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State Department Briefing by Marie Harf, October 24, 2013

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 24, 2013.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Secretary Kerry Remarks at Center for American Progress Conference
    • Under Secretary Sherman Meeting with Damas de Blanco Spokesperson Soler to Discuss Human Rights in Cuba
    • Reports of Two U.S. Citizens Kidnapped on Vessel / Monitoring Situation
    • Monitoring of Communications / White House Statement / Alleged Intelligence Activities
    • U.S. Relationship with Saudis / Secretary Kerry’s Meeting with Saud al-Faisal
    • Syria / Getting to Geneva
    • Women’s Driving Protest / Support of Full Inclusion
    • Membership in Security Council
    • Senkaku Islands / U.S. Position
    • China’s Relationship with Neighbors
    • Legitimate Exchange Programs
    • State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program / Classified Deliberations
    • Westgate Attacks / Kenyan Journalists Summoned
    • U.S.-Pakistan Relationship / Counterterrorism
    • Dr. Afridi Incarceration
    • Pakistan Relations with India and its Neighbors
  • CUBA
    • William Potts Return to the U.S. / Full Range of Passport Services
    • Assistance to Opposition



1:25 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few things at the top, and then I’m happy to open it up for your questions.

The first: At 2:15 today, as many of you know, Secretary Kerry will deliver remarks at the Center for American Progress’ 10-year anniversary policy conference. In the wake of the government shutdown, Secretary Kerry will talk about the damage events like this can do to the esteem in which the United States is held in the world. While it is not irreparable or irreversible, being a responsible democracy requires that we don’t walk ourselves to the brink. And as we look to the challenges ahead, we must be conscious of not only how our leadership looks through others’ eyes, but also what the impact is on the absence of American leadership. Again, he will be speaking to this at 2:15 today.

My second item at the top: Today, Thursday, October 24th, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman met with the Damas de Blanco spokesperson Berta Soler to discuss the human rights situation in Cuba. The Under Secretary praised Ms. Soler for her leadership, and shared the Department’s deep concern over the Cuban Government’s continued suppression of peaceful activities carried out by Damas de Blanco and other independent civil society groups. The Under Secretary expressed solidarity with Damas de Blanco member Sonia Garro Alfonso, who continues to suffer reprisals for her advocacy on behalf of political prisoners and the Afro-Cuban community.

I also want to express my deep disappointment, on a lighter note, with my – performance of my St. Louis Cardinals last night. That’s why I’m wearing red today. Hopefully, it’ll bring us some good luck, so – the classic American pastime.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: I know, the one place I disagree with the Secretary on, baseball, apparently.

QUESTION: It was a good night for Boston teams.

MS. HARF: It was a bit of a depressing evening.

QUESTION: And the – well, I don’t care about the baseball. I care about the hockey, which they also won.

MS. HARF: Ah, I see.

QUESTION: The Boston pitcher was accused of cheating.

MS. HARF: A true Buffalo native, right?

QUESTION: Exactly.

QUESTION: Did you see the Boston pitcher was accused of cheating?

MS. HARF: Oh, I didn’t see that. Well, see, there you go.

QUESTION: He had Vaseline on the glove.

MS. HARF: There you go. Cardinals are the good guys here.

QUESTION: Can I ask you —

MS. HARF: Go ahead, Matt. Start us off.

QUESTION: No, no, that’s okay. You mentioned in – the Secretary’s speech and how he’s going to talk about the shutdown and how it damages the U.S. reputation around the world, it matters how leadership looks.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is he also going to address the NSA allegations and the damage that that’s done to the reputation around the world, or is that – you don’t know?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see at 2:15, I guess.

QUESTION: Okay. And I just have – not on – this is just a – kind of a breaking thing, which is the – Nigeria and this piracy —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — incident, do you know anything about that?

MS. HARF: Yeah, a little bit on this. Thanks for the question. We’re obviously closely monitoring reports that two U.S. citizens have been kidnapped from a U.S.-flagged vessel. It’s a motor vessel, the C-Retriever, in the Gulf of Guinea. We are seeking additional information about the incident so that we may contribute to safely resolving the situation. Obviously, our concern at this point is for the safe return of the two U.S. citizens. Chief of Mission Security at our mission in Nigeria are investigating the kidnapping report. We do believe that this was an act of piracy. Again, we are continuing to seek additional information, and for privacy reasons can’t provide any additional information about the two U.S. citizens.

QUESTION: Okay. But presumably, these two citizens were working aboard this C-Retriever, correct, or —

MS. HARF: They were certainly on board.

QUESTION: –on board?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And U.S.-flagged, can you be more specific about the ship?

MS. HARF: The U.S.-flagged vessel called the C-Retriever, I don’t have any —

QUESTION: What is it? What kind of ship is it?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any additional information about that.

QUESTION: Where is the home port? Anything like that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any additional information about the ship.

QUESTION: When you say that you believe it’s an act of piracy —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — do you mean that you don’t think that it’s an act of terrorism, that it’s —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — kidnap for ransom?

MS. HARF: Correct. Yes, that at this point we do not have information that would indicate this was an act of terrorism. More broadly, we have been concerned by a disturbing increase – by the incidence of maritime crime, including piracy, in this area. So I think at this point that’s certainly what we’re operating under.

QUESTION: Is there any talk about what the U.S. will do in reaction to this, either specifically for these two individuals or more long-term to address piracy in Nigeria?

MS. HARF: At this point, we’re still looking into it. Obviously, our concern is their safe return. We are concerned by this increase. We’ve worked, and will continue to work, with states on the Gulf of Guinea to help them respond effectively to maritime crime in these waters. We coordinate with our international partners on this. I know U.S.-Africa Command has been working through partner nations to help increase their capacity to meet the piracy threat through a number of different programs. I think two of them are the Africa Maritime Law Enforcement Program and the Africa Partnership Station.

QUESTION: And just one other thing: You mentioned – at the very top, you said reports of these two citizens being kidnapped.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you reasonably confident that those are correct, or do you not know? Is it —

MS. HARF: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: So, in fact, you know that two have been taken?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. I wanted to move on to the —

MS. HARF: Does anyone have anything else on the – hold on, I think Catherine has something else on this.

QUESTION: Have you had any contact with the kidnappers, or an affiliate of the kidnappers, if not directly from them?

MS. HARF: I don’t have more information on it than what I just said. If we do going forward, I’m happy to share it. Just don’t have any more information.

On this, Said, or something else?

QUESTION: No, a different topic.

MS. HARF: Okay. Let’s go to Matt, and I’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: So I’m not really hopeful that we’re going to get any answers to these questions, but I’m going to try anyway.

It was just asked at the White House – I presume you’re going to give the same answer – about the kind of non-denial denial that was put out yesterday on Chancellor Merkel and her – and the alleged taps of her cell phone. So I’m going to ask the same question. The statement yesterday said that in the – used the present tense —

MS. HARF: The White House statement?

QUESTION: Yes – present tense and the future tense in terms of no, we’re not going to do this. Can you say that that also applies past tense? In other words, while the United States might not be currently monitoring her phone, and will not, or you’re assuring her that you will not in the future, can you say that you never have?

MS. HARF: I’m not, I think, going to address this topic further than the White House statement did. As a matter of course, we just don’t comment publicly on each allegation out there in the press.

QUESTION: All right. So I’m – I’ll take that as a no, you can’t assure them or assure the —

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to comment on it one way or the other.

QUESTION: All right. So then, not directly related to this statement, but drawing from it, are you in a position, or is the Administration in a position, to make the same assurance to other leaders, or only Chancellor Merkel? In other words, can you assure the Prime Minister of Great Britain or the President – Prime Minister of Italy or the President of Brazil that the United States is not and will not be monitoring their conversations?

MS. HARF: Well, on Prime Minister Cameron, I believe the White House spoke to this and said that the answer is no, that we are not monitoring his communications. Look, these are conversations we’ll have on a case-by-case basis privately, diplomatically, sometimes publicly, with each different country when these concerns arise.

QUESTION: Okay. So —

MS. HARF: I’m not going to put down a blanket statement.

QUESTION: So you’re not going to or you can’t?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to put down a blanket statement.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so does that mean that all it takes, then, for the United States to get – all it takes for a foreign leader to get this assurance from the United States is someone writes an article that may or may not be correct —

MS. HARF: We’ll look at each allegation as they come out —

QUESTION: — that suggests that this is happening?

MS. HARF: — and treat each case differently.

QUESTION: So you can’t offer assurances across the board to world leaders, even other allies or members of NATO, that they will not in the future be subject to U.S. surveillance?

MS. HARF: Again, we have these discussions as our foreign partners bring them up with us, and we’re happy to continue having them.

QUESTION: Explain to us, if you will, if you can, whether these – whatever surveillance of these telephone numbers, are they done, like, in bulk, in tranches, or each individual telephone number is either wiretapped or not wiretapped according to the —

MS. HARF: Said, I’m just not going to be able to get into alleged intelligence activities or talk about specific intelligence activities in any way.

QUESTION: No. I mean, for your – to your knowledge, because – I mean, do they – you have a system where it says, “Angela Merkel, no,” or some – no, or is it – like you take —

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to get into that level of specificity about intelligence.

QUESTION: Okay. But is it safe to assume that numbers that are similar to one another would probably be either exempted or watched at the same time?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to get into any level of specificity about our alleged intelligence activities.

QUESTION: Okay. And does it – okay, I understand that you do this with your allies – with Cameron, with Merkel, and others. What about other non-allies, let’s say, Arab leaders and Palestinian Authority leaders and so on? Do they – are they subject to the same criteria or not?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to get into any discussion about specificity of alleged intelligence activities or how we make decisions about intelligence activities.

QUESTION: Chancellor Merkel said this morning on her way to this EU summit that she believed that trust needed to be restored between the United States and Germany. Do you accept the premise of that statement that somehow trust has been damaged?

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen her specific comments, but I take your word for it. Look, there’s a reason we believe it’s important to have direct bilateral discussions with folks. That’s the reason the President has made phone calls on this to a number of folks, and that our Ambassador and Secretary have as well. So we believe it’s an important topic. If there are issues or concerns, that’s why we address them head-on directly with these leaders.

QUESTION: Well, but forgive me for mentioning this or bringing it up, but the President didn’t call Chancellor Merkel until after the reports had come out. Isn’t that correct?

MS. HARF: The President and Secretary and folks talk to our German counterparts at all levels all the time.

QUESTION: Didn’t – sorry, wasn’t the U.S. Ambassador to Germany called in to the foreign ministry?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You didn’t —

MS. HARF: The U.S. Ambassador to Germany met today with —

QUESTION: You haven’t – go ahead.

MS. HARF: No, it’s okay. Follow on.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, we have the statement from the Embassy, I think, but —

MS. HARF: Then I won’t provide it here.

QUESTION: — but I would like you to read it once I’ve asked the question, which is: You haven’t actually volunteered any of this information without first being compelled to volunteer it —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: — because of reports about this —

MS. HARF: There are a lot of private discussions, not all of which we read out publicly, that we have with our allies and partners about this issue and others all around the world. So just because we don’t put public readouts out every time we have private discussions with folks, needless to say, it’s a topic of conversation at times.

QUESTION: So can you give us the – what’s the German – what’s the readout from the Ambassador’s meeting in Berlin?

MS. HARF: The U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson met today with the German Foreign Minister at the request of the Germans. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation of the importance of the exchange and promised to convey the points made in the meeting back to Washington. He assured the Foreign Minister that our ongoing bilateral consultations on allegations of information gathering by U.S. Government agencies would continue. It’s what we’ve said, that we think it’s an important conversation to have going forward. Obviously, we and Germany share a long history of friendship and will continue to.

QUESTION: Did he say also that the President has asked for a review of intelligence gathering?

MS. HARF: We say that all the time publicly and privately. And you are correct, the President has. You asked yesterday about timeline. I understand that when this was originally announced in August that the review was to be completed before the end of the year. Obviously, the White House would have more specifics.


QUESTION: Hold on one second. Did the German foreign ministry express any disappointment with the fact that the readout that they got – well, that the meeting – that what they were told, according to what you just said, is exactly the same, a cookie cutter response with —

MS. HARF: I wouldn’t describe the discussions that way at all.

QUESTION: — the – with what the Ambassador in France said when he was called into the French foreign ministry?

MS. HARF: Obviously, the discussions are going on on the ground. They’re different in every country. They’re different depending on who we’re talking to and —

QUESTION: Okay. So they’re tailor-made to address the specific allegation that they’re going —

MS. HARF: As all diplomacy is, absolutely.

QUESTION: Okay. So then can you ask – answer the first question, which was: Do you agree with Chancellor Merkel that trust has been damaged and it needs to be repaired?

MS. HARF: Again, we are happy to have the conversation when people raise concerns, and we’ll continue doing so. I don’t think I need to get in the business of agreeing or disagreeing with our allies and partners around the world. We believe it’s an important discussion. We’re happy to have it with her and other folks as well.

QUESTION: Well, you do that every day. You agree or disagree with it.

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to get in the business of that today, Matt.

QUESTION: Or any other day unless it suits you. I had one more question on this, but I’ll defer to someone else.

MS. HARF: Said.

QUESTION: If it hadn’t been for the Snowden NSA leaks, would these leaders have known about this, then? Would this have come —

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to comment on specific intelligence activities.

QUESTION: Would this have become such – the problem that we have today?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to comment on these allegations of intelligence activities, Said, so I’m not going to speak to those specifically. I think the President’s been clear since he came into office that we need to constantly reevaluate the way we look at our national security, the way we address threats, how we do intelligence, how we do counterterrorism. Broadly speaking, we’ve been very open about that since we came into office in a number of different ways.


MS. HARF: Yes, Lucas.

QUESTION: Can you tell us with whom Ambassador Emerson consulted in the State Department prior to his meeting with the German Foreign Minister?

MS. HARF: I can – I don’t know the answer to that. I can find out.

QUESTION: And just one or two more. Does this development threaten the U.S.-German relationships?

MS. HARF: No, not at all. I think that we value Germany as a close ally and partner on a number of issues. When there are issues where there are concerns, we talk about them, like friends do, but we have a long history, and that just isn’t going to change. And we certainly hope that these kinds of allegations in the press won’t change our relationships.

QUESTION: And is it clear to you that President Obama himself was not surveilled?

MS. HARF: By? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.

QUESTION: Can it be clear that President Obama himself was not surveilled by the NSA?

MS. HARF: Well, I think it’s pretty clear that the NSA is a foreign intelligence organization, as our intelligence community is, so I don’t have any reason to think so. They’re focused on overseas information.

QUESTION: If he’s speaking with Merkel —

MS. HARF: It’s a good question, and I don’t mean to laugh at it. But it’s a good question. I will take it and see if I can get anything for you.

QUESTION: Marie, you said that each case is —

MS. HARF: But suffice to say we don’t – NSA doesn’t – there are rules about when you can listen in on Americans, and we’ve been very clear in talking about that over the past few months. That’s outside of my area of expertise.

QUESTION: Marie, you said that each case is different. So shall we assume that the assurances that you gave to Merkel and Hollande are not valid for other – even NATO allies?

MS. HARF: Each case is different.

QUESTION: I mean —

MS. HARF: It doesn’t mean they’re not valid or are valid. Each case is just different.


MS. HARF: You shouldn’t assume anything.

QUESTION: So it means that the criteria is different for even NATO allies?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to get into the kinds of criteria for intelligence activities.


QUESTION: You say that you shouldn’t assume anything. The problem with that is that then everyone should assume that they are being listened to by the NSA.

MS. HARF: I think I just said you shouldn’t assume anything. That would probably include that assumption as well.

QUESTION: Well, not if you can’t – well, no, because —


QUESTION: Because if you can’t offer the assurance to other – to foreign leaders, let alone foreign publics, that they’re not going to be listened into, then I think that the safe assumption, given what we know now about what the NSA has been up to, the safe assumption for everyone around the world is that the U.S. is listening in, Uncle Sam has got its ears on you.

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s a fair assumption at all. I think that’s a gross overstatement of the discussion we’ve had over the past several months about this, Matt.

QUESTION: Really? Well, I would —

MS. HARF: I do.

QUESTION: Well, I would – you may, but I think that that’s disingenuous —

MS. HARF: So we can agree to disagree on this.

QUESTION: Fine. Former Secretary of State Albright said today at the same event that the Secretary is going to be speaking to that she knew that the French had eavesdropped on her when she was the UN Ambassador – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The British Ambassador to Lebanon tweeted today that he operates under the assumption that at least six, maybe more, countries are listening in on every phone conversation he has. Does the Secretary or other – and/or others – diplomats in – U.S. diplomats, do they operate under the same assumption that pretty much everything that they say on the phone is going to be – is going to be scooped up and harvested by some foreign intelligence operation?

MS. HARF: To be honest, I haven’t had that discussion with the Secretary. What I’ve said broadly speaking is that this is the kind of intelligence many countries around the world gather. I haven’t had the conversation personally with the Secretary about that.

QUESTION: But U.S. diplomats, when they’re sent abroad, are instructed —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and told and trained that they could be the subjects of surveillance, correct?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. And they need to take proper counter —


MS. HARF: – or operational security measures, counter-intelligence measures, accordingly.

QUESTION: Okay. So my question is basically – I mean, does that – does that also apply to the Secretary of State?

MS. HARF: Again, I haven’t spoken to the Secretary about this.

QUESTION: One more, then the new topic?

QUESTION: Just a last question.

QUESTION: Okay. But actually, I do have a question on this. Did you receive calls from world leaders saying, “Are we being wiretapped?”

MS. HARF: I certainly haven’t received those calls.

QUESTION: No, I know you haven’t. I mean —

MS. HARF: No, we’ve said, Said, when world leaders raise the issue we’ve said so.

QUESTION: Right. I mean —

MS. HARF: And we’re happy to have that conversation.

QUESTION: Okay. Not —

MS. HARF: So yes, we have. And we’ve had the conversation.

QUESTION: I mean, some of the leaders that you have some tension with, like Vladimir Putin, for instance, the President of Russia, did he call and say, “Hey guys, are we being wiretapped?”

MS. HARF: I don’t know of any such call from Vladimir Putin. Again, when countries raise this with us – and they do so publicly, right – we’re happy to have the conversation. Or if they raise it privately, we are as well.

QUESTION: Yeah, just to clarify, actually. Did Turks raise any concern about the wiretapping operation of the Americans in Turkey, especially in terms of the Prime Minister?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I just don’t know if they’ve ever raised it at all, period, but not to my knowledge. I certainly haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: But last year also the security forces find some bugs in office of Prime Minister, Turkish Prime Minister. Did you assure, for example, Turks that the Americans are not involved with this kind of —

MS. HARF: Again, I think it would be impossible for me to go through every single encounter we’ve had with every single foreign partner and see if they’ve ever raised this question, period. I haven’t heard of it, but again, I’m happy to see if I have more on that for you.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. The relationship between the —

QUESTION: Yes, my one question before —

MS. HARF: Wait. Yes.

QUESTION: — before this.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Instead of chasing each case, as we said, chasing the grey cat in a dark room, and allegations and all these assumptions, and you mentioned the media stories, in the last six weeks or at least – or four weeks, we are talking about this issue. Is there a general guideline or general answer for this issue? It’s going to be hanging there every time, either Germany or Brazil and Mexico or Italy – you as a State Department working as diplomats, or trying to make diplomacy with the world, how you are clarifying this issue? How you are suggesting or discussing or even clarify – I mean, like, make it clear what’s going on?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, in general, our sort of main message on this is as follows: That the President said this recently, but we’re reviewing the way that we gather intelligence. That review is ongoing. We want to make sure we’re striking the proper balance between the legitimate security concerns and countering legitimate security threats, and protecting the privacy that all people around the world think is important, and we certainly do as well. So we’re having a discussion right now about how to strike that right balance. I think we’ve made clear that there are real security threats out there, and that’s the reason we not only gather intelligence but we share intelligence with a lot of our allies and partners around the world. But we have to balance that against the privacy concerns of people in countries in a lot of places. So that’s the main message we’re giving to people, and that we’re happy to have the conversation.

QUESTION: Part of the diplomacy is working with the perception of the people of how these things has gone, not just a private discussion. And part of this briefing even is to clarify or to make it – if there are some wrong perception or misperception, whatever you can call it. How you do it? I mean, it’s like it is now the perception in any language the way that it was shot down and you’re reading from here different editorial from different countries. If you read different editorial from different countries, you will find, whether it is in Italian or Arabic or Hebrew or any other country, you will find it it’s written something in this line that all our phones all over the world are surveilled by NSA or Americans.

MS. HARF: Well, and I would stand up here, and I think the President has said the same thing, that that’s just not true. This isn’t some big dragnet scooping up every single communication everyone has. These are intelligence activities, broadly speaking, with a defined purpose, and they’re not – it’s not a broad everybody in the world should think that folks are surveilled. So I’ll keep saying it. The President will keep saying it. The Secretary will keep saying it. And our folks on the ground, whether it’s the ambassador or spokespeople or other folks, will keep saying it, too. But we know we need to keep saying it because it’s important and it also has the benefit of being true.

QUESTION: Well, but don’t you realize that you have to do more than just keep saying it, because nobody believes you? Every single time you come out and say that this isn’t some big, massive dragnet, there is some new evidence comes out that suggests that, in fact, it is. And you —

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve actually seen in a lot of these countries —

QUESTION: And you —

MS. HARF: — that people are receptive to our message when we actually talk about it.

QUESTION: Oh, really?

MS. HARF: So I would – I would —

QUESTION: What country can you name that has been – where people have —

MS. HARF: I would challenge you to back up your notion that nobody believes us. I think that’s a pretty broad statement that I don’t think is backed up by facts.

QUESTION: Well, I think maybe you believe it, but I don’t know if you can go – I don’t know if I can go beyond that. And I’m not even sure that a lot of people in this building, a lot of your colleagues, I’m not sure that they believe it.

MS. HARF: I would hesitate before you speak for people in this building, Matt. I think that’s probably my job and not yours.

QUESTION: I can speak for at least one of the people in the building, and that would be me.

MS. HARF: Fine.


MS. HARF: Is there a question?

QUESTION: Yeah. But now you’ve made me forget what it is. The problem – I guess the – I guess what the question is, is that just saying it is so is no longer enough for a lot of people to believe. Do you not see the problem with trying to convince foreign publics after a long history of what they see as deception – do you not see the problem in just saying trust us, we’re going to do the right thing? Can’t you —

MS. HARF: Well, I think the message is a little more detailed than “trust us.” I think —


MS. HARF: — what the President came out – and I think the review board will actually speak to this more when it’s finished.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: But when the President came out and said, look, these are the aims we have; broadly speaking, this is how the programs are limited, we’re not just vacuuming up every piece of information – I think people actually do around the world – I would make this point – do trust President Obama, have an opinion of him that people think that he says what he means and he does what he says and that he keeps his word when he says things. Now, they may not agree with the policies, but I actually think that a lot of people around the world do trust when the President comes out and says we’re not spying on everyone, they do believe him, actually.


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Sorry. In the meantime, because – just following off of Matt’s question – if you look at the headlines right now around the world – in Der Spiegel, in Le Monde, in Globo – they do tend to be quite negative about this. Does the State Department have a plan or is a plan in place to sort of spread the message within these individual countries of just what you’re saying, that —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: I mean, are you addressing the grievances that are coming out —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — in the global press?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. I mean, I think having senior officials come out and speak about it is one way to do it, to do that. Certainly answering all of your questions about it to the extent that I can is one way to do it, but also engaging with local press on the ground. That’s why we have folks who do public diplomacy, who do press, who indeed represent the U.S. in all these places around the world. So certainly, that’s part of their mandate, and we think it’s important not just to talk about it from Washington, but also to talk about it on the ground as well.

QUESTION: Can we move on?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I mean, despite your reassurances in the last few days that the relation is pretty solid and it’s no (inaudible) among allies, other reports persist that, actually, the relationship is not as it was, let’s say, two or three weeks ago, and that is basically as a result of the Saudis being so angry that you’re not going through with striking Syria. What do you have to say to that?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything different than what I said yesterday, that fundamentally we have a strong relationship; when we have disagreements, as we do with every partner, we talk through them; and that we actually have a very strong relationship with the Saudis and will continue to.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the former Saudi Ambassador to Washington – you probably spoke about him yesterday —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — Prince Turki, he was here. I mean, he had a lot of harsh words. He called the President deceptive. He called your policy – is – it’s laughable if it wasn’t so harsh and so on, and so unfair to the Syrian opposition. So he is making some actual charges. How do you refute these charges, the charges that he’s making on the Syrian issue, on the Palestinian issue, on the Iranian issue?

MS. HARF: Well, first I’d say that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who is the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, have a very good relationship. We work with Saudis in the government all the time at various levels. On Syria, on Egypt, on Iran, on Middle East peace, we have the same goals. That hasn’t changed. The discussion is how we get to those goals. Sometimes we have disagreements; we do with everyone. That’s why we talk through them, and that’s why we’re trying to get to a place where we can work together on these issues. And I would also note that the areas where we agree are much broader, much more expansive, than the areas where we have ongoing debates.

QUESTION: Mm-hmm. Do you – are you concerned that this tension would cause the Saudis to, let’s say, pressure their allies among the opposition not to go to the Geneva talks, as we have seen statements as late as last night on this issue, and to scuttle whatever talks in the offing? Are you concerned that this might happen —

MS. HARF: Well, we’re —

QUESTION: — as a result of this tension?

MS. HARF: No. We’re broadly concerned, obviously, about getting the right people to Geneva, getting everybody at the table to work towards a political solution to the crisis. There are a lot of factors that go into this. We’re going to keep working with the Saudis on this. We both believe that it’s important to get a solution to the crisis in Syria as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And lastly, on —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And then I’ll go to you, Scott. Go ahead.


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Lastly, on the issue – one of the issues that Prince Turki raised is particular to Bahrain, and he said that you’re angry for Saudi sending troops to Bahrain during whatever they call it, something Shield, the Gulf Shield, whatever it is, and they actually squashed the Shiite rebellion in there. And do you see yourself at least in confrontation on the issue of, let’s say, human rights in Bahrain?

MS. HARF: Well, I think what we’re focused on with the Saudis today is the challenges we face today, not things that may or may not have happened months or years ago, which I think is what you’re referring to with Turki al-Faisal there.


MS. HARF: We’re focused together today on the issues we’re facing now and where we go from here. We have a long, productive, close relationship with the Saudis.

QUESTION: So are the Saudis in any way subverting your efforts to reform in Bahrain?

MS. HARF: Said, I don’t have anything for you on that. What we’re really focused on with the Saudis is working together on Syria, on Egypt, on Iran, on Middle East peace, on the host of issues that we work with them on. If I have anything more for you on Bahrain, I’m happy to talk about it a little more tomorrow.

QUESTION: On Saudi and human rights —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Did you get an answer to the —

MS. HARF: I did.

QUESTION: — to women drivers?

MS. HARF: I did.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: So you asked a couple questions.


MS. HARF: The first was on whether the U.S. Government is supporting or organizing the women driving protest. The answer is no. The U.S. Government has not called for nor provided support to the women’s driving protest. That’s A.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. When you say support, that means like logistical support or —

MS. HARF: We have not called for nor provided support to the protest.

QUESTION: Support like money or help?

MS. HARF: We’re not involved.


MS. HARF: No, we are not involved.

QUESTION: How about moral support?

MS. HARF: As I have – we have repeatedly said, we support the full inclusion of women in Saudi society, regularly make this point in our conversations with Saudi officials. That hasn’t changed; we continue to raise it.

QUESTION: But not – and specifically in terms of driving?

MS. HARF: We support the full inclusion. That would, of course, include driving.


QUESTION: Did the Secretary —

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Did the Secretary ever visit Saudi Arabia since he took office?

MS. HARF: Yes. I was there for the trip. We were in Jeddah.

QUESTION: Is there any —

MS. HARF: It was like my second week on the job. He was there then. I think that might be the only time, but I’ll check if there was another.

QUESTION: Is he considering any new —

MS. HARF: I think he might have been – he was in Riyadh first, and then they came to Jeddah. So yes, he has been.

QUESTION: Is he considering any new visits to go meet with the King?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any updates on his travel to announce for you. Obviously, we talk to the Saudis at various levels all the time. If we have anything at some point on future travel, I’m happy to let you know.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MS. HARF: Wait. Let me go to Scott, and then I’ll back up here.

QUESTION: On ICC, you said this week that the United States is reviewing —

MS. HARF: Oh, yeah. Hold on. I’ll come to you. Just let me answer this question. Go ahead, Scott. Start over.

QUESTION: You said this week that the United States is reviewing Kenya’s request for a delay in the ICC action against the President and Vice President. Is that – do you have anything to say about that review?

MS. HARF: Nothing new. The review is still ongoing. We’re obviously aware of their request and still looking at it, nothing – no update for you on that. Let’s go back to Saudi and then I’ll come up here.


QUESTION: I mean, you sound like you’re always playing down the differences with the Saudis, saying just how to get there and everything. So how do you explain the virulence of the Saudi reaction?

MS. HARF: Well, I think when you say the “Saudi reaction,” you’re generalizing based on a couple comments, when the diplomatic conversations we’ve had, two and a half hours with the Secretary, just don’t have the same kind of tone that you’re referring to with a few cherry-picked comments. I think it’s an easy story to write when you see a few comments like this, but the relationship is much broader than that and the fundamentals of it remain strong.

QUESTION: But like a month ago, even the Saudi Foreign Minister was very virulent. He said, well, we can’t move away and everything.

MS. HARF: And we had a two and a half hour meeting with him this week in Europe, and the Secretary and Saud al-Faisal had a very productive, positive meeting.

QUESTION: So when you —

MS. HARF: Very different tone.

QUESTION: When you say it’s an easy story to write based on a few cherry-picked comments, you don’t think that that’s not news when —

MS. HARF: I’m not saying it’s not news. I’m just saying it’s not indicative of the broader relationship.

QUESTION: Oh. So it doesn’t take – it’s not an indication of fine writing talent or news —

MS. HARF: I wasn’t making a commentary on anyone’s journalistic skills in this room. You know how much I respect all of them.

QUESTION: No, not in this room. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Marie, but I mean, if you have —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — differences with them about Bahrain —

MS. HARF: It’s an easy narrative to pick up on. Let me put it that way instead.

QUESTION: If you have differences with them about —

QUESTION: But it’s news.

MS. HARF: I didn’t say it wasn’t news.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: — about Bahrain, about Iran, about Iraq, about Syria, about Egypt, about the peace process, about – that’s most of the Middle East foreign policy.

MS. HARF: And we agree on the goals in all of that foreign policy. It’s how you get to those goals where there are debates and discussions, but we agree what all of those should look like in the end.

QUESTION: So you think the Saudis are overreacting?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I think that the Saudis make concerns known when they have them. We have those conversations like we do with any partner. But I think that what I said is true, that the fundamentals of our relationship remain very strong, and we’ll continue working with them going forward.

QUESTION: But that’s not their – I mean —

MS. HARF: Well, I’ll let them speak for —

QUESTION: — what’s coming from them is not like —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: — oh, this is a normal difference, but we’re working it out. I mean —

MS. HARF: What’s coming – I think the Foreign Minister is someone who speaks for them, and look, when he has concerns, he’s raised them with us. But they had a very productive meeting just this week.

QUESTION: You fixed everything?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that either.


QUESTION: On the issue of the membership in the Security Council as a result of the two and a half hour meeting – I know you had addressed this – are you closer to convincing the Saudis to sort of take the seat back?

MS. HARF: Again, it’s up to the Saudis to make decisions about their participation in the Security Council. We think it’s an important body, but it’s up to them to make that decision.

QUESTION: But is it safe to assume that you made a pretty good case why they should?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further outline what our diplomatic discussions look like on this issue.

Yes. Right here.

QUESTION: Can we pivot to Asia?

MS. HARF: We can always pivot to Asia, yes.

QUESTION: Okay, first on Japan. Japanese Government just released this video on Diaoyu, or Senkaku Islands, and Takeshima.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s your reaction on this video?

MS. HARF: Well, our policy on the Senkaku Islands is longstanding, has not changed. I don’t have a specific reaction on the video, but as you know, we don’t take a position on the underlying question of the ultimate sovereignty of the islands.

QUESTION: But the Japanese foreign ministry said this video could help the international community to understand the situation correctly.

MS. HARF: Again, our position on this is longstanding and has not changed.

QUESTION: So does producing this video help to solve this issue peacefully?

MS. HARF: Well, we of course believe that everyone should use diplomatic and peaceful means to manage and resolve disagreements. I just don’t have a comment on the video specifically.


QUESTION: Marie, would you say that your understanding of the situation would not be enhanced by any video? You already know enough about the situation to have made your —

MS. HARF: I’m not commenting on the video in any way.


MS. HARF: I just don’t have a comment on the video.

QUESTION: No, I know. But I mean, basically —

MS. HARF: Our position on the policy hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Right. But your policy isn’t going to change because of a video, is it?

MS. HARF: Our policy is longstanding and has not changed.


QUESTION: I mean, by producing this video, does this help Japan to claim the sovereignty?

MS. HARF: Again, we do not take a position on the underlying question of the ultimate sovereignty of the islands.

Yes. Let me come up here.


MS. HARF: Or do you have one more?

QUESTION: One more on China.

MS. HARF: Okay. Go ahead, and then I’ll come up here.

QUESTION: Chinese Government this week is quite busy hosting three prime ministers – Russian, Indian, and Mongolian. What does the U.S. think about the improving relation between China and its neighbors?

MS. HARF: Well, we welcome good relations between countries in the region and, of course, it’s not a zero-sum game. We believe there’s room for both of us in Asia. As you know, we have deep established ties with the Asia-Pacific region. Secretary Kerry just concluded an extensive, lengthy visit there. And again, we believe there’s room for both of us, and we think it’s important for China and other countries in the region to have good relations with each other.

QUESTION: So it’s not challenging the U.S. interest in Asia?

MS. HARF: No, no. I would not use that word at all.


QUESTION: Going back to espionage —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — there are allegations in the press about the director of cultural exchanges with Russia – the Russian Center of Science and Culture, I believe it’s called – Mr. Zaytsev – allegations that he was using his role for the recruitment of spies. Russia has very strongly denied this. Do you have any comment one way or the other about the allegations?

MS. HARF: Well, first I would say that the U.S. has long supported legitimate exchange programs that build mutual understanding and relationships among people of both of our countries, and with countries all around the world. I’d refer you, I think, to the Department of Justice to speak to these kind of allegations, and I just don’t have any information for you on specific individuals.

QUESTION: What about the Russian allegation saying that the United States should distance itself – the Russian charge that the U.S. should distance itself from these allegations and that that would be harmful for —

MS. HARF: Again, for anything on the allegations, I will have to punt you over to the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: Can you say whether the State Department has had any role in this situation – the visa, anything like that?

MS. HARF: Again, I just don’t have anything for you on this. I’d refer you over to DOJ.


QUESTION: Marie, I had a – well, I actually had a follow-up, sort of, what Matt was – have you spoken to anybody that has come back from these programs recently that – or there’s some people in the press that have said that they’ve been contacted by the FBI and that sort of thing. Has anybody from the State Department had any discussions with them as well, just —

MS. HARF: Again, for any questions on this, I’m going to refer you. I’m happy to take the question, but I’m going to refer you.

Yes, yes. Go over here. Yes, Lucas. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. Going back to our discussion yesterday on Benghazi —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and your – the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program and why the Benghazi suspects are not included?

MS. HARF: I’ve become an expert on it in the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: Excellent. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: I’d like to hear what you found out.

MS. HARF: Want to hear what I found out? So you were correct that under the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, we may authorize rewards for information that prevents or resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property. The program was started in 1984. I’m just going to give you a little history because I have it. It’s paid in excess of $125 million to more than 80 individuals. It – these are – people are put on this list through an interagency rewards committee, includes intel and law enforcement. The deliberations of the committee are classified.

You asked specifically about Benghazi suspects?

QUESTION: Yes, and why the suspects were – if they were considered for inclusion into the Rewards for Justice program?

MS. HARF: Well, discussions about this are classified. But as you know, you can find a list on our RFJ website with either individuals or attacks we want information on. And you point out that no Benghazi folks are on that list, but whether or not a reward offer is on the RFJ site is not the only indication of steps being taken to find information on those responsible for terrorist attacks. It’s just one tool in the toolbox we have. Obviously, there are a lot of different ways we go about finding information about these people, and ultimately bringing them to justice.

QUESTION: But Marie, you’re not answering the question – just why are they not included on the Rewards for Justice?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a process that goes into this, and as an interagency process, those deliberations are classified, so I’m not going to be able to get into those. But again, it’s not the only indication that it’s important to find them and bring them to justice, which is, I think, what your – the heart of what your question’s actually getting at.

QUESTION: Well, I also – I spoke to somebody who used to run the program, and he said it’s actually pretty easy to put suspects on the list. And so the question of why they’re not already on the list a year after the attacks, I think, bears fruit.

MS. HARF: Well, it’s an interagency process, and again – I’m going to say the same line again – but it’s not the only indication that we’re committed to finding information about these people. It’s an important program, certainly one that the State Department is proud of, but it’s just not the only indication that we’re trying to find these people.

QUESTION: Right, but —

QUESTION: Right, but it is a public acknowledgement or a public sign.

MS. HARF: I think —

QUESTION: Whether or not it’s not – whether or not it is not the only way to do it, it certainly would seem that if —

MS. HARF: One part of it.

QUESTION: — you wanted to make a – if you wanted to make it clear to the public that you’re actually out there looking for these guys and you care enough about it to offer a reward for them, that it would be natural for them to be on the list. And I’m not arguing the merits of – I – that I’m not suggesting that you’re not trying to find the guys. It just seems like this is an extra – this might be an extra tool in your toolbox —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — of catching them, no?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I think you cannot get more crystal clear than when the President —

QUESTION: I – I’m not —

MS. HARF: Matt, come on.

QUESTION: Listen – I —

MS. HARF: Can I finish my sentence, please, before you interrupt me?

QUESTION: Well, the problem is that you’re trying to answer my question by not answering it.

MS. HARF: You want to —

QUESTION: I’m not questioning the U.S. Government’s —

MS. HARF: Okay. You don’t know what I was going to say, actually.

QUESTION: — resolve to catch the people behind the – responsible for the Benghazi attack. I’m not questioning that. I’m not suggesting that you’re not taking it seriously.

MS. HARF: But you won’t let me say what I was going to say.

QUESTION: What I’m wanting to know is whether or not you agree that putting them on this – putting the suspects on this list might be a way to show – to better show, or to show further —


QUESTION: — your resolve and your interest in catching them.

MS. HARF: I don’t. I think our resolve —


MS. HARF: — has been made crystal clear at the highest levels of this government, which is exactly what I was going to say before you interrupted me again.

QUESTION: Okay. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But your critics would say that this is just politics, by leaving them off the list.

MS. HARF: I would reject that notion. The Rewards for Justice program is run by the nonpolitical State Department. Look, this is not – this has nothing at all to do with politics. We’ve been – made crystal clear that we want to find these people and bring them to justice.

QUESTION: But at the end of the day, your employees were killed, people in the Diplomatic Security are angry, they’re frustrated. One gentleman told me it was weird that they’re not on there when I informed him. And I think a lot of Americans and people around the world would say the same thing.

MS. HARF: I just don’t know how more crystal clear we can be that we are committed. And there are a lot of ways to get information about these people. We have an entire intelligence community that works on these issues around the clock, and we’re clearly committed to doing this here.

QUESTION: I just think we’re making a news story by not including them on the list.

MS. HARF: Well, I will take your suggestion, Lucas. I do think it’s an important program, but I do think it’s more important to underscore that we have made it so crystal clear that it is important for people in this building, more than anyone else in this government, to find these people and bring them to justice. How we do that, whether we pay a couple million dollars, isn’t the point. The point is that we believe it’s a priority, our intelligence community believes it’s a priority, people in this building believe it’s a priority, and whether they’re on a website or not doesn’t change that.

QUESTION: Agreed, but lastly, just when you —

MS. HARF: You’re going to make one more argument for it.


MS. HARF: That’s okay.

QUESTION: Well, when you have people on the list that haven’t killed Americans, yet here are clearly suspects, two with al-Qaida – ties to al-Qaida, one a former courier, one a former body guard, and they’re not on the list, what kind of message are you sending?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s precisely —

QUESTION: Is it that crystal clear?

MS. HARF: I would actually argue that because there are folks on the list who have a variety of backgrounds, that it’s not indicative of our – of all the people we want to bring to justice. It’s not fully indicative of that at all, because it’s a list that has a variety of people on it and it doesn’t encompass all of the folks we want to bring to justice, for exactly that reason.

QUESTION: I still don’t think you’ve answered the question, though, that – why they aren’t on the list. It’s not about being crystal clear your resolve. Like, how about some proof?

MS. HARF: Again, those deliberations are classified —

QUESTION: Can you, though —

MS. HARF: — about why people are or aren’t on the list.

QUESTION: Whether – keeping in mind the fact that the deliberations are – is it possible, or could you ask if it’s possible, to find out if they were considered for this?

MS. HARF: I don’t believe I can.

QUESTION: Can you check if they were considered —

MS. HARF: I can double-check, but I don’t believe I can.

QUESTION: — and it was —

QUESTION: How about the criteria?

QUESTION: — and it was determined that maybe this isn’t the best way to go about this?

MS. HARF: So I think that would probably fall into classified deliberations. If they are or aren’t, I just don’t know if I’m allowed to share that kind of information.

QUESTION: Well, it’s the result – here’s the deal: The classified deliberations —

MS. HARF: Tell me what the deal is.

QUESTION: — if they result in saying yes, someone should go on the list —

MS. HARF: No —

QUESTION: — then it’s no longer classified because they go on the list and we know they’re on the list because it’s a public list.

MS. HARF: But you don’t know the deliberations that got them there. The deliberations —

QUESTION: Right. I know. But that’s – so I’m not asking for what the deliberations were. I’m asking you if you can find out whether or not someone suggested that they be put on the list —

MS. HARF: Which would by definition be part of the deliberation process, probably.

QUESTION: — and whether the end result, if it’s positive, is not classified because it shows up online.

MS. HARF: I’ll take the question. We’re moving on.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a quick question, sorry.

MS. HARF: Yes, Dana.

QUESTION: Going back to Kenya and the Westgate attacks.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Kenyan chief of police is calling in investigative journalists locally who have been doing stories that show video of the KDF forces looting, and has publicly threatened to crack down and put journalists in jail for reporting on the attacks. Considering that the United States has been involved in helping with the investigation, in working closely with Kenya on it, is this something that United States has talked to then Kenyan authorities about? Are you concerned about this crackdown, and what’s your response?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, we are aware of these reports that Kenyan police have summoned Kenyan journalists about stories they wrote about Westgate. We believe in Kenya, as we do everywhere, that a free and independent media is a critical element of a vibrant democracy. That’s why I come out here every day and spar with you all. In Kenya, certainly, and around the world we call on the government to protect the universal rights, including rights to freedom of the press.

We do continue to provide our Kenyan partners technical support as it – and equipment as requested throughout this crisis, and have provided law enforcement and forensic support to the Kenyan Government as well.

QUESTION: The way they’re handling this, would that be part of the considerations as to whether you will recommend that the ICC indictment be referred?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’ll check in with our folks who are actually reviewing their proposal right now.

QUESTION: Do you know if someone has raised this directly with the Kenyans?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I can find out.


QUESTION: Quick question on Pakistan. There was a report in The Washington Post today about secret memos between the U.S. and Pakistani Government on the drone campaign. I know you can’t comment on intelligence matters from the podium.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I was just curious if you had a reaction to that article and if you could just – is there anything you can explain on a more general nature of the relationship between the United States and the new Pakistani Government under Prime Minister Sharif? Are they more cooperative with the United States on counterterrorism measures than previous governments, that sort of thing?

MS. HARF: Well, you’re right that I’m not going to comment on that story. Separate and apart from those allegations, the President had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Sharif at the White House yesterday. The Secretary had a very positive one a few days earlier.

Our relationship with Pakistan continues on a positive trajectory – that’s across the board – on the variety of issues that we talk about. This visit has provided an opportunity for our leaders to discuss concrete cooperation on issues of mutual concern, including energy, trade and economic development, and regional stability, and countering violent extremism. It’s a close partnership; we are happy that it’s on a positive trajectory, and we’ll keep working with them on all of these issues, not just counterterrorism.

QUESTION: Just to follow up.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Since Prime Minister came here yesterday, of course, met with the President and all that, a number of issues are not really clear. One, they want to put Dr. Afridi to death, rather than U.S. is asking to let him go. Even the President mentioned yesterday.

And second, as far as al-Qaida is concerned, which also attacked this Malala, the – who stood for the education for the girls, aren’t – is Pakistan now free of al-Qaida under this new government? Or some people are saying there is a government within government. Unless really there is no influence and – by the military into the civilian government, there cannot be what really you’re talking about cooperation between the two countries.

MS. HARF: Well, on Dr. Afridi, our position has not changed. It’s long been clear. And we made it clear again during this visit that we believe his incarceration is both unjust and unwarranted. He should be released. Bringing Usama bin Ladin to justice was in both Pakistan’s interest and, of course, ours as well. Continuing to prosecute and incarcerate Dr. Afridi sends exactly the wrong message about our shared interest in going after al-Qaida.

The Pakistanis, we talk to them a lot about the shared threat of counterterrorism. Clearly, there is an extremist threat that they’re working very hard themselves to counter in their own country. We’re helping them to counter that. And we’ll keep working together to confront violent extremism as it arises. But we know, again, that Pakistanis themselves have suffered at the hands of terrorists more than anyone else. I think over the last 10 years about 40,000 Pakistanis have been killed at the hands of terrorists.

QUESTION: What do you think when Prime Minister of India was here last month and if Secretary’s aware of what he said and told the President that Pakistan is epicenter of terrorism?

MS. HARF: Again, we have a very close working relationship with the Pakistanis and the Indians both, and we’ve said we will confront violent extremist threats wherever they arise. We’ve also talked about the notion that as we’ve greatly weakened al-Qaida core in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that they’ve, indeed, started to spread or increasingly spread to other locations as well.

QUESTION: And finally – one more, just finally.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: This two prime ministers from India and Pakistan major discussion also included Afghanistan with the President and the White House and also with the Secretary. My question is here, India is playing according to the U.S. Department of State and White House a great role in Afghanistan, spent close to $3 billion on investment there in development and other issues. And India wants to be part of the future development and future political system in Afghanistan. But Pakistan is against India. My question is that: What role do you think India will or should play in Afghanistan according to the U.S.?

MS. HARF: Well, we believe all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, all of the folks in the region, should play positive roles in Afghanistan going forward. We – in terms of Pakistan – appreciate Pakistan’s efforts to further Afghan-led reconciliation. Of course, they play a key role in this effort and will continue to. Our position on none of that has changed, and we would encourage all folks in the region to continue to play productive roles there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can we go back to the drone issue just for a second?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you finished reading the Amnesty International report? It’s been two days. The report’s not that long.

MS. HARF: Our folks are still looking at it. I don’t have anything new in terms of our assessment of it.

QUESTION: So it remains – but you haven’t changed your previous assessment?

MS. HARF: No, and I don’t anticipate that I will.


QUESTION: Yeah, but you might – hold on.

QUESTION: One more on —

QUESTION: All I’m looking for is if you’re – if you can go beyond just the two points that you’ve been making and say whether you agree with any of it or —

MS. HARF: I just don’t have further analysis of the report.

QUESTION: Right. Can we expect some? Or is this going to be like the Egypt policy review, which goes on forever and ever?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we all had extensive discussions about the Egypt policy review just a few weeks ago.

QUESTION: No – well, right. Exactly. But it took about several months before. Now, this is a report —

MS. HARF: I will take your suggestions about timeliness into account.

QUESTION: I’m not – I’m not asking – I’m not trying to give you a suggestion. I’m just wondering if we can actually expect to have a broader response to the report —

MS. HARF: I’ll check in and see.

QUESTION: — on the allegations, or whether it’s a waste of time to keep asking.


QUESTION: The Secretary’s about to speak. Do we have time?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry.

QUESTION: The Secretary’s about to speak. Do we have time?

MS. HARF: Oh, okay. Yes, let’s – we should all go watch the Secretary.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: Yes, let’s finish with you.

QUESTION: Actually, I wanted to ask you about the Strategic Partnership. I mean, we – I saw your statement —

MS. HARF: Yesterday?

QUESTION: Yesterday.

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything additional on that. And we put it out in an email.

QUESTION: Very quick question: Can you tell us how prominently or less prominently the peace process or the settlements or the negotiations figured in that discussion?

MS. HARF: Peace process was a major topic of discussion, as was Iran and other issues.

QUESTION: So it wasn’t all focused on Iran?

MS. HARF: No, no.


QUESTION: One more. Thirty years after the hijacking of a U.S. airliner to Cuba, the fugitive, William Potts —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — may soon come back to the United States. Do you have a reaction to that?

MS. HARF: I do. Just give me one sec, and then everyone can run out of here and – the Secretary on TV.

I’ve seen the reports that he is seeking to return to the United States. Absent a Privacy Act waiver, I can’t comment on whether he has sought any consular access from the U.S. interests section. But broadly speaking, U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas are accorded the full range of passport services available to U.S. citizens. I just can’t speak to his case.

QUESTION: Marie, just a clarification about the comment that you had yesterday about one of our reports.

MS. HARF: Yes, I think – yes. This will be the last question. I think folks want to – and feel free to leave. I won’t be offended by it. Yes. Go ahead, Tolga.

QUESTION: Actually, we – yes, we had a report regarding the situation on Syria, regarding the aids delivered to moderate opposition groups in northern Syria —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And you said that it seems false, but according – I mean, according to the question, actually, and the reason is the question, I think, here – the confusion of the reason – the reason of the confusion is the question here.

So our reports were – was based on two facts: First, have you delivered any aid to the northern – in the northern – to the groups in northern Syria, to the opposition groups, since late September?

MS. HARF: Well first, I’ll make a couple points: That no policy decision has been made to cut off or stop assistance to the opposition. There are logistical concerns. Obviously, this is an active war zone, and in that case, we have not been able since then to deliver assistance to that part. You are correct.


MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: And the second one: Did you have any meeting with the opposition groups here, in State Department, in early October, and delivered three major messages to them?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to comment on specific diplomatic discussions with the opposition groups.

QUESTION: So basically, you are not denying the report?

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to comment on those specific discussions.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Did you get – there was a question about a visa for a Kurdish – a British guy who’s a Kurdish human rights activist who was invited to some kind of a pen – a writers group award? Do you have a —

MS. HARF: I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

QUESTION: But there was a letter from the ACLU on it.

MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll check on it.

QUESTION: Well, why don’t —

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, I’m not familiar.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the – you were – your – the Press Office was told about interest in it this morning, so —

MS. HARF: Well, I’ll make sure to find that person, Matt, and tell them that you were unhappy.

QUESTION: Thank – what?

MS. HARF: Yes.


QUESTION: I’m not unhappy.

QUESTION: With a third of all Libyans living at or below the poverty line —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: — don’t you think a little financial incentive might help bring those who killed our brave Ambassador —

MS. HARF: There are a lot of ways to get information —

QUESTION: — a DS agent, and two former SEALs to justice?

MS. HARF: There are a lot of ways to get information about the location and whereabouts of people that we want to bring to justice.

And with that, let’s all go watch the Secretary.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:18 p.m.)

Source: state.gov


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