Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–July 31, 2014.
- AFGHANISTAN/IEC ANNOUNCEMENT
- MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
- WEST AFRICA/EBOLA
- US-AFRICA LEADERS SUMMIT
- MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS/GAZA
- CONSULAR CONSOLIDATED DATABASE/ VISAS
- NORTH KOREA/KENNETH BAE
- SOUTH KOREA/RUSSIA
2:11 p.m. EDT
MS. HARF: Hello.
QUESTION: Happy Thursday.
MS. HARF: It’s hard to believe it’s only Thursday. I have just one item at the top. On Afghanistan, as Secretary Kerry said in his op-ed yesterday, “The time for politics is over. The time for cooperation is at hand.” With cooperation among the campaigns, the international community and Afghan authorities, this process can be concluded in a way that reflects the wishes and aspirations of the Afghan people.
Therefore, we welcome today’s announcement by the Afghan Independent Election Commission, or the IEC, that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA, that the IEC has adopted the recount and invalidation criteria proposed by the United Nations and based on Afghan law and international best practices. The audit is an immense undertaking requiring hard work and commitment from many people involved. With the adoption of the invalidation criteria and the other efforts the IEC is making to improve the audit process, the audit must now move forward more quickly and efficiently. Now we urge both candidates to instruct their teams to participate fully and constructively in the audit when it resumes on August 2nd.
QUESTION: That’s it on Afghanistan?
MS. HARF: That’s it.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: Let’s start with the Middle East.
MS. HARF: Great.
QUESTION: Your colleague at the White House just – in his briefing just – that concluded a little while ago said that there was little doubt as to whose artillery was to – was responsible for the shelling of the UNRWA school the other day in Gaza. And then he said that shelling of this facility was totally unacceptable, totally indefensible.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: And then, new sentence, said Israel needs to do more to protect civilians in Gaza. The day before – so yesterday you condemned the shelling of this facility. I’m wondering if today’s comments mean that you are prepared to actually use the sentence: The United States condemns Israel for its shelling of this school? Or is that not where you’re at right now?
MS. HARF: Well, I’ll reiterate what my colleague said, and let me just give a few data points here, and then we can do some follow-ups. The secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said yesterday that, quote, “All available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause,” unquote. He further said that the coordinates of the school, like the UN facilities – like all UN facilities in Gaza, were repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces. The UNRWA commissioner general said UNRWA has gathered evidence, analyzed fragments, examined craters, and that their initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit this school in which 3,300 people had sought refuge.
The Israeli Government has acknowledged that Israeli forces were firing on that area in response to fire from Hamas in the immediate vicinity of the school. The Israelis have said it is possible that there was stray Israeli fire as well. So again, while we underscore, Matt, the importance of a full and prompt investigation of this incident as well as the shelling of other UNRWA schools that have been hit, there is not a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident.
We condemn the shelling of this school as we would anywhere in the world. I would reiterate what my colleague Josh said: It is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible. That condemnation doesn’t equate – create any equivalence, I would say, with a terrorist group that fires rockets indiscriminately from Israel, but I think overnight we looked at the situation more. As I said, we were gathering information and talking to our partners, and today we’re able to go a little bit further than yesterday.
QUESTION: Okay, but you’re still not at the point where you are condemning Israel, or even less than that, just condemning Israel’s shelling of, not condemning the whole country?
MS. HARF: We’ve condemned the shelling of the school, and we’ve said —
MS. HARF: — that there is not a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident.
QUESTION: All right. I don’t want to play semantics with this, but —
MS. HARF: Then maybe we shouldn’t.
QUESTION: No, I’m not going to. I’m going to actually move on.
MS. HARF: Okay. Okay.
QUESTION: Are there any – well —
MS. HARF: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Are there any policy implications for this?
MS. HARF: In what way?
QUESTION: Well, I mean is it business as usual with Israel after you’ve condemned this shelling?
MS. HARF: Well, from a policy perspective, what the Secretary has been focused on, even as we speak right now, is seeing if we can get a cease-fire in place, an unconditional temporary cease-fire in place. He continues to work towards that goal.
QUESTION: Right. No, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking —
MS. HARF: Well, that’s our policy goal at the moment.
QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean overall U.S. relationship with Israel. Is there any consequence to the fact that this happened, or are you saying this is a bad thing, we condemn it, but let’s move on, everything else can remain normal? And I say this in the context of this approval —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — last week or whenever it was —
MS. HARF: From the Department of Defense?
QUESTION: — of the – right, of the additional ammunition —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — that they’re getting.
MS. HARF: Well, both things can be true. We’ve always said we will support the Israeli Government. We will help it in its efforts to defend itself. But when we feel that there are more steps that can be taken, we will also say that. So they’re not either/or. Both are true in this case as well.
QUESTION: In the DOD talking points that came out last – yesterday about this, it said that this was a routine request. It went through the normal interagency process —
MS. HARF: It did.
QUESTION: — and was passed along. So I’m just wondering, at the State Department here, you have several bureaus that are involved in this —
MS. HARF: That’s true.
QUESTION: — interagency process. Do you – are you – do you know at – if any point during the review at the State Department, if even a concern – if any concerns were raised about this transfer?
MS. HARF: I am happy to check. I am not aware of the internal discussions that were had around this until the decision was made, but I can check with our folks.
QUESTION: I mean, clearly if —
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, but I can check.
QUESTION: Okay. So you – the people who are responsible for monitoring the various regulations or restrictions surrounding transfers of weapons like this, even to an ally like Israel, you’re not aware if they raised any concern about this —
MS. HARF: I’m just not aware of the content of the internal deliberations.
QUESTION: Can I ask whether you’ve raised your concerns about this shelling yesterday on the school directly with Israel? I mean, you just said it was indefensible. Have you raised it with Israel? Have you asked for an explanation?
MS. HARF: I can check and see if that’s come up specifically. We’ve obviously had a number of diplomatic conversations with the Israelis as part of our attempts to get a cease-fire in place. I don’t know if that’s been part of the discussion specifically.
QUESTION: And I wondered whether – yesterday you made a comment about fears that there could be tens of thousands of Gazans stranded on the streets if UN facilities are becoming a target and they have nowhere to go. Have you raised that issue directly as well with the Israelis, that they need to improve – if they’re going to do – continue this bombing, this shelling campaign, if they’re – that they have to sharpen somehow the messages to people to be able to seek safety.
MS. HARF: Well, and just for some numbers, we do think that there are now more than 250,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza displaced. That’s about 13 percent of the population. We believe that more than 220,000 of those are now seeking shelters in 85 UN schools in Gaza, so just so we have some statistics here.
And two more points I would make. The first is that Israeli policy is to avoid civilian casualties. So they undertake steps to do this. We believe they could do more, but we don’t to in any way equate a country who takes steps to protect civilians with a terrorist group that intentionally targets civilians. So I want to be very clear about that. And secondly, I would make the point that we have had these discussions broadly with the Israelis about the fact that there are so many Palestinians displaced. We’ve had that conversation. Again, all of the concerns that are raised around these kinds of incidents are why the Secretary is working towards a cease-fire, particularly if we can get a humanitarian cease-fire in place so we can get food and medicine and supplies into Gaza to these 250,000 civilians and others who are suffering here.
QUESTION: Are you prepared to go further than you were yesterday and say that UN facilities should not be targets in this conflict?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve been clear that UN facilities are neutral. The UN is neutral. It’s – we don’t want to make a blanket statement about every hypothetical in the future, period, obviously. But the UN is neutral; their facilities are where people seek refuge. I can’t envision a situation where we wouldn’t condemn an attack on a UN facility, but again, I don’t want to make a blanket statement about every hypothetical that could —
QUESTION: Well, and that’s presumably —
MS. HARF: — arise in the future.
QUESTION: And that’s presumably, as you’ve contended, that Hamas militants had hidden rockets in that facility.
MS. HARF: That’s why I don’t want to make a blanket statement here.
QUESTION: Are you – you just said “UN facilities are neutral. The UN is neutral.”
MS. HARF: UN —
QUESTION: Well, there are a lot of people in Israel who don’t take that view and say that —
MS. HARF: Well, I would disagree with those who don’t take that view.
QUESTION: Okay. But say that the UN, and specifically UNRWA, has allowed or not prevented, shall we say, or not done enough to prevent Hamas from taking over these facilities. So – but when you —
MS. HARF: Well, UNRWA is an unarmed humanitarian organization.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. HARF: It’s not equipped to fight back against Hamas trying to store rockets in their schools.
QUESTION: Well, I understand that, but if there’s an UNRWA facility where there are Hamas rockets stored and fighters there, I’m not sure —
MS. HARF: Exactly, Matt, and that’s why I just said —
QUESTION: Hold on. Wait, wait. I don’t see how you can call that neutral.
MS. HARF: Well, that’s not the UN supporting Hamas. That’s a UN facility being taken advantage of by Hamas —
QUESTION: Yeah, but —
MS. HARF: — when the UN has no ability to fight back.
QUESTION: But you said – your line was “UN facilities are neutral.”
MS. HARF: They are neutral areas and they should be treated as such by anyone, including Hamas.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Okay, but if they’re not by Hamas —
MS. HARF: So that’s – but that’s why I’m not going to make a blanket statement.
QUESTION: I understand that, but if they’re not by Hamas, the Israelis say – I mean, if there are weapons there, I mean, Israel says they’re a legitimate target. You agree with that, yeah or no?
MS. HARF: I’m sorry, with what?
QUESTION: In the situation —
MS. HARF: Sorry, back up here.
QUESTION: All right. In the situation where you have a UNRWA facility, whether it’s a school or a hospital or whatever it is that’s been taken over by Hamas or where they’re storing their rockets, the Israelis say that that’s a legitimate target. Is that —
MS. HARF: I think we would look at each one individually before making an assessment about whether that was a legitimate target.
QUESTION: Okay, you don’t necessarily disagree with that?
MS. HARF: I don’t disagree with the notion that where there are rockets stored, that’s not a threat to Israel, right? So again, I don’t want to make blanket statements for exactly this reason. It’s complicated.
QUESTION: Okay. So when you said “UN facilities are neutral,” you should have – that wasn’t meant to be a blanket statement.
MS. HARF: Well, no. The UN is a – the principle of UN —
QUESTION: I understand that.
MS. HARF: — neutrality is incredibly important.
QUESTION: Yes. I got that.
MS. HARF: So no one should take advantage of UN facilities and their neutrality, especially Hamas —
QUESTION: Understood. But circumstances —
MS. HARF: — to store rockets there, because that puts the UN at risk.
QUESTION: But circumstances can change where a UN facility is not neutral if the UN is not there, right? I mean, if they abandon something, then —
MS. HARF: In theory, yes. In theory.
QUESTION: Marie, if a facility – if a UN facility is neutral – if the UN is neutral and a facility is considered as neutral, then there shouldn’t be deliberate attacks on those facilities.
MS. HARF: I just condemned the shelling of this facility along those exact lines.
QUESTION: So Marie —
QUESTION: Right, but you won’t say that Israel —
MS. HARF: Right. I’m not disagreeing with you.
QUESTION: — that Israel shouldn’t target or anyone shouldn’t target it?
MS. HARF: We’re saying no one should use UN facilities and put them in the crossfire of conflict here. Now, this all started, let’s remember, because Hamas began storing rockets in UN facilities.
QUESTION: We understand that. But just to get —
MS. HARF: Well, it’s an important point to make.
MS. HARF: Yeah. No, it’s an important point to make.
QUESTION: Are you saying Hamas is storing rockets at UN facilities?
QUESTION: Let – sorry.
MS. HARF: We have seen – yes, Said. We have seen —
QUESTION: What? Where is it?
MS. HARF: We have seen Hamas storing rockets in UN schools.
QUESTION: At UN facilities?
MS. HARF: Yes, we have. We’ve talked a couple times about UNRWA finding the —
QUESTION: Well, I’ve never heard of rockets being stored at UN facilities, but (inaudible).
MS. HARF: Said – Said, UNRWA came out twice in the past two weeks and said they had found caches of Hamas rockets in their schools. We talked —
QUESTION: Right. But they’re not rocketing them.
MS. HARF: They are storing rockets in them.
QUESTION: Okay. So that’s a different (inaudible).
QUESTION: So the other – so then my follow-up is: The UN – a top UN human rights official today said she believed Israel was deliberately defying international law in its military offense of – in Gaza. Would you agree with that?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to make an international legal judgment here. A few points I would make, though: It is Israel’s policy to do what they can to prevent civilian casualties. As I’ve said, we believe they should do more. We also believe they have a legitimate right to defend themselves against a terrorist group who is sending rockets across the border and trying to kill innocent Israeli civilians. So the right to self-defense is clearly an important part of what we think is at play here.
QUESTION: And do you think that by giving the Israelis additional military equipment, as was announced by DOD, would prolong or worsen this conflict?
MS. HARF: No. Look, we have a very longstanding, well-known military-to-military relationship with Israel, period, because we believe it’s important – incredibly important for our countries to have one. But again, if you look at what the U.S. Government’s main focus is right now in terms of policy on this conflict, it’s not the resupply to the Israeli Government. It’s Secretary Kerry and others working very hard to get a cease-fire in place to stop the fighting right now. So our policy is focused so much right now on trying to get a cease-fire in place.
QUESTION: So —
QUESTION: And how close are you to announcing that cease-fire? How close do you think that the Secretary is?
MS. HARF: That’s a guessing game that I don’t even want to venture a percentage.
QUESTION: Do you feel that —
MS. HARF: I think we have had some progress, and the Secretary’s made some progress. These are every complicated issues; he continues working. Look, we would like to get one in place as soon as possible. So we’ll see what happens in the conversations.
QUESTION: But don’t you think that – obviously, the Secretary is working very hard at that. But by continuing to resupply ammunition that is being used in this conflict, what – you say that you’re concerned about the civilian deaths, most of which these deaths are civilian deaths. But don’t you think that those two aims are working at cross purposes?
MS. HARF: Not at all. I think —
QUESTION: How do you think that continuing to supply —
MS. HARF: I’ll answer when you’re done.
QUESTION: Okay. How do you think that continuing to supply ammunition is not furthering this conflict?
MS. HARF: Because that’s a simplistic reading of what this military-to-military relationship is like. We resupply allies and partners and friends that we have a military-to-military relationship with when there are requests to do so. That is an ongoing process and a fairly routine process. That’s – that doesn’t in any way further the conflict. It’s a routine process we have when we supply our partners and allies —
MS. HARF: — with items that we have provided them in the past.
QUESTION: But when you – when the Egyptians were cracking down the civilian population earlier this year or last year, you quietly suspended resupply to them.
MS. HARF: They are totally different situations, Elise.
QUESTION: Well, why is it totally different?
MS. HARF: Wholly different situations. Our relationship with Israel – our military-to-military relationship is a very strong one.
QUESTION: I’m not saying that it’s not strong. But isn’t part of that strength —
MS. HARF: Okay. It’s very different than the one with Egypt —
MS. HARF: — where, as you know, we suspended a large amount of assistance after what happened politically in Egypt.
QUESTION: Fine. But isn’t part of that strength of the relationship being able to say that we think that —
MS. HARF: That they should do more?
QUESTION: — the asymmetry of this conflict is getting out of hand?
MS. HARF: Well, we have said that very clearly to them publicly and privately.
QUESTION: So – but by continuing – you’re saying that, but by continuing to supply them with ammunition, you’re —
MS. HARF: Because we believe it’s an important relationship and we believe it’s important for our military to work with their military.
QUESTION: Well, it’s not as simple – but supplying them with ammunition is not kind of done in a symbolic way to say that “I’m a good friend of Israel.” It’s done for specific purposes to —
MS. HARF: Well it’s to say we’re committed to the security of Israel. We have always said that. We can do both things at the same time.
QUESTION: Well, you (inaudible) —
QUESTION: Marie, do you understand how it sounds when you come out and say that supplying one side of a conflict with weapons – not to say that you shouldn’t, but that supplying one side of the conflict with more ammunition does not mean – does not prolong the conflict, or is in no way possible – it can’t possibly prolong the conflict, that just doesn’t make any sense.
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think that whatever these —
QUESTION: It may be simplistic, but it’s —
MS. HARF: — tank rounds and illumination rounds we provide and resupply are not the decisive factors here in this conflict.
QUESTION: No. Well, probably not, but —
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: — I don’t know exactly what they are. Not decisive factor, but that doesn’t mean giving one side —
MS. HARF: Well, right —
QUESTION: — of a conflict more ammunition can’t not help but possibly prolong it. It’s not a ridiculous —
MS. HARF: No, because the strategic and tactical decision the Israelis make about whether to accept a cease-fire and enter into one I don’t think is influenced by whether we give them some ammunition and tank rounds.
QUESTION: Okay. All right. Well, do you know the – have they said that they’re —
MS. HARF: I think that’s like apples and oranges here.
QUESTION: Have they said that they’re not going to use this latest batch of stuff that you’re giving them in the current conflict?
MS. HARF: Well, any – I would check with DOD about that, first of all.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, I mean, if they’ve given you that assurance.
MS. HARF: Any – well, this can obviously be used for offensive or defensive purposes. I don’t know what the specific conversations look like. But again, the notion that because we’ve provided some tank rounds and illumination rounds, that somehow that would influence their calculations about whether they would accept a cease-fire is just a little bit nonsensical, I think.
QUESTION: Well, I —
QUESTION: Are you worried about (inaudible)?
MS. HARF: Wait, can we do one at a time, please?
QUESTION: Are you worried about (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Are you talking to the Israelis about —
MS. HARF: Can we do one at a time, guys, please?
QUESTION: Do you not worry about the optics of —
MS. HARF: Thank you.
QUESTION: — American-supplied ammunition being used in Gaza and possibly causing even more deaths? Does that not – in a situation where the American reputation in the Arab world is already not great —
MS. HARF: Well —
QUESTION: — do you not worry about those optics?
MS. HARF: — a few points: It’s not – look, it’s not optics we’re worried about. We’re worried about civilian casualties regardless of what ammunition is used in this conflict. So we have always said – it’s not in any way breaking news to people that we have a very close security relationship with Israel and that we supply them with weapons. We talk about it very openly. That’s not new. That’s not a surprise to anyone.
I think what you’ve seen over the past few weeks and even just the past 24 hours is we have very strongly and increasingly come out and said the Israelis need to do more. When we’ve talked about this school, we have said more when we are able to. And I think, quite frankly, that’s the message we’re discussing right now, and I do think we can do both at the same time.
QUESTION: Marie —
QUESTION: But Marie, on a – from a policy perspective, when you just said in answer to Elise’s question how different it is from Egypt, can you explain how it is? Because at the time, I remember State Department saying that we have a very strong military-military relationship with the Egyptian military, it’s very specific as to what we give them and the purposes for —
MS. HARF: Right.
QUESTION: — the foreign military sales and how they’re structured.
MS. HARF: It’s wholly different.
QUESTION: But it took – the Administration took a long time and then finally suspended delivery of items specifically because they were upset about how those items were being used against a civilian population.
MS. HARF: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: So how is —
MS. HARF: There was a lot of play in those decisions made about the Egyptian assistance. That’s part of it.
QUESTION: Marie —
QUESTION: How those items were being used?
MS. HARF: That’s certainly part of it, but this was a much broader conversation.
QUESTION: But how – why is it wholly different from what we’re looking at now in terms of weapons being used against a civilian population, which you’ve said is a concern to the Administration?
MS. HARF: Well, in Egypt, they were using them against their own people. In Israel, they are using them against a terrorist organization to fight a terrorist organization, which we believe is in legitimate self-defense. That’s different, say —
QUESTION: But causing mass civilian casualties —
MS. HARF: Which we’ve said they need to take more steps to lower those numbers.
QUESTION: But using —
MS. HARF: So, A, those are —
QUESTION: — supplies that the United States is continuing to provide —
MS. HARF: I understand the crux of your question, but they’re not comparable situations. In Egypt, you had a government cracking down on its own people. In Israel, you have a government fighting an external threat that’s coming from Gaza that is from a terrorist organization. Those are in no way equivalent situations.
QUESTION: Marie, on the issue of condemnation, you’re not backtracking? You’re not walking back from using the word “condemn?” Because yesterday —
MS. HARF: I think I actually went further today, Said.
QUESTION: No, I understand. I just want to understand you clearly, because yesterday, you did not assign blame. Today, you seem to be certain as to who is responsible.
MS. HARF: There is not a lot of doubt, yes.
QUESTION: So you condemn Israel for shelling that school, correct?
MS. HARF: I just made very clear at the beginning that we condemn the shelling of the school and that there’s not a lot of doubt about whose artillery it was.
QUESTION: Okay. And now you also said that Israel is doing all it can or it’s doing all it can – yes, that’s – I think that’s what you said.
MS. HARF: That’s not what I said.
MS. HARF: I said they could do more.
QUESTION: Israel —
MS. HARF: It’s the opposite of what I said, actually.
QUESTION: Okay. Israel is doing something to minimize civilian casualties —
MS. HARF: They are, but we believe they could do more.
QUESTION: — while the – while on the other side, those who are firing rockets are not taking that into consideration. Do you know how many civilian – Israeli civilians were killed by these rockets versus how many civilians were killed by artillery and bombing of Israel?
MS. HARF: I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I do know they are fairly lopsided, yes.
QUESTION: Okay. They’re fairly lopsided, so Israel is not really taking your counseling or your – for them to take caution or to —
MS. HARF: We believe they should take more steps.
QUESTION: — as indicated the school —
MS. HARF: We believe they should take more steps.
QUESTION: — because they were warned 17 times.
MS. HARF: And we will keep telling them —
MS. HARF: — they should take more steps, Said.
QUESTION: All right. Let me just quickly follow up on —
MS. HARF: Yep. And then Elise, you’re next.
QUESTION: — the issue of the humanitarian issue. UNRWA is saying that Gaza is on the verge of collapse. There is no power. There is no water. The hospitals are not working, or working on a very minimal power supply. Everything is falling apart. Are you concerned that we are maybe on the verge of a huge human catastrophe there?
MS. HARF: Well, I certainly believe that there is a huge humanitarian issue in Gaza right now. This is exactly why we want a humanitarian cease-fire in place, so we can get medicine, we can get supplies, but also so we can have some time and space to negotiate a longer-term, more lasting cease-fire, like we’ve talked about, which will the thing that ultimately helps the most with the humanitarian situation —
QUESTION: At the present time —
MS. HARF: — if we could stop the fighting.
QUESTION: — when the Secretary is busy, of course, traveling, and has other items on his agenda, big items, who is —
MS. HARF: He’s racking up quite a phone bill to the Middle East. I can assure you that.
QUESTION: Right, I understand. So is he engaged or is anyone in particular engaged in the process of arranging for a cease-fire?
MS. HARF: Yes. The Secretary has spoken with the Qatari foreign minister numerous times today; with senior Israeli officials as well, including the prime minister; also with our colleagues at the UN, the special coordinator for Middle East Peace, Serry. He’s spoken with him several times as well. So he has been very engaged. I actually wasn’t making a joke about that phone bill. He’s been on the phone quite a number of times in between a full schedule of meetings in India.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. And —
QUESTION: But you know that Prime Minister Netanyahu isn’t really prepared yet for a cease-fire. He came out today and said that they are going to press ahead and destroy all the tunnels.
MS. HARF: Well, look, we know we’re not there yet, but I think we have made some progress. And again, the Secretary’s very engaged in it, and hopefully soon we’ll be able to get something temporary in place.
QUESTION: What kind of progress do you think you’ve made?
MS. HARF: It’s always hard to quantify, but we believe we are getting closer and hopefully soon we’ll be able to make some (inaudible) progress here.
QUESTION: And on the other side, who’s working with the Hamas – I mean, the – have the Qataris stepped up? Are they doing that?
MS. HARF: It’s my understanding that the Qataris are, the Turks are as well. The Egyptians, obviously, would be the convening party for any longer-term negotiation that could happen after intermediate or temporary cease-fire is put in place.
QUESTION: Can we get back to the idea of more care on the targeting? I’m just wondering, it seems like it’s not kind of the precision military targeting that you have kind of urged the Israelis to do. It seems like it’s not specifically aimed at avoiding civilians. It’s a kind of – it’s using long-distance weapons aimed at points that they say that they see firing upon without kind of that careful determination about who could be hit in the crossfire. I mean, is that what you’re talking to the —
MS. HARF: That’s a pretty broad statement to make.
QUESTION: Well, it’s a pretty broad – I mean, it’s pretty obvious that —
MS. HARF: Have you analyzed every single Israeli strike and operation?
QUESTION: No, but I’ve seen about six or seven instances where the Israelis have said that they saw rocket fire coming from that area, and the targets that ended up being hit were not legitimate Hamas targets.
MS. HARF: Well, I think a couple points, Elise, and this is something I sort of alluded to yesterday. Gaza is an incredibly densely populated area. And that’s not an excuse; it’s just a fact. And so when we’ve talked about how we take steps to prevent civilian casualties, often we’re operating in very different environments where, quite frankly, there’s not that many places in the world that are as densely populated as Gaza. So that’s point A.
Point B: Look, this is a threat the Israelis have looked at very closely – when you talk about the tunnels, when you talk about the rockets – and we know that they have certain precise capabilities to go after this threat. We do believe they could be taking more care with civilian casualties and —
QUESTION: That you think they could be more precise in the targeting.
MS. HARF: Well, I mean, certainly that’s part of it. Right? That’s part of how you take care to avoid civilian casualties: precision of targeting, advanced warning to populations that may be at risk, places for them to go. I mean, when you have huge amounts of displaced people that are already displaced, where you do you go even if you’re warned? So there’s a whole number of things that go into that.
QUESTION: Well, there are places for them to go, but then those places are being targeted also.
MS. HARF: Exactly – no, exactly. So there’s – it’s not just the precision of the targeting is what I’m saying. There are a number of factors that go into protecting civilians in these conflicts. Those are all factors at play here that we think we could be doing —
QUESTION: I asked – let me – one more. I asked this the other day, but is there any thought, given the fact that these – it is so densely populated, that these people have nowhere to go, that even the places that they are going in shelters are being targeted, is there any consideration of any type of safe haven places where you can send these refugees?
MS. HARF: Outside of Gaza?
QUESTION: Either outside of Gaza or inside of Gaza or just some kind of safe haven —
MS. HARF: Well —
QUESTION: — where there is a recognition that this will not be a target and this is a safe place, whether it’s inside of Gaza, whether it’s in a neighboring place – I don’t know.
MS. HARF: Well, the UN has tried that inside of Gaza. So they’re trying and they’re working at this, but unfortunately, we’ve seen folks that are – have gone to these facilities, unfortunately, come under fire as well.
In terms of other countries in the region, look, they’ve – there’s a long history with other countries in the region bearing a burden of Palestinian refugees, and not just Palestinians now. Syrians, Iraqis – we’ve seen this throughout – the countries in the region are already dealing with a number of refugees. So I haven’t heard discussion about that. But look, we believe there should be safe places for civilians in Gaza, period.
QUESTION: And would you say – are you prepared to call on the Israelis not to attack any of those safe – not to target, not to shell these safe places at all?
MS. HARF: Well, I would like to see —
MS. HARF: — how we define “safe places.”
QUESTION: Well —
MS. HARF: But certainly, if they are identified places where civilians are told to go to be safe —
MS. HARF: No one – no one should attack them.
QUESTION: Has that —
MS. HARF: I think that —
QUESTION: All right. Can I go back to what —
MS. HARF: — goes without saying.
QUESTION: — to your explanation of the difference between Israel now and Egypt —
MS. HARF: That was one explanation.
QUESTION: And Egypt before —
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: One explanation of it.
MS. HARF: One piece of it.
QUESTION: You seemed to say that in – the context was different because in Egypt, the Egyptian military was going after its own civilians, or Egyptians —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — and that Israel is different because it’s defending itself from an outside threat.
MS. HARF: Egypt was also cracking down on peaceful protesters. Israel is going after a terrorist organization that’s firing rockets at it.
QUESTION: I understood. So can we just limit this to the civilian – innocent civilian casualties?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Okay. There were some in Egypt, people who got caught up in the —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: People who, as the government was cracking down on violence or whatever – that people got caught up. I don’t understand how it’s okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people – I mean, it’s not okay for a government to shoot and kill its own people, but it is okay —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — to kill innocent civilians —
MS. HARF: We condemn all civilian casualties. No. All I’m saying is they’re just not comparable situations, and we have called on the Israelis to take more steps to protect civilians in this conflict.
QUESTION: Are they not comparable in terms of your arms transfer regulations, or are they not comparable at all?
MS. HARF: The situations are just actually not comparable at all.
QUESTION: Okay. So —
MS. HARF: Some of the same principles may apply at times in both, but the situations are just not comparable.
QUESTION: Marie, if you —
MS. HARF: They’re just not at all.
QUESTION: Just indulge me on Elise’s point. And it’s a serious question. Suppose you designate —
MS. HARF: Every question here is serious.
QUESTION: Yeah, I know. I mean, I’m saying they can go – let’s say you can designate an area on the beach, for instance, and say people can camp out there and this area should be designated as a safe haven. You can do it on the map. Is that a possibility?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything specific about what the UN particularly is doing. But we do think there should be safe places for Palestinian civilians during this conflict, yes. As a principle, we do.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) cruise ships or something and put them out in the Mediterranean. Is anyone thinking about that kind of thing?
MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard of.
QUESTION: All right. Can I ask you, as it relates to the progress that you claim to have been making in terms of – you said it was hard to quantify.
MS. HARF: Well, it’s always hard to quantify until you get the result at the end that you want.
QUESTION: Yeah. Some might suggest that the – that it’s actually been – what’s the opposite of progress? Regress.
MS. HARF: I don’t think that anybody in the discussions diplomatically about getting a cease-fire in place would argue that. Some commentators may, but they’re not in the room and don’t know what the latest is.
QUESTION: Well, how about in terms of the situation on the ground?
MS. HARF: Right. I was talking about the negotiations for a cease-fire.
QUESTION: All right. So – but in terms of what’s —
MS. HARF: That was – the word “progress” was for that.
QUESTION: But in terms of what’s going on on the ground as it relates to those cease-fire negotiations, those – they have not accomplished anything, have they?
MS. HARF: Well, there’s no cease-fire in place.
QUESTION: Right, exactly. So you – so there is no progress.
MS. HARF: There’s been progress – wait, wait, wait. There’s been progress in the diplomatic discussions to get a cease-fire in place.
MS. HARF: We are further along today than we were yesterday. But on the ground, how that affects people – no, the situation is the same.
QUESTION: But if I’m a 10-year-old Palestinian kid in Gaza or a 10-year-old Israeli kid in —
MS. HARF: Israeli in Tel Aviv, yeah.
QUESTION: — in Ashkelon, the situation is there’s no progress.
MS. HARF: Well, right, because it – a cease-fire is a yes or no proposition. It’s a – right.
QUESTION: But this is progress towards a 24-hour limited truce, yes?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ll see what it looks like. I don’t want to put a timeframe around what the temporary cease-fire might look like. There are a number of – a range of options.
QUESTION: When you say there’s nobody in the room – but there is nobody in the room. This is all being done on —
MS. HARF: On the phone.
QUESTION: This is all being done on a phone. There is no face-to-face —
MS. HARF: I don’t know who’s – I mean, if other of our partners are meeting face-to-face. But it is being done on the phone, yes.
QUESTION: Is that a mistake? Do you believe that —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — there should be face-to-face —
MS. HARF: Well, we had a whole week of face-to-face meetings.
QUESTION: Yes, I know. I know.
MS. HARF: And that didn’t achieve the outcome we wanted. And I do think that – look, the Secretary tends to prefer face-to-face, in-person diplomacy, but can also get a lot done over the phone.
QUESTION: Marie —
QUESTION: Have you been —
QUESTION: — is there any consideration on any level of reconsidering the delivery – not the contracts, but the delivery – of any military supplies to Israel right now? I mean, it’s not without precedent to withhold certain armaments because you don’t like the way they’re being used.
MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard.
QUESTION: Is that a policy consideration?
MS. HARF: I have not heard that, no.
QUESTION: Should it be one?
MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s a judgment I need to make from here. I think we’ve been clear that we are committed to our security relationship with Israel.
QUESTION: Given that the Secretary likes the face-to-face meetings, do you have anything to announce as far as him going from India?
MS. HARF: I do not, no.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the broader Israel-U.S. relationship for a bit?
MS. HARF: You can, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Yesterday you had some pretty pointed comments about criticism of the Secretary from —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — from – well, I think what you called “respected voices in Israel.” Today there’s a large Christian group that has – buying full-page ads in The New York Times and I guess other publications calling on the United States to stand up for Israel, to support Israel, and also encouraging its members – and they have a lot of members, it’s a quite large group – to write letters to Secretary Kerry saying that they are “deeply troubled by reports that you put the prestige of your office and our nation behind efforts to promote a cease-fire proposal that specifically addresses key Hamas demands while largely ignoring Israel’s security requirements.” Why is the Secretary promoting a cease-fire effort that specifically addresses Hamas’s demands and ignores Israel’s security requirements?
MS. HARF: Well, that’s an absurd statement. And I think the Secretary —
QUESTION: So you’re saying he’s not?
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Well, why do they have this impression?
MS. HARF: You can ask them why they have this impression, but it is a misimpression. I think there’s been a lot of rumor and insinuation and false information about the ideas the Secretary has put on the table, all of which are designed to further Israel’s security. That’s why we – this Administration’s provided unprecedented support, unprecedented assistance, both militarily, financially, diplomatically to Israel.
QUESTION: Including in the middle of this conflict, right?
MS. HARF: Including in the middle of this conflict. We have stood alone in support of Israel at the Human Rights Council. We have said we will continue standing up for them in the international community, and quite frankly, those kind of statements that wholly misrepresent the Secretary’s intentions and efforts do nothing to further the security of Israel because they are so blatantly false.
QUESTION: And it’s your understanding that the Israeli Government or at least Prime Minister Netanyahu and his representatives share what you just said about the U.S. backing Israel, correct?
MS. HARF: They have certainly spoken as such publicly. I can let them speak for themselves.
QUESTION: Right, okay. Well, would you think that, I mean, when you have such a large group like this who commands some —
MS. HARF: There are a number of groups entitled to their opinions.
QUESTION: Oh, I understand that. But I mean, would like to see the Israeli Government tell their supporters here – or anywhere, for that matter – that their impression is wrong, that they shouldn’t be writing letters like this, because they’re not true or —
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think I want to tell the Israeli Government what to say to people that support them. I think the Israeli Government and officials – including, yesterday, Ambassador Dermer – have come out and said the Secretary is a friend – Kerry is a friend of Israel —
MS. HARF: — that he has stood by Israel, and I think they’ve spoken for themselves on this.
QUESTION: You talked a bit yesterday about how you thought Israel is used as a political tool —
MS. HARF: Often, or sometimes.
QUESTION: — and support for Israel is used as a political way – a partisan way to divide the country. Is that the way you look at a campaign like this?
MS. HARF: Well, given I haven’t —
QUESTION: Is it a political campaign?
MS. HARF: Given I haven’t even seen —
QUESTION: Well, I’ll show it to you. I’ll give it to you.
MS. HARF: We can do show-and-tell here.
MS. HARF: Look – no. I think – I will say this: Having worked on this issue for a number of years now, it is amazing the number of Americans all over the country from all different political backgrounds, religious backgrounds, walks of life who support Israel. That’s precisely why we don’t think that support for Israel should be a partisan issue, because across the board you can choose to support Israel in whatever way you think is most appropriate and best for you. But that can’t go hand-in-hand on any side with misinformation, particularly not when so much of what Secretary Kerry has done is in support of Israel’s security in this job. And in the Senate, too.
QUESTION: Okay, last one this. Yesterday you talked about this – the alleged translation. You said it was “complete crap.”
MS. HARF: I know. That got a little pick-up online.
QUESTION: Yeah, I’m just wondering if you think —
MS. HARF: Especially because I said it a few times. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. I’m wondering if you would use the same words to describe the reports that these people say that they have seen about the Secretary supporting Hamas and ignoring Israel.
MS. HARF: Well, Jen actually spoke at length a few days ago in that lengthy topper, and I think this may be – and again, I don’t know, but there were a lot of false insinuations and information about a “proposal,” quote, that the Secretary had given to the Israelis for a cease-fire. And I think a lot of the misinformation about what that proposal looked like stemmed from those stories a few days ago, and we would, of course, completely reject any notion that the Secretary is doing anything to support Hamas here.
QUESTION: Would you call those reports complete crap? (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: I’m going to refrain from using that forward-leaning term at the podium, probably.
QUESTION: Sometimes it’s an appropriate —
QUESTION: I would say that that is not really —
MS. HARF: Elise endorsed it on Twitter, so —
QUESTION: — not really a forward-leaning term. More of a backward —
MS. HARF: More of – okay.
QUESTION: Right. I’m done.
MS. HARF: We’re – more of an informal term.
QUESTION: I’m done with that.
MS. HARF: But I – the complete fabrication of that transcript yesterday, I wanted, and I think I did make quite clear what our position is on that.
Anything else on Gaza?
QUESTION: A very quick follow-up on this very point.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The Israeli press is saying that the Secretary of State called Prime Minister Netanyahu stubborn and – who is just —
MS. HARF: That who did?
QUESTION: Secretary of State Kerry. Something (inaudible), that he’s very stubborn and so on. Do you —
MS. HARF: I have no idea where the Israeli press gets some of this stuff, Said.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Prime Minister Netanyahu?
MS. HARF: He has a very close relationship with the prime minister.
MS. HARF: Someone actually joked that I should have a five-second delay on my briefings after yesterday.
QUESTION: Can we move on to Ebola?
MS. HARF: Let’s do Ebola and then let’s move on.
QUESTION: (Laughter.) In other exciting and —
QUESTION: — uplifting news —
MS. HARF: Yeah. Someone just —
QUESTION: Really? Do you think that you’re the – have you become the George Carlin of the Administration – State —
MS. HARF: Someone jus joked about that this morning. (Laughter.) Anyways.
QUESTION: Can you talk about efforts to evacuate Americans contracted with the disease and bring them back to the United States?
MS. HARF: Yes. So I think there has been some misreporting out there on this, so just let me turn to that very briefly. The State Department, together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has the lead for the U.S. Government in the Ebola situation, is working to facilitate access to aviation services for medical evacuations for U.S. citizens directly affected by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. If and when that happens – it has not happened yet – every precaution will be taken to move the patients safely and securely, to provide critical care en route, and to maintain strict isolation upon arrival in the United States. The State Department’s Office of Medical Services has deployed its chief of infectious disease to West Africa in order to provide on-the-ground consultation and guidance to health unit staff regarding protective measures and case recognition as well. There’s a host of other things we’re doing, but there has been some misreporting out there on whether people had actually begun —
QUESTION: Would you mind putting out a list of what you’ve done?
MS. HARF: Sure, we can see if we can put out in a more formal taken question. We have provided a range of support through HHS, the CDC, USAID, the Department of Defense, other government agencies. We have provided personal protective equipment and other essential supplies, public health messaging efforts; we’ve assisted in those and, of course, provided technical experts. I believe the CDC, they had a press availability at 1 o’clock today where I believe they talked about 50 additional experts they would be sending – I think 50. Double-check me on that – that they would be sending as well. So we certainly have a lot of technical expertise we can provide here.
QUESTION: Do you have any advice to – for your embassies, for a start, and your staff that are on the ground, but more broadly, any Americans that happen to be in these countries that are affected?
MS. HARF: Yes. So let me do a little bit on that. Hold on. We do not have any plans at this time to reduce Embassy staff in any of these areas. We will continue to monitor the situation. There’s also been a little misinformation out there on this. Let me get you a little bit on —
QUESTION: Oh, I missed that. Misinformation on what?
MS. HARF: There’s been – there are no plans at this time to – what did I say? Reduce the Embassy staff in any of these locations. In terms of a Travel Warning, the CDC today issued a Level 3 Travel Warning for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. It’s a recommendation that people avoid nonessential travel to those three locations. Those that must travel, such as for humanitarian aid work in response to the outbreak, are urged to protect themselves by following the CDC’s advice for contact with people who are ill with Ebola. We will update our information on our country-specific webpages. This doesn’t trigger any sort of State Department Travel Warning, but obviously we will include this in our travel information online because the CDC has the lead for infectious disease warnings.
QUESTION: Given that Liberia has closed its schools particularly, after having already closed its land borders, I wonder if you’re – even if you’re not reducing Embassy staff, are you closing the Embassy for visas or —
MS. HARF: We’re not. We’re not. We’re not.
QUESTION: You’re not?
MS. HARF: There’s been no change in our status at any of those embassies.
QUESTION: Marie, as it relates to the summit that’s coming up next week —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — there are a couple of leaders who have decided —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — against coming. Can you – which ones are those? Are those the three?
MS. HARF: So – no. So we – Liberia, I believe, has come out and said that they will not be – that their head of state will not be attending the summit. Obviously, respect the decisions that both she, and if other leaders decide the same thing, need to make to address this crisis. We expect no changes to the summit agenda or security protocols. We are working to arrange a meeting between Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell, CDC officials, and the heads of delegations of the affected countries on the margins of the summit. I got asked this yesterday, if there were any plans to discuss it.
QUESTION: No – well, I’m less interested – I mean, I —
MS. HARF: I just wanted to give a little information about —
QUESTION: I am interested in that —
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: — but my question is more to the point, is there any concern that with people coming in, even if they’re not the heads of state, that with the delegations coming in from countries that may have had this, that – is there any – is there a health concern about this?
MS. HARF: There is not. The CDC has stated there’s no significant risk in the U.S. from the current Ebola outbreak. Obviously, we’re monitoring the situation.
QUESTION: Well, there’s no significant risk because there are few people who – but I mean you’ve got —
MS. HARF: Including from those traveling for the summit.
QUESTION: Including from that. Okay.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh. That’s true. We will continue monitoring the situation. And also to ensure minimal risk, the CDC is alerting health care workers in the U.S. and reminding them if there are people that once here exhibit signs, that they know how to deal with that.
QUESTION: Marie, I just have one question about Kurdistan, and I’m sorry I must go because I have an emergency situation. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
MS. HARF: Okay. Okay.
QUESTION: So on July 28th, Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that all Kurdish oil exports need to go through the central government. You’ve repeated that as well. Yet on July 30 – like yesterday – Brett McGurk, the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of Iraq policy tweeted that questions about Iraq’s oil exports must be resolved, quote-unquote, “in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution.” And that quote again: “There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq.”
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: I’m now thoroughly confused really. What is the U.S. policy vis-a-vis oil from Kurdistan and Iraq? On the one hand, Jen Psaki says it has to go through the central government.
MS. HARF: There’s no – there’s no disconnect here.
QUESTION: On the other hand, Brett McGurk says there is no U.S. ban on oil from any part of Iraq to be sold.
MS. HARF: Right. Those two things aren’t inconsistent here. So our policy on this issue has been clear and consistent. Iraq’s energy resources belong to all of the Iraqi people. These questions should be resolved in a manner consistent with the Iraqi constitution. There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq. As in many cases involving legal disputes, however, the U.S. recommends the parties make their own decisions with advice of counsel. We’ve told them there could be legal consequences. And I would emphasize that the – particularly the situation we’ve seen recently demonstrates why it’s really incumbent on Baghdad and Erbil to come together and find a negotiated resolution to this issue so you don’t see more legal issues like have arisen.
QUESTION: So are you saying that there is no U.S. ban on oil from Kurdistan —
MS. HARF: From any part of Iraq.
QUESTION: From any part of Kurdistan. For example, Kurdistan.
MS. HARF: There is no U.S. ban on the transfer or sale of oil originating from any part of Iraq. I don’t know how much clearer I can be.
QUESTION: Okay, but there should – but on the other hand, there must be approval of the central government for any oil export or sale. That’s what you are saying, right?
MS. HARF: As we have said, these – this issue – Iraq’s oil belongs to all of the people of Iraq.
MS. HARF: Which is why these decisions need to be made in a manner consistent with Iraq’s constitution and why Baghdad and Erbil need to come to a decision on how they’re going to work this out.
QUESTION: But just – my question was, should Kurdistan get the approval from the central government before exporting it or not? Must – are, like —
MS. HARF: So Erbil and Baghdad need to find a resolution to this situation, period.
MS. HARF: There is no ban.
QUESTION: If the oil has been taken out by the Kurds to help them towards independence and stuff like that, and they sell it to the U.S. or to people in the U.S., is that not illegal?
MS. HARF: Well, illegal under U.S. law?
QUESTION: Well, you’re taking – I mean, the money’s being – the oil is being sold then illegally, because it’s not, as he said, not going through the central government.
MS. HARF: Right. We —
QUESTION: It’s going through —
MS. HARF: This isn’t a legal issue. This is a policy issue. We have told different parties in Iraq that if they attempt to do things like we’ve seen recently, there could be legal ramifications, that we believe the oil of Iraq belongs to all of the people of Iraq.
Do we have anything else on Gaza or did we sufficiently —
QUESTION: Can I change the —
QUESTION: Can I go back to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit really quickly?
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: At this point, the only delegation – or the only head of state that you confirmed who is not coming due to the Ebola virus is Liberia. Are there any others?
MS. HARF: That – no, that’s my understanding. I know there’s been some question about some others. I’m – we’re happy to continue —
QUESTION: And Sierra Leone, I believe, has said they’re not coming.
MS. HARF: I can check if we have that confirmed.
QUESTION: Could you get a list out to us of all the head of states who will be attending?
MS. HARF: We can. We can attempt to get that out to you. Yes.
QUESTION: I have one question on Gaza.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: I guess Al-Jazeera has been reporting that Kerry and Ban Ki-moon have been working on a 72-houor cease-fire to be announced.
MS. HARF: As I said when asked about 24 hours, that there’s a number of different ways this could look. The Secretary’s been working very closely with the UN. And again, if we can get something in place as soon as possible, the announcement will come from the Secretary.
QUESTION: So when you said there’s been progress but it’s hard to quantify, that applies to this, no matter the duration. It’s the same —
MS. HARF: Correct. Correct. Yes.
QUESTION: Can we change subjects?
MS. HARF: We can.
QUESTION: The Washington Post reported today about a computer glitch in the U.S. State Department’s visa and passport record keeping —
QUESTION: Some of us reported about it last week.
MS. HARF: Uh-oh.
QUESTION: Well, they reported today. That’s what I remember. (Laughter.) And so the question is: What is being done? How serious is this?
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: Because some of the – apparently it’s affecting people who are seeking to adopt children?
MS. HARF: Well – so it’s affecting people all over the world, but let – we have talked about it a little bit. Let me give a little bit of an update. We are continuing to work to restore our visa system to full functionality. We anticipate it will take weeks to restore full visa processing capacity. We have been prioritizing immigrant visas, including adoption cases. So there is a backlog, but we are prioritizing adoption cases. So far we have been able to issue most cases with – of those cases with few delays. Nearly all passports are currently being issued within our customer service standards even despite the system problems, and we are able to issue passports for emergency travel.
Matt, you had asked yesterday – I think Matt asked about numbers —
MS. HARF: Or – right, numbers of backlog, though. To give you an idea of the progress and sort of the challenges, from the start of the operational issues on July 20th through July 28th, we issued more than 180,000 non-immigrant visas globally. Based on our average production figures, we would have anticipated issuing closer to 370,000 in that same time period.
QUESTION: All right, so –
MS. HARF: So we’re –
QUESTION: Virtually cut it in half?
QUESTION: In fact, there’s been significant improvement since the last time you updated about this – updated us about this, which was – what’s today, Thursday – which was like Monday or Tuesday.
MS. HARF: Yeah, we continue to make improvements, but there is quite a significant backlog, and we are not yet working at full functionality.
QUESTION: So – but – okay. So can you – maybe not quantify it, but if you had like some kind of a meter between when this first came an issue on the —
MS. HARF: On the 20th.
QUESTION: — 20th, and the basically kind of catastrophic failure where everything was down, right?
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And now —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — where are you on that? 50 percent? 60? 70 percent? Is there a way to —
MS. HARF: In terms of the number we’ve issued or our functionality?
QUESTION: No, in terms of functionality, right. In terms of —
MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer. Let me see if I can check on that.
QUESTION: Is this an issue with Oracle?
MS. HARF: It is in part, because they are the ones that run the hardware and software, I believe.
QUESTION: And they’re dealing with it, or is this something the State Department —
MS. HARF: We are working together to deal with it. It is limited in part by our outdated software and hardware, which we are attempting to work to fix.
QUESTION: Can we move onto – I’ll let someone else —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — go —
MS. HARF: No, let’s – Matt, let’s —
QUESTION: I want to talk about these talking points that the White House —
MS. HARF: Okay.
QUESTION: — inadvertently put out on the torture report.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: First of all, just in general on this, they suggest that ambassadors in these – the countries where these black sites were told not – were instructed not to inform the State Department about – or the Secretary of State about what was going on there. Do you know – is this a kind of – is this a normal practice where ambassadors are instructed not to – to withhold certain information from secretaries of State on this or any other issue?
MS. HARF: Well, let me say, first of all, the talking point and the Q&A contained within those don’t represent the views of the State Department, were not – excuse me, were not fully vetted within the State Department. In terms of the number of people that needed to see them, in fact, very few people saw them before they erroneously sent them to the NSC, so the information contained in them I’m obviously not going to speak to until a now-classified report is released publicly and we can have a conversation then. But I do want to make clear that the talking points and the information contained in them don’t represent the views of the State Department, and I’m sure we’ll be having conversations about this once it is, in fact, declassified and released.
QUESTION: Well, what do they represent then?
MS. HARF: Well, I’m sure the person who wrote them and who represented their personal opinion – look, the Administration —
QUESTION: So wait, wait, this was the personal – you’re saying that these talking points are the personal opinion of one person?
MS. HARF: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that broadly speaking, the Secretary – Secretary Kerry and this Department are proud of the CIA, are proud of the work that’s done to keep us safe and to support our diplomats, not just in Washington but all over the world. I think the fact that we are willing to acknowledge past mistakes and to learn from them is really what makes, I would say, our country great, but also the CIA unique among intelligence services, and that this administration has been clear that we did not support the detention and interrogation practices. That’s why we ended them. Again, not – these points were very draft points that had been drafted by someone in this building and not vetted through the process that this normally goes through, and therefore don’t represent the consensus view of the State Department or the people here.
QUESTION: Okay, but now you’ve just opened a big can of worms here. How many years did it take the CIA – did it take the United States to admit that it was involved in the 1953 coup in Iran?
MS. HARF: I’m not sure why that’s relevant to this discussion.
QUESTION: Well, you say that this is why the CIA is great and – there are plenty of things that —
MS. HARF: I said the fact that we are willing to admit past mistakes and course correct is an important principle that we in this government —
MS. HARF: — and certainly in the intelligence —
QUESTION: It often takes a long time for this to happen.
MS. HARF: Well, you can take that up with whoever was in charge of the CIA in 1953, Matt.
QUESTION: All right. So anyway, let’s —
MS. HARF: You may not take it up with me.
QUESTION: Okay. That – I guess that’s fair enough. But on the – but on my question, actually, which is not really – I mean it’s —
MS. HARF: Well, if it’s included —
QUESTION: — somewhat related —
MS. HARF: — in a document —
QUESTION: Well, let me just say. Can you say —
MS. HARF: Wait —
QUESTION: — that it is not policy – it is or it is not —
MS. HARF: I am not going to comment in any way on anything contained in that document about a classified report that has not been declassified. We will have full discussions, I’m sure, about the issues brought up when it is released to the public.
QUESTION: And as a general —
MS. HARF: So I’m not going to answer your question.
QUESTION: As a general principle —
MS. HARF: And which will be soon, by the way.
QUESTION: As a general principle, are ambassadors – do ambassadors frequently withhold information from their bosses back in Washington?
MS. HARF: I’m just not even going to comment on anything that you are bringing up from that document.
QUESTION: Can I just —
QUESTION: All right. Secondly, there seems to be some concern – and this is outside of the realm of this – about security at embassies, about potential threats to the U.S. when and if this report is released. Can you speak to that at all? Do you know if there have been requests made to – in anticipation of this report coming out in the next whenever it is, but it – soon, relatively soon —
MS. HARF: Soon, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — has there been any increased, enhanced security requests to various countries for embassies?
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check on that, Matt. Obviously, we are constantly looking at the security picture, and if we think there are situations where an additional threat might arise, we would take steps, and we would look at that very closely. We know this is an issue that – not just in the United States, quite frankly, but all over the world is a quite contentious one. We want to do everything we can to protect our people. That is our top priority. We believe it’s important to be as transparent as possible in talking about things like this and releasing these kinds of information when we can. But again, we’ll take security concerns into account and we’ll probably have more of that discussion again over the coming days.
QUESTION: Can I ask about the – Matt and Grace Huang, about the statement that you put out today?
MS. HARF: You can, yes.
QUESTION: I’d like to know – I know you issued a call for the Qatari Government to release them, but – I mean, is there anything more you can do to facilitate a resolution of this case? I mean, I’d like to know whether you think that the Huangs are innocent.
MS. HARF: I don’t think I have anything more for you than was in our statement on that.
QUESTION: Well, I mean, you’ve voiced serious concerns that evidence in the case might have been fabricated or that all the evidence wasn’t clearly weighed carefully, so why can’t you – by not saying anything about their guilt or —
MS. HARF: Well, I think we said some last night. I just don’t have anything additional for you on it.
QUESTION: I mean, but – I mean, it does seem as if you don’t want to kind of talk about —
MS. HARF: No, I just don’t have anything additional to add to the readout we released this morning.
QUESTION: Well, you say you’re going to continue to raise this with the Qatari Government.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: In what way are you going to do that?
MS. HARF: We’ve – I mean, you saw us raise it in a number of levels in the past. We will continue to. I don’t have anything specific to preview for you, but we will continue raising it.
QUESTION: I mean, do you think that there is a lack of due process in this case?
MS. HARF: We have been concerned, as we’ve said, about what’s happened in this case repeatedly over many months, and those concerns remain.
MS. HARF: India, where the Secretary is.
QUESTION: Yes, Madam. Once again, let’s talk about this historic visit. Now Secretary’s in India, and I saw the news reports and also a statement from – joint statement from U.S.-India relations talking about – my question is, one, before Secretary left for India, he was speaking at the Center for American Progress center.
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: He praised the Indian Government, but especially Prime Minister Modi, first time ever I think or something like this. One —
MS. HARF: A lot of firsts happening.
QUESTION: One, is there a policy change towards India or towards BJP or Mr. – Prime Minister Modi?
MS. HARF: Well —
QUESTION: And two, as far as this meeting is concerned with the Foreign Minister of India, Madam Sushma Swaraj, do they have now close relations, working relations between the two?
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve – we always said during the election we will work with whoever is elected to be the next prime minister of India. We made that very clear. Regardless of who that was, we look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to Washington this fall and think this was an important trip, even at a time when there’s a lot of other crises going on in the world. So it’s not a policy change towards India. We’ve always said we will work with whoever is the leader of India because our relationship is so broad and so deep and so important.
QUESTION: Can you give something more than beyond this joint statement? And also, before Secretary left for Delhi, India and Delhi had (inaudible) a large (inaudible) terror attack to be taking place in Delhi, and they came from Pakistan.
What I’m asking is: Had they spoken about this terrorism problem India is facing from Pakistan? Also because they’re talking about India and Pakistan relations and meetings and greetings and all that, but the Finance – Foreign Minister Sushma said that we cannot have relations as far as the terrorism is going on.
MS. HARF: Well, let me check with the traveling team. I know the meetings have been ongoing all day and I want to get readouts from them. So let me check with them and maybe we can talk about this a little today or tomorrow.
QUESTION: To India —
MS. HARF: Yeah, uh-huh. Wait, let’s go to Syria and then I’ll go back to you.
QUESTION: Marie, I’m sure you saw the man known as Caesar was on Capitol Hill today sharing testimony about some of the photos he carried out showing pictures of what’s going on inside Assad regime jails. And I wanted to know if he officially briefed anyone here at State, if anyone from this building met with him to hear his account.
MS. HARF: Well, we did initiate the process to bring Caesar to the United States so that U.S. officials analyzing this really gruesome evidence he had provided, also some members of Congress, could hear directly from him about the horrific abuses committed by the Assad regime. I can see if we can get you a list of who here has been in touch with him, but obviously we have folks who have been looking at the photos, working to authenticate them, even though we do believe they are authentic. So I know folks have been, but I can see if we can get you a list.
QUESTION: Is there reason to fear for his security in the U.S.? I mean, when he testified, he was disguising himself and it was said that there were concerns, particularly in this building, about his wellbeing inside the U.S.
MS. HARF: Absolutely. I mean, we had been working with Congress on the hearing today to address security concerns, particularly with press access. But look, this is – we are concerned about his security or anything that could jeopardize it when he’s in the United States and elsewhere, quite frankly. But we are concerned about it.
QUESTION: When you said, the answer to the first question, we worked for – is we the State Department or is we the – is the royal we, you?
MS. HARF: Which we – which statement?
QUESTION: Is it the royal you you’re talking about here?
MS. HARF: Which statement that I said, sorry?
QUESTION: The first – very first —
MS. HARF: The State Department initiated the process.
QUESTION: So when you said we, you meant the State Department.
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: Not some other part of the government.
MS. HARF: Correct, yes.
QUESTION: Do you know how long he’s going to be here?
MS. HARF: I don’t, I don’t.
QUESTION: I mean, has he actually asked for asylum in the United States? Is he planning to move here, or —
MS. HARF: We don’t normally comment on that. I don’t know the answer, again.
QUESTION: But I mean, look, it’s really good for you to be able to hear from him, but is this really, at this point, having any effect on your policy decisions on what to do?
MS. HARF: Well, I think that, look, you can’t help but look at those photos and not want to do more, and that’s why – part of the reason we’ve consistently done more. But we also thought it was important for members of Congress, for members of the public, where appropriate, to hear his story because there’s more people that need to hear this story, quite frankly.
QUESTION: When you said that the people – that he was meeting with people to talk about authentication of his photographs, even though you believe they’re real and other things, even though you believe they’re authentic, is this in – what, in support of what? A potential war crimes trial for —
MS. HARF: I don’t have anything specific to preview in terms of what that might be in support of.
QUESTION: But I believe he met Steven Rapp, though, didn’t he?
MS. HARF: He has worked with Ambassador Rapp quite a bit, quite a bit on this issue.
QUESTION: So that would suggest that the answer to Matt’s question is —
QUESTION: — yes.
MS. HARF: Potentially.
MS. HARF: Possibly.
QUESTION: It’s a secret. (Laughter.)
MS. HARF: Let’s – yeah, let’s go to India actually, and let’s go to some folks who haven’t had one, and then we’ll go to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Just two quick clarifications from the joint press conference by Secretary Kerry and Sushma Swaraj. One was, both were confused or were not – about the WTO negotiations going on in – and so what is the latest status? Do you have anything, update on that?
MS. HARF: I don’t have anything to add to what they said. I’m happy to check with particularly our USTR colleagues and my team here to see if we can send you something on that.
QUESTION: Because they were saying that the negotiations were going on, and then they said no, they concluded. So you know what —
MS. HARF: Let me get some clarity for you on that.
QUESTION: And the second one is on the sanctions against Russia.
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What is the State Department feeling that India’s stand will be, because of the long friendship?
MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think we’re going to speak for the Indian Government on this one.
QUESTION: No, how – like, did the Secretary ask India to support the sanctions or anything?
MS. HARF: I can check. Again, I can check with the team on the ground. They have the latest information.
MS. HARF: Let’s go here and then we’ll go to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Thanks. I wanted to ask about North Korea.
MS. HARF: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Kenneth Bae had an interview in which he said he feels that the U.S. Government has abandoned him. Assuming that his comments have been relayed accurately, what’s your response? Has he been abandoned?
MS. HARF: Well, no. Just a couple updates. We are in regular contact with Mr. Bae’s family. We last spoke with his family yesterday, on July 20th, and we are of course very concerned about his health. We have urged the D.P.R.K. authorities to grant him special amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds. And look, I would just take with a grain of salt things people say in videos when they are being held by a country like North Korea.
QUESTION: Sure. Do you have any updates on any of the other two American detainees?
MS. HARF: I don’t have any updates on that for you.
QUESTION: And then, Glyn Davies and Bob King were on the Hill yesterday. They faced a lot of frustrated questions from Congress about the lack of fruit that’s been yielded by current U.S. North Korea policy. Do you have – is there any talk about perhaps shifting toward a more pro-engagement stance with North Korea?
MS. HARF: Not that I’ve heard. Not that I’ve heard. I’m happy to check with them and see if there’s anything to add to what they said on the Hill.
QUESTION: Do you think that the time might be right, though, given that there’s – you have Japan potentially making progress with North Korea on a bilateral human rights issue, you have a North Korea – a South Korean – excuse me – president who is sort of running out of time to make some tangible progress on North Korea. You have China increasingly very frustrated with the lack of traction it’s gotten in its attempts to restart talks. And then you have a rising chorus domestically saying that there’s been no progress with U.S. policy toward North Korea.
MS. HARF: No, it’s not an unfair question or an easy one to answer, I think, but let me talk to our folks and – I just don’t have all the granularity here. Let me see if we can get you something.
QUESTION: Well, a follow-up question about Kenneth Bae. When the – when was the last time Kenneth Bae’s families met in – at North Korea?
MS. HARF: Well, I know that Swedish Embassy representatives have met with him 11 times since his detention, most recently on April 18th – the Swedish.
QUESTION: So since after April 18, hasn’t met any —
MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, no.
QUESTION: So they rejected the meeting or what?
MS. HARF: I don’t have details on that for you.
QUESTION: All right, thank you.
QUESTION: On Afghanistan —
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: — Madam, I’m just going back to your statement, what you said about UN audits and all those things and – because people in Afghanistan are still confused. They have no president or they have no government and – functioning. What my question is, that – one, what role the U.S. is playing as far as these audits are concerned? And two, if these two candidates now are ready to form the government or if they have accepted the audit?
MS. HARF: Well, they do still have a government in place. Let’s be clear. President Karzai is still president of Afghanistan. We have urged the candidates to continue to demonstrate leadership, to try to get here to a legitimate outcome of this election. We want them to instruct their teams to participate fully in the audit when it resumes on August 2nd.
Just some statistics here: All ballot boxes from 24 of the 34 provinces have been transported to the IEC. More than 17,000 ballot boxes are at the IEC. This is 75 percent of the total. Fifty-five USAID implementing partner observers are in country, expected to reach 73, I think, by today. They took a pause for the Eid holiday to allow staff to celebrate with their families. They’ll be doing training on July 31st and August 1st and the audit will resume on August 2nd.
We do hope that the audit will be completed by the end of August. We know that the candidates would like the process to be completed, and a president inaugurated in time for the NATO summit that will be taking place in Wales. But the summit’s not a deadline; we just know that the parties would like it to be resolved by then, and both candidates, as we have said, have consistently indicated they will sign the bilateral security agreement soon as a priority after their inauguration.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Go to Ukraine?
MS. HARF: Yep.
QUESTION: So it looks as though – well, not doesn’t look as though; it is the case that the – at least some investigators made it to —
MS. HARF: Correct.
QUESTION: — the crash site this morning. I’m wondering if you have anything to say about that, and are there – do you have any people there?
MS. HARF: So we are pleased that OSCE monitors with Dutch and Australian investigators were able to finally gain access to the crash site today. They had some difficulties getting there, but they did gain access. I don’t think we have anyone there.
MS. HARF: I’m happy to check.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you believe the Poroshenko/separatist – or that the cease-fire, whatever – however you want to describe it, that – around the crash site is working?
MS. HARF: Well, we have welcomed his announcement of a unilateral cease-fire. We have called on the Russian-backed separatists to honor it. We’ve seen there’s still some fighting in the area. We saw today that a group of separatists were trying to prevent access, fired on the Ukrainian security forces who were escorting the convoys. So it’s still a challenging security environment.
QUESTION: So you’re not yet in – you’re not yet satisfied with the situation as it exists in terms of security at the crash site?
MS. HARF: There’s – more needs to be done.
QUESTION: Okay. And there were some reports yesterday about land mines being close to – you have anything about that?
MS. HARF: Yeah. We couldn’t confirm – we could not and still cannot confirm those reports.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: I saw those as well.
QUESTION: Now, for the last couple days, you’ve been asked about the Ukrainian military’s counterterrorism operation or operations that are going after the separatists in areas of south and east Ukraine, and you’ve been asked about civilian casualties. Yesterday, you said yes, you were – are concerned about civilian casualties in all these cases, but you’re not sure who – if they’re firing these —
MS. HARF: Right, we aren’t —
QUESTION: — this artillery or not. Is that —
MS. HARF: We don’t have granularity on all the details.
QUESTION: Still not? So you do on Gaza, you’re pretty sure you know what’s going on in Gaza because of the UN and because of the Israeli statements, but —
MS. HARF: We’ve continued to gather information.
QUESTION: — presented with accounts from the civilians in the southeast of Ukraine where you’ve seen —
MS. HARF: We’re working to verify them, Matt.
QUESTION: So you can’t yet verify that there have been a – what you would consider to be an unacceptably high level of civilian casualties?
MS. HARF: Correct. We cannot confirm that.
QUESTION: But you – just to make sure —
MS. HARF: Because in many of the —
QUESTION: Well, hold on. Hold on.
MS. HARF: Well, no, wait. No, let me tell you why we can’t, though, because that’s important. Because many of these are reported to be happening in a Russian separatist-controlled area, which we just have much less visibility into often.
QUESTION: Okay, but, I mean, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not happening.
MS. HARF: But we can’t confirm them either. So before we confirm them, we’ve seen the reports, and —
MS. HARF: — if true, they would be concerning, but no.
QUESTION: Okay, but unless I’m mistaken, you haven’t absolutely confirmed that it was Israeli shells that hit the UN school.
MS. HARF: Which is why I said what I said today in the way I said it.
QUESTION: Exactly, but – okay, but anyway, it is still a concern civilian casualties on both sides of the Ukraine conflict, as it is elsewhere?
MS. HARF: Civilian casualties are always a concern, but the Ukrainian Government has shown remarkable restraint here I would note.
QUESTION: Okay. And are you yet willing – well, that’s a bad way to put it. Have you seen any sign yet that the sanctions that were imposed going back all the way as far as the annexation of Crimea, but up to and including the sanctions that were just announced the other day —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — that – have you seen any sign that those have had an impact on President Putin or the Russian Government’s decision making as it relates to Ukraine, as it relates to support for the – what your – the support for the separatists in terms of what you say is the movement of heavy weapons and artillery shelling?
MS. HARF: We continue to see the Russians supporting the separatists.
QUESTION: So in other words, the sanctions have not had an impact?
MS. HARF: Well, this isn’t a yes or no proposition here.
QUESTION: It’s not?
MS. HARF: There’s a long-term, strategic calculus that President Putin undoubtedly is making right now, and I can’t predict whether or not in his head at this moment it is having an impact.
QUESTION: But not yet? You haven’t seen in —
MS. HARF: We haven’t seen the situation on the ground change. Okay?
QUESTION: Because of the sanctions or because of anything else?
MS. HARF: Because of anything.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. HARF: I mean if President Putin is willing to drive his economy into the ground, make that decision, but that’s a pretty bold decision to be making for the people of Russia.
QUESTION: Do you have any new evidence of the shelling that you say is coming from the Russian side and the shipments of weaponry to the separatists?
MS. HARF: We did – let’s see. As of July 26th, which is a few days ago now, we had seen two additional battalion tactical groups in the Rostov area, which is 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. That has brought the total number of Russian battalion tactical groups deployed near the border to at least 16. That’s something we’ve been watching very —
QUESTION: But that’s in Russia.
MS. HARF: Correct.
MS. HARF: But they’re deployed near the border. I’m just noting some of the things we’ve seen lately.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
MS. HARF: We continue to see shipments.
QUESTION: You continue to see shipments across the border and the shelling too?
MS. HARF: I can check on the shelling.
QUESTION: Argentina? I have a few little bits actually.
MS. HARF: Okay.
MS. HARF: Yeah.
QUESTION: So there was a very complicated and long —
MS. HARF: Yes.
QUESTION: — legal battle, which ended last night with Argentina officially going into default —
MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — after talks between two – with two U.S. hedge funds to play off their – to accept a write-down on Argentine bonds failed. Top Argentine leaders are actually accusing the United States of having a hand in this and creating the conditions in which this happened by not allowing a U.S. – because a U.S. court ruled that Buenos Aires couldn’t service its restructured debt without paying off the hedge funds in full. Do you accept any responsibility? Has the United States, as a government, been involved in these discussions at all?
MS. HARF: Well, we made our position clear in this litigation in the amicus briefs that were filed in this case. We had made a number of fairly complicated financial arguments, but the bottom line here was that the second circuit rejected the United States arguments, and the Supreme Court denied review of the lower court’s decision. I can’t speculate on what Argentina would do next, but it really is an issue for Argentine authorities and representatives of their creditors for their views on the way forward. We do think they’ve made some good progress towards meeting their obligations. We believe it’s in their interest to normalize relations with all of its creditors. Over the past year, we have observed Argentina’s settlement of investment disputes, noted its preliminary efforts to address deficiencies in its reporting to the IMF, and welcomed – excuse me – its recent payments to the U.S Government and Paris Club creditors. The resolution of the bondholder litigation would, of course, build upon this positive trend.
QUESTION: But you don’t see any responsibility for the United States, per se, beyond what happened —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — with the Argentines going to the court? And I have more if there’s nothing on that.
MS. HARF: I think there’s one at the end, but just let’s continue.
QUESTION: Azerbaijan – I wondered if you had anything on two human rights activists, Leyla and Arif Yunus; they’re a couple who have been charged with treason. They were accused of spying for Armenia.
MS. HARF: I saw those reports. I don’t have anything on that. We may have more to say on that later, though.
MS. HARF: So I’ll check in with you on that.
Let’s – bring us home, last one.
QUESTION: Deputy Assistant Secretary Peter Harrell was in Seoul earlier this week, and he was reported to have asked South Korea to join efforts to impose sanctions on Russia. I wonder what specific role do you want South Korea to play in these sanctions.
MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly – we talk with South Korea all the time and coordinate with them on sanctions on a host of countries. We’ve talked to a number of partners about increasing the pressure on Russia. This was part of that normal outreach, but we believe that the more countries that impose costs on Russia, the more effective those sanctions are, the more people you get on board for them. This is part of those discussions.
QUESTION: Can I go back to the talking points for one very brief second?
MS. HARF: Of course you can.
QUESTION: These torture things – I know you won’t answer questions related to it, but are you saying – when you say this is a draft, not reviewed, that nothing that’s in this – these four pages are going to appear in – after the report comes out?
MS. HARF: No, I’m not saying that. I’m just —
QUESTION: So in other words, there is stuff in here, and comments made or responses prepared, questions anticipated, that could be, in fact, what —
MS. HARF: That’s true.
QUESTION: — turns up in the final —
MS. HARF: It is a very early draft of a document that is going to go through many, many, many layers of review here. Again, it just doesn’t represent the position of this Department and what we should say publicly. Some of it may look similar when we get there eventually, but some of it may not.
QUESTION: So in other words, it could be, just not yet. So you’re not —
MS. HARF: No.
QUESTION: — going to say that nothing in here is going to actually – is actually going to make it —
MS. HARF: No, no.
QUESTION: You’re not saying that absolutely everything in here is not going to make the cut?
MS. HARF: No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying specifically the top lines that were —
MS. HARF: — presented as the State Department position do not represent that position. Some of it may be in there when we get there, and some of it may not.
QUESTION: Okay. Just the top lines, what about the questions that you – that —
MS. HARF: Well, those weren’t represented as being State Department questions.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, could you answer this one?
MS. HARF: I’m not going to answer any of the questions in that document —
QUESTION: Now that the report is —
MS. HARF: — until the report has – well, the report hasn’t been released or declassified yet.
QUESTION: Okay. But it —
MS. HARF: So we can have that conversation after it is.
QUESTION: Well, let me just put it this way: Is the White House prepared to concede that people were tortured now, prior to the release of the report?
MS. HARF: Matt, I’m not even going to get into this discussion. The President has been very clear about his feelings on this. He’s spoken at length about it as a candidate and as the President. I do not have anything to add to those comments.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:23 p.m.)
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 July 30