The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Daily Press Briefing, July 30, 2013

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 30, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing

Bradley Manning
High Representative Ashton's Meetings / Mohamed Morsy
Call for Inclusive Political Process
Upcoming Meeting
No Readout of Negotiations / Secretary Kerry's Role
Palestinian Economy
Work Plan for Final Status Negotiations / No Deadline
Concerns About Upcoming Elections / Support for Independent Observers
Taliban Reconciliation Efforts
Condemning Violence
Raif Badawi Case
Deputy Burns's Meeting
Sanctions Legislation
U.S. is Open to Negotiations
Keystone XL Pipeline



1:22 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. I know there’s lots of news happening around here today, but --

QUESTION: Really? Where? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we were just up on the eighth floor. I didn’t see you there, but --

QUESTION: Oh, I thought you were talking about Fort Meade.

MS. PSAKI: -- it was an exciting statement by the Secretary, but let’s start with what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: It was an exciting statement. I’d love to start with the Middle East --

MS. PSAKI: Great.

QUESTION: -- but since I know that you’re not going to be able to answer any of my questions, I’ll start with another topic that you won’t be able to answer my question on, which is: What is the State Department’s reaction to the verdict of the Manning trial?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we have seen the verdict, which I know just came out right before I stepped out here. I would – beyond that, I would refer you to the Department of Defense --

QUESTION: Look, for the --

MS. PSAKI: -- with no further comment from here.

QUESTION: For the entire trial, this building had said that it wouldn’t comment because it was pending – it was a pending case. Now that it’s over, you say – you’re still not going to comment?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. I would refer you to the Department of Defense.

QUESTION: Can I – okay. Can I just ask why?

MS. PSAKI: Because the Department of Defense has been the point agency through this process.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: These were State Department cables, exactly. They were your property.

QUESTION: State Department employees were (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: We don’t – we just don’t have any further comment. I know the verdict just came out. I don’t have anything more for you.

QUESTION: Well, does that mean – are you working on a comment?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t --

QUESTION: Are you gratified that this theft of your material was --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t expect so, Matt, but if we have anything more to say, I promise everybody in this room and then some will have it.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m a little bit surprised that you don’t have any comment, considering the amount of energy and time this building expended on assisting the prosecution, but also when they were – when the cables were first put out, your former predecessor, Mr. Crowley, spent a huge amount of time on it and I – it would be --

MS. PSAKI: I’m aware of that --


MS. PSAKI: -- and if there’s more to say at any point today, I’m sure we’ll make that available to all of you.

Did you want to move on to another topic?

QUESTION: I’ll let other people go on to their topic, because I’m sure I will be as unsatisfied with your responses to other questions as I was to --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see, Matt. You never know.

QUESTION: Well, okay.

QUESTION: I have a question on Egypt.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: We know that the – that Lady Catherine Ashton has met with Morsy. Have you been in touch with her on his condition? What sort of leverage is the U.S. using to try to calm the situation in Egypt at the moment, considering the Brotherhood’s also called for more protests and there is ongoing violence?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, I can tell you that the Secretary spoke with High Representative Ashton again this morning. As I mentioned yesterday, we, of course, welcome all meetings that she was able to have with Egyptian authorities and representatives of other parties and groups in Cairo, including her meeting with Mr. Morsy. We’ll continue to be in close touch with her and her staff moving forward. Of course, the Secretary fully supports her efforts to help calm tensions, prevent further violence, bridge political divides, and help lay the basis for a peaceful, inclusive political process.

As you know, we’ve been calling for and continue to call for an inclusive political process leading to a democratically elected civilian government. The Secretary has been in close touch, as you know, throughout the course of the weekend. He was a little busy over the last 24 hours, but I’m certain he will be moving forward with his counterparts in the region, continue to be in touch with High Representative Ashton and her office, and work together on how we can all help ease the tensions and call for calm in Egypt.

QUESTION: Was the Secretary convinced or was he assured that Morsy was in good condition and was being treated fairly?

MS. PSAKI: I just – I don’t have any more from their specific conversation to read out for you, but obviously, High Representative Ashton spoke publicly about her views and her findings from a meeting with him last evening, so I would point you to that.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did they have any discussion ahead of time so that he knew this was going to take place? Did – was there anything in particular that he wanted her to convey?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you saw his statement this weekend, which is what he’s been conveying privately as well to all parties. They have spoken – they spoke a number of times this weekend, so he did know, of course, she was going. They did discuss about their shared concerns about the violence on the ground and their shared belief that we would like to see continued movement towards an inclusive democratic process.

QUESTION: But she – I mean, she’s the first person to really get in to see him.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So presumably, this would be an opportunity to send a message --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- beyond that, such as, “Great, thanks for playing, but you’re not coming back,” or anything along those lines if he chose to send that kind of message.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more about their private conversations to read out for all of you. Obviously, the Secretary’s view is what we’ve stated from here a number of times, which is that it’s up to the Egyptian people to determine Mr. Morsy’s future, if he has a political future in Egypt. Beyond that, I just don’t have more details for you of their conversation.

QUESTION: Jen, you just said that they spoke – that he and Ashton spoke over the weekend, but yesterday, you told us that he had spoken yesterday with Ashton. Is that – was that not correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he did speak with her yesterday. Let me just double-check and make sure.

QUESTION: And the subject of the --

MS. PSAKI: He spoke with her as well on Saturday, so all happens to be correct.

QUESTION: Right. But he spoke with her yesterday, which is more to the point, because she was in Egypt yesterday; right?

MS. PSAKI: Correct, and Anne was asking whether he spoke with her before her visit.

QUESTION: No, I know. I just wanted to make sure that – right. He spoke to her during --

MS. PSAKI: On Saturday.

QUESTION: -- the visit. Oh, okay, but – no, I think she meant his visit – her visit to Morsy. Maybe I’m wrong.

MS. PSAKI: Well, he spoke with her – let me just make sure you all have it --

QUESTION: Right. So the last time he --

MS. PSAKI: -- all of the times: This morning; he spoke with her yesterday, which we talked about yesterday; and he also spoke with her on Saturday.

QUESTION: All right. Well, in his conversation with her yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- did he talk – did they talk about her impending or upcoming visit with the deposed president? I think that’s the question.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of whether it was planned at that time yet --


MS. PSAKI: -- so I just don’t have any more specific –

QUESTION: But it was a topic of discussion this morning in their call, her visit –

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more than what I just told you about what they discussed.


MS. PSAKI: Was very little.

QUESTION: I’m sorry?

MS. PSAKI: Just that they discussed and the Secretary –

QUESTION: They didn’t talk –

MS. PSAKI: -- reiterated his support.

QUESTION: The word – the name Morsy didn’t come up at all once?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not saying one way or the other. I don’t have more for you on their call and the specifics of it. She spoke publicly about her –

QUESTION: Which is why I’m a little surprised that you don’t want to say that the Secretary even hazarded a question to her about how the guy was doing.

MS. PSAKI: Well, if I have more to readout on their private conversations, I’m happy to share them. But she’d also spoken publicly about it, so there wasn’t a secret.

QUESTION: Is there any indication that – or is there any intent for the U.S. officials to see him as well?

MS. PSAKI: To see him? Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: So what is – what fate would you like to see Mr. Morsy meet? I mean, what is your position on his fate and how soon this should be accomplished?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve said this a couple of times, Said.

QUESTION: Right. I understand, but –

MS. PSAKI: But we still feel the same way that we believe that it is important that there be a process to work towards his release. And clearly you need to take into account his personal safety and the volatile political situation in Egypt, and – but that is what we’re conveying publicly and privately.

QUESTION: But despite repeated calls by you, by the EU –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- by Lady Ashton, and so on, despite seeing him and saying that he’s actually in good health and so on, there’s really no movement on the process of having him released. Do you concur with that? There has been no movement on that front?

MS. PSAKI: There has – obviously, if he were released, I’m sure we would all know. But that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to press on it.

QUESTION: No, I guess if I were to rephrase what I said, is there – are you aware of any process to have him released like we are maybe at step one or step two or step five in this process?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t be the appropriate person to read out any specifics even if they did exist for you, Said.

QUESTION: So you just mentioned that in this you have to – there’s a need to take into account his personal safety and the volatile political situation?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does the United States have concerns that if Mr. Morsy was released something bad might happen to him? Do you have any –

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we think his safety should be taken into account.


MS. PSAKI: And that is a factor –

QUESTION: And so you think –

MS. PSAKI: -- if he were to be released. So as that’s –

QUESTION: So you think he should be held then? He should continue to be held and be protected –

MS. PSAKI: We think that should be a factor –

QUESTION: -- by his great –

MS. PSAKI: -- considered, Matt, as – in a process that’s developed for his release.

QUESTION: Do you have any reason to believe, other than what the Egyptian military has told you, that Mr. Morsy would be in danger if he was released?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s clear to anyone watching what’s happening in Egypt that the situation is very volatile on the ground, and clearly, his safety should be a factor that’s considered as we push for a process for his release.

QUESTION: Well, as far as I know, people in senior leadership positions of political parties haven’t been assassinated or anything like that. The worst thing that’s happened to them is they’ve been picked up by the army, which is – or the security forces, and Mr. Morsy already has been picked up and detained. So I’m just curious –

MS. PSAKI: Matt, all I said is that it should be a factor in his release.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but it seems –

MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting it should prevent –

QUESTION: -- to me that you’re –

MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting anything other than to say it should be a factor considered in a process developed for his release.

QUESTION: Okay. But the fact that you mention it at all –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- as being a factor would suggest that you think that there is some threat to him if he was let out of custody by the Egyptians and that you think that’s a real threat. So that’s why I’m – that’s why I’m pressing the point.

MS. PSAKI: I understand.

QUESTION: So do you think that there is a threat to his life or safety?

MS. PSAKI: If there wasn’t a concern about his safety, we wouldn’t mention it.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the military’s grip on power in Egypt or on control is eroding and that actually the volatility on the street may be reflected among the ranks of the army at the present time? Do you have any reason to believe that?

MS. PSAKI: That the power of the military is eroding?

QUESTION: That the – yeah. The ability of the military to control the situation in Egypt is eroding and that what is happening there, the schisms on the ground, may be reflected in the army itself?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any evaluation of that for you, Said. Obviously, the situation on the ground –

QUESTION: I mean, considering that –

MS. PSAKI: -- is very volatile on all sides, and our focus is in working with the interim government and all parties to encourage them to move forward in a productive manner.

QUESTION: But considering that the Egyptian military is very close to the U.S. military – they coordinate all things very closely together and so on – you have no reading of the situation of the military on the ground and its ability to maintain control?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, Secretary Hagel and also Secretary Kerry have been in touch with the military on the ground, and we are in touch with all sides and all parties. But I don’t have any evaluation or readout for you of more than I’ve said about the situation on the ground.

QUESTION: You did say that Morsy’s political future should be decided by the Egyptian people?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you talking about the – which Egyptian people are you talking about? Is it the people that are running the country now, the military, the new president, or an election?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not talking about one party. I’m talking about the millions of people in Egypt. It’s not for the U.S. to determine whether he has a place in Egypt in the political world there moving forward. It’s up to the Egyptian people to determine.

QUESTION: Are you saying that there should be another election to decide whether he should be – should have a political future?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, as we know, we’re working towards another election. That’s the end goal of this process the interim government is – has underway right now. And again, it’s up to the Egyptian people to determine what his role, if any, in the political spectrum will be in the future.

QUESTION: Jen, didn’t the Egyptian people already decide what his political future should be?

MS. PSAKI: They certainly did, Matt, but we still leave it up to them to decide moving forward.

QUESTION: So you – (laughter) – really?


QUESTION: But he wasn’t – his term hadn’t expired.

MS. PSAKI: Correct. But they – obviously, we’ve been through this a number of times before.

QUESTION: But if you say it’s up to the Egyptian people and the Egyptian people voted, a majority of them voted to elect him, they have already decided his political future.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, and millions –

QUESTION: The fact that he –

MS. PSAKI: -- of people, as we’ve talked about –

QUESTION: Yes, but not –

MS. PSAKI: -- quite a few times –

QUESTION: But not a majority.

MS. PSAKI: Millions of people came out and expressed their concerns about how he was ruling.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so –

MS. PSAKI: We’re talking about elections moving forward.

QUESTION: So if Morsy was to be free, if he was to run again, if he was to win again, then that would be okay with you? I realize those are all hypotheticals, but –

MS. PSAKI: Those are all hypotheticals --

QUESTION: -- I want to set the stage for –

MS. PSAKI: -- I’m not going to touch.

QUESTION: If the majority of Egyptians vote for him again, would you be okay with another coup?

MS. PSAKI: Matt. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Is the Administration concerned that if Morsy is released he could incite greater levels of violence? Is that a concern of yours?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve been concerned about any incidents of violence out there obviously, and that’s why that’s been a major part of our message publicly and privately.

QUESTION: But specific to President Morsy’s release.

MS. PSAKI: That is not something that I’ve heard from our team. We’re obviously working towards and encouraging a process for his release. The security piece is the piece that we are –

QUESTION: Jen, I just want to ask you about – are you aware of any deal or discussion underway that would secure his safe exit if he renounced his claim to the presidency? Because this was – this has been under discussion, and a lot of people feel that Lady Ashton actually went there to discuss this. Are you aware of any kind of deal underway or discussion underway that would lead to his release and a more calm situation in Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details than I’ve provided to all of you.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Regarding Ashton and discussion today about the – with Secretary Kerry with Ashton, and without going into the details of readout or --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It was the (inaudible) idea. Do you believe in – still believe in that she can play a mediation role to find so-called the national reconciliation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you, of course, to Lady Ashton and her staff to ask the question of what role she plans to play moving forward. But we’re certainly supportive of her efforts to date and certainly would be supportive of them moving forward. And the Secretary and many of his counterparts in the region have all been in close contact and closely coordinating on our shared concerns and our shared effort to instill calm and stability.

QUESTION: There is another question. Today, sharing with the podium with Ashton was the Vice President Baradei –

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: -- and he said in – he dismissed groups calling Morsy a political prisoner, saying there are charges against him. What your comment about what he said?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we saw his comments. Our view remains the same that it’s up to the Egyptian people to decide their leadership. I think we’ve been pretty clear on how we believe there’s a process that should be in place for his release. And beyond that, I don’t have much more for you on it.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on the Mideast announcement today?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Wait, wait, just one more. I just – you want to reiterate that it’s up to the Egyptian people to choose their own leadership, except when you don’t like the guy; is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, I think we’re talking about a couple different things here, and we’ve spoken at length –

QUESTION: I don’t know. Yeah, I know. I know.

MS. PSAKI: -- in here about the events of July 3rd.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: It wasn’t quite clear to me whether Martin Indyk is going to be present for this meeting within two weeks or not. Can you clarify that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, to the best of my ability of what information is available at the time, I can. As the Secretary mentioned, they are, of course, planning to meet within the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian Territories in order to begin the formal process. As you know, earlier today the two parties met together without the U.S. representation. We expect that moving forward we will be a part of many of the discussions, but there will be discussions where both – where two parties will just met with each other. So we haven’t yet determined the next meeting and what that will be composed of, but as many of you have seen, we’re going to be doing a little briefing a little later this afternoon where perhaps we’ll have more details for you, if they’ve been finalized by then.

QUESTION: Do you have any more details --

QUESTION: Are both sides leaving today, leaving Washington today?

MS. PSAKI: I know that the Israeli side had to get back for some events tomorrow. I’m not sure about the travel plans on the Palestinian side.

QUESTION: Do you have any more details on the steps on the ground that the Secretary alluded to that would be taken? I think he said by the Israelis. I wasn’t sure if the Israelis – the Palestinians would be taking steps on the ground, too?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve talked about Middle East peace quite a bit in here, and one of the points that you heard the Secretary make again today is about the importance of giving these negotiations and discussions room to make progress. And so with that in mind, he doesn’t plan or we don’t plan to read out specifics behind the scenes of agreements or decisions that are made on that front.

QUESTION: So could you explain to us or clarify to us what the Secretary exactly meant by him being the point person on whatever development and the announcement of these developments?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the point he was making, Said – and thanks for your question – is that there’ll be a lot of rumors and a lot of misinformation out there that doesn’t necessarily characterize what the actual status of negotiations is or what the discussion is about, and that he’ll be making statements and certainly others will be as well, but just cautioning people not to read into every rumor and every report that is seen out there. We know that there are cynics, we know this will be a challenging process, and he thought that was worth mentioning today.

QUESTION: Okay. And what kind of mechanism will be placed to do this, to conduct this – to sort of guard against rumors and so on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think --

QUESTION: Will there be, like, an office within the State Department that will follow this through?

QUESTION: The Office of Rumor Control. (Laughter.) Oh, would that there would be an Office of Rumor Control.

MS. PSAKI: That’s what we do. (Laughter.) Well, there’s, of course, Martin Indyk, as you know, will be playing a role as leading this process, and Frank Lowenstein will be his deputy. But the point was not to announce of office of that; it was to make clear to caution everybody not to believe everything they read and believe everything they hear, and that his goal remains to give these discussions the room to make progress.

QUESTION: I guess my question is: Will there be a spokesperson for this effort?

MS. PSAKI: Are you not satisfied with the information I’m providing? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No, no. I’m trying to see how this will be sort of juxtaposed against this room here.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think --

QUESTION: We’re quite satisfied, but I’m – it’s a serious question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Good, I’m glad we clarified that. (Laughter.) There will be – certainly, we will all be working together with the team you know well and work all closely with in in the bureau, but we were not announcing a new staffing situation.

QUESTION: Jen, does that mean that the Secretary himself will be traveling back and forth again, or will he basically let the negotiators do it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as he said yesterday, he wanted to put together a senior team as soon as we knew that we were moving towards final status negotiations because he knows he can’t do it by himself. And so Martin Indyk, Ambassador Indyk, will be playing the day-to-day role as well as, of course, Frank Lowenstein. And we expect Ambassador Indyk to spend a great deal of time in the region. The Secretary certainly may go to the region, we may have other meetings here, but that’s getting ahead of where we are. We’re just working to schedule the next set of meetings within the next two weeks.

QUESTION: Jen, what --

QUESTION: Can I follow up --

QUESTION: What exactly did the Secretary mean today when he said the Israelis would need to improve conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? It just came out of nowhere and it just – one leaves questions as to what he meant by that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, he – what I can tell you is that one of his goals is, of course, to provide and put together a plan, working with a team you’ve heard him talk about – to help grow the economic opportunities. And he’s working closely with a number of leaders from the business sector to do just that. He spoke about it a bit when he gave his speech at the WEF. And expect there’ll be more to say on that in the weeks and months ahead. But we know that a prosperous West Bank and a prosperous – where there are – is job growth and economic growth will provide an opportunity to help move forward towards finalizing peace.

QUESTION: Oh, so it’s economic related.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Jen, can I follow up on that, though, because he said the Israeli Government would be taking these steps? That seemed a little bit separate from his economic plan --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are steps to help ease some of the burdens and barriers to growth. That certainly could be part of those discussions, and he spoke about that as well in his speech.

QUESTION: A quick follow-up on his question about Palestinian actions on the ground. In that same portion of the Secretary’s speech, he also talked about efforts by the Palestinian security forces to reduce West Bank terrorism.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And he seemed to juxtapose those both as steps that both parties were taking forward to get these negotiations back on track. Is that your understanding of his intention? Because I think we all kind of are curious about Palestinian steps on the ground. I just want to clarify if that was meant to address that question.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have more to clarify for you. We’re going to a briefing later this afternoon where we can go into more specific details.

QUESTION: Excuse me --

QUESTION: Sorry, maybe this would be better addressed at the other briefing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but let me just try here.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Back in Amman on the 19th, when we were all there, great pains were made to try to convince us that this – today, yesterday and today – were, in fact, the beginning of real, substantive negotiations. The Secretary upstairs and you just now have talked about having – that this meeting was important, quote, “in order to begin the formal process.”

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So has the formal process actually begun?


QUESTION: And it began today?


QUESTION: So what do you mean when you say that the next meeting is going to be to begin the formal process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I apologize if I caused --


MS. PSAKI: -- any confusion. Today was the beginning of the formal process.


MS. PSAKI: The agreement just a few weeks ago was to move forward on final status negotiations.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. PSAKI: That’s exactly what they did today. It’s only natural that the first part of the discussion would be on putting a work plan together and making plans for the months ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. So they did put a work plan together.

MS. PSAKI: That was the goal of today, yes.

QUESTION: And so they succeeded in that?

MS. PSAKI: I will defer to our officials who will be briefing you later on more specifics.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Will they be able to offer us more specifics, or will they say it’s a secret?

MS. PSAKI: I will --

QUESTION: You will wait?

MS. PSAKI: -- we’ll discuss after the briefing.

QUESTION: Okay. Then, you also said that the Secretary’s comments about him being the only person who would comment, quickly followed by him saying he would never comment – (laughter) – so I’m not sure if that was very helpful at all – you said the point was that, “Don’t believe everything you read or every rumor that you hear.” I’m assuming that that’s going to go for your comments and the Secretary’s comments – claims that progress is being made when there is absolutely no evidence that any progress is being made. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt --

QUESTION: We shouldn’t believe that, those either?

MS. PSAKI: -- we’ll let the final results – we’ll let you judge the final results. Our goal here is to move to a final agreement. And obviously, we know – or the Secretary strongly believes, as do both parties, that in order to do that, we need to give the process the room and the space to make progress.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. There was a lot of complaining upstairs about cynics and people who are skeptics and how they shouldn’t be. I’m assuming that you agree with all that, and I particularly want to point out that last line that Justice Minister Livni said: “I believe that history is not made by cynics. It is made by realists who are not afraid to dream.” Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I liked that line.

QUESTION: You did?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You don’t think that the dreamer – you think the dreamers are realists?

QUESTION: Can I ask you --

QUESTION: Can I – no. I’m serious. I want to know what you think – why you think that all of the skepticism and all of the cynicism is misplaced.

MS. PSAKI: Because they’re here today. You heard all parties speak about how they’re committed to taking this process seriously and pursuing it in the weeks and months ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, is there any plan by Secretary Kerry to expand his team? Because it – I mean, three people does not seem like an awful lot – himself, Indyk, and Lowenstein.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, no one should underestimate all the people who do a lot of the hard work who are working for all the people at the top. So they certainly have a number of those working for them, and I’m sure as needed they will expand the team. But I don’t have any other announcements for you.


QUESTION: Can I ask you --

QUESTION: Can you talk a bit about the nine month --

MS. PSAKI: One more, I think, is good. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- timeline? Obviously, three years ago the negotiations lasted roughly two weeks. Why – maybe you can give some insight into why nine months.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any magic definition of why nine months --

QUESTION: Gestation.

MS. PSAKI: -- except to say that it was important that there was enough time for all parties – that all parties would commit to to be able to see a process through. Again, as I said yesterday, it’s not a deadline. It’s a commitment to work through it. And we know there could be bumps in the road. It will be a challenging process, as I think you heard a couple of the officials say this morning, but it’s important to keep our eyes on the prize at the end of the road here.

QUESTION: In fact, yesterday what you said was that it was a – it was the minimum that they would go for --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- they had agreed to spend nine months. But today it was a little – Secretary Kerry expressed it a little bit more strongly, saying that that was not a deadline, but their goal is to reach this agreement in nine months.

MS. PSAKI: I said that yesterday as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Did – and so can you, just for the record, say when you – that nine months minus one day, when is that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s started.

QUESTION: Yeah, I know. So when is it?

MS. PSAKI: When does it – when does the nine months end?

QUESTION: When does it expire, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’d have to do a little math and get back to you on the exact date, Matt.

QUESTION: Could you?

MS. PSAKI: Matt --

QUESTION: No, no, could you? I think it’s important to get out of --

MS. PSAKI: -- let’s see, July --

QUESTION: Three weeks in May.


MS. PSAKI: -- at the end of --

QUESTION: It’s not a deadline, it’s not a cut-off.

MS. PSAKI: It’s not --

QUESTION: Yeah, but if they’re to – if the goal is to reach an agreement in nine months, it would be nice to know --

MS. PSAKI: That is the goal --

QUESTION: -- exactly what you think that goal is, whether it’s May or June.

MS. PSAKI: -- but as I said yesterday, if we’re making progress, if we’re continuing to make progress, and this was an agreement to pursue it through that amount of time.

QUESTION: I understand that. I understand that, but it’s just good to have on the record when that nine months ends.

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t been afraid of saving it on the record a couple of times, nor was the Secretary.

QUESTION: No, no, I – yeah, nine months, but the problem is that in the past when these things have happened, like a year with Annapolis, it kept getting extended and extended and extended. So if you could --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not a deadline, so there’s a possibility. But that’s what we’re shooting for.

QUESTION: Jen, in coming to point, the Israelis announced that they are going to free 104 prisoners. What did the Palestinians do, just for the record, so I understand? What was their chip that they threw in the pot?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I feel comfortable, as I did yesterday, talking about the announcement the Israelis made very publicly, including an open letter from the Prime Minister, but I’m not going to get into other specifics of either side or any decisions that they’ve made as – out of respect for the process.

QUESTION: Can I change the topic? Can I go to Zimbabwe, just to --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- just to change continent a bit. There’s presidential and parliamentary elections tomorrow in Zimbabwe --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and there’s already a lot of fears being expressed by the opposition that the vote is going to be rigged. I wondered if the United States had a comment on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we believe – first, let me say that the elections are, of course, a critical moment for the people of Zimbabwe. The United States, the SADC, and other – our international partners continue to call for elections that are peaceful, transparent, and credible. We do remain concerned about the lack of transparency in electoral preparations by continued partisan behavior, by state security institutions, and by the technical and logistical issues hampering the administration of a credible and transparent election.

We are also concerned about longstanding government restrictions on civil society organizations, independent media, political parties, and regular citizens that impede their right to operate free of harassment, detention, and intimidation.

QUESTION: Was the United States actually allowed to send any observers in?

MS. PSAKI: Well, along with other members of the international community, we have sought ways to support SADC’s role in Zimbabwe’s electoral process in a number of ways, including through limited funding to an independent SADC observers to monitor Zimbabwe’s elections.

QUESTION: But you haven’t sent any of your own observers? You’ve provided funding.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we support independent election observation missions, so that’s how we’ve –

QUESTION: But unlike in Mali where you had 58 observers, there are no U.S. observers on the ground in Zimbabwe?

MS. PSAKI: I’m only aware of the – our funding for the independent election observers. I’m happy to double back with our team and see if there’s more, but I believe that’s where our assistance has been focused.

QUESTION: Jen, can I take you back to the Israeli-Palestinian just for one sec?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I want to make sure I understood one thing that Secretary Kerry said correctly. He said our objective is a final status agreement within nine months.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: By “our,” does he mean the United States objective? Or does he mean the objective of the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the United States – all three?

MS. PSAKI: He means all three.


QUESTION: Jen, Secretary Kerry said that all final status issues are on the table.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And Tzipi Livni said that she doesn’t want to talk about the past but a solution for the future. So are all the previous talks that occurred, are they considered jumping off points for these talks, or are they really starting over from scratch – completely from scratch now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary has spoken a bit about how, in order to make progress and hopefully achieve a successful outcome, you need to take a different approach. And part of that is certainly keeping the negotiations and the discussions quiet. I’m certain that all parties have learned from the processes in the past, including many members that will be working closely with the Secretary on our efforts. But beyond that, I don’t have any more specifics for you to lay out.

QUESTION: So is that part of – is this new approach, is that part of the – maybe one of the concessions that President Abbas made that Jill was asking about?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more to outline for you from the specifics of the parties.

QUESTION: Sorry. Taking a new approach is keeping everything quiet? That’s been an approach that’s been used every time going back to 1999, keeping everything secret. That’s not a new approach. The attempt to keep it quiet is not a new approach. But since you raised this idea of the fact that people who are up there and are being involved have done this again, I wanted to go back to yesterday’s announcement of Ambassador Indyk and the Secretary’s quotation from the Coleridge poem that is in the preface. Is the Secretary aware of the three lines that follow the line that he read?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure you’re going to provide them to all of us right now.

QUESTION: Well, the first line, which he did read, is: “If men could learn from history, what lessons would it teach us!” That’s where he ended. But the line goes on: “But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us,” which doesn’t really lead – is not particularly an optimistic comment. Was he aware of the rest of the lines from that stanza? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: He’s been pretty busy.


MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure how much time for a poetry reading he’s had in the last couple of days.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Go ahead, Deb.

QUESTION: Can I change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there any update on the situation at the Doha office for the Taliban?

MS. PSAKI: There is not.

QUESTION: What kind of an update can you give us on that?

MS. PSAKI: There is not an update. I mean, we remain focused, of course, on a path to reconciliation. Our focus is also, as you know, on elections and achieving a – and ensuring that those take place next year in a free and fair manner. But I don’t have any update for you on the specific office.

QUESTION: So it’s – the talks are not anywhere close to getting back underway, if they ever were or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it remains our goal. We’re still focused on it. I just don’t have a new update for you today on it.

QUESTION: Can I change --

QUESTION: Actually, do you guys have any comment on the Taliban jail break?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything on that for you. I don’t believe I have anything new for you on that, but I’m happy to get you something after the briefing.

QUESTION: Can I change topic --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to Tunisia? Right next door to Egypt was – there’s just as much turmoil going on, assassinations and calls for the government to quit. I was wondering what the involvement of the U.S. is in monitoring this, or have they spoken to anyone in Tunisia? What is – what are the developments? Are you concerned about them?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, of course, we’re closely monitoring. I don’t have any new updates in terms of contacts or what we’ve had on the – what contacts we’ve had on the ground. We continue to – but I can venture to get those for you, of course.

We continue to encourage Tunisians to continue to express themselves peacefully despite the heightened tensions in the wake of the assassination last week. We condemn the use of violence in all of its forms, and as we’ve said, violence has no role in Tunisia’s democratic transition.

In terms of our specific role on the ground, I’m happy to venture to get you any update from the last couple of days.

QUESTION: Can we go to Saudi Arabia?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. Today, a Saudi court sentenced Raef Badawi, a blogger, for seven years and 600 lashes, accusing him of insulting the virtue police. There is something called the virtue police in Saudi Arabia. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, I do. We are deeply concerned that the authorities sentenced Raef Badawi, a blogger and founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. We believe that when public speech is deemed offensive, be it via social media or any other means, the issue is best addressed through open dialogue and honest debate. We support efforts to promote human rights around the world, and this is something that is a regular part of our discussions with the Government of Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: In an event like this, do you sort of pick up the phone and talk to your Saudi allies?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we, of course, have a team of diplomats and officials on the ground, and beyond that, I don’t have any calls to read out for you from here.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I ask about Japan?

MS. PSAKI: Japan.

QUESTION: My name is Yota. I’m with a Japanese newspaper.

MS. PSAKI: Great. Nice to meet you.

QUESTION: Nice to meet you. Yesterday, the Deputy Secretary Burns and Vice Defense Minister Eto had a meeting.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’d just like to ask, what did you guys discuss and there was any agreement or anything proposed from the U.S. side to Japan --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about the security environment in the Northeast Asia? Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, the two met for a high-level consultation on a range of matters related to the U.S.-Japan alliance and current issues in the Asia Pacific region, including Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines, the importance to the United States of good relations between Japan and its neighbors, and the U.S. deep commitment – the United States’ deep commitment to the Asia Pacific region. As you know, the Administration values the U.S.-Japan alliance as the cornerstone of our engagement in the Asia Pacific and to a secure and stable region. But I don’t have more specifics than that for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: A follow up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Senate passed Senate Resolution 167 reaffirming support for cooperation and peace in the East China Sea with maritime security issues. Do you have any reaction to that or anything that you guys might be doing in response?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t for you. I’d have to take a closer look at that, but our position has not changed.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) will be early tomorrow on a new sanctions package, the goal of bringing Iran oil exports down to zero.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary have any comment, support, or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are, of course, aware of the new legislation in Congress. We continue to work with Congress on all sanctions legislation concerning Iran. We continue to lead – the Administration continues to lead a comprehensive and unrelenting set of international sanctions against the Iranian regime. Iran is increasingly cut off from the global financial system. Significant amounts of Iranian oil are coming off the market. The Iranian currency is plummeting in value. And firms all over the world are divesting themselves of business with Iran. Beyond that, I don’t have anything more specific on this particular legislation.

QUESTION: So you can’t say that you support it or you’re opposed to it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on it.

QUESTION: So that would be a yes to the – you can’t say that you support it or --



QUESTION: Will you – will the Secretary have comment on the expiration of exemptions for companies in China, Turkey, South Korea and so forth that continue to use Iranian oil? After the bill, can we expect a statement?

MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to check on that for you after the briefing and see if we have --

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on (inaudible) --

QUESTION: Hey, Said. What’s up? I’m going to go.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll come right back to you, Said.

QUESTION: No problem. Go, go.

QUESTION: Jen, is it out of the question that the State Department will issue a statement on the Manning verdict? I know Matt asked about this at the beginning.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is it – I mean, considering the focus on it in 2010, is that out of the question that later today, we can get a statement?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of plans to, but I’m happy to circle back with the team here and see if we’re going to have more to offer.

QUESTION: Do you know – at the time we were told that U.S. lives were in risk, the Pentagon was saying U.S. lives were at risk, the State Department was saying U.S. lives are at risk. Do you know if, since 2010, anybody has been killed as a result of the WikiLeaks document download?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any more on this topic for you.


QUESTION: Yeah, I want to go back to Rouhani. Do you have any comment on – allegedly, he’s forming a cabinet that is intended to be of a character and acumen to engage the world community and actually roll back the nuclear program. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position remains the same. We’ve obviously been following closely and we know there have been developments in the past couple of months, as we’re all aware and we’ve commented on a number of times. But our position is the same in terms of engagement with Iran. We remain open to bilateral talks, open to discussions with Iran both through the P-5+1 and through our own avenue, but the ball is in their court. So that hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you have any sort of (inaudible) of your own to determine whether, in fact, Mr. Rouhani was actually responsible for halting and in fact rolling back Iran’s efforts for – to obtain a nuclear bomb?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more analysis on that for you.

Last one.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Really brief one.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Okay. Well, we’ll come to you last, Matt. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Keystone XL Pipeline.

QUESTION: Yeah. Actually --

QUESTION: Has the State Department changed its estimate on the number of jobs that will be created during the construction phase of the Keystone XL Pipeline? And it seems like you’re about to read something.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t believe we’ve changed our --

QUESTION: So 5- to 6,000 is what you’re thinking per year; is that correct, Jen?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check back on what --

QUESTION: That’s what the --

MS. PSAKI: -- specifically we’ve put out in the past, but I’m not aware of any change.

QUESTION: Okay. So the State Department – that’s what they’ve said before, is 5- to 6,000 per year. And this past weekend, in an interview with The New York Times, the President said that it may be 2,000 during the construction phase. So there seems to be a disconnect between what the President is saying and what the State Department is projecting. Is – do you see it the same way?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any changes to what our projections are.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Okay. My question is very much similar --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but my understanding was in the environmental impact statement that the State Department put out in March, was that the project would potentially support approximately 42,000 average annual jobs across the United States over the construction period, which is a lot more than 4- or 5,000, and would seem to put the President way, way below what you guys have projected. So an answer to that question would be most appreciated.

MS. PSAKI: Well, sure. It sounds like there’s some confusion on this issue, so why don’t I take the question --


MS. PSAKI: -- and we’ll get you all an answer on what the projections are in the most recent assessment.

QUESTION: And then just the other thing, briefly, on this one: Is there any update on when this decision is going to be made?

MS. PSAKI: There is not an update.

QUESTION: Because we have been told first quarter – this is why the answer to the question, “When nine months is over” is important, okay, because we were told it was going to be the first quarter, second quarter. We’re now at the end of July.

MS. PSAKI: Well, the federal review process is still underway. One of the factors here, Matt, was that there were 1.2 million comments in response to the public comment period. Those need to be posted and considered, so we’re still in the federal review process. But I don’t have any update on exact timing of plans for a decision.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:06 p.m.)

DPB # 129

Join the mailing list