunisia is obviously the country where the democratic revolutions began.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, and he talks about that quite frequently, absolutely.

QUESTION: Sure. Sure. But then the question is: Well, why not actually go there and talk to them about how they’re doing in their evolution? And similarly, why not do the same with Egypt, which I don’t think he’s been to since March?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. And he certainly is eager, as he said on Monday, to visit Egypt. He’s also eager to visit Tunisia. He just has to balance a range of priorities and global issues, and that’s always an effort we undergo. And as is evidenced by his travel schedule, he is always happy to be on the road and paying visits, so I’m sure we will have more in the coming months.

QUESTION: Those are both formerly fez-wearing countries, by the way.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I’m glad we’re thematic. Only fez-wearing country questions today. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, actually, Poland is not a fez-wearing country.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. That’s okay. We can go —

QUESTION: That you know of.

QUESTION: But – that I know of. There could be a few sects there that wear them occasionally. I don’t know.

QUESTION: Shriners are everywhere.

QUESTION: But I wanted to ask, why Poland? This is a trip that’s obviously geared much more towards the Middle East and a lot of the conflicts and issues that are happening around there.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s the particular focus in Poland? I know you mentioned that he’s going to have talks, but is there a particular reason why now at this time to go to Poland?

MS. PSAKI: He’s been interested in going for some time and interested in spending more time in the region. As you know, there are NATO meetings coming up in the coming months, that they’re an important NATO ally. There isn’t anything particular about this specific date or anything like that, if that’s what you’re asking; just it was a trip he’s been interested in making and something we’ve been planning for some time.

QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — how much of this is also an effort by the Secretary to understand the comments by the Saudis, that appear quite damaging to the U.S., that they did not intend to work as closely with the U.S.? So how much of that is also trying to mend those bridges if they are to be mended?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I certainly would never venture to speak for them, but just a contextual reminder, those comments were not from the Saudi Government writ large. It was from one or two officials. In the – since then, the Secretary has also met with Foreign Minister Saud, he’s had discussions with him, and certainly, he has a desire anytime there’s concerns addressed, but even when there’s policy disagreements, to have that discussion. Saudi Arabia is an enormously important partner on issues like Syria, and it’s important to the Secretary that as we look to see if there’s a path forward with diplomacy in Iran that we have that conversation with them. And so that was a part of his effort and the reason for the visit.

QUESTION: Because the readout – Marie said that that was not discussed between Kerry —

MS. PSAKI: It was not discussed, but I was only contextually – he’s had meetings – he had a meeting with the Foreign Minister since many of those comments were made, so the point I was making is that we’ve had an ongoing dialogue. And of course, the meeting with King Abdullah is the centerpiece, of course, of the visit to Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: But have the Saudis been expressing to you some disquiet at all about the United States outreach to Iran?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t characterize it that way. There’s a shared concern around the world about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensuring that the P5+1, which we are of course a member of, is going into this eyes wide open, and discussions eyes wide open. And certainly, that’s something we are assuring them of. And part of our efforts, in addition to consulting with Congress, is of course consulting with our allies and friends around the world and explaining to them that no deal is better than a bad deal, that we have certain expectations and requirements, and making sure that our bottom line – that we will not allow them to acquire a nuclear weapon – remains.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.


MS. PSAKI: Just one —

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Saudi Arabia? Okay. Go ahead, Margaret.

QUESTION: In – on the Hill today, Ambassador Ford talked about the delivery of trucks to the Syrian opposition, the Supreme Military Council. In a briefing with a senior State Department official just – I think it was like a week ago —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — that official talked about the inability to deliver things to the opposition because al-Qaida had gained control of large parts of the country through which U.S. deliveries had previously gone.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What changed? What made this shipment possible? And do you have any more detail on it?

MS. PSAKI: I think we have not made any secret of the challenges on the ground for humanitarian access, for delivery of materials, things along those lines. And I believe – I would bet Ambassador Ford has talked about that, and in all likelihood talked about that today. But at the same time, we’ve been making every effort to break through that and deliver some of these materials. I don’t think I have a silver bullet answer for you in terms of what changed or why they were able to deliver these 10 trucks that he talked about today, and I don’t know that we would necessarily get into that. I can give you kind of an update on what we have delivered —

QUESTION: Did the trucks go through the Azaz border crossing?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specifics of that because that relates to security and relates to efforts we’re undergoing on —

QUESTION: Were they delivered directly to General Salim Idris?

MS. PSAKI: Were they delivered directly to him?


MS. PSAKI: They —

QUESTION: Usually, he gets the actual delivery, like with the MREs, he – yeah.

MS. PSAKI: They were delivered to the SMC. I don’t know if he was in attendance or not, but certainly to the SMC.

QUESTION: Did you use a cooperating partner?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into any more specifics of how we delivered it. That’s just not beneficial, given our efforts to continue to deliver.

QUESTION: Was there anything in the trucks?

MS. PSAKI: Anything in the trucks?

QUESTION: Yeah, like medical kits —



QUESTION: A steering wheel? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I mean, you tell me.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you an update —


MS. PSAKI: — on what we’ve delivered. So we have delivered to the SMC over 352,760 MREs and three tons of medical equipment. Today were 10 specific trucks. I don’t have anything specific for you on whether anything was in the trucks or not.

QUESTION: So you’re not saying that the trucks were empty, but you’re not saying that there was stuff in them?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more. If there’s something specific we can lay out for you on that front from our team, I’m happy to follow up.

QUESTION: Can you take the question?

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to.

QUESTION: What kind of trucks?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into the specifics. They’re pickup trucks.


MS. PSAKI: But in terms of the brand?

QUESTION: In terms of – yeah, how big they are.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have those details.

QUESTION: What do they do? I mean, are they dump trucks? Are they vans? Are they —

MS. PSAKI: They’re pickup trucks.

QUESTION: They’re pickup trucks?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are they armored pickup trucks?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details on it. I will check with our team to see if there’s more we can provide to all of you safely.

QUESTION: Was this part of the – of a recently authorized financial package or – I mean, what money is this that we’re talking about?

MS. PSAKI: So, let’s see. Let me just kind of see if I can give you guys a little bit of an update. So approximately – as you all know, because you followed this closely, we’ve committed to providing 250 million in nonlethal transition assistance. Approximately 167 million of that is in train, so in process. It’s from that pot of money.

There is additional money that we’re still working through that includes 35 million that would go to the civilian opposition to help prepare Syrians for governance in the future, training and equipment for local officials, including police and judges, support for independent media, and approximately 55 million that will be used to provide additional nonlethal support to the SMC, including communications gear, medical equipment, MREs, and vehicles. That still – that has not been delivered. We’re still working on that. So it’s from the 167 pot.

Any more on Syria? Okay.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Samir, sure.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. position on the referendum that took place about the future of Abyei in – between Sudan and South Sudan?

MS. PSAKI: I do believe I have something on this for you. Let me just check. Thanks for your patience, Samir.

No, I know we have something on it, so let me talk to our team and we’ll get that around to you or anyone else who that’s of interest to after the briefing.

QUESTION: Thank you.


MS. PSAKI: Josh, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Hello. The Iraqi Prime Minister is in town, and the Foreign Minister is meeting with Secretary Kerry today. In a background briefing with a senior Administration official just a couple days ago —

MS. PSAKI: I’m familiar with it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: — yes – the official talked about increased counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation as a topic of discussion during Prime Minister Maliki’s visit with – meeting with President Obama.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how the State Department sees that shaping up? What are we willing to provide? What does that mean? Does that include U.S. personnel going back to Iraq? Does that include signals or – not to get into intelligence, but what is the overall broad idea of this idea of increased counterterrorism cooperation to fight the joint threat of al-Qaida in Iraq and ISI?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, obviously, there was an op-ed, of course, by Maliki, and there have been a lot of discussion of this, for good reason, since they’re in town. The meeting with Zebari, I think, started at 1 o’clock. We’ll have a readout of that for all of you in terms of what we discussed following the briefing, so later this afternoon.

As you also know, the President’s meeting with Prime Minister Maliki tomorrow, and I expect the thrust of the conversation about these issues and ongoing counterterrorism cooperation, their request for assistance and aid, will happen there. So I’ll let them read out what will happen there. Broadly speaking, we support, of course – we know the Government of Iraq is seeking to use the FMS program to increase its capability. That’s something we of course support. We’re working with Congress on providing additional military equipment to Iraq for this effort. I know they’ve talked about expediting it. Obviously, they’ll have that conversation with Congress and with others. And we are – continue to work on that to get it as quickly as possible there.

In terms of – broadly speaking, on counterterrorism cooperation, which I know is sort of your question, I think, we believe that targeted foreign assistance of this kind is beneficial to the United States. It helps cement our relationship, our engagement, and an enduring partnership in Iraq. We think it needs to continue, of course, and so that will be a thrust of the conversation. I expect they’ll have more to say after the meeting tomorrow.

QUESTION: Great, and I have just one more. At the U.S. Institute of Peace this morning, Prime Minister Maliki indicated that he may run for a third term as President. Previously, he had promised not to run as a third term as President.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is the State Department’s view on whether or not that represents progress in Iraq’s path towards a pluralistic democracy and Maliki’s adherence to the rule of law?

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen that. I did not closely watch his visit to the United States Institute of Peace, though I’m sure it was productive. I will circle back and see if we have more to say on that for you, Josh.

QUESTION: Can we go to Asia?

MS. PSAKI: To Asia? Sure. Do we have any more on Iraq? Okay. Asia.

QUESTION: About – Beijing, China there was an alleged suicide car attack in Tiananmen Square.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And even the Chinese state and some Uighur people, face-wearing people, I suppose —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — that’s been arrested, and even the Chinese state-owned papers are saying that Uighur people in China have to expect some difficulties in – probably check in at the airport or something like that. And colleagues are starting to report that some Uighur peoples are rejected from the hotels or kicked out from their apartment —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — raising human rights concerns. Are you aware of that?

MS. PSAKI: We’re certainly monitoring the situation closely. I know that there is an investigation about the incident going on on the ground. We certainly support that. But beyond that, I don’t have any specific – anything specific here to add to the reports on the ground.

QUESTION: One follow-up.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: China – I used to be China correspondent – they often claim that when they explain the conflict with the Uighur people, they say that this is a shared value and goal with the United States to confront with terrorist – war against terror or fight against Muslim extremists. Is this correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, I don’t think I’d characterize our position as exactly the same as that. We believe, of course, in human rights across the board. That certainly applies to the Uighur community, and that’s something that we communicate regularly.

QUESTION: Do you have any – excuse me. Do you know if – up to now, this point, dozens of tourists were injured. Do you know at this point any of American tourist bystanders were hurt?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any at this point. Obviously, they’re still looking into it on the ground, but not that I have heard of.

QUESTION: How would you characterize this incidence?

MS. PSAKI: How would we characterize it? Well, obviously, it’s a tragedy whenever five people are killed and dozens of injuries occur. I know the Chinese authorities are looking into it, and we’ll leave it to them to characterize. And as we receive more information, we’ll look into that as well.

QUESTION: This follow-up: The Chinese security department already announced this is a terrorist attack.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does United States Government communicate – is now communicating to the Chinese Government on these issues?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. We’re monitoring it closely, I’m certain, on the ground. We are in touch. We’re still evaluating and reviewing the reports. And beyond that, I don’t have any more for you on the incident.

QUESTION: But it’s correct to say that you have not determined yet to your own satisfaction whether this was, in fact, a terrorist —

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: — attempted terrorist attack or not?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, as you know, lots of things happens in Xinjiang province. But every time the Chinese security department announce this did by terrorism attack, Uighur extremists, do you have some concern about these announcements?

MS. PSAKI: We’re – again, we’re in touch with authorities. They’re having – they have their own investigation. We’re monitoring it closely. But I don’t think I have anything more to report, and we can talk about it, of course, tomorrow if it’s of interest as well.


MS. PSAKI: Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: Yeah, Egypt.

QUESTION: One more on China?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. One more on China.

QUESTION: Yeah. So you talked a little bit earlier in the week about the visit of the Chinese Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Since you last spoke about it, there have been some news reports about his meetings with NSC and State Department —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — officials. And the news reports simply stated that he pressed American officials to return quickly to the Six-Party Talk process, despite the fact that North Korea has not fulfilled all of the preconditions that the U.S. Government has publicly set out and that the Administration rejected those requests and held to their previously stated preconditions. Is that accurate?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further readout of the meeting, which I obviously was not in. But our position hasn’t changed, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we restated the fact that we believe that North Korea needs to abide by their commitment in the 2005 joint statement and take steps that – to reassure the international community. So it wouldn’t surprise me if that was what was repeated in the meeting.

QUESTION: Jen, can I stay on China?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) with CCTV. Nice to meet you.

MS. PSAKI: Hello, nice to meet you.

QUESTION: Hi. Some new revelations today. The Sydney Morning Herald alleged that the U.S. has been using the Australian Embassy in Beijing to spy on China, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry said they are extremely concerned and they demand an answer from the United States. Any comment on that, Jen?

MS. PSAKI: There have been a range of reports out there. I’m not going to speak to every one of them. What I would convey to people in China is that we are reviewing our programs with a range of principles, including making sure that they meet our foreign policy goals and making sure that we’re not making an effort to keep up our capabilities with technology and that we’re doing it with a purpose in mind. So – but that review is underway, and I don’t have anything specific on the reports.

QUESTION: But quickly, if your review is underway, does it mean that you would give a bigger priority to scaling back activities on – data collection activities on your allies such as EU, or does it also including scaling back activities on countries like China?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific on the report at all beyond that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Well, along those lines, though —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and without getting into specific countries or specific embassies, would the State Department be aware of it if embassies – if other government agencies were using embassies for surveillance or this kind of data collection?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to —

QUESTION: Let me put it this way —

MS. PSAKI: — entertain that question.

QUESTION: Are the activities that go – all of the activities that go on and the employees who work – sorry, let me start again. At any —

MS. PSAKI: It’s probably because you took the hat off.

QUESTION: Well, it was getting hot and scratchy, so – I wasn’t planning on it. (Laughter.) Are all activities conducted by U.S. Government personnel, no matter what agency, inside an embassy governed by chief of mission authority?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further insight to provide on that question.

QUESTION: You don’t?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check, Matt, and see if there’s more we can convey on it.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, it’s a pretty broad question.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can things go on inside an embassy that the State Department does not approve of?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more for you on the question.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, it would seem to be a pretty easy question to answer —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — if it is correct, which I believe it is, that with the exception of active war zones where the Pentagon would have authority over the activities of its personnel, that anyone working out of an embassy, no matter what agency they work for, would come under the chief of mission authority. Is that not correct?

MS. PSAKI: You’re asking me about intel gathering processes.

QUESTION: No, I’m asking you about everything. I’m asking you about the guy who works for the FDA that checks cows in Thailand. I’m asking you about whoever, the Commerce guy who looks at computers, imports and exports. Do those people come under chief of mission authority?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check, get you the specific breakdown of order.

QUESTION: Well, the answer is yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So I want to know – so the question to ask if you could, the question to take if you would —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — is whether chief of mission authority extends to people working in the intel community, and whether or not the State Department has or would condone the use of its diplomatic facilities abroad for the collection of this kind of meta-data which would appear to be legally questionable in some countries. So that’s the —

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: Jen, could I have one more on China?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: A Chinese video with hardline PLA background accused the United States using different several strategy, including cultural exports, brainwashing rising young Chinese political stars, and training pro-American activists, as well as mail-to-mail exchanges to weaken China and to disrupt China.

MS. PSAKI: I have not —

QUESTION: These are very serious accusations —

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen the video. I’m happy to talk to our team and see if there’s anything we have to add on it.

QUESTION: One of the well-known program mentioned in this video is Fulbright.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is the impact on the exchange program between U.S. and China?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on a video that I haven’t seen, but I will talk to our team and see if there’s anything more to add.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, first Egypt (inaudible). Did you have a chance to check with the team about what’s your standing for – regarding the Morsy – President Morsy – former President Morsy trial on November 4th?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, I don’t have anything new for you on that. I apologize. I haven’t had a chance to talk to them about it, but I will venture to do that.

QUESTION: Okay. The second question is related to —

MS. PSAKI: You know our position, broadly speaking, about arbitrary arrests and the need to put a process in place for his release, so that has not changed.

QUESTION: Yeah, I’m trying to figure out exactly – I mean, the position about arrests. This is a trial. I mean, I assume there is somehow a little bit difference or —

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I will see if there’s more to add on that front.

QUESTION: Okay, okay. The second question is relating – related to the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, which was announced months ago, a year ago, and it is now kind of obstructed in the – on the Hill simply by Senator Graham. What is the – your situation? Are you discussing with, because it – the reason I am asking, it was not raised in the hearing the other day, and I don’t know what is the process of what’s going on regarding this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s the status?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to talk to our team about it. I know – I’m familiar with what you’re asking about. I’m not sure with all of the decisions about aid and consultations where that is, but we can certainly circle back on it.

QUESTION: And then back to going to – I mean, a little bit – I mean, what you call it – west, which is Tunisia.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In recent days, there are a lot of ongoing turmoil, dialogue, I mean, confrontations between Islamist and non-Islamist secular. Do you have any standing about this, what’s going on? Do you look at – is it turmoil or healthy or not healthy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re obviously closely monitoring events on the ground, as we certainly would, and we would encourage all sides to use dialogue as opposed to other forms of communication. I don’t think I have any specific update about what’s going on aside from we obviously have a presence there and we’re watching it closely.

QUESTION: And my last thing related to serious unanswered questions: It’s a question about the – it used to be here in this building —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — an office called Transition – Democratic Transition or something like that in that context of Arab Spring.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And it was done – I think it was run by Ambassador Taylor.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Okay. Is this office still functioning or doing anything, or nothing?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to check. There’s a range of officials in the building and a range of bureaus who work on issues related to democracy and all of the transitions that countries in the Arab world are going through. But I’ll see if there’s any changes to the personnel or to the office.

QUESTION: Yeah. Bill Taylor left, but the office is still running now.

MS. PSAKI: There you go.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.) I forget the name of the woman who took over, but she’s really good. Okay, so the – my question is about the Egypt assistance funding.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So you’ve been very public about the fact that you’re seeking legislative authorities from Congress —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — to continue the pieces of the military aid that you’ve decided to continue.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So this is – you’re, in effect, treating – adhering to the law while not taking a position on whether or not it was a coup.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: What is the progress of seeking those legislative authorities? And are – will – is the $580 million that was obligated but never given to the – is that the pot of money that you’re seeking to get authorities to use as you continue the parts of the assistance that —

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, obviously, the consultations are ongoing. And as you know, Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones was just on the Hill, I believe, two days ago. So they’re ongoing. And obviously, it’s – some of the ball is in Congress’ court in terms of moving this forward, but it’s something that we’re continuing to press on and advocate for.

The 585 or 584 is 2013 funding. I believe that’s right. I’ll have to just double-check and make sure —

QUESTION: Yeah. That’s fine.

MS. PSAKI: — it’s not an additional pool beyond that.

QUESTION: So that – is that the funding that you’re looking to spend?

MS. PSAKI: Well, some of the programs are related to FMF, but some are related to ESF, so there’s a variety of different programs that we’re talking to Congress about legislation so that we can continue their use after our decision we announced just a few weeks ago.

QUESTION: So it is accurate to say that you’re following the law while not making the coup determination? You’re acting as if – there – if – as if the law —

MS. PSAKI: As we have, Section 7008, yes. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Lucas?

QUESTION: Jen, moving over to Libya.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: As you know, yesterday a letter was sent from 83 – a letter to Secretary Kerry signed by 83 members of Congress asking Secretary Kerry why the suspects involved in the Benghazi attacks have not been added to your Reward for Justice program. And they quote from your website, saying that one of – the Reward for Justice program is one of the most valuable assets the U.S. Government has in the fight against international terrorism. And I think the question still remains: If that is the case, if it is the most valuable tool – one of the most valuable tools you have, why aren’t you using it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you are right; it’s a valuable tool. We use it for – we have a range of individuals on that list, and it’s been very effective. I don’t have any update for you. I think you said that letter was just sent. I’m not aware if we’ve received it or not yet. I’m happy to check on that. And as you know, we typically respond to letters that we receive from Congress.

QUESTION: And earlier this afternoon, Jay Carney, your colleague, said that it was a priority of this Administration to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice. And again, if that is the case, wouldn’t it make sense to use one of your most valuable tools?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not our only tool. We’re obviously pursuing this aggressively. The President’s talked about it. The Secretary of State has talked about it. There’s no question we want to bring them to justice, and so we work to do that every day.

QUESTION: Okay – sorry. Have you, since we first brought this – had this discussion a week ago, considered adding these suspects?

MS. PSAKI: There is no update since yesterday.

QUESTION: Can you take that question, if you have considered?

MS. PSAKI: I will look into whether there’s more to share with you. I’m happy to do that.

QUESTION: It’s just a yes or no question: Have you considered adding the suspects to your Reward for Justice program?

MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s more to share. I think it’s unlikely.

Did you have a question on this too, Josh?

QUESTION: Sure. The —

QUESTION: Sorry, you think that what’s unlikely? That they were considered, or that you would —

MS. PSAKI: That we would have more to share on this topic at this point.

QUESTION: Well, why – I mean, I know you’re smiling a little bit, but I mean, this is clearly – I mean, it’s a serious attack. An ambassador and three Americans were killed.

MS. PSAKI: Lucas, I’m not questioning that in any way, shape, or form. I think of all people – of all buildings, this building was impacted personally and deeply, and it’s a day where four people died. But also, it shook many, many people who were in the Foreign Service and Civil Service and have served this building. And we’re – we’ve undertaken efforts since then, which the Secretary – Secretary Kerry has continued after Secretary Clinton to better fortify, better strengthen our embassies around the world. But there’s been some games that have been played around this, and we think the focus should be on that and nothing else.

QUESTION: Those are very defensive measures, but with a country where a third of the people live at or below the national poverty line, wouldn’t it make sense to offer a little bit of reward for information that could lead not just to these – the capture of those responsible for the attacks, but prevent, possibly, future attacks?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of tools in our toolbox. I don’t have anything new to add to you today.

QUESTION: On Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Did you have another, Josh, on this?

QUESTION: Yeah, just quickly on this. Does the Administration believe that they had the proper authorities to kill or capture the suspects as they did recently in Tripoli with Mr. al-Libi?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s being run, as you know, by the FBI. So I don’t have anything from here. I would point you to them on that question.

QUESTION: And is there any follow-up to – there was a rumor – it was reported that not just al-Libi, but there was going to be – you were going to make a move on some of the Benghazi suspects. Is there any more to add to that story?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have – I would refer you to the FBI.

QUESTION: On Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I was wondering if I could get your reaction to two things. The first: The announcement that Israel is going to build 1500 new settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as the PA’s reaction that it was seriously studying filing immediate complaints against Israel with international courts.

MS. PSAKI: I talked about this yesterday, so I’d point you to my comments from yesterday on this specific question.

All right. One in the back here.

QUESTION: Can you give us a readout of Secretary Kerry’s meeting with IAEA Director Yukiya Amano?

MS. PSAKI: I will venture to get that. I certainly understand the interest, so let me see what we can provide on that front and we can send that around to all of you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: No, no, no.


QUESTION: You’re not getting away without my question.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: How is the review of the Amnesty International drone report?

MS. PSAKI: It’s ongoing, Matt. No update for you.

QUESTION: So since I’m going to be away —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — as are you, are you suggest – or do you – are you predicting that the review will be completed and you will have something to say about it in my absence?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not making a prediction.

QUESTION: Do you think that at any time in the next week or so this review might be completed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction for you. All I promised you is, yesterday, that it will be given to Reuters as an exclusive. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: One more. Why is it unlikely that the suspects would be added to the Rewards for Justice program?

MS. PSAKI: I said it’s unlikely I will have an update for you. I wasn’t implying that it was unlikely I – along those lines. Thank you for your clarification.

Thanks, everyone. Happy Halloween and trick-or-treating.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:09 p.m.)

Source: state.gov


Recent Articles

Stay Connected


- Local Advertisements -



Park Forest
overcast clouds
75.2 ° F
76.7 °
73.9 °
96 %
100 %
82 °
74 °
80 °
76 °
70 °

About Google Ads

The Google-supplied ads that appear on this website are not reviewed ahead of time and differ for each visitor. If anything offensive, inappropriate, or otherwise unwholesome appears, please notify us so we can take steps to block that specific advertiser. Email the URL or advertiser name to [email protected].