- ticket title
- United Nations Staff Union President Urges States to Enhance Peacekeeper Security, as Targeted Attacks Kill 423 Blue Helmets, Civilian Personnel in Last Decade
- Secretary-General Appoints Antonia De Meo of United States as Director of United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute
- Covid-19: Libya releases prisoners to contain virus spread
- If Coronavirus Hits Libyan Detention Centers It Would be a ‘Massacre’
- Iran Defends Virus Response as Syria Reports First Death
2:18 p.m. EDT
MS NAUERT: And if anyone has any additional follow-up questions regarding the TIP Report, we can try to collect those and get back with you – more information.
Good afternoon again. The – I want to start with a little bit about the Indian prime minister and the visit here yesterday. The Indian Prime Minister Modi departed Washington last night after a successful trip to Washington. He went to the White House, as you all know, at the invitation of President Trump. The President said yesterday, quote, “The relationship between India and the United State has never been stronger and has never been better.”
Secretary Tillerson met with Prime Minister Modi yesterday morning. The two talked about ways to further strengthen our cooperation, particularly in the areas of counterterrorism, defense, and also trade. The Secretary reaffirmed the administration’s support for India’s role in – as the leading security provider in the Indo-Pacific region. He also noted that he looks forward to working even more closely with India on shared regional and global priorities, including North Korea. So we thank Prime Minister Modi for coming to Washington.
With that, I’ll take your questions.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS NAUERT: Hi, Matt.
QUESTION: Let’s start with the Supreme Court order from yesterday.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: I realize that you have 72 hours to actually implement it, and we’re only just a little over 24 hours into it, and so I presume that there’s still – people are still working on —
MS NAUERT: Good math for a reporter.
QUESTION: — implementation. Yeah. But I couldn’t subtract – I couldn’t tell you —
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: I don’t know how many hours are left. (Laughter.) But what is your understanding of what – is the department going to set out a list of criteria for what constitutes a bona fide relationship with an American entity or person, as the court has said?
MS NAUERT: So a lot of talk and a lot of questions about this term “bona fide,” and that was something that actually came from this Supreme Court. So as you mention – as you correctly mention, we have a couple days still to work this out and get more information. So we will be looking to the Department of Justice to get more clarification on what a bona fide relationship will be.
QUESTION: Right. But do you expect that you will lay – that you, in your guidance to visa-issuing posts, will be laying out, okay, like a second cousin twice removed is not bona fide or is bona fide, or a hotel reservation is a bona fide —
MS NAUERT: I would anticipate that we would have to give, certainly, some degree of explanation and a definition to our folks who are handling this overseas. Exactly what that terminology will look like, that we don’t know yet, so that’s why we’ll continue to chat with the Department of Justice and our folks over there. People here are hard at work with Department of Justice and also I believe Homeland Security to try to figure out exactly what this term “bona fide” should mean and will mean, and then we’ll get that information out to our folks across the world.
QUESTION: Okay. And do you have any idea of the time? I mean, could – I realize you have until Thursday.
MS NAURT: Yeah.
QUESTION: But could it come earlier? I mean —
MS NAUERT: This is obviously an important matter a big matter, and everybody wants to get this right. They want to see this implemented in an orderly fashion, and so in doing that I think they’ll probably take their time – as much time as they have – to make sure they get it right so that we can get that information and then get that out to our folks overseas. And we know that our people at the State Department have a lot of questions about this as well, legitimate questions, just as all of you do too.
QUESTION: So who’s —
MS NAUERT: Hi.
QUESTION: I mean, at the point of entry, how is it enforced? Because the first time around it caused a great deal of chaos, if you remember. Now how is it going to be enforced? Is it left to the discretion of the customs officer or the immigration officer at the point of entry?
MS NAUERT: Yeah. I think some of that we just don’t know yet. We need additional guidance from the Department of Justice. So some of these questions – important questions that you all have – I’m just not going to be able to answer today, because this is all still in flux and the lawyers are going through it. And lawyers get involved and they like to go through all the language and all the words, so some of that I’m just going to have to wait until they can give us greater guidance on that.
Hi, Felicia. Hi.
MS NAUERT: And let’s stay on this – the executive order before we go over to other —
QUESTION: Oh. Then – okay, then come back to me later.
MS NAUERT: Okay. Okay. Hi, Michele.
QUESTION: So I don’t know how – what the scope is of what you do know, but in terms of refugees coming in and this relationship, if they’ve had contact with a resettlement agency or a church group or something, are you prepared to treat that as a bona fide relationship? Like – or is that one of the things you haven’t hashed out yet?
MS NAUERT: So a couple things. Bona fide relationship – we don’t have a definition here at the State Department for that yet. None of the agencies has that definition just yet. That we will be working to get; that I anticipate will take a couple days to get that. However, I can tell you in terms of refugees who are already slated to be coming here, we have been in touch with them. By that I mean we have advised our refugee resettlement partners overseas that they should currently proceed with the resettlement of refugees who are scheduled to travel to the United States through July the 6th. Beyond July the 6th, we are not totally certain how that will work because, again, this is in flux, this is in progress, this is a new development as the Supreme Court just spoke to this yesterday.
There is a number of 50,000, as you all know – that is the 50,000 cap. We expect to reach that cap within the next week or so. We are somewhere in the neighborhood of close to 49,000 – not exactly 49,000 but something close to that, so —
QUESTION: You know that the ruling addresses that cap and says that it – for certain people with that relationship, it would go beyond 50,000.
MS NAUERT: Correct. So refugees with bona fide ties – which we’re still working on that definition – will not be subject to that cap, but I just wanted to mention that and lay that out about the 50,000 arrivals.
QUESTION: I believe the number – I think you just hit – you have hit 49,000 just in – like in the last two hours.
MS NAUERT: In the last couple – okay. Good, Matt. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: When you do define sort of what a bona fide relationship is, is that something —
MS NAUERT: Again, that won’t be our definition. We’ll be working with the Department of Justice. They’ll make that designation and determination, and then we’ll follow through with it.
QUESTION: Sure. In terms of, like, informing the consular officers that, of course, we would be – we’d expect that not to happen, but in terms of also publicizing to potential immigrants, people who are applying for visas, is that something that you plan to make public so that they don’t kind of spend the money or whatever it might be to make the application?
MS NAUERT: Yeah. One thing I think that the State Department is good at doing is putting up lots of stuff on the website, but also just getting information out to the general public. We want travelers or prospective travelers to know exactly what they may or may not be facing, so we’ll get that information out.
QUESTION: So does the State Department share the concerns of three justices that this could be a burden and a problem for the State Department?
MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that. Okay. Anything else on this matter?
Laurie, do you have something on the EO? We’re done with EO. Okay. Let’s go on to something else then. Okay.
MS NAUERT: Sure. Let’s go on to Syria.
QUESTION: So the Russians put out a readout of a call yesterday between Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Lavrov. In the Russian version of the call it says that they discussed deterring the use of chemical weapons. Did the Secretary —
MS NAUERT: Their discuss – the what?
QUESTION: Deterring the use of chemical weapons —
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: — in Syria. Did the Secretary share the information that was shared with us last night, that they had – that the U.S. had detected preparations at the site? And did the Secretary warn Foreign Minister Lavrov about that or ask them to press the Syrians not to do that?
MS NAUERT: Well, I can confirm that Secretary Tillerson spoke yesterday with his counterpart, with Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister there. As you know, they talk about things regularly. They began their dialogue in Moscow and I believe it was March. They met here about a month ago or so. And then, of course, they’ve had subsequent phone conversations, such as the one last evening.
Secretary Tillerson is not putting out a full play-by-play of that conversation. We know that the Russians have put out what they consider to be their version, so I’m not going to get into a tit for tat about what we think they said or what they claim they said – claim was said in that conversation. But the Secretary has made his concerns clear in the past and continues to do so with regard to Russia.
QUESTION: In light of the statement that the White House put out last night, it seems like a fair question to ask if —
MS NAUERT: Oh, I’m not – you can ask me anything you want. I’m not saying it’s not – (laughter) —
QUESTION: But you’re not going to say anything specifically about chemical weapons?
MS NAUERT: No.
QUESTION: There’s a sparrow carrying a one-pound coconut. Did you —
MS NAUERT: What? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Are you saying that you – are you saying that you dispute the Russian characterization?
MS NAUERT: No. I’m just – I’m not going to get into a tit for tat. The Russians will often put out information, and they tend to mischaracterize things sometimes, and so I’m not going to get into going back and forth with them about what was said in this conversation. Secretary Tillerson is always clear with the Russians about how we feel about certain things, and the Secretary prefers to conduct a lot of his diplomacy in private in those conversations, because he believes that we can be most effective that way.
QUESTION: Heather, can I —
QUESTION: There were some reports that the White House statement about the Syria chemical weapons attack took some policy experts at the State Department by surprise. Is that true? Was the State Department fully read in on this?
MS NAUERT: So the Secretary, as you know, was at the White House yesterday. He met with the President, also a group meeting with the President’s national security team, and that’s when this conversation was all had about that statement. So they were all informed and aware of that statement. In terms of who exactly that filtered down to at the State Department, I’m not going to get into our internal conversations. But the Secretary was aware of it; folks here were aware of it, and that’s what’s important and that’s what matters.
QUESTION: So the sequence of time, that the Tillerson-Lavrov call came before the statement made by the White House, right?
MS NAUERT: I believe – that’s a good question. I believe the Secretary’s call with Foreign Minister Lavrov was in the morning. I can double check on that and get back with you, but yes – okay. Yeah, it was in the morning.
QUESTION: So the warning may not have come as a result of that conversation.
MS NAUERT: Again, I just don’t know, but the call was – I’m getting the nod over here – it was, in fact, in the morning.
Sir, hi. How are you? Yes.
QUESTION: There is clearly a difference of opinion or – I don’t know – strong disagreement, whatever you might want to call that, between Russia and the United States over this matter. The Syrians themselves claim that there is no preparation underway for any chemical weapons attack. Russia seems to be agreeing with them.
MS NAUERT: Wait. Hold on. Are we supposed to buy what the Syrians are saying, that there are no chemical weapons preparations underway —
QUESTION: This is not my question.
MS NAUERT: — because in the past, we know that they have killed their own people, which include women and children. So if they say that they’re not making any preparations, I’m not certain that we’re going to buy that. But go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, there is no agreement on that either. There —
MS NAUERT: Pardon me?
QUESTION: There is no agreement on that either. There was no —
QUESTION: Get to your question.
QUESTION: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Just what’s the question?
MS NAUERT: Go ahead, sir. Please.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you something else.
MS NAUERT: Yes. Go right ahead.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you if there is a follow – if there is an intent to follow up on that between Secretary —
MS NAUERT: On which? I’m sorry.
QUESTION: On the discussion on Syria and the alleged plans for chemical attack between Secretary Tillerson and Minister Lavrov.
MS NAUERT: You mean – are – do you mean that when the statement was put out last evening, that the United States is concerned about Syria and preparations that we believe are underway for a chemical weapons attack? Your question is will there be additional conversations about that?
QUESTION: Yeah, something like that.
MS NAUERT: I don’t have any additional calls or any information to read out. This is something that the United States Government remains very concerned about. I’m just not aware of any subsequent conversations that are scheduled just yet.
QUESTION: Can you – did – I know you don’t want to get into the details, but is there any effort to get the Shannon-Ryabkov meetings channel back open again? And is that something that —
MS NAUERT: We would regard that conversation as a very important conversation to be had. You all have heard it here that our relationship with the Russian Government is at a low point right now and we would like to fix that so we can find areas of common interests, such as the fight against ISIS, so that we can find those areas of common interest and work on those fully together. I know we would like to resume those conversations with the Russians about that. I don’t have any meetings or any trips to read out about that, but I’ll let you know.
QUESTION: No, I’m just wondering if there’s something the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Lavrov about, if there’s something that – among the menu of agenda that they have, if –
MS NAUERT: I know we talked about a lot of mutual areas of concern. Regarding rescheduling that meeting, that I just don’t know. Sorry.
Anything else on Russia right now? Syria/Russia?
MS NAUERT: Hold on. Russia/Syria?
MS NAUERT: Hi. How are you?
QUESTION: Do you guys have any evidence to share with us about this potential preparation for the use of chemical weapons? Because that wasn’t actually laid out.
MS NAUERT: Right, and nor would that be laid out, because that would be considered an intelligence matter. So as you all are aware, there are a lot of these things that will pop up sometimes that we just can’t get into the details about this, but this has obviously gotten the attention of the United States Government at the highest level.
QUESTION: So could the activity have perhaps been for some other reason than a chemical weapons attack preparation?
MS NAUERT: Such as?
QUESTION: Something that they do at the base or – I mean, is that a possibility?
MS NAUERT: I would say that that’s a hypothetical question. We know from past experience that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on its own people, so that obviously remains a very large concern for us in the future.
QUESTION: I just want to make a point of clarification.
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: When you guys believe that it’s in your interests, you do put out what you say is evidence or proof of things that involve intelligence, and it happened from this podium not that long ago with the crematorium that you guys said was being built at the prison.
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: So it’s not a blanket “we never discuss intelligence,” right?
MS NAUERT: Matt Lee, I’m not going to – I’m not going to get into that one with you, but this is a very serious and grave matter, and when you have the President involved and his national security team and the Secretary involved as well, I’d say that’s a serious issue.
Okay, anything else on this? Hi, how are you?
QUESTION: Just a quick clarifying question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible), like is it 24 hours?
QUESTION: Go ahead. Let him go ahead.
MS NAUERT: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: The preparation, the preparation. Is it like 24-hour preparation, maybe 48 hours, and then they stand back or something —
MS NAUERT: I don’t have the answer to that question. The White House may be able to give you more on that, or perhaps the Department of Defense or another agency, but – or department, rather – but I just can’t get into that and I don’t have the answer to that question.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, Mr. Assad was also seen photographed with the top Russian general in Syria within the last 24 hours or so. Do you know if the Russians – are we aware if the Russians were aware about these preparations as well?
MS NAUERT: I’m not aware of that.
QUESTION: We don’t have any intel saying one way or another?
MS NAUERT: I just can’t get into any of the intelligence, but I’m not personally aware of that.
Okay. Anything else on Russia/Syria?
MS NAUERT: Hold on. Russia/Syria?
MS NAUERT: Okay, who’s got it? Sir, in the back.
QUESTION: Yeah. So Ambassador Haley said today that they would blame Iran, Russia, and Syria if chemical weapons were again – what does it mean to blame these countries? How would the U.S. hold them accountable in the event of another strike?
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. intend on militarily striking Iran or Russia in the event of a chemical weapons attack?
MS NAUERT: Okay. Your third question I can’t answer; that’s a Department of Defense matter, and then that’s also a hypothetical. In terms of the first question, which is why would we – why would we look to Syria and Iran? Was that the part?
QUESTION: How – what does it mean to blame them?
MS NAUERT: Well, we’ve seen – all we have to do is look to the past, right, and we have seen as the Syrian regime back in 2015 was on the verge of collapsing – who came in to help save the Syrian regime? Who came in? Russia came in. And that is exactly why we are today – we, meaning the world – in the place that Syria is. Russia came in, helped bolster up Syrian forces, and we have seen the death, the devastation, the destruction that has taken place ever since.
So when we say Russia would be held responsible, we believe that they play a role in this as well. They have a lot of influence with the Assad regime, and we have consistently called upon them to use their influence with the Assad regime to stop this kind of activity.
QUESTION: Just on the —
MS NAUERT: John, hi.
QUESTION: Yeah, but her remarks that any attacks on the Syrian people will be blamed on the – Assad and the Russians.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Why not wait to find out? This is obviously a complex war —
MS NAUERT: Right.
QUESTION: — with a number of actors —
MS NAUERT: Yeah, you’re right.
QUESTION: — including ISIS. It seems like a rather un-nuanced comment. Wouldn’t you find out who exactly was responsible before blaming?
MS NAUERT: I can’t get too much into what Ambassador Haley said on the Hill today. I don’t have all of her comments in front of me, so I’d just have to refer you to the USUN for additional clarification on what she meant.
QUESTION: Well, she actually said that last night in a tweet.
MS NAUERT: Okay, okay.
QUESTION: As well as saying it again on the Hill.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: Can you not – are you —
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: Wouldn’t – I mean, the State Department would and the United States Government would look to find out and make sure it had evidence of who was exactly responsible, right, before issuing a blanket blame for attacks on the Syrian people, right?
MS NAUERT: I think her comments stand for themselves, okay?
QUESTION: Sorry, does that mean that you’re not going to answer any questions about what she said on the Hill today? Because I got one.
MS NAUERT: Oh, I know you do. I know you do. Go right ahead. Why don’t you ask that question? I’m going to do my level best because —
MS NAUERT: — I was not aware of – and I know what you’re getting at – well, I’ll let you go ahead and ask and we’ll go there – from there. Go right ahead.
QUESTION: So Ambassador Haley said that it was a matter of U.S. policy to oppose Palestinians for UN positions, and she did this in answering questions about the reason that you guys blocked Salam Fayyad from becoming the representative for Libya. Is that correct? Because if it’s true, it sounds as though it’s discriminatory.
MS NAUERT: I am working to get Ambassador Haley’s full comments in front of me. I just learned of those comments as I was walking into the briefing room, so didn’t have a full amount of time to be able to look into exactly what she said and what was intended by that. So some of this, as you all know, is developing. And when it’s developing, I know you want answers right away. I understand that. I’m not always going to be able to give you answers. I’d rather be right than be fast. We will take a close look at her comments. We will work to determine exactly what Ambassador Haley meant.
But I can tell you this: Ambassador Haley talked about this back in February when the United States expressed its objection to the appointment of Mr. Fayyad as the UN’s envoy to Libya. That’s what we’re talking about. We expressed that – she expressed that again in her Hill testimony, and she’s talked about this a lot. She believes that the United Nations and many believe that the United Nations needs to be reformed, that for far too long the United Nations has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. I know that’s a concern of hers. She’s talked about that a lot. She’s talked about reforming the United Nations. But in terms of her comments, I’m just going to need a little bit of time to take a closer look.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, let me just add one on there.
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: First of all, I don’t understand how this is in any way biased against Israel to appoint a well-known, respected financial guy and diplomat to be the envoy to Libya. I don’t see how that has anything to do with bias against Israel at all.
But secondly, I mean, she said that until Palestine is a state that this is the policy. So I’m just curious, do you have – if this is a policy, does it also apply to the Vatican? Because the Palestinians right now have the same status at the UN as the Vatican does. So if you’re going to be consistent about this, then you would oppose any representative of the Holy See taking a UN position (inaudible), so that’s —
MS NAUERT: Matt, I’m just not going to get into – again, to characterizing that right now. I understand your question. I understand your concerns. Let me get some additional information. And anybody who has questions, I will do my level best to get you the answers, okay?
QUESTION: Okay. Can we —
QUESTION: About Qatar?
MS NAUERT: Okay.
QUESTION: And a couple on the Palestinians.
MS NAUERT: Okay, just a couple more questions. Go ahead. Wait —
QUESTION: Yeah, very quickly.
MS NAUERT: Okay, Said.
QUESTION: By Israeli press accounts, the meeting between Mr. Kushner and Mahmoud Abbas went —
MS NAUERT: Yeah.
QUESTION: — did not go very well. And they’re saying that, basically, the administration is going to pull out of any ongoing process or potential process. Do you have any comment on that?
MS NAUERT: I do. This is something that I was involved with and on the phone with – I was not there, but on the phone with over the weekend, hearing from some of the folks who had been traveling with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt as well. And that’s just false. The President has made Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his top priorities. You know that. We’ve talked about that.
We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal. It’s not going to be handled in one meeting or one trip. It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging. The President has said himself that it is not going to be an easy process, that both sides – the Israelis and the Palestinians – will have to give a bit in order to be able to get to a peaceful arrangement, which we hope to see. But we are not pulling out in any way, shape, or form of this as being one of our priorities. Okay?
QUESTION: Okay. So about a week ago, you said we’re left with a simple question: Were the actions of the other countries versus Qatar really about their concerns regarding Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between them and the GCC countries? So now that you’ve seen the list of demands —
MS NAUERT: I can’t believe that was only a week ago. Doesn’t that feel like it was a month ago? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I guess.
MS NAUERT: It does, yeah.
QUESTION: So now that you’ve seen the list of demands, do you have any more light on what the answer to that question is?
MS NAUERT: Yeah. The only thing I can say about the exact demands – because I don’t want to characterize the demands – but some of them will be difficult for Qatar to incorporate and to try to adhere to. That’s as far as I’m going to go in saying that. We —
QUESTION: Can you say which ones?
MS NAUERT: No, I can’t. But some of them – some of them will be challenging for that country.
QUESTION: So what would you say the goal is of the meetings today?
MS NAUERT: So the Secretary will have two meetings today. I’m not sure if you’re aware of both of them. But he’ll meet with the foreign minister of Qatar and then he’ll meet with the foreign minister of Kuwait. And Kuwait has really done a lot of hard work in terms of trying to bring the nations together so that they can come to an – so that they can come to some sort of agreement.
We continue to call on those countries to work together and work this out, and this process is not over yet. They will be having these conversations, we certainly know, for the rest of the week, if not longer than that. And we will – we stand by in order to help facilitate some of these conversations.
QUESTION: But there’s not a set goal, a specific goal for the meetings today, especially with Qatar, like to finalize a response or something like that?
MS NAUERT: Not that I am aware of. This meeting starts in 20-some minutes, and so I’m going to have to head up there so I can go into that bilateral meeting. But if there’s something that I can share with you, I certainly will.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: I get that you don’t want to characterize the demands as – but when you say that you realize that some of them will be difficult for Qatar to meet, that implies that you think that they should meet them.
MS NAUERT: I don’t think so.
MS NAUERT: No.
QUESTION: So you think that there’s a way – there’s some kind of middle ground, there’s room for negotiation – not with you guys, but between the parties – so that maybe some or parts of some are completed and maybe other parts are not?
MS NAUERT: These nations are going to have to work out their disagreements. I mean, we’ve talked about how a lot of these are long-simmering tensions. We believe that they’re going to have to work them out. They’re best worked out with the countries themselves. We are pleased and happy that Kuwait has stepped in to help be a mediator of sorts, and we’re happy to stand by and assist as we can. But we still feel that they can work them out themselves.
QUESTION: But you don’t necessarily think that they have to be – all of them have to be met as was delivered in that statement?
MS NAUERT: Matt, that’s for the countries to work out. That’s not for me to say, and I don’t know that that’s for the State Department to weigh in at that level, because ultimately, these parties have to live with the decisions and the agreements that they make.
Okay, last question. Laurie.
QUESTION: Here. Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi announced that ISIS defeat was close at hand. And so what are your plans – how is the liberation of Mosul – once it’s liberated, which will be soon – how is that going to change what you’re doing in Iraq? What are your plans for the future of that area?
MS NAUERT: Well, they wouldn’t be our plans for the future of the area; it would be the Iraqi Government’s plans. There is a Government of Iraq, so the Government of Iraq can decide how they want to govern themselves and what will take place in – certainly in certain areas. Our focus right now is on the liberation of Mosul. The Iraqi prime minister talked about how he believes that this will be done sooner rather than later. I’m not going to characterize a timeline. Our U.S. forces and coalition partners and the Iraqi Government are out there hard at work to try to get ISIS out of the remaining parts of Mosul. There is a lot of work left to be done, there’s also – we have also had some successes – and when I say “we,” I mean the Iraqis, coalition, and the United States Government – in bringing a lot of people back to Mosul in the safer parts where we’ve gotten ISIS out, and now some of those people have been able to come back in. I think the latest numbers are somewhere around 300,000, but Matt can probably —
QUESTION: Nope, I don’t know that one.
MS NAUERT: Matt can probably chime in better on those numbers. So the priorities in those areas, working with the Government of Iraq to do de-mining – that is one of the major priorities that the U.S. Government is involved with, as are coalition partners – to bring water, food, electricity. Some schools are back now in session in eastern Mosul – we’re not talking in the tougher parts where ISIS has really dug in in western Mosul, but in eastern Mosul. And that’s really a success story as we see it, because if you have children who are able to go back to school right now, not long after ISIS had – was really dug into that area, that is a success and a real testament to the hard work that the Iraqis and our coalition partners have done as well.
QUESTION: Do you have any suggestions for political changes in the area, political reforms?
MS NAUERT: We wouldn’t have any – I don’t think we would have any suggestions for that. There is a Government of Iraq, and the Government of Iraq can best decide. Okay.
All right, last question.
QUESTION: And just one on – one more on Qatar?
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Is Ambassador Coppedge staying in her role? And is that an important role that needs to be filled at this department? You’ve got 67-odd special envoys and representatives that this department – or this administration in particular has said needs to be whittled down substantially, if not entirely eliminated. She got a job at – next month? And if so – and if not, is somebody else going to fill that role?
MS NAUERT: I don’t know the answer to that. Ambassador Coppedge and I talked, spent some time together last week and spent some time together today, and our focus was really solely on the TIP Report and getting that out, and getting the information out. So I didn’t have a chance to ask her what her career plans are, but if I can find out for you and let you know, I certainly will. But she did a terrific job in putting this together.
QUESTION: Is it an important role to fill at this department, even if it’s not her?
MS NAUERT: This – the TIP Report has been ongoing for – what is it? How many – you all have been covering the State Department for a long time. 18 years? 18 years? 17 years, there we go. So I would see that as an important matter, and I’ll just leave it at that.
Okay, last question. Right here.
QUESTION: Senator Corker sent a letter yesterday to Secretary Tillerson threatening to block future arms sales to Gulf nations. How does that affect the negotiation process? Does it help or hurt?
MS NAUERT: I wouldn’t characterize it either way. We’re aware of that letter. That letter came here into the department and there is a lot that’s going to happen this week, I think. There are a lot of conversations left to be had. I’m about to step into one right now, so I just don’t want to get ahead of some of those conversations.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS NAUERT: Thanks. Peter, Gage, do you want to ask a question? Do you guys have a question?
QUESTION: What’s for dinner?
QUESTION: Ask about Trump’s tweets. (Laughter.)
MS NAUERT: All right. My boys don’t have a question. That’s the first time they’re speechless. Thank you, everybody. We’ll see you again on Thursday. Looking forward to it.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:48 p.m.)
Kuwaiti Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Acting Minister of Information