- ticket title
- IOM Libya Update, 01 – 15 October 2019
- Libya’s relentless militia war: Civilians harmed in the battle for Tripoli, April-August 2019
- Deputy Italian Foreign Minister: We Are Concerned About Growing Attacks Against Civilians in Libya
- Al Wahat Security Directorate Warns Against Renting Accomodations to Unknown Persons
- Presidency Council Approves Solution to Issues Part of Misrata-Tawergha Agreement
2:00 p.m. EST
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.
MS. PSAKI: All right. Couple of updates for all of you: Yesterday, the Secretary held several meetings in Paris. Highlights of the day included meetings with French Foreign Minister Fabius as well as Jordanian Foreign Minister Judeh. In his conversations, the Secretary discussed the coalition taking the fight to ISIL, concerns about recent tensions in Jerusalem, and the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran, among other issues.
During his refueling stop in Abu Dhabi en route to China, the Secretary held a meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayid to discuss a range of regional issues. Tomorrow, the Secretary will arrive in Beijing, China, where he will lead the Department of State’s delegation to the APEC ministerial meeting and participate in a broad range of multilateral and bilateral meetings with officials from APEC member countries in advance of President Obama’s visit to Beijing.
Second item for the top: On November 5th, Australia announced that it will contribute $20.5 million toward a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone, including funding to the RedR, an organization that will arrange for the deployment of Australian specialists to the affected region in support of the World Health Organization and additional efforts to strengthen preparedness in the Asia Pacific region. We welcome these important additional contributions from Australia. Certainly, this was a part of the Secretary’s conversation he had with the prime minister when he met with him just about a week and a half ago. We will continue to work with Australia, the UN, other international partners, and affected countries to contain the Ebola outbreak at its source.
QUESTION: Sorry, do you know, is that Australian dollars or U.S. dollars?
MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question, Matt. I will check on what the contribution is.
QUESTION: Are there any bad ones?
MS. PSAKI: Are there any bad dollars towards – toward —
QUESTION: No, bad questions.
MS. PSAKI: Hmm?
QUESTION: Are there any bad questions?
MS. PSAKI: There are sometimes.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t point it out, though.
QUESTION: Well, here, let me try one of them, then. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: How exactly do you address a letter to the Iranian Supreme Leader?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think you’re referring to reports —
QUESTION: No, this is apropos of nothing. I’m just curious, if you were going to write a letter to the Supreme Leader of Iran, how would you address it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I have never written a letter to the Supreme Leader of Iran, so I don’t have a good answer for you to that question.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think you’re referring to reports about a letter from the President, which I’d certainly refer you to the White House on. I don’t have anything more for you on that.
QUESTION: Do you know, has there been communication – we know and it’s been pretty – you’ve been pretty open about, at least since last November, contact between the President and the Iranian president, as well as —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, the Secretary and the foreign minister.
QUESTION: — the Secretary and the foreign minister have been meeting quite openly, not in secret at all for a year now. Are you aware of any attempt to correspond with or communicate with the Supreme Leader other than the letters – the previous letters that the President has sent to him, which apparently have gotten – not gotten any response?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more information, no.
QUESTION: So —
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: You’re not aware of any correspondence between Secretary Kerry or people more senior than him in the Government and the Iranian Supreme Leader?
MS. PSAKI: No, I think you asked me about specific reports of a recent letter. Anything related to the —
QUESTION: No, you brought that up. I didn’t bring that —
MS. PSAKI: Well, anything related to the President, I would refer you to the White House on.
QUESTION: Okay. So —
MS. PSAKI: Anyone above the Secretary, I assume you’re referring to the President, so certainly, I’m not going to answer or address questions on that.
QUESTION: Well, I don’t know, it could be the Vice President, right?
MS. PSAKI: In terms of the Secretary, I think you’re familiar with his interlocutors.
QUESTION: So his – okay, so in terms of the Secretary, who you speak for, he has not had any communication that you’re aware – he has not had any communication with the Supreme Leader, only with the foreign minister?
MS. PSAKI: That is my understanding, yes.
QUESTION: Is it the position of the Administration that getting a nuclear deal with Iran is a prerequisite for cooperation against ISIL/ISIS?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t put it in those terms. I think there’s no question, which we’ve made no secret of, that our focus remains on coming to a comprehensive agreement with Iran. Obviously, on the outskirts of meetings on that topic, we’ve discussed ISIL. But in terms of working with them, I don’t think – I wouldn’t see it as a prerequisite. We’re not at the point of doing that, and there’s no plans to coordinate with them militarily.
QUESTION: Does the Administration believe that any potential nuclear deal – that any Iranian agreement to a potential nuclear deal would require the approval of the Supreme Leader?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re all familiar with the politics in Iran, but in terms of how that would work in Iran, I would refer you to the Iranians.
QUESTION: Well, I’m just trying to find – I’m trying to discern whether the Administration thinks it’s worthwhile to have a – or to attempt to have a dialogue with the Supreme Leader on ISIL or – but more immediately, on the nuclear negotiations.
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, the thrust of the discussions – not just the thrust, the vast, vast majority of them are taking place between the negotiators. But beyond that, I don’t have any other assessment other than to point you to the fact that we’re all familiar with the politics in Iran.
QUESTION: Right, but I guess – do people in the Administration think that it will be necessary to secure the approval of the Supreme Leader for Iran to agree to a deal? And if they do, do they think that it would be – that it makes sense to have some kind of dialogue with him?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any assessment of what will be required on that front, Matt.
QUESTION: Jen, could I ask —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — if on November 24th or whenever there is a nuclear deal with Iran, where do you see Iranian-U.S. ties going beyond that? Would that then open the way for further cooperation in different spheres of diplomatic life around the planet?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the fact that we – even if you go back to last November, when there was agreement on the interim deal, the JPOA – which, certainly, we believe was a positive step, and it halted and rolled back the program – that didn’t change our concerns about a range of other issues, including on human rights, including on state sponsorship of terrorism. That remains the case now. Obviously, we have a great deal of – I think, obviously, the Iranian people, in our view, are ones that have a great spirit, and we certainly support that. But there are a range of concerns that we continue to have, and we’re certainly not going to get ahead of the nuclear deal and the achievement of that at this point in time.
QUESTION: But you have acknowledged yourself, as Matt said, that on the sidelines of some of the nuclear talks, you have raised the issue of ISIL, I believe —
MS. PSAKI: We have.
MS. PSAKI: We have. And we’ve also ranged – raised the issue of American citizens that remain detained in Iran as well.
QUESTION: Right. So if the nuclear deal is locked down, does that then open the way for further – or for a cooperation, there isn’t any yet – for a cooperation with Iran in fighting ISIL?
MS. PSAKI: We don’t look at it as a linked situation. Our concerns about Iran’s engagement are more expansive than that. Obviously, we understand that they have concerns about the threat of ISIL, which they have expressed as well. But I would not look at it as a path to a different type of coordination.
QUESTION: The Secretary has said that every country has a role to play here.
MS. PSAKI: Yes, that’s right.
QUESTION: What would you consider Iran’s role to be?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as we’ve said many times, and I believe the Secretary has said, we believe they can convey that the government should continue to rule in an inclusive manner. We believe that that is a useful role that can be played.
QUESTION: And militarily?
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve expressed concerns about their engagement on that front. That hasn’t changed.
QUESTION: Jen, but on Matt’s point —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — in the many sessions that the United States have had with Iran, was that a point they had brought up? Was it discussed, let’s say with Foreign Minister Zarif, that if we agree, can you commit to the Supreme Leader agreeing to this so time is not wasted? Was that – was not discussed?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into more details about meetings or discussions. I think we’re all familiar with the political influence of the Supreme Leader in Iran, but our negotiations are taking place with the foreign minister, they’re taking place with the political directors, and that’s where they will stay.
QUESTION: But one can assume that this is actually a logical and legitimate kind of issue that must be discussed before you go through the motions of weeks and months and so on of negotiations, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t think of it in that manner.
QUESTION: Let me ask you on ISIS.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Now, the Iraqi army was boasting a few days back about recapturing some towns and so on, only to find out that, actually, it was Suleimani, who is an Iranian militia leader, is – was present, and – although it was all quiet and low-key. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure – can you – what are you specifically asking?
QUESTION: I’m saying that there were actually Iranian militias – groups from Hezbollah and so on – I mean, not Hezbollah – Iranian militias that were actually fighting and retaking these towns under the leadership of the commander of the Al-Quds Brigade.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any particular comment on that, Said. We’ve expressed our concern in the past. I don’t have confirmation of that either.
QUESTION: You would not object to actually have these kind of accomplishments, although they are done by the Iranians, would you?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any confirmation of the version of the events that you just outlined. Obviously, there are – Iraqi Security Forces have retaken and hold land in a number of places, like – including Amirli, the Rabia crossing, other areas. But beyond that, I don’t have anything more for you.
QUESTION: If, Jen, it is correct – and I’d have no reason to believe that it isn’t correct – that we’re all – that what you said – we’re all familiar with the Supreme Leader’s political influence. Wouldn’t it make sense for U.S. officials to be in touch with the Supreme Leader about something as big as a potential nuclear deal? And if it – I mean, can you answer —
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that, Matt. Obviously, every —
QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speculate.
MS. PSAKI: — participant in these negotiations goes back to their capitals.
MS. PSAKI: There’s different meetings for that depending on the countries, and we’ll leave it at that.
QUESTION: Well – and I’m just – if one takes – if one accepts that it might be the responsible thing to do if one is really trying to get the Iranians to agree and then implement an agreement, if it’s a responsible thing or an intelligent thing to do to be in touch with the guy who actually makes the final decisions here, why do it – how does it make sense to do it secretly?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on reports or more on —
QUESTION: I mean, the guy has a Twitter account. You could just fire off a tweet. You could follow him and DM him messages if you wanted it to be secret.
MS. PSAKI: Twitter is typically not how we conduct diplomacy, but it’s a —
QUESTION: But I thought it was.
MS. PSAKI: It’s a tool, but —
QUESTION: I mean, that whole hashtag diplomacy —
MS. PSAKI: — typically through private conversations, Matt.
QUESTION: — “Hey, Ayatollah.” Can’t you – I don’t understand why the Administration would think that it is a bad idea or not worthwhile to try to be in touch with the Supreme Leader if he is going to be making the final decision on whether Iran accepts an agreement or not.
MS. PSAKI: I didn’t suggest that, Matt. I just suggested I have nothing more for you.
Do we have any more on Iran?
QUESTION: Yeah. One more on Iran.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Maybe the White House would be in better position to answer, but maybe you can help with some of that.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: The President yesterday during his press conference used the word “framework.” I don’t quote him exactly, but he said we presented – the U.S. presented a framework to Iran in order for them to answer to their energy needs. So what did he mean by that? I mean, is there a document, something on the table already?
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, there have been a range of discussions between technical experts as well as between political directors, and a range of ideas and – between all of the countries involved. I don’t think I’ll spell it out more – much more further than that.
QUESTION: And the last thing on Iran from me – I just want to make sure, in the context of the negotiations that are going on and any possible correspondence there may or may not have been between the President and the Supreme Leader, it remains the U.S. position that Iran still is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Is that not correct?
MS. PSAKI: That has not changed. I just – think I just expressed a concern about state sponsorship of terrorism.
QUESTION: And there are some – okay. And that there are serious human rights issues that you have with them.
MS. PSAKI: Correct. That has not changed.
QUESTION: On those human rights issues, are you aware of this signal, some kind of indication that the Washington Post reporter who is being held there may be released soon?
MS. PSAKI: I had not actually – there have been a range of reports, as you know.
MS. PSAKI: We don’t have any information, new information on this particular case, unfortunately.
QUESTION: By the way, Jen, do you expect the new makeup of the Senate to impact the way you’re negotiating on the 24th of this month?
MS. PSAKI: We don’t. This is not a partisan political decision for us; it shouldn’t be for anyone. This is a substantive decision based on Iran providing sufficient proof that its nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful. And obviously, if we have a deal done and we get to that point, we would encourage and we’re hopeful that Congress would wait and assess the package as it’s reached and the components of it before making an assessment.
QUESTION: So you don’t expect it to impact —
QUESTION: But you do believe that it – the – that it is not necessary or that you don’t need congressional approval for the President to ease or suspend some sanctions. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one, I think, as has been true, we wouldn’t simply – there have been a range of reports. But we wouldn’t simply terminate sanctions.
QUESTION: No, I know.
MS. PSAKI: That’s not how it would work. There – obviously, we’ve been consulting with Congress very closely throughout. That will continue. We’ll have to see once there’s a deal, when we have a deal, what that looks like.
QUESTION: Right. But it is still the Administration’s position that you can give Iran sanctions relief, as you have done under the terms of the JPOA – you can give them additional sanctions relief, if there is an agreement and if they comply with it, without going to Congress. Is that not correct?
MS. PSAKI: That hasn’t changed, and suspension makes it easier to snap back into place if anything – if that’s warranted.
QUESTION: Right. And the Administration’s position is that the only thing that you would need Congress to do – Congress does not need to sign off on any agreement that you might reach with them, but the only thing that they would need to do is to essentially give it – endorse it by repealing the sanctions legislation in the event Iran complies with a potential agreement. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Which would be an extensive period of time.
QUESTION: Right. But – so Congress does – there is no action needed from Congress for you guys to reach and agree to a deal. Is that —
MS. PSAKI: Well, first, I would say that’s oversimplifying, in our view. Obviously, we have not only been consulting with them; we’ve been briefing them at every stage in the process. Obviously, they need to assess what a deal would look like and assess —
QUESTION: Yeah, but you don’t think that that assessment needs to come in the form of a vote. They can just come out —
MS. PSAKI: It depends on what the deal looks like, Matt —
MS. PSAKI: — but our view on this hasn’t changed.
QUESTION: All right, so on your consulting and your – and – with Congress, how is that going? I mean, it seems like nobody in Congress and – and even fewer people, if that’s possible, in the new Congress actually approve of what you’re doing.
MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t agree with that, Matt. I think, obviously, members of Congress, as they have from the beginning, are free to voice their views, but I think most members of Congress don’t want to see Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. Obviously, the deal will be judged by the details of the deal.
MS. PSAKI: And so that’s what we encourage members of Congress to wait to assess.
QUESTION: Right, but I – well, you say most members of Congress don’t want to see Iran with a nuclear weapon. I think that it probably applies to all members of Congress, right?
MS. PSAKI: Fair.
QUESTION: But none of them – or I haven’t heard any of them, maybe I’m missing someone in here – none of them, even Democrats, even lawmakers from the President’s own party, are supportive of the way things look like they’re going right now.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, there’s no deal until everything is agreed. And obviously, we’re not at that point, so there’s nothing to officially assess.
QUESTION: Okay. And last – but the Administration’s position is that objections from members of Congress to this agreement can’t stop you from doing it, right?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s an oversimplification. We’re going to be —
QUESTION: But it’s the truth, isn’t it?
MS. PSAKI: No, it’s not the truth. We’re going to be consulting with Congress as we have been about any details and what it looks like —
QUESTION: Right, but at what —
MS. PSAKI: — and what’s required.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Executive Branch?
QUESTION: But when you come back – you go them – you go and show them the deal – or parts of the deal, because I’m still not sure anyone’s seen the entire JPOA agreement, but – and they say, “Well, we don’t like this,” you’re going to go ahead and do it anyway, right? I mean —
MS. PSAKI: Well, the negotiators need to have room. They’ve always needed to have room to negotiate. That remains the case today.
QUESTION: But they can’t stop you. Your position is they can’t stop you from agreeing to a deal with Iran.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, the negotiators will agree to the deal, I think, with the objective and the trust of knowing that they will not agree to a deal that doesn’t prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
QUESTION: But your position is that Congress can’t stop you from doing a deal.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to assess it further.
QUESTION: Right? No?
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Can I just ask —
QUESTION: Very quickly (inaudible) —
QUESTION: — going back to the question – your answer to my colleague’s question – to Nicolas’s question is about the framework.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: From the way that the President phrased it yesterday, and I’m not asking you to parse —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: — the President’s words, he said that they – that the United States presented a framework to Iran, which – to help – or to help the Iranians meet their peaceful energy needs. Okay?
MS. PSAKI: Well —
QUESTION: So that suggests that there is a – one single document that is now ready – I mean, put forward to the Iranians, which has not been – the case has always been there’s no deal until everything’s agreed. And that – and in your response to Nicolas, you mentioned documents, several documents. So is there one document now that you and the P5+1 have agreed on, which is before the Iranians to decide on?
MS. PSAKI: As I mentioned a little bit earlier, but let me try to make it a little more clearer, from the beginning, the P5+1 has put forth creative and reasonable proposals that are equitable, enforceable, and consistent with our own core objectives and consistent with Tehran’s expressed desire for a viable civilian nuclear program. That’s been ongoing. Beyond that, I’m not going to assess for you how many documents or proposals are being discussed.
QUESTION: Given that we’re now less than three weeks from the November 24th deadline, it would seem perhaps tardy that there isn’t one document that you are now talking about.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not confirming one way or the other how many documents there are, because we want to keep the notion – the nature of the discussions and negotiations private, because we think that’s the most beneficial at this critical point in time, as you just highlighted. Obviously, the technical experts have been working nearly nonstop on many of the technical details here. We feel we definitely have time to come to an agreement before November 24th, and I’m going to leave it at that.
QUESTION: The President’s words suggested, though, that you and your partners in the P5+1 have kind of wrapped up what you’re prepared to offer, and that it’s basically now up to Iran to decide whether to say yes or no. Would that be a correct —
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to assess it further.
MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Iran. Do we have any more on Iran?
QUESTION: Iran, yes.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Samir.
QUESTION: If a deal is going to be reached, will that be announced after the trilateral meeting in Oman, or after the political directors negotiations in Vienna?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would expect that these negotiations will continue through Vienna, so this meeting in Oman is a step in the process. But no, I would not expect a deal to be reached there. That’s a trilateral meeting. Obviously, it would be the P5+1 with Iran discussing the deal.
QUESTION: But the Iranians should bring the political decision to that meeting, right?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Samir, there’s a reason why there’s a schedule for a week of negotiations in Vienna, because there’ll be more discussion needed. So I would point you to that.
QUESTION: Jen, I want to go back to the ISIS part of this subject. There is – U.S. officials have said that every country has a role.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Now, in light of the report on the letter between President Obama and the Iranian leader, is it the assessment of the United States that the fight against ISIS can be accomplished – ISIS can be defeated without Iran’s help, even?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary has said every country has a role to play. I just outlined the role that they could play. We have remaining concerns about their military engagement. That hasn’t changed. Beyond that, I’m not going to assess it further.
QUESTION: So that could be – the letter could be sort of an inducement for them not to – to kind of alleviate your concern about their military engagement, as you just mentioned?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to talk about a letter that is reportedly coming from the President of the United States.
QUESTION: Can we go elsewhere?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: The Prime Minister Garibashvili told reporters in Tbilisi today that the departure of his defense and foreign ministers are for purely domestic issues that do not affect Georgia’s foreign relations. How does that square with your statement last night calling on authorities to take steps to dispel perceptions that the judicial system is being used for political purposes?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Scott, you pointed to my statement last night where we referenced the fact that at a time of regional turmoil and domestic economic challenge, what Georgia needs most is stability, unity, implementation of due process and rule of law, and public confidence in democratic institutions. Clearly, when there are multiple, simultaneous investigations against former government and current opposition officials happening, that raises strong concerns about political retribution. And it is essential to avoid even the perception that the judicial system is being used in a politicized way and for political purposes.
QUESTION: The prime minister in his comments today clearly tried to set those concerns at ease, saying, essentially, there’s nothing to see here, move along. Do you continue to be concerned about what’s going in Georgia, or have his comments today satisfied you?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen his comments. Obviously, the fact is investigations against former government officials and current opposition officials continue. So I think actions sometimes speak louder than words in this case.
QUESTION: Jen, one of the concerns has been that this may be an indication that Georgia is kind of moving away from what had been its direction of European integration, NATO integration. One of the things in the comment that Scott mentioned, the prime minister said that European – that Georgia’s European vision or its aspirations have not changed, and this is not an —
MS. PSAKI: Yes, mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — indication of that. Is that your understanding, or does the Administration have concerns that Georgia is kind of drifting away from its – the way it had been going?
MS. PSAKI: No. That is – we certainly – that is our understanding, yes. But obviously, events on the ground pose challenges to that process.
QUESTION: I guess the easier way for me to ask this would be: Are your concerns about the situation limited to the domestic – using investigation improperly to go after opposition figures, or are they broader and they go to the general direction of where the country is going, particularly in light of what’s going on with Ukraine?
MS. PSAKI: It’s more specific domestically. And obviously, we want to see Georgia succeed and continue to succeed, and certainly, working together – leaders working together for the future of their country is an important component of that.
QUESTION: Can we change topics?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Well, could you confirm that the United States has given the Palestinian Authority one – additional $100 million? Is that true?
MS. PSAKI: I am —
QUESTION: Was there an announcement made by the consul general in Jerusalem that he added to the project?
MS. PSAKI: I would certainly take the consul general at their word. I don’t have any details on that, but I’m sure we can get that around to people.
QUESTION: On the situation in general, do you have any comments on the tensions and on the violence in Jerusalem?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as the Secretary made clear yesterday – and I’m sure you saw his remarks – we condemn the terrorist attack in Jerusalem that killed at least one person when a car was driven into pedestrians. We understand that the Israelis are still gathering information on the second attack and would refer you to them for the most updated information. But we remain extremely concerned by escalating tensions recently across Jerusalem and particularly surrounding Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The confrontation in – at the al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday is also of particular concern, where reports of damage to the mosque are deeply disturbing.
QUESTION: Do you find – the Israelis accused the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of incitement. Do you agree with them? Do you think that – I know we talked about this a couple days ago, like for instance his letter to the person that was killed in trying to assassinate Glick. That was perceived as incitement, but also other things. Do you believe that his statements, his words, what he’s saying add to the tensions and the incitement that is going on?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think clearly there’s more that both sides can do, including President Abbas, but both sides can do to make clear that these events are unacceptable, that there’s a desire to reduce tensions. And that’s certainly what the Secretary is encouraging them to do in his conversations and our conversations with high-level officials.
QUESTION: In discussion with Foreign Minister Judeh, the Jordanian foreign minister, the Jordanians are claiming today that they have received assurances from Prime Minister Netanyahu that the status will not change in Haram al-Sharif, that Jewish worshippers will not be allowed into that area. Could you confirm that or are you aware of that?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you the Jordanians and the Israelis to confirm.
QUESTION: Do you have any reason to dispute what the Jordanians are saying?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any reason to dispute, but I’d have you confirm that with the parties you’re speaking about.
QUESTION: Jen, first of all on what you said, you condemned the attack yesterday and you said an investigation was still – the Israelis were still investigating the second attack.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you still regard that as an attack and that there’s been some reports that it was actually a traffic accident, but I wanted —
MS. PSAKI: There have been – yes, there have been some reports to that.
QUESTION: But – so did you mean to say attack or perhaps – are you convinced it was an actual attack – the second – or is it, as far as you know, an incident that may be an attack but it’s – you do not know?
MS. PSAKI: Well, fair enough. It may be more accurate to call it an incident —
QUESTION: Secondly –
MS. PSAKI: — since it’s still being looked into.
QUESTION: Secondly, you’re aware that Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to King Abdullah of Jordan today, right?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I presume that – and that’s where the comments that Said was talking about came from.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I presume that you regard that as a positive – a positive thing in terms of trying to calm – tamp down the tensions.
MS. PSAKI: If there was a reiteration of what the status quo has been at Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount, sure, absolutely.
QUESTION: Right, okay. But that would seem to indicate – and you mentioned two days ago, the last briefing, that Prime Minister Netanyahu had called for calm, and you said that that showed leadership. And now that you’ve seen Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan have both called for calm, what has President Abbas done or what has the Fatah done to ease the tensions?
MS. PSAKI: Well —
QUESTION: Can you point to anything?
MS. PSAKI: I was referring, Matt, to specific incidents. I think there’s been obviously, as you know, several months-long tensions —
QUESTION: Right. But —
MS. PSAKI: — that have been happening in the –
QUESTION: But in response to Said’s question, you said both sides need to do more. And it looks like, from what you just said, that the Israelis are and the Jordanians are doing something. The Israelis are —
MS. PSAKI: Doesn’t mean they don’t need to do more.
QUESTION: Well, fine. But I mean, it doesn’t – are the Palestinians – is the Palestinian side doing anything to tamp down the tensions? Because the Israelis are complaining today that there’s Fatah putting up things on the internet, on Facebook, saying run over settlers, drive a hundred miles an hour into them.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen that, Matt. We certainly would strongly condemn any incitement to violence.
QUESTION: But this is Abbas’s political party, essentially. I mean, this is – I don’t understand how you can call on —
MS. PSAKI: And we don’t have any confirmation of official affiliations. I understand the connections, but we’d certainly condemn any incitement to violence. I would say of course we would like to see President Abbas do more.
QUESTION: But do you have any idea what more Prime Minister Netanyahu or the Israeli Government could do to tamp down the tensions?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think —
QUESTION: I – you say that both sides need to do more.
MS. PSAKI: — we’ve talked about investigations.
MS. PSAKI: We’ve talked about settlements. We’ve talked about a range of issues that certainly have caused tensions in the region.
QUESTION: Okay. But you’re not specifically calling on the Palestinians to stop with this – to stop with their messaging, which certainly has attracted the ire of the Israelis.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we would certainly call for that. We would strongly condemn any incitement to violent in any of those cartoons you referenced.
QUESTION: Okay. And then – all right. And then on the investigations that you just mentioned, how are those going?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t —
QUESTION: What’s your understanding of the —
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update today, Matt.
QUESTION: So the Israeli investigations have not yielded —
MS. PSAKI: Concluded?
QUESTION: — not – especially as it regards the American citizens?
MS. PSAKI: No, they have not, that we have been informed of.
QUESTION: Okay. And – but you would like to see that done?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: And you think that that’s something that could also help lower the tensions —
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think —
QUESTION: — completion of investigation?
MS. PSAKI: — that’s obviously an issue that has been, among many others, receiving attention in the region.
QUESTION: All right. Some in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government have said that President Abbas is no longer a viable negotiating partner, that he can’t possibly be a peacemaker. Do you still regard him as a credible and viable person to make a deal with whoever is – with the Israelis?
MS. PSAKI: We do. We do.
QUESTION: And you don’t see that any – the alleged incitement or the incitement that people talk about would make him ineligible somehow to —
MS. PSAKI: We don’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to see him to do more to speak out against it.
QUESTION: So just to be sure, you – despite what the Israelis say is this incitement that continues, and despite your – in the face of your calls, he still remains – the person that the Israelis need to talk to if they want to have a two-state solution?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s – as long been the case, it’s up to the Israelis to determine whether they’re going to take steps toward that. Same with the Palestinians. Obviously, we’re certainly not at that point at this stage in time.
QUESTION: Can you – (inaudible) follow quickly on the Palestinian effort at the United Nations.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Could you foresee a scenario, could you agree to a scenario where the Palestinians actually would water down their proposal so would – that would sort of save you the – to cast a veto or anything at the United Nations? Is there any language they could use, for instance, that is consistent with what you say about a two-state solution and ending the occupation without putting a timeline? Would that – is that conceivable?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, it’s purely a hypothetical. Obviously, we haven’t seen – we’re in discussions with the Security Council. I don’t have any other – anything other further to share, but I’d point you to the – ask the Palestinians that question in terms of the status of their proposals.
QUESTION: Okay. From your point of view, I understand. I mean, there has not been a proposal put forth as of yet. But did you say to the Palestinians, if you put forth a proposal calling for ending the occupation within a certain timetable we will cast a veto?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve been clear about what our position is in terms of what is the most productive way of achieving a two-state solution and what is not.
QUESTION: Okay. So you do warn them not to pursue this effort —
MS. PSAKI: We convey clearly —
QUESTION: — otherwise they will face a U.S. veto.
MS. PSAKI: We convey clearly – we don’t predict that in advance, Said, but we convey clearly what our position is, which they’re certainly familiar with.
QUESTION: On Libya. Any reaction to the decision today by the supreme court to dissolve the Tobruk parliament? Do you think this decision will be conducive to stability or tension in Libya in the coming days?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly note today’s supreme court decision declaring a 2014 amendment to the constitutional declaration and subsequent election laws unconstitutional. We and our international partners are seeking to obtain the full text of the decision to understand what the decision implies. As you know, we have long recognized the house of representatives as the legitimate parliamentary representative body. So we will take a look at the text and determine what that will mean. So it’s pending our review of that.
QUESTION: So you don’t —
MS. PSAKI: But our position has not changed.
QUESTION: So you’re not sure what the decision means?
MS. PSAKI: Correct. We haven’t seen the full text of the supreme court decision.
QUESTION: So for you, till this moment, the Tobruk parliament is still the one that you recognize.
MS. PSAKI: Yes, pending a review of the decision.
QUESTION: And will you accept if the decision is what it is, actually, which is to call for the dissolution of the parliament? Will you accept it? And what does this make of your recognition of the parliament in Tobruk?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let us assess what it means and what it says, and I think not just the United States but a number of our international partners will certainly have a stake in what this means and what it will mean moving forward, and we’ll go from there. But we had a view and supported the House of Representatives for a reason, and so we will see what this means moving forward.
QUESTION: Sorry, can I go back to Israel just for one second?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It is not related to what we’ve been talking about before. Do you have any response – I realize that you’re not a member of the International Criminal Court, but the prosecutor this morning said that Israel may have committed some kind of offenses during the flotilla incident, but that there were not – whatever offenses that might have been committed were not grave enough to warrant prosecution. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. PSAKI: I would just – we have certainly seen the reports, but I’d refer you to the ICC for the reasons for their determination.
QUESTION: But you don’t disagree or agree with the determination?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we understand that their decision to dismiss the case – about their decision to dismiss the case, but I don’t think we have much more to add at this point.
QUESTION: So you can’t say whether you – I mean, you had – you’ve been fairly – I mean, you’ve taken the Israeli side and – did you not —
MS. PSAKI: Well, as we noted at the time, we regretted the loss of life, and obviously that continues to be the case. But I’d refer you to the ICC on their decision.
QUESTION: Okay, so you can’t say that you’re pleased that the ICC has decided not to move against your ally Israel?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to add about the determination.
Go ahead, Scott.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There appears to be agreement in Ouagadougou between the military, political parties, and civil society to hold new elections in November of 2015. Does that meet your call for moving toward a restoration of full civilian power as quickly as possible?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we continue to call for a civilian-led transition as quickly as possible. I’m not going to assess whether a year meets that timeline. Obviously, we’d like to see it move as quickly as it can. If it can move faster, then that’s great, but certainly our focus is on encouraging them to continue moving towards that point and determining what’s feasible in terms of their capabilities in Burkina Faso.
QUESTION: So if the parties in that discussion conclude that a year is as quickly as possible, is that a process that the United States would help advance?
MS. PSAKI: Would help in terms of assistance or —
QUESTION: Support politically, help with election preparation, the sorts of things that you often do.
MS. PSAKI: I think we’d have to determine what the asks are, what capabilities we have. Obviously, we are very supportive of this transition, so I assume that we would be supportive. But I think we’d have to see where things are.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So the most recent round of air strikes that CENTCOM announced were against the Khorasan Group, and it mentioned that it targeted some Nusrah Front fighters as well, although it was not in response to the advances made by al-Nusrah last weekend. Can you tell us whether those advances were a part of the reasoning for these strikes, or did they not factor into it at all?
MS. PSAKI: They were not in response to the Nusrah Front’s clashes with the Syrian moderate oppositions. They did not, as you noted, target the Nusrah Front as a whole; they were targeted actions directed at the Khorasan Group. As you know, al-Qaida – an al-Qaida affiliated extremists who are taking advantage of the Syria conflict.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. And Syrian opposition groups on the ground have noted that these kinds of strikes may help the Assad regime, which they’re fighting against, given that the Nusrah Front is also fighting against the Assad regime. What have you communicated? What is your response to those concerns? How would you assuage those statements?
MS. PSAKI: Well, our response to – in our conversations with the opposition have long been that before we engaged militarily here, the opposition was fighting basically on their own against ISIL, against the regime. And obviously we’ve taken steps to increase the kind of assistance we’re doing, the kind of training and equipping we’re doing. And we believe if we can degrade ISIL, degrade some of the other threats, extremist threats to the opposition, that will strengthen them. And there’s no question that doing a train and equip program and providing them with a range of assistance is helping them not only fight ISIL, which is posing a threat to them, but certainly we expect they’ll use that against the regime as well.
QUESTION: Do you accept the premise, though, that these kinds of strikes would indirectly aid the Assad regime?
MS. PSAKI: We don’t. I mean, our belief is that these are networks that are actively plotting against Western interests, and Europe, the United States, and that’s why we take these decisive types of actions. And again, I think we have to look at what if we weren’t involved here and where would that leave the opposition, and without our engagement they’d just be fighting more fights than they’re fighting currently.
QUESTION: Yesterday, the President said that we are trying to find them in reference to the moderate opposition. So does that mean that – the President —
MS. PSAKI: Say we’re trying to what? Sorry, I didn’t hear you.
QUESTION: He said they are – that we are trying – we are trying to find someone who basically has America’s confidence as a moderate opposition. Does that mean that you have no one at the present time that you can sort of have confidence in among —
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s exactly what he said, Said.
MS. PSAKI: As you know, we’re trying to – continuing to try to boost the capabilities of the moderate opposition. We believe if we can boost their capabilities, that will also boost their political credibility. And that certainly – if he believed as you just said, we wouldn’t have pushed Congress to pass a train and equip program, we wouldn’t be providing them with a range of assistance.
QUESTION: Okay. Also the President said that he will go to Congress again to ask for more aid and more robust military action, basically, against ISIS.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Could you explain to us what is that likely to entail?
MS. PSAKI: Are you talking about funding, or are you talking about the AUMF, or which specific —
QUESTION: Well, it was funding. And he said that I’m going to go to Congress again in the fight against ISIS, assuming – or we assume – that there will be a more robust U.S. involvement, military involvement against ISIS, whether in Iraq or Syria.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Said, I think I’d have to look again at exactly what he said. I don’t think that was exactly it. Obviously, there needs to be more funding to support our efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, and that is part of what certainly he’ll be discussing with Congress when he meets with them tomorrow.
He also talked about having conversations with members of both parties regarding the AUMF, so I’m not sure which one you’re particularly referring to.
QUESTION: All right. Well, let me ask you another question.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The Syrians today, or the Syrian foreign minister, said that they are waiting for the S300 surface-to-air missile to counter whatever American fighter jet may be striking outside of, let’s say, the Kobani area. Now they’re talking about near Aleppo or Idlib or any other places. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe, Said, that we’ve – we have confirmation of anything along those lines. Obviously, we’re not going to speculate on something that doesn’t appear to have happened. But we’ve been clear that it would be unconscionable for any country to provide any arms to the Assad regime, which fuels its brutality against the Syrian people, and we’d certainly feel that way about the delivery of S300s as well.
QUESTION: So as far as you’re concerned, the Syrian regime is not in possession currently of these kinds of missiles?
MS. PSAKI: Well, our understanding – I don’t have any confirmation that they are. I don’t believe there has been confirmation out there that they are.
QUESTION: Jen, can I just go back to —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: — Said’s first question, which I think was about the AUMF?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: And the President said – did say that he was going to Congress and ask for authorization of military force.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: It’s interesting that for the longest time you guys have said that you believe the existing AUMF allowing you to go after al-Qaida was sufficient for what is now happening in Iraq and Syria. Why does – why do you believe that now needs to be changed or renegotiated or reworded?
MS. PSAKI: It remains sufficient. We have what we need. But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re strongest as a nation when the Executive Branch and Congress work together. You’ve seen over the past couple of months, even though Congress has been basically out of session for the last two months because of the elections, that many have put proposals and ideas forward. So he simply is indicating he’s going to have a conversation with them about it when he meets tomorrow with members, and I expect that will continue.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea what it’s going to look like? Will it be specifically against ISIL or will you include other groups such as al-Nusrah or anything like that?
MS. PSAKI: I think they’ll have a discussion about what the feeling is the needs are.
QUESTION: Let me just follow up on the visit or the meetings that Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura had with Susan Rice and he apparently had with Under Secretary Crocker.
MS. PSAKI: Sheba Crocker? Mm-hmm.
MS. PSAKI: Assistant Secretary.
QUESTION: And was – at any time or during these meetings, is there – are we likely to see sort of restart of some sort of a political process, ala Geneva II or anything like this? Is he proposing anything like that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think, clearly – and I’ll certainly let the special envoy speak for himself – but I think there’s broad belief and agreement that there’s not a military solution; there’s only a political solution. Certainly, we continue to discuss that as well as our support for the Syrian opposition, including the train and equip program. So – but we’re not at a point – I mean, part of our effort here is to increase the capacity and the credibility and the capability of the Syrian opposition. Part of that is militarily, and certainly, we think that will help them politically. But we do want to get to a point where they’ll be back at a negotiating table.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: We are working with them, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, I don’t think they see it that way.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think —
QUESTION: Can you —
MS. PSAKI: — one, we’re assessing a deal that isn’t yet done.
MS. PSAKI: So we don’t have the details yet, and that’s an important part.
QUESTION: Can you recall off the top of your head when the last time the Executive Branch and the Congress worked together on a foreign policy issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we’ve worked together on a range of things over the course of time – trade agreements. I can go through a list —
QUESTION: All right. More broadly, do you – has – realizing that the President sets the direction of the foreign policy of the country, but the State Department is largely in charge of carrying that out, are you aware of any instructions being given to the Secretary or to this building from the White House to modify or to change anything about the way – about foreign policy as a result of the midterm elections?
MS. PSAKI: No, absolutely not.
QUESTION: So everything foreign policy-wise – or, sorry, nothing foreign policy-wise is going to change? There aren’t going to be any adjustments, there aren’t going to be any revisions, any change in priority or focus?
MS. PSAKI: No. I think, one, the Secretary speaks with members of both parties pretty frequently. I expect that will continue. He made a range of calls yesterday. I will get you guys the list if that hasn’t already been put out. And I expect on foreign policy, this is an issue that we feel we can continue to work very closely together on.
QUESTION: But seeing how really disagreeable the other side of the aisle – and the Senate, for instance – have been towards your foreign policy, do you expect that they – now that they have gained sort of the majority in the Senate, the Republicans, do you expect them to frustrate your foreign policy in any way, or your foreign policy efforts?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, there are a range of issues that we’ve worked together in a bipartisan manner on, whether it’s agreement on the need to do more to support Ukraine, whether it’s trade agreements and moving those forward, whether it’s agreement to support the train and equip program. And so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to move forward on foreign policy priorities.
QUESTION: Do you know if Secretary Kerry called —
QUESTION: Members of Congress, including those who were just elected – so they’re not yet members of Congress – have opposed what you’re doing in Ukraine and in Syria, not necessarily because they think you’re doing too much, but because they think that you’re not doing enough. But you’re saying that there’s no plan to —
MS. PSAKI: Well, the benefit of democracy, Matt, is that there are people with all sorts of viewpoints, and you have a discussion about it —
MS. PSAKI: — and see what agreement you can reach about how to proceed forward.
QUESTION: Which viewpoint do you think came out on top on Tuesday, though? Was it the viewpoint that everything is fine – speaking strictly about foreign policy, that everything is fine and dandy and should go on as it has been going on for the past two and a half years? Or was it the side that thinks that there are serious problems in foreign policy and that there have – that adjustments should be made?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, without doing political analysis from here, I will convey that our belief, the President’s belief, the Secretary’s belief, is that we will be able to proceed and work together on bipartisan issues as it relates to our foreign policy.
QUESTION: Jen, let me ask you very quickly: Are you – do you know if the Secretary called his former friend, the presumed Senate majority leader-elect, and talked to him about perhaps —
MS. PSAKI: He made a range of calls yesterday, Said. I meant to bring that out with me today. We can get you guys a list of that.
QUESTION: Jen, just going back to AUMF, I’m still not entirely clear why the – if the Administration thinks it’s important for the Executive and Legislative Branches to work together on this, why wait until the day after Election Day to follow through on that effort?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Elliot, Congress was gone for two months, so it would have been challenging to move forward with it over the last couple of months.
QUESTION: Sure. But what about even before that? I mean, as I understand it, the President had said that he would like a new AUMF even a year and a half or so ago.
MS. PSAKI: That’s true. But it’s hard to do that when Congress is out of session. Obviously, the circumstances and what we’re engaged in present an opportunity to have a discussion about it and see if we can agree on something moving forward.
QUESTION: Jen —
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: With the Republicans taking the majority in the Senate, do you believe it’s still possible to close Guantanamo Bay?
MS. PSAKI: It remains a priority of the Administration, as you know. We believe that it’s in the national security interests of the United States. Obviously, there’s also a range of steps that are taken in that regard and a process in place. So we certainly do believe it is possible, yes.
QUESTION: Do you know what that would look like, exactly?
MS. PSAKI: What do you mean by that, exactly?
QUESTION: Like, how – if you – well, you – if you don’t get the support of Congress, how would that process look like in terms of negotiating with other countries for transfer?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly Congress has an important role to play, as you know, in terms of where things stand right now. The Department of Defense announced – I believe it was yesterday – the transfer of a Kuwaiti national. Right now there are 148 detainees left at Guantanamo. I think the case we will continue to make is that it’s in our national security interests to close Guantanamo, and that’s why we believe we should proceed with it, and there should be bipartisan support from both sides.
QUESTION: Will it be harder now?
MS. PSAKI: I – well, I think we certainly hope that there will be bipartisan support for it and that people will recognize why this is in our interest to get it done.
QUESTION: Jen, can we move to Asia?
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: — very quickly to Syria, to the U.S. strikes in Syria?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that this French bomb-maker has been killed by a U.S. strike, as announced by U.S. networks?
MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen the announcements. We don’t have a confirmation of that from here. Obviously, we continue to assess the outcome of our military action. And if that changes, Nicolas, we’ll put something out to all of you.
QUESTION: Do you have any confirmation of reports that any civilians were killed in these – this latest round of strikes?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, this is – any reports of civilian casualties we take very seriously. The Department of Defense looks into that. We understand that there have been reports from activists alleging that civilian casualties occurred. I’ll just reiterate that no other military in the world works as hard as we do to be precise and avoid civilian casualties. But while we strike to avoid them, when any allegation is presented we investigate it fully and strive to learn from it as to avoid it in the future. So that would, of course, be under the Department of Defense.
MS. PSAKI: Asia?
QUESTION: Wait. No other military in the world —
QUESTION: Other than Israel.
QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. I seem to recall the Israelis saying this – the same thing. You think you’re better at it than the Israelis are?
MS. PSAKI: We think we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we continue – encourage all countries to do the same.
Go ahead. Asia?
QUESTION: Yes. Secretary Kerry is going to China tomorrow for APEC ministerial meeting. Could you please give us a preview of the agenda? And in particular the Sino-U.S. cooperation in anti-corruption seems it would be the – one of the highlights coming from the meeting.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, one, I would point you to the speech he gave on Tuesday where he outlined our relationship, of course, that touched on a number of important components of it – economic, security, strategic. And he highlighted the fact that our relationship has really grown over time. We used to work together on bilateral and regional issues, and now we work together on more global issues, like Ebola and ISIL.
In terms of corruption issues at APEC, I’d have to get back to you on the specifics of how that will fall into the agenda. Obviously, we raise issues when we have concerns. But did you have a specific question about it, or —
QUESTION: Yes, I do. Since there is no extradition treaty between China and United States, what is current United States practice regarding inquiries or requests from China to send back officials suspected of corruption?
MS. PSAKI: Well, in general, with regard to requests from countries with which we do not have an extradition treaty, such requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. So that’s how we would review any request with China.
QUESTION: And then —
QUESTION: Can we just stay on that specific issue?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have the Chinese ever gotten back to you about those six guys who were indicted for – in the U.S.?
MS. PSAKI: Has there been an update on it?
QUESTION: Yeah. Are they here? They’ve gone to trial? They’re in jail, paying for their crimes?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an update for you, Matt. I do not have an update for you.
QUESTION: Or they’re still sitting in China —
MS. PSAKI: You would know if there was any movement or change.
Did you have any more questions on corruption? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. You just mentioned “case by case.” Is one of the case a person, a guy who is a brother – his name is Ling Zhengce and his brother is Ling Jihua, who is a political advisor for former Chinese president Hu Jintao. Reportedly he use a fake name in the visa to try to escape to United States but was returned to China. Is that one of the case – one of case that – where State Department play any role or assist on the return?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as a policy, we don’t confirm requests. But in general, we would review any on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to a specific name or a specific story.
QUESTION: After this weekend, Secretary Kerry is going back to China again to accompany President Obama for more bilateral meetings in Beijing. Do you have any announcement regarding the location and the format of Obama’s meeting? Will that be more like not wearing a tie and more – (laughter) – personal kind of meeting?
MS. PSAKI: I expect this will be formal, but we have enjoyed and think we hope to do again the more informal – I should say without a tie – type of meetings that the Secretary did in Boston.
Let me say one more thing on corruption, on your first question: There is a proposal called ACT-NET that was initially proposed by the United States and APEC with support from then-host Indonesia, China, and other APEC economies. As was agreed to in 2014, China’s project is to encourage more research on anticorruption best practices and lessons learned across economies and legal systems. We remain co-chair of this – of the ACT-NET secretariat – and successfully sought consensus that it not be politicized and that rule of law traditions be respected. So, clearly, that’s a proposal that could be a part of the discussion.
QUESTION: Jen, on China, one of the things that’s been a priority for this Secretary of State, but also the previous Secretary of State in terms of dealing with the Chinese, has been wildlife trafficking, especially related to the ivory trade. You may be familiar with a report that came out today that said that on a recent state visit to Tanzania, the Chinese delegation headed by President Xi bought so much ivory that the price doubled in the Tanzanian market. Is this something that’s of concern to you, given the fact that the Chinese have made noises that they are interested in helping stop this kind of trade?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen the reports or the story. I don’t have any confirmation of that. If true, that would be of concern, but I don’t have any confirmation of the report.
QUESTION: Right. Well, is it something that the Secretary plans to raise in his meetings when he gets to —
MS. PSAKI: I think he certainly plans to talk about the issue of wildlife trafficking. That’s an issue that he has discussed with the Chinese in the past, and I think they even did an event on it a year or so ago.
QUESTION: Right. And given that, are – is it particularly – is it disappointing, particularly disappointing, that a report would come out saying something like this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any confirmation of the report, Matt. So obviously, they’ll discuss this issue; we’ll see if we learn more details about the report before he has his meetings.
QUESTION: Can we go back to corruption? Jen, you just mentioned ACT-NET.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Would that complicate or duplicate the anticorruption efforts by G20? Because in 2010, G20 in Toronto – they have established an acting plan – acting – action against – for anticorruption, and then we know the G20 summit is going to be held after APEC summit, so —
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we wouldn’t see it as contradictory in any way. As I understand it, part of the effort – it will be discussed at the next meeting in the Philippines in August 2015. There was a discussion of developing a permanent training center. So obviously, there are a range of steps that can be taken – anti-corruption steps – and I think, if anything, they would be complementary.
QUESTION: Jen, just staying on the corruption issue – this might be better addressed to Treasury, I don’t know, but maybe you have something on it. In terms of capital flight from China and Chinese officials – allegedly corrupt Chinese officials hiding assets or depositing money in U.S. banks, is there any U.S. policy toward repatriating those assets to China, or is it also a case-by-case basis?
MS. PSAKI: I’d point you to Treasury. I believe it’s likely a case-by-case basis. The Secretary himself has talked about this a little bit in the past, and I’m happy to follow up with him, too, Elliot —
MS. PSAKI: — to see if there’s more specifics.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead in the back.
QUESTION: Let me ask one personnel question. The former Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim, has he taken office as deputy assistant secretary?
MS. PSAKI: Why don’t I check and see on – I don’t have any personnel announcements to make today, but let me see if there’s been any changes on that front for you.
QUESTION: On Nagorno-Karabakh, can you tell me if there’s been any communication by U.S. officials to either Armenian or Azeri officials about these two Azeri guys charged with sabotage who are being tried in the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh?
MS. PSAKI: I really don’t have any particular update in this case, Scott. As you know, we continue to encourage both sides to resolve the conflict. We also have been discussing with both of them steps to do that. As you know, the Secretary had meetings. But on this particular case, I don’t have any comment and I’m not aware of specific engagement.
MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything new on that. I know you asked me about this the other day.
Well, you may have this information but let me repeat what we know and we can see if there’s anything that’s changed. I don’t believe there has been. Dr. Addison was detained again on October 29th when she appeared in court to retrieve her U.S. passport and was sent to a prison in Dili. A consular official visited Dr. Addison in prison on October 29th. I’m not aware – we’re not aware of the specific charges. Our understanding, which mirrors that of Dr. Addison in our conversations with her, is that she was treated in a manner consistent with other prisoners at the facility, and of course, we remain in close touch.
I’m sorry, we also visited her – just a quick update – at the prison on November 4th just two – I guess that was two days ago – as well. So we’re in very close touch with her about this case.
QUESTION: Do you know why she was rearrested? Is it the same —
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more information on that.
QUESTION: Do you have any information on the gentleman in Abu Dhabi, whom you didn’t have a Privacy Act waiver for?
MS. PSAKI: Don’t have any new information on that case.
QUESTION: No waiver. Okay.
MS. PSAKI: No.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Ukraine?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The authority – the Ukrainian Government said today that they’re going to launch an investigation into the shelling of a school in Donetsk. I’m wondering if you’re aware of the incident that they’re going to be investigating and if you have any comment about it.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware of the incident and we condemn the shelling of a school in Donetsk that left at least two children dead and wounded many others. We certainly would support an investigation into this, which they conveyed that they would be carrying forward.
QUESTION: The authorities in Kyiv say that their initial thinking on this is that it was – the shell – whatever hit the school – it was launched or came from separatist-held areas. Do you have any reason to think that that’s true or false or you just don’t know?
MS. PSAKI: No reason to question it, but obviously, there’ll be an investigation. So we’ll see how that investigation’s concluded.
QUESTION: And then yesterday you had – there were – well, yesterday a lot of people – the Secretary and you had the similar comments about the state of the ceasefire. Is there anything new on —
MS. PSAKI: There’s nothing to report on it.
QUESTION: — or on the political – or on any kind of the – any of the political developments that – or developments, political or nonpolitical, that you’ve seen on the —
MS. PSAKI: There’s nothing new, and obviously the Secretary spoke to this yesterday too.
QUESTION: Can you update us on – the Ukrainians are saying that they closed off the whole eastern area. Do you know anything about that?
MS. PSAKI: That they closed off the eastern area?
QUESTION: Yeah, because of – apparently Russian troops or military are going in or something like this. They closed off the borders of the eastern area, or something to that effect.
MS. PSAKI: I think you may be talking about passport controls, are you, Said?
QUESTION: No, I’m talking about they actually – they closed it off. They cordoned it off.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe that’s accurate. But we can check.
Any more on Ukraine? Okay, go ahead.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: I know Mr. Seiler came back recently. I was wondering if the State Department has changed or updated or considered changing its opinion on the P5+1? I’m sorry, not the P5+1 —
MS. PSAKI: The Six-Party Talks?
QUESTION: Six-Party Talks. Thank you. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: There are so many different details. It’s understandable.
QUESTION: So they both add up to six. Or have you – do you know if he’s discussed updating his – the preconditions for resuming the talks?
MS. PSAKI: Nothing has changed on that front. The ball remains in North Korea’s court. They need to prove to the international community they take the threat of their nuclear program seriously and they’re going to make changes and abide by the 2005 joint statement. So nothing has changed in that regard.
QUESTION: About the Japanese delegation that was there recently, do you – I’m sorry – has – have you talked to them about what they discussed over there, and has that changed at all your opinion on North Korean relations?
MS. PSAKI: We remain in close touch with them, and I’m certain we have talked with them since they – since their visit. But hasn’t changed our view and where we stand on the Six-Party Talks.
Scott. All right.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, one more.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Make it a good one. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: No pressure, go ahead.
QUESTION: No I have one more —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai, he said in a recent interview with Foreign Policy that referring North Korea to the ICC amounts to interfering in North Korean domestic affairs, and U.S. should not do that. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we feel there are times when we need to voice – we’re not a party of the ICC, as you know, so – but in general, as it relates to their human rights abuses, they have one of the most abysmal human rights records of any country out there, and we certainly voice our views on that. They have the opportunity to change the situation and the circumstances in their own country, but we’re just voicing what our principles are.
QUESTION: Well, just – what’s your understanding of the latest on the French transfer of the Mistral warships to Russia?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there’s been a change, Matt. I think that Hollande said that it had not yet met the requirements.
QUESTION: Right. Is that a good thing?
MS. PSAKI: Yes. We think it’s a wise decision.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 3:06 p.m.)
DPB # 189