Daily Press Briefing, July 10, 2013
Daily Press Briefing
July 10, 2013
Index for Today's Briefing
Secretary Kerry's Schedule
Current Political Situation / Regular Contact with Egyptian Counterparts
Department of Defense Assistance to Egypt
Concerns about Violence
Transition / Needs to be Inclusive
U.S. Relationship with Egypt / Assistance
Ongoing Demonstrations / Arbitrary Arrests
Update on Secretary Kerry's Calls
Democracy in Egypt
Russian Assertion of Opposition Chemical Weapons Use / Russia Blocking Effort by Security Council to Allow UN Access to Syria to Investigate
Revocation of Syrian Diplomat Visa
Military Aid to SMC
Abottabad Commission Report
United States-Pakistan Relationship / Hope to Have Continued Dialogue
Afghanistan-Taliban Reconciliation Talks
Spanish Foreign Minister Comment
Continue to Seek His Return
Private Diplomatic Conversations
No Personnel Updates
Meetings Continue / On the Right Track
1:19 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Good afternoon.
QUESTION: Good afternoon.
MS. PSAKI: How is everyone today?
QUESTION: Well, let’s see. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: Good. All right. I hope I’m not determining your day.
So we have a few folks in the back, or a number of folks in the back who are soon to be press officers around the world, I believe, and I just wanted to welcome them. And hopefully they’ll still want to be after this briefing. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: You don’t have anything you want to start with?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything at the top.
QUESTION: Nothing about the Secretary’s schedule or anything like that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t – we will – actually, thank you for asking, because I wasn’t sure if that had been sent out yet. The Secretary is returning this afternoon to Boston. He will be there for the next few days. I don’t have an update on when he’ll be returning. Deputy Secretary Burns will be standing in his place during the S&ED dialogue that will take place over the course of the next few days.
QUESTION: Okay. And nothing else on – he has made no other – the Secretary has not made any other decisions about his schedule?
MS. PSAKI: No.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other scheduling updates for you.
QUESTION: Do you know what --
QUESTION: And just so we know, is he – sorry – is he going to finish out the day’s meetings for the S&ED and then leave, or is he going to leave before the completion of today’s meetings?
MS. PSAKI: He’ll be leaving before the completion of the – today’s meetings, and Deputy Secretary Burns will be in his place.
QUESTION: Do you know whether he’s going to still make his meeting with the President and the Vice President this afternoon before he goes back to Boston?
MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to get you an exact time on his departure, but I believe he still will be having meetings over at the White House.
QUESTION: All right. Let’s start with Egypt.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I’m assuming – correct – please correct me if I’m wrong – that this – that the never-ending review of whether this is a coup is still never-ending, still ongoing.
MS. PSAKI: "Never-ending" is quite a term for seven days.
QUESTION: Well, let’s not say "never-ending." Let’s say "review that will not be completed until it’s no longer relevant." Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: I have no update --
QUESTION: There’s still no update on that?
MS. PSAKI: -- Matt, for you. As we’ve said many times --
MS. PSAKI: -- we’re taking the time necessary to review the situation.
QUESTION: Do you have any – is there any update in terms of contacts or in terms that have been made with the Egyptians, anyone in Egypt? And any change in message, or is the message still the same from this – from the Administration?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any updates on contacts for you. We are in regular contact. We’ve been reading out calls as we go along, and if there are more calls that the Secretary or others have done throughout the day, we can read those out later today. I will say --
QUESTION: Does that mean that you’re – that suggests that you’re expecting that there might be. Should we expect --
MS. PSAKI: Well, if you look back at the last couple of days, the Secretary and others in the Administration have been making regular calls.
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: So we’ll provide that for you as needed later today.
In terms of the message, we are – we still are, or I should say, in the same place of communicating with all sides, encouraging them all to move forward in – toward a unified, sustainable democracy. We have been in touch, again, with many different parties in Egypt. So I don’t know if you need clarification on something. I’m happy --
QUESTION: No, no.
MS. PSAKI: -- to provide that, of course.
QUESTION: I’m just curious if the message had changed or if it was still precisely the same as it was yesterday, the day before. And it sounds like it is the same.
MS. PSAKI: It has been --
QUESTION: All right.
MS. PSAKI: -- the same message we have been conveying.
QUESTION: I think you will have seen the report that the Pentagon plans to go ahead with the deliveries of F-16s to Egypt in August. Is that meant to send any kind of a signal from the point of view of the Administration, or is it just carrying on with business as usual, given that the review on whether to cut off aid has not been completed?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I did see – I believe it was a Reuters report, in fact. That is a – that would be a decision made by our friends over at the Pentagon. I would certainly point you to them. I don’t believe there was Administration confirmation in there. I certainly don’t have that independently from here. And beyond that, I really don’t have any analysis, given I can’t confirm it.
QUESTION: You can’t confirm it. But you would still say that you’re not taking sides.
MS. PSAKI: Correct. Again, it’s a report that I’m not confirming.
QUESTION: No – well, I understand that. But your position – the Administration’s line has been consistently that you’re not taking sides, and yet you’re going ahead with aid to the military. And if this report is true, you’re sending the military four new F-16 jets. But you’re not taking sides.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I have no comment on this report, as I think I’ve made clear. But again, as we’ve stated a number of times, we are reviewing as a part of our process our aid. Our relationship with Egypt is much more expansive beyond our aid, but there haven’t been any decisions made about that.
QUESTION: Right. But you do understand that it’s difficult for people, particularly people in Egypt, to believe you when you say that you’re not taking sides when you continue to give the military all the assistance that it wants. I mean, right? When you say you’re not taking sides, that would include the military, correct?
MS. PSAKI: What I will say, Matt, is that we have conveyed a strong message to all sides, including the military --
MS. PSAKI: -- about the need to reduce violence, the need to participate in a democratic process, and that has not changed from any side. And as you know, this aid has been around for quite some time and has a range of reasons as to why we do it.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Today, the Amnesty International issued a very strong condemnation and rebuke of the Egyptian military for using excessive force. Do you concur that the Egyptian military used excessive force, unwarranted force, on Monday, resulting in the death of 53 people and the injury of hundreds of others?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I spoke to this yesterday. I don’t have any new comment for you on it. Of course, there’ll be an investigation into what happened. We have conveyed very clearly to all sides about our concerns about violence and the use of force, and that certainly has not changed. But I’m not going to make an evaluation on the events before there is an investigation on that.
QUESTION: Considering the stark imbalance between, let’s say, what the demonstrators were doing and what the army was doing, do you condemn the violence committed by the army?
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve been pretty clear in condemning violence across the board.
QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned that many of those who initially supported the coup in Egypt, other political parties and so on, now pulling away and, in fact, turning against the army and its abuse of power, as they call it, and so on – liberals, seculars, other religious parties, and so on? Do you have a comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure – maybe you can be a little more specific about what you’re referring to.
QUESTION: Well, for instance, political parties that supported the coup initially, like (inaudible) Nour, and then now the – many of the liberals that supported it, are sort of pulling back from their support. Are you concerned that those who are on the top of the pyramid of Egypt power, today at the pinnacle of power today, the military, are sort of losing fast their popular support under which pretext they did what they did?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just reiterate what we’ve been conveying publicly and privately to all sides, Said, which is that we – both the Egyptian military and civilian authorities need – that all aspects of the transition need to be inclusive, that all political – inclusive of all political streams to give the best chance for the success of a transition back to democratically-elected civilian rule.
We know that the situation is new, the situation is volatile. It’s only been about a week, and this has been not – just beyond that, but let me just peel the curtain back a little bit farther to what they’ve gone through over the last couple of years.
It was – as we all know, and I know you all talked about it quite a bit but long before my arrival here, Egypt has gone through a significant transition on the road to democracy. There have obviously been curves in the road, bumps in the road, flat tires, you name it, along the way, and it’s not an easy task. And this is part of that process and part of that transition, but we shouldn’t forget that the revolution is only two years old. Steps were taken at the time to move back to a path to democracy, and those steps – we’re hopeful they’re continuing.
QUESTION: And lastly, are you sort of satisfied that the new appointment of Mr. Baradei as the Vice Premier is really the – is good for the path forward toward democracy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is building on what we talked a little bit about yesterday, and I realize that’s a new development since we talked yesterday. But laying out a plan and putting in place an interim government is a step, of course, and we’re cautiously optimistic. But the most important question is what happens from here and is implementation of the democratic process and principles that are being used, are they inclusive? Is it – are we – are they engaging with all sides? Is that the path that’s happening moving forward? And that’s what we’re closely monitoring and the message that we’re communicating as well.
QUESTION: Jen, could I ask about – you touched on this briefly yesterday, but there’s now a total of some $12 billion in economic assistance that’s been pledged by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait. Could you comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we – as you know, the Secretary and others in the Administration have been in touch with the Emiratis, with the Qataris, throughout this process – with a range of foreign leaders, I guess I should say. It’s – we’re making our own decisions about our aid and what aid we will continue to provide from here. Obviously, other countries are making their own decisions. As I understand it, that aid has a range of purposes, from economic assistance to military assistance, I believe. They have made the choice to do that. There’s no question Egypt needs additional help on the economic front, and these countries clearly have the ability to deliver more on that along those lines.
QUESTION: I mean, the $12 billion obviously dwarfs 1.5 billion provided by the United States. Would this mean that you could then say, okay, we can freeze our aid because you’re getting it from someone else?
MS. PSAKI: Wouldn’t draw that conclusion. Obviously, our relationship with Egypt – well, I said it goes far beyond aid, and it certainly does, but we have strategic interests in the region.
MS. PSAKI: We have important – we believe that it’s very important that we continue to have that relationship, and aid is a part of that.
QUESTION: So this is a positive move by these three countries to do this, to help Egypt in this economic situation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to go too far in making an evaluation, aside from saying that each country is going to make their own decisions. We certainly support each country’s ability to do that. We currently do provide and feel that it wouldn’t be in the interests of the U.S. or Egypt for us to change that right now, though we’re evaluating it, as we all know, because we’ve talked about quite a bit in here. And Egypt clearly does need assistance for security and for economic.
QUESTION: And I just wonder if --
QUESTION: But why there is like this confusion between labeling the military ouster of President Morsy as a coup, and at the same time, if this is a coup, you’re not stopping the aid? So why this is a confusion between the interests of the United States for not stopping the aids to Egypt? And at the same time, if it’s a coup, you have to do it by law. But there’s a confusion between what some voices in the Congress are saying and what the Administration – which decision should take.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would disagree that it’s a confusion. What we’re doing is we’re taking the time necessary to review what has taken place and to monitor efforts by Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward. That takes time. There’s discussions. There are meetings to discuss that. And of course, the – our requirements under the law are part of that as well. So I don’t think that’s a confusion.
Obviously, I know there are – we all know there are a number of members of Congress who have spoken out about their own views, and the Secretary and others have been in touch with members of Congress and are certainly eager and happy to listen to what they have to say, but we’re going to make our own evaluation.
QUESTION: But so far you’re not labeling the military ouster of President Morsy as a coup.
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) for a sec?
MS. PSAKI: Sure, absolutely.
QUESTION: Do you think there is a danger that in giving Egypt large amounts of economic assistance that it may simply make it easier for the Egyptian authorities to keep deferring the hard economic decisions and reforms that Secretary Kerry and the U.S. Government have called for for a long time?
MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly our aid, as you heard the Secretary talk about when he was in Egypt, and additional IMF loans are contingent up on that. But Egypt, as you know, is – has a lot of work to do on economic reforms and work they need to do, but we also have concern, of course, about the Egyptian people and their ability to flourish. So we’re not going to make a further evaluation about other aid that’s being provided.
QUESTION: Jen, do you regret the downfall of the former President – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak? Because some analysts are saying that the lesson for the United States in Egypt is to give priority to its national interests, not abstract democratic theories.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure exactly what your question is. Are you asking – and we’ve talked about this quite a bit and the President did a statement that I’ve pointed to a few times commenting on the decision by the military.
Let me take the opportunity to say – and someone asked this yesterday, so perhaps I can be a little more clear this time – that the United States has conveyed strongly and clearly to the Egyptian military that the treatment of anyone who is being – who is arbitrarily arrested, whether it’s President Morsy or other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, is important to the United States, and we believe that the interim government must follow due process and, of course, respect the rule of law. And that’s a message that I’m conveying, of course, publicly but we have conveyed privately to them as well.
QUESTION: But do the United States regret --
QUESTION: So you acknowledge that --
QUESTION: But – one second, Said.
QUESTION: I’m sorry, but on this arbitrary arrest, you concur that he was arbitrarily arrested?
MS. PSAKI: I think that’s what the President said in his original statement last week.
QUESTION: Sorry, you would – that to – you’re calling on the interim government to respect the rule of law and due process, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: That would apply to the Egyptian military as well, correct?
MS. PSAKI: That is all parties.
QUESTION: Except when it comes to removing a democratically elected president from office. That’s not within the rule of law, is it?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt --
QUESTION: What – did – you’re calling on this interim government for due process, but I’m curious as to know why you’re not calling on due process for President Morsy, who was not impeached, who was taken out – I don’t believe that the Egyptian constitution permits the military to remove a – the president lawfully. So why now is it important for the interim authorities to – for the rulers of Egypt to follow the rule of law when it wasn’t – you didn’t seem to mind when it was broken – when the rule of law and due process wasn’t respected just a week ago?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think there’s a couple of questions in there, so let me just try to address them. One, we – the President obviously put out a statement at the time, expressing concerns about the steps of the military. That hasn’t changed. In terms of respect for rule of law, that certainly means that it’s certainly applicable to anyone who has been detained in the past couple of days. And we – obviously, there have been others detained since last Wednesday --
QUESTION: Okay. But it’s not --
MS. PSAKI: -- so it’s broadly applicable.
QUESTION: But is it your understanding of the Egyptian constitution that it allows the military to remove an elected – a democratically-elected president?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, I wasn’t speaking to that.
QUESTION: I know. But --
MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve talked extensively – let me just say this.
QUESTION: I understand. But the point --
MS. PSAKI: I have talked extensively over the last couple of days --
QUESTION: The reason that this --
MS. PSAKI: -- about how this is a unique circumstance. You have 22 million people who are expressing their concerns about the rule of a president. They were – they spoke loudly. They signed a petition.
QUESTION: Right, right.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have to outline the details you’ve all written about.
QUESTION: No, no, we’re all very familiar. So it says in the Egyptian constitution --
MS. PSAKI: That is a unique circumstance.
QUESTION: You think that it says in the Egyptian constitution that if 22 million people sign a petition, then it’s okay for the military to oust the democratically-elected president; is that what you’re saying?
MS. PSAKI: I am not --
QUESTION: Or are you --
MS. PSAKI: I am not validating, Matt. I’m just stating that that is a circumstance. Right now, what I – the question I was answering --
MS. PSAKI: -- is about the treatment of and status of these individuals --
QUESTION: Right, exactly.
MS. PSAKI: -- and where we go moving forward from here.
QUESTION: So you support due process and the rule of law except when you don’t?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly do now, so that’s broadly applicable.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Jen, but you did not answer my question about if the Administration regrets the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, because he probably knew and understood Egypt and that you cannot apply an abstract democratic theory in Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: So we’ve spoken a bit about this, but let me just repeat or try to add to what we’ve said here. And this was the point I was trying to make a little bit earlier about the transition that Egypt has been through, the process they’ve been through over the last two years.
This is not a situation where he was democratically elected, which, of course, he was, but the voices of the 22 million people – they spoke out about the way he was governed – he was governing – I’m sorry. So that is a unique circumstance. It’s not for the United States to judge what the voices of the Egyptian people are saying. What we’re encouraging them to do now is move towards a democratic – a sustainable democratic process. And I’ve said this a little – couple – even before last Wednesday, which is that democracy is not just about what happens at the ballot box, it’s not just about getting voted into office. It’s about governing in an inclusive manner and incorporating all sides. And you heard 22 million people say that wasn’t the case.
QUESTION: But there’s 84 million people in Egypt.
MS. PSAKI: That is true. Well, that is --
QUESTION: It’s not even the majority.
MS. PSAKI: It is a large number of people to voice their concerns about the method of governing.
QUESTION: I mean, in most democracies, the only way to remove the leaders that you’re unhappy with is to go to the ballot box. If you don’t go to the ballot box, then you’re removing them forcibly from power through military means or other, which is, under most legal definitions, a coup.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo, we’re taking a look at that and analyzing all of that as we speak. But every circumstance is different, so you can’t make a sweeping "this is what normally the case is."
QUESTION: There’s been some --
QUESTION: Did you specifically raise --
QUESTION: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Sorry, I just want to follow up on the line about President Morsy and other arbitrarily detained or arrested people.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Have you specifically raised his case with the Egyptian authorities?
MS. PSAKI: We have.
QUESTION: And when did you do that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a specific timeline, but it’s something that has been raised and expressed that his treatment is something that is important to the United States.
QUESTION: And do you have any information about his treatment or whereabouts or well-being?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any separate information. I know there have been public comments about that, but I don’t have any independent information for you.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up to (inaudible), yesterday the foreign – former foreign minister of Egypt --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- in a CNN interview said that – well, he mentioned that Morsy – President – ex-President Morsy is in a secure place and treated with respect. I don’t know if you have any comment on that.
MS. PSAKI: I – well, that’s what I was referring to – sorry, I could have been a little more clear – when I said there have been some public comments. But I don’t have any – which I could certainly point you to – but I don’t have any independent confirmation of anything.
QUESTION: So second one, it’s related to the demonstrations going on, and it’s like I don’t like to use the words coined in former years which is like anti-American --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- demonstration in streets and especially like the pictures of President Obama and picture of the Ambassador Patterson are there. I mean, do you have any evaluation of what’s going on, or it’s just a message that is not reaching them or the messenger is not doing properly? I’m not sure, especially that in the last three, four days or a week now, the Embassy is closed, and I don’t see anything related to that on the --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- Embassy website even, and I don’t know if the press office is working there or not. I am not sure.
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are still some – again, I think we talked about this a little bit. What I can tell you is it’s in the same place in terms of departures as we announced just a week ago. I will say, obviously, there have been a range of criticisms. There have been recent reports locally in Egypt – I don’t know if that’s what you are you referring to – specifically about Ambassador Patterson. It’s hard to wrap, for us, our head around totally baseless criticisms like these, and the stories that we’ve seen come out have been completely false, plain and simple.
As Ambassador – I think everybody is aware of this – a lot of you have covered this building for a long time – of course, she would be engaged with the democratically-elected president; of course, she’d be engaged with the opposition; she’d be engaged with a range of partners out there. That’s your role. But we firmly reject any claim in the Egyptian press or otherwise about U.S. involvement – about these – that we have been taking – well, that we have been supporting or – certain sides in this – what’s happening in Egypt. We’re operating in an environment, as we’ve all talked about, where political polarization is high and various political actors there and otherwise are attempting to cloud the issues on the ground by making false claims instead of addressing the difficult issues Egypt currently faces. So all we can do from here, and in Egypt to the degree possible, is convey what is accurate and convey the role that the Ambassador has played, the views of the President and the Secretary, and do everything we can to get the accurate message out.
QUESTION: And just a follow-up to that is – I am sure that you are aware that in – whether it’s in media or in diplomacy, perception is reality, whether we like it or not, and somehow reality. So how do you think that where there is mistrust towards the Ambassador – I’m just – it’s not a philosophical question and it’s not hypothetical even – that she can play a role in putting people together or whatever? I don’t know. I mean, just trying to figure out it’s a crisis management or a damage control.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I totally understand your question, but let me try to address it. I think I just referenced – so let me point to this – the fact that in a situation where things are as polarized as they are, it’s not surprising that various political actors are attempting to cloud the issues on the ground. The best antidote to inaccuracies or falsehoods are the facts, and so that is what we are working to convey and communicate both from here and in any capacity that we have the ability to.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you still consider President Morsy the legitimate president of Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s clear that the Egyptian people have spoken, as we’ve talked about, that there is an interim government in place, that this is leading the path to democracy, we are hopeful, and we are in touch with a range of actors. But obviously, he is no longer in his acting position.
QUESTION: You mean they had democracy. They had democracy. They had democracy about two weeks ago, Jen – 10 – 8 days ago. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: It wasn’t a democratic rule, Matt. That’s the whole point.
QUESTION: You said that the Egyptian people have spoken. What do you mean by that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, what I mean is what we’ve been referencing about the 22 million people, who have been out there voicing their views and making clear that democracy is not just about simply winning the vote at the ballot box.
QUESTION: And so ultimately, you feel that it is acceptable for a minority, roughly a quarter of the population, to remove a president simply because they’re satisfied – dissatisfied with his rule?
MS. PSAKI: We’re not making a sweeping evaluation here, Arshad. We’re looking at the events on the ground, what’s happened, how they’re being managed, moving forward, and playing every role we can in trying to return Egypt to stability.
QUESTION: But --
QUESTION: Jen, you do understand, though, that there’s a principle – the reason that you’re getting asked these questions and being asked to defend the Administration’s position is because there is a principle. There were – how many people voted against President Obama in this last presidential election? Was it more than 20 – it was certainly not half. He won, but it was more than – the percentage was probably more than the third that are protesting. And surely – that are protesting in Egypt. And surely, you wouldn’t condone the idea that those people who are opponents of this – of our current President could just simply act to take away because they’re unhappy with the policies that he’s pursuing.
So I think that – so that’s where you’re – this perception problem is coming from. And so my question is: When – in response to the question before Arshad’s, you said that you reject that you’re supporting any one side or another. Quite apart from the question about the support for the military, whether that means you’re actually standing on their side, just in the – on the political sphere --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- is it not correct that you have offered support in terms of teaching democracy or teaching political organization skills to various political parties or political groups in Egypt? Is that not the case?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on the latest rendition of that. We’ve done that around the world --
MS. PSAKI: -- on many occasions.
QUESTION: And you’re – so you would say that when you talk about people in Egypt trying to cloud the situation, how specifically are they trying to cloud the situation? By – is it your contention that --
MS. PSAKI: What I was referring to specifically --
QUESTION: -- the claims that the Ambassador is on one --
MS. PSAKI: -- was unwarranted claims about Ambassador Patterson, exactly. And let me just say, when I say we are not taking sides, we’ve also made clear that all sides need to participate in the process. We understand the public comments that have been made --
MS. PSAKI: -- about who does and doesn’t want to, and we’re continuing to press on that, but we’ve also conveyed that if these arbitrary arrests are going to continue with the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, they won’t be able to participate in the process, and that’s --
MS. PSAKI: -- contradictory to the whole point of having an inclusive process.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say that the U.S. has offered the same kinds of training or assistance, support, whatever, to all sides in the – all sides of the Egyptian political spectrum, all sides of Egyptian political spectrum?
MS. PSAKI: Are you asking me about the last week or about --
QUESTION: No, over – since there became – since Egyptians had the opportunity after Mubarak’s --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- fall to take part in a democracy, have all sides been given – been afforded the same opportunity to receive instruction on organizing a political party, that kind of thing --
MS. PSAKI: Well --
QUESTION: -- from the United States?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Or have you only focused on one side or another?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I’d have to check on all of our programs.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: Jen, one more on Egypt. News reports have said that former Mubarak regime’s officials are writing the draft constitution. Are you aware of that and do you have anything on this?
MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that specific report. I think I would point you to what I said yesterday, that it’s – we’re cautiously optimistic about the steps that have been taken, but they’re first steps, and the important question is what happens from here. And that includes implementation of the democratic processes, which includes the drafting of the constitution, which includes the election of democratically elected officials. So this is all pretty new, and we’ll be watching and monitoring it closely, including who participates in every aspect of the process.
QUESTION: Do you think the U.S. Government is more likely worried for not having allies in the new government, no matter who will emerge on the top?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to define it that way. This is a case where the Secretary and Secretary Hagel and the President have all been in touch with a range of officials either from – who have played prominent roles. They may play roles in the interim government or they may just have been in prominent positions in Egypt. It’s not about one elected official or working through one elected official. It’s about working with a range. Obviously, they still have to move from an interim government to electing officials, so we’re not just – we’re not quite there yet.
QUESTION: Jen, in that vein, do you have an updated list of calls the Secretary might have made on Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: I know he spoke with – let’s see, he spoke with the Qatari Foreign Minister yesterday. He also spoke with ElBaradei yesterday again. And beyond that, I don’t have any update since I came down here today, but I’m happy to see if there are others that happened throughout the day.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s see if – there may be more on Egypt.
QUESTION: The United States isn’t supporting either side.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But the United States has supported the military for, I think, 30 years now. They’ve been giving them about a billion dollars every year.
MS. PSAKI: True.
QUESTION: Do you see this as ROI? Is this a return on investment, the way the military has handled this situation?
MS. PSAKI: No. This is a situation where we’re in touch with all sides. We believe this needs to move to a democratically elected civilian government. We’re hopeful that those are the steps that will be taken next, and we’ll be monitoring and watching closely.
QUESTION: So you’ve not really condemned what the military has done, and the people that – even al-Sisi. I mean, the people who run the military, we’ve had their officers here in the United States, we’ve trained them, we’ve given them – I mean, it’s not only been a matter of giving them equipment. It’s been giving them a lot of training and training on civil rights and training on human rights and a lot of soft kind of training about governance and the kind of things that we stand for in the United States --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- to make them a more American type of military. Is – I’m wondering whether the way they’ve handled this in regards to – specifically to what you referred to as an undemocratic situation under Morsy, whether that’s actually something that they’re – whether they’re playing out something that they’ve been taught.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been critical of some steps that have been taken, where warranted. Our question right now is how things are handled by the military and by others moving forward. And we have clearly communicated that the process, moving forward, needs to move towards a sustainable democracy. That requires the inclusion of all sides, so that requires the military, the opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood – all sides – to be a part of the process.
QUESTION: Can I try something first?
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: When you say – when you take such a very strong position against arbitrary arrests, does that naturally lead to you calling for the immediate release of the person who has been arbitrarily arrested?
MS. PSAKI: We have not done that.
QUESTION: Can I just --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: When you just gave an answer to the previous question, you just said that you want to move to a democratically elected civilian government. That’s what you want this – isn’t that – do you concede that that’s what Egypt had 10 days ago, a democratically elected civilian government, yes?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, yeah, but --
QUESTION: Yes. You did. Okay. So --
MS. PSAKI: Hold one second. Let me just say one more thing, because it’s not just black and white like that. That’s the point.
QUESTION: Well, the point --
MS. PSAKI: It’s – 22 million people came out and spoke about the way that that democratically elected government was governing and whether their governing style and what they were doing was in the model that was inclusive. That’s an important factor.
QUESTION: I – well, it may be a factor, but it’s not – but it is black and white, because you’re calling for them to return to where they were before. And like – at least the other day, it is not the Muslim Brotherhood’s fault that the people who are opposed to them were unable to get their act together and organize and do better at the polls when they had democratic elections.
So the next thing is that you just mentioned the words, "sustainable democracy."
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: That’s what you want to see. So is that the new word, "sustainable," in other words, that everyone is happy all the time? I mean, the idea of democracy is that nobody is --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think "sustainable" means everyone’s happy all the time. I think that means that it’s --
QUESTION: Well, but it apparently does in this case, because what makes a democracy not sustainable? Well, one thing that makes it not sustainable is the military coming in and throwing out the democratically elected leadership.
MS. PSAKI: Well, the other thing is when you’re not ruling in a democratic fashion.
QUESTION: Well, that’s fine. But a minority of the people don’t get to decide in a democracy who – how – only – it’s only at the ballot box that that’s – and the problem here is that the Administration is twisting itself into a pretzel trying to get this – either you’re for democracy or you’re against it.
You can’t – the shades of gray that you’re trying to build here just don’t make – I mean, they’re the things that are unsustainable, not the Egyptian democracy. I just can’t get my head around it, and I don't think a lot of other people can either, which is why you’re having the situation in Egypt now where people think that you’re taking sides. So that’s it. I don’t have any question.
MS. PSAKI: Great. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Why hasn’t the Administration called for --
QUESTION: I’m sorry for the rant.
QUESTION: Why hasn’t the Administration called for Morsy’s release?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have called for abiding by the rule of law. We just – I don’t have anything further for you on the back reasons.
QUESTION: But he hasn’t actually been charged with anything?
MS. PSAKI: Correct. He has not.
QUESTION: So under what laws – I mean, I know there’s a place called Guantanamo, but under what laws can you hold people incognito, away from public sight for – in a safe place without charging them for seven days?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a good question.
QUESTION: But I’d like the – but can you not answer that? I mean, that is an arbitrary arrest, so you should be then saying he was the democratically elected president of this country, we – he should be released. Why aren’t you calling for his release?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more for you on this question.
QUESTION: Is it because you think it’s going to complicate the situation?
QUESTION: Do you think he should be able to participate in such elections as may be held?
MS. PSAKI: As a candidate?
QUESTION: As anything.
MS. PSAKI: I just think that’s ahead of where we are on the process, Arshad.
QUESTION: Well, but yesterday you said that you were encouraged that they’ve laid out a path forward.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Today you said you were cautiously optimistic. And you’ve said that you think that everyone – that what you’re looking for is an inclusive process.
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: So the question is whether that process should include Morsy.
MS. PSAKI: I just – I don't have any speculation on that. He’s obviously currently – we know where he – well, we don’t know where actually he physically is, but my point was making a larger point about all parties and all sides and making sure that the way that it’s run moving forward is inclusive.
QUESTION: Do you trust --
QUESTION: But usually you say that it should be up to the people of the country to decide, right? Is that not the case here?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly it is, but – and always is. And obviously they’ve spoken about these specific circumstances.
QUESTION: Right. They also spoke when they elected him.
MS. PSAKI: That is true, Matt, but obviously --
MS. PSAKI: -- things change over the course of time.
QUESTION: Do you trust the interim government that Mr. Morsy is in good health, is being treated well?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have conveyed strongly, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, that the treatment of him and of the other members of the Muslim Brotherhood is of importance, of course, to the United States. We don’t have any other further information, or I do not have any other further information. But that is a message we have conveyed and we will be watching closely.
QUESTION: Has the interim government conveyed any sense that they believe that Morsy and others in his government are being held because of any suspected crimes against the state?
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m – I’m not going to read out private conversations or things that they have said in a range of conversations. I would point you to them.
QUESTION: Okay. Let me just – let me ask something a little easier --
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Oh, okay.
QUESTION: -- and maybe it doesn’t require so much tap dancing. Syria.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: You saw that the Russians yesterday said that they --
MS. PSAKI: I did.
QUESTION: -- had evidence that the opposition had actually used – manufactured or gotten ahold of, somehow, sarin gas and used it.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The opposition has denied this. I’m wondering if you guys have anything to say about it.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, are aware that the Russian delegation informed the UN Secretary General of the findings of a Russian analysis regarding possible chemical weapons use in Aleppo on March 19th. I understand we just received the report this morning. We’ll, of course, need time to review it. That does not change the fact that the United States continues to have no reliable corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has used chemical weapons.
And unfortunately, at the same time while this is being presented, the Syrian regime has consistently refused to allow the UN access it has requested for an independent and credible investigation of a range of incidents, as you know, because we’ve talked about them before. And the Syrian regime could prove that its request for UN investigation is not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN team unfettered access without delay.
One other thing to note is that Russia is also currently, while making these accusations – at the same time, they are currently blocking an effort for the Security Council to echo via – they’re blocking it, a call for the – excuse me. I’m bungling this a little. Let me start again.
Russia is currently blocking an effort by the Security Council to allow UN access into Syria to investigate any and all credible allegations.
QUESTION: You said that you were going to take a look at the report and review it. Are you going to take it with the same seriousness that you – and due diligence that you applied to the French report? Remember the Secretary said that the --
MS. PSAKI: We only look at these with due diligence, Matt.
QUESTION: Or do you – okay. But, I mean, you don’t believe that this is the case, do you?
MS. PSAKI: No, we do not.
QUESTION: You believe that the opposition has the ability --
MS. PSAKI: We do – that has not --
QUESTION: -- or has the possession, the intent or the – have they – you don’t --
MS. PSASKI: That has not changed. But of course, we will take a look at the report, of course.
QUESTION: One more Jen. The Russians are saying that – they’re specifying the rocket that was used by the opposition, it is called Basha'ir-3. They seem to be speaking with a great deal of confidence. They’re saying they want to share it with you. So if this comes to pass that they did use that kind of weapon, will that change your position? Will the opposition have crossed the redline at that point?
MS. PSASKI: Well, Said, I think we’re getting a little ahead of where we are. We still don’t believe that they have used or have the ability to use. We’re going to review the report. But certainly any use of chemical weapons would be of great concern to the U.S.
QUESTION: Okay. I just had a – quickly related to Syria.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Today the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, suggested that what is happening in the region really proves his point, that he’s – what has happened in Egypt, what is happening elsewhere, that, in fact, allowing the Islamist – that margin will – is a bad day for liberal democracies or progress along the path to sort of more open societies.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think we take too much credence in the comments of a leader who has brutalized his people and we don’t recognize the legitimacy of.
QUESTION: So you disagree that he is actually making gains on the ground?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think that was your question. I think we’ve been pretty clear --
QUESTION: No, but --
MS. PSAKI: -- that the ground situation, which is one we watch closely, is one where we have – that has been a contributing factor to our decisions to expand the scale and scope of aid, to our continued discussions about additional assistance. But in terms of his comments on what various incidents in the region mean, I don’t think we take too much credence into that.
QUESTION: Jen, do you have any update on the Syrian diplomat that has granted a visa to Washington and he’s waiting at the airport to be deported?
MS. PSAKI: I do. Let me get you (inaudible) on that, sorry. So we can confirm that his visa has been revoked. In terms of – and we would refer you, of course, for any specific updates on his movements or his location, that would be something DHS would address, as you all know. But broadly, as a matter of policy and given the Syrian regime’s continuing assault on its own people, as you know, we had taken – we have taken steps to further restrict entry of even the few remaining Syrian officials. This was – that was the case in this event, of course.
QUESTION: But how did he get the visa first, and then it was revoked when he came to the airport?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specifics. I can’t get into any other further details about the events.
QUESTION: But was this a visa that – I mean, was this visa issued in the last two years? Or is this an old visa that hadn’t expired?
MS. PSAKI: I can’t get into any specifics about that for you. I’m happy to check if there’s more I can provide.
QUESTION: Well, the reason to be asked this, and if you regard the Assad regime as no longer credible and you don’t recognize --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- him as the legitimate leader, why would you grant a visa to an ambassador that his government appointed?
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously it’s been revoked.
QUESTION: Was it just a mistake? Or – I’m trying to give you an out here --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- because I think it’s possible – I don’t know – but is it possible that this was an older visa issued long ago that just hadn’t expired and then it was revoked now because he tried to get into the country, or did someone really screw up here and give this guy a visa? And where did he get it from, since your Embassy is closed in Damascus?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m --
QUESTION: If that’s the case that it was recent.
MS. PSAKI: I understand the reason for all of your questions. There are certain restrictions about what we can and cannot talk about about --
MS. PSAKI: -- specifics in these cases, so let me check and see if there’s more details we can provide.
QUESTION: Can you identify --
QUESTION: If it was a mistake, can you just acknowledge that? I mean, that would be another way to deal with it, would be if somebody made a mistake, so be it.
MS. PSAKI: I understand, certainly, what you’re saying, Arshad. My issue here is more that, as you may or may not know, there are certain privacy restrictions as it relates to specific visas, which limits what we can and cannot talk about.
QUESTION: Well, but just on that, you could say without getting into the visa at all that it was a mistake and someone screwed up. Right?
MS. PSAKI: Thank you for that. If there is more to tell you, I promise you we’ll scream it from a bullhorn.
QUESTION: Can you identify the person?
MS. PSAKI: I can. It is – Ali Daghman is the individual.
QUESTION: Excuse me.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: We were told his wife got her visa two weeks only, two weeks ago. What --
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more details --
QUESTION: Can you confirm that?
MS. PSAKI: -- on the specifics behind the scenes. If there are more that I can share, I understand, certainly, the interest.
QUESTION: Would that signal any shift of policy towards Damascus and its embassy here in Washington?
MS. PSAKI: Again, our position, and the point I made about the steps we’ve taken to put restrictions in place, that has not changed. I don’t have any other further details for you about the timing or the tick-tock or anything along those lines.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) timeline coming to the U.S. in the first place?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I don’t have those details.
QUESTION: It is said that he’s coming to replace someone who left. So the flipside of that question is: Why deny him entry? Because you still recognize the Embassy, there are still diplomats here, they do their work. Obviously, he’s coming to sort of fulfill a service. So why would he be denied?
MS. PSAKI: That’s our policy, and that’s what we’ve --
QUESTION: But you do – you have an embassy, and there are diplomats that are still working.
MS. PSAKI: I understand that and we have a policy in place here which we were implementing in this case.
QUESTION: Another subject.
QUESTION: No. One more on --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- Syria. We’re not hearing anything anymore about Geneva 2. Do you have anything --
MS. PSAKI: You just have to ask me a question about it.
QUESTION: Anything new?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on it for you. (Laughter.) As you know, the last meetings were – you’re familiar with when they were. The Secretary felt he made progress in his discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov. There have been ongoing discussions about this and how to move the process forward, but obviously there are also a number of factors that we’ve talked about quite a bit in here, which includes the opposition’s election of leadership – they did that, they took steps to do that this week – the situation on the ground and making sure that it is the right time to do a conference, but I do not have any update for you. So --
QUESTION: So it is in the freezer.
MS. PSAKI: In the freezer? Well, I certainly wouldn’t validate that terminology.
QUESTION: Okay. (Inaudible.)
MS. PSAKI: Do you have any more on Syria?
QUESTION: Yeah. So there are reports that members of Congress are blocking funds for arming the rebels in Syria. And I wanted to know what’s the Secretary – what has he been doing to overcome the impasse? And I think one of the main concerns is that – is over whether or not the United States can ensure that the weapons don’t get into the wrong hands.
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me take your second one first, because I think it’s really an important one. And we have taken steps throughout this process to do everything possible to ensure that any aid is making it into the right hands. And I know everybody’s familiar with this, but it’s worth reiterating that even as you go back as far as Istanbul and the London 11 meeting there, there was a decision to direct military aid through the SMC, through General Idris. That was an important step and was done in part for this purpose.
In terms of the steps – what the Secretary is doing is he is – he came from the Senate, as you all know. He was there for 29 years. He understands, of anybody, how important engagement and discussion and debate about every issue is. He was, of course, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. So he has been engaged in this for quite some time. We have ongoing discussions with Congress about everything related to aid to Syria and many other issues, and the Secretary himself has been engaged in not only briefings but conversations on the phone and meetings himself, and will continue that. And we know that if decisions were easy around Syria, then they would have been made earlier. But a lot of these are not black and white, and as we’ve talked about, this conversation and this debate is important, and the Secretary certainly feels that.
QUESTION: Now, you say that steps are being taken to ensure that the aid gets into the wrong – into the right hands. But – apparently there are U.S. weapons that are in the hands of not only Sunni militias fighting against Assad, but also in the hands of Shiite – Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting with Assad. And they have American weapons that they’re fighting with. How – I mean, these weapons – how do you expect to control how these kinds of weapons – these weapons flow around the area?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is a complicated situation in Syria. I don’t think that’s a big secret. And that why we think an important step is to work through the SMC, work through General Idris, and do everything possible to make sure any aid of any kind ends up in the right hands.
QUESTION: Following on with that, in December Jabhat al-Nusrah, which is perhaps one of the most prominent fighting groups fighting against the Assad regime, was specifically sanctioned by the U.S. Government. How effective have those sanctions been in the past seven months in keeping weapons out of its hands, out of affiliated groups’ hands? And what pressure has the U.S. placed on the FSA to make certain that it’s trying to do its fighting apart from any alliance with Jabhat?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary himself has spoken many times about the importance of working through the moderate opposition, and his actions back up his words across the board. This is a – you mentioned the designation. Of course, that was an important step. There are – the United States has conveyed also what our belief is in this regard in public and private conversations. And the Secretary was a huge advocate for aid going through the SMC.
In terms of other weapons going to other sources, I can’t really speak to that. I can speak to what we’re focused on, what we’re pushing for, and what the Secretary has been conveying to his counterparts around the world.
QUESTION: But you’re not able to say conclusively that the sanctions to date have been effective in keeping Jabhat and other al-Qaida affiliated groups or sympathetic groups from getting U.S.-made weapons, whether through the FSA, which is trying to overthrow the government, or through other countries?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything for you on that, Roz.
QUESTION: On Colombia?
QUESTION: Jen, could you confirm to us whether it’s the intelligence committees that are holding up the delivery of arms in both houses?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t. I would point you to Congress for their views on any form of aid and what they feel works and doesn’t.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
MS. PSAKI: Syria? Or do we have any more on Syria?
QUESTION: Different subject.
QUESTION: Colombia, please?
MS. PSAKI: Okay, Lalit.
QUESTION: Has the State Department read the Abbottabad Commission report, which is now public?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have seen, of course, the leaked version of the – media coverage of the report. But we’re not going to comment on an unverified, allegedly leaked version of this. More broadly, as we’ve stated many times in the past, so let me take the opportunity to get – do this again: We have an ongoing dialogue with Pakistan about a range of issues, everything from energy to counterterrorism. That will continue. This is important both for the American people and the Pakistani people. And I’ll just give another plug that the Secretary is looking forward at some point to visiting. I don’t have any updates on that at this point, however.
QUESTION: So has the – has Pakistan shared the report with you?
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. No, just there’s been a – as you know, because you’re – that’s why you’re asking about it – a leaked and unverified report out there.
QUESTION: So that leaked --
QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe that it is not a genuine document, in other words, that these are not the findings? You do know that there was a commission that was set up by the Pakistan Government, correct, to look into this, right? You’re just not sure.
MS. PSAKI: That’s like disproving a negative.
QUESTION: But do you have any reason – I’m surprised you didn’t use that in your answer to Roz’s question about the Syrian weapons. You can’t disprove a negative.
MS. PSAKI: Let me go back and add that in answer to Roz’s question.
QUESTION: All right. But on this – on this, are you saying that there – you have some reason to doubt that this is a genuine report?
MS. PSAKI: Well, just that it’s an unverified, leaked report, so it’s not something that’s been --
QUESTION: All right. Well, then forget about whether it’s – do you agree with the conclusions of this – whether it was the report or not, does the Administration – would the Administration agree with the conclusions that this – that are in this unverified document? In other words, if I said to you that the Pakistani Government or that elements of the Pakistani Government were incompetent or had showed an inability to deal with this correctly, that they bungled the whole thing, would you say that that was – that you agreed or disagreed with that statement?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything for you more on the unverified report.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on (inaudible) question on U.S.- India?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Since now there is a new government in Pakistan – of course, the prime minister is Mr. Nawaz Sharif and he was in opposition at that time during those years when Usama bin Ladin was in Pakistan and those reports and commissions and so forth. So how this relations will change with the new prime minister as far as all these leaks and other past issues are concerned?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve talked quite a bit about how the Secretary has spoken with the new prime minister – more than once I know – and that we certainly are eager to have a continued dialogue on a range of issues. So that continues to be the case.
QUESTION: And one more.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Since China is here in the U.S. with the U.S.-China, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in China because his government immediately facing electricity cuts and energy problems deeply in Pakistan, how U.S. is going to help Pakistan or his government, or how you are connecting with China here and Pakistan in China, as far as energy needs are concerned?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly are aware of the energy needs of Pakistan. It’s an issue we discuss with them frequently. As you mentioned, China is also here, but beyond that I don’t know that I have much more on the connection.
Catherine. Oh, go ahead.
QUESTION: I was going to stay in the region.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) has just moved to Afghanistan.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Sorry, Catherine.
MS. PSAKI: Sorry, Catherine. I – we’ll go back to you. We’ll go to you next.
QUESTION: The – I wonder if you had any comment after a remark made today by the EU’s Afghanistan envoy who said that he believes there won’t be any result to talks between – reconciliation talks between the Afghanistan Government and the Taliban until at least 2015, i.e., after all the troops have left the country.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve never set a timeline on it. I certainly don’t think we’re going to do that now. Obviously, the first step here is for those talks to commence, as you know. And we talked about this a little bit yesterday, I know, but it’s worth reiterating our call for the Taliban to come back to the table to talk to the Afghan Government about peace and reconciliation. Our goal remains, of course, for Afghans to be talking to Afghans. We have a team here who continues to work on just that. But our step here in the process is, of course, returning those – this process to talks, and we’ll keep working on that.
QUESTION: Does that seem like a realistic timeline, though – 2015?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t want to evaluate a timeline when we’re – our focus here in on kind of taking the first step again.
QUESTION: Can I ask about Snowden?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Can I just go quickly to --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Catherine, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- China, actually, and energy.
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: I was wondering, today in the dialogue – or potentially tomorrow – the case of Sinovel, the Chinese wind turbine company accused of stealing trade secrets from actually a Massachusetts-based company was raised.
MS. PSAKI: Whether it was – it came up in the conversations today? I’ll just have to check on that and see if there’s anything to report back to you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on China? China? Did you --
QUESTION: Yeah. Just Snowden. Just --
MS. PSAKI: Oh.
QUESTION: -- yesterday, the Spanish Foreign Minister said that the United States had, in fact, alerted his country, or his government, to the suspicion that Mr. Snowden might be on the plane of the Bolivian President. Is that – is he correct in saying that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe that was his exact quote, if I’m correct. I believe he said "in part," or the Spanish version.
QUESTION: He said "Inter alia," which means "among other things."
MS. PSAKI: So I just don’t have anything new --
QUESTION: Is it --
MS. PSAKI: -- or further for you on this.
QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t have any comment on whether he is accurate or not – that comment is accurate?
MS. PSAKI: Just that we’ve had a range of conversations --
MS. PSAKI: -- on a broad range of aspects of Mr. Snowden.
QUESTION: Do you – but you do believe that the Administration has a solid legal case for the deportation and then prosecution of Mr. Snowden, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously --
QUESTION: I mean, he has been charged, so --
MS. PSAKI: He has been charged.
QUESTION: And you believe that you are in the --
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there – well, this is a broader question, I think, that there are some countries where we have extradition treaties --
MS. PSAKI: -- some we don’t, which you all know, and it’s all public information.
QUESTION: Right. But you think you have a – in a case where there’s no extradition treaty, you still think that you have the solid case to ask for him to be deported in return to the United States because he’s a fugitive from justice. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: And he does not have a valid U.S. passport.
QUESTION: Okay. Why don’t you have the guts then, to say – not you personally, but the Administration --
MS. PSAKI: I may, you never know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- to say – well, okay – why don’t you have the guts to admit that you have asked countries, or you have alerted countries to the fact – that you did alert countries to the fact that there were suspicions that Snowden was on this plane, and remind them that he’s wanted in the States?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly have had a broad range of conversations about him, about how we want his return, him to be returned, about communicating with countries where he may be in transit. I’m just not going to get into all the specifics of those conversations.
QUESTION: Yeah, but I don’t understand why it is that this is so taboo. Why is it that it has got to be secret, as secretive as a FISA court decision, that you told countries that you thought he might be on this plane and ask them to take steps to comply with your wish that he be deported and returned to the United States?
MS. PSAKI: Because we’re keeping our diplomatic --
QUESTION: But that’s --
MS. PSAKI: -- conversations private in this case.
QUESTION: Well, I – if you really do have such a solid case and you think countries should – I mean, you should be happy to talk about it publicly. Otherwise, it just reeks of this secrecy that you – that the Administration claims --
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we have --
QUESTION: -- it isn’t involved in.
MS. PSAKI: -- spoken – we have spoken quite extensively publicly about how we would like to see him returned and the reasons why.
QUESTION: Yeah. Fair enough, but in this specific instance which involved countries in Europe denying overflight rights to the plane of a head of state, I don’t understand why, if your case is strong, you’re not willing to come out and say, "Yeah, we asked for it." Why?
MS. PSAKI: We’re keeping our diplomatic conversations private.
QUESTION: Jen --
MS. PSAKI: Let me just – can I do one more Snowden thing?
QUESTION: Yeah --
MS. PSAKI: Because somebody asked about this yesterday. In the question of passports, if a passport is revoked – so when the Department revokes a passport, that revocation affects all passports in the individual’s name.
QUESTION: So the question was: Is there a second – does he – is he in possession of a second passport?
MS. PSAKI: I just can’t get into confirmation of that, but I can tell you that any – the revocation of a passport is applicable to any passport in any individual’s name.
QUESTION: You can’t tell us if he has two, though?
MS. PSAKI: I cannot.
QUESTION: But it doesn’t matter, right?
MS. PSAKI: It doesn’t matter.
QUESTION: The point would be moot, yeah?
MS. PSAKI: Because – exactly. Go ahead in the back.
QUESTION: This is about Colombia.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Does the State Department have an answer to the request of countries like Colombia of why the U.S. Government spies of them?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say first that we have a range of diplomatic conversations with a broad number of countries, and as any allegations surface, we’re happy to have those. But we keep those private for obvious reasons. I don’t have any confirmation of – specifically to Colombia that you asked about.
Let’s do two more here. Go ahead in the back.
QUESTION: For Japan.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Some months ago, reports surfaced that Mrs. Caroline Kennedy would be vetted for the position of Ambassador to Japan. I know you may not have an announcement today, but could you say at least that we’ll have an announcement before, for example, the Congress goes on recess in August or in September, for example? Any update?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any updates for you on personnel for Japan or anywhere else.
QUESTION: May I ask a question about the peace process?
MS. PSAKI: Of course. Perfect way to end.
QUESTION: I’ve got one (inaudible) --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, that’s fine. Okay. Go ahead, Said, and then we’ll take Matt’s question.
QUESTION: No, I just wanted to ask you what is the status, because there is a great deal of talk. The Israeli press, the Palestinian press are saying that Secretary Kerry has managed to come up with tangible suggestions, including the partial freezing of settlements and outposts, including the release of prisoners, Palestinian prisoners, and ceasing of activities by the Palestinians in international forums. Could you comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: That is a broad range of issues. Well, I don’t have a real update for you, Said. I will say that – I mentioned, I know, a couple of days ago that Frank Lowenstein and one of our lawyers were in country. They remain there meeting with officials. And I’ll just reiterate what the Secretary said when he was leaving there, that he felt we made real progress, and with a little more work we believe the start of negotiations could be within reach. And we continue to feel that we are on the right track and that all parties are working in good faith.
QUESTION: Is that lawyer Jonathan Schwartz?
MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s right. I think I gave his name a couple of days ago.
QUESTION: Okay. And should we --
MS. PSAKI: Yes. That’s right. That’s right.
QUESTION: Should we expect the Secretary to make a trip there, let’s say, when – as soon as he can?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he’s looking forward to going back, but I don’t have an update on his schedule for you.
What was the one?
QUESTION: Well, in addition to renewing my plea for some tangible sign of evidence to support your claims that there is progress made – I mean, made there, I would like to ask you on a different subject --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- to – I know you probably don’t have an answer to this, but it involves Bahrain.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: There is a move afoot, or a push by some people, human rights advocates, et cetera, to – want to require the Administration to draw up contingency plans for possible moving of the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. And I’m wondering if you could take the question as to whether the – I realize that this is a Pentagon deal, but I’m wondering if the State Department has an opinion on this considering Bahrain’s position and considering the situation there, and the fact that this national reconciliation dialogue has gone nowhere and is now on hiatus. So that would be my other question.
MS. PSAKI: Let me see if we do, Matt, and we’ll get back to you on that.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:23 p.m.)
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