Background Briefing: Readout of Secretary Kerry's Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
Senior State Department Officials
June 26, 2014
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. So for the purposes of the transcript, this is a readout of the Secretary's meeting with foreign ministers this afternoon in Paris. It's on background for attribution to senior State Department officials.
The Secretary met with the group for about two hours. Most of the meeting was just with the foreign ministers and plus about one staffer per foreign minister, so it was a small – broken down into a smaller meeting, where you may have seen they sat outside for a great deal of it.
The reason that he pulled them together is because, one, the threat of ISIL is not just for – to Iraq. It's to the region. And that's a point the Secretary has been making in all of his consultations throughout the week and certainly emphasized with the group today. Also, as you know, the President asked him to come do consultations with Europeans and leaders from the Middle East, so this is part of that effort.
During the meeting, they all expressed a concern about the absence of inclusivity with the current government and the need for that to change moving forward. They talked about the political process, and the Secretary emphasized the need to support the organic process on the ground and for all parties – or for all sects, the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds – to all move forward as quickly as possible.
He – they also talked about – he also asked them for their views on ISIL and how concerned they were. They all expressed deep concern about the threat, the increasing threat. They talked about efforts to support the government once it's formed, and that's a point the Secretary emphasized. They also talked about – let's see – Syria, and they talked about that as it relates to the threat, how it is posing threat not to just Iraq, how it stemmed from Syria but it's posing a threat to the entire region. And they talked about strengthening the opposition.
They also briefly talked about Egypt. The Secretary expressed a concern, as he has publicly, about the recent verdicts this week, and the need for the government there to take a different path forward if they want to have a long-term, sustainable democracy.
Anything you guys would add to other pieces in the meeting?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I guess – are you okay with (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So one other just piece of color, during the meeting, the Secretary actually called over to Baghdad to get an update, sort of, on the latest state of play in the political situation there to keep people up to date.
QUESTION: Who did he talk with?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I'm not going to use his name for --
QUESTION: Oh, U.S. officials? Not Iraqi.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. He called U.S. officials in Baghdad to get the lay of the land from Iraq.
QUESTION: And what about the announcement?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: From the vice president?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Oh, he talked about that as – they talked about that during the meeting as well.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: They did. And I think they talked about that as a sign that, as [Senior State Department Official One] said, the sort of organic Iraqi political process, as sort of laid out in the constitution, is, at this point, continuing to move forward. The next significant milestone will be the convening of the Council of Representatives on July 1st.
QUESTION: Can I ask, is there anything – was anything discussed or did the Secretary offer it or did they ask about U.S. military effort, the possibility there are plans for --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. I mean, I think the Secretary basically said a version of what the President and the Secretary have both said publicly, which is that we are engaged in the process of building an intelligence picture of what's going on on the ground with ISIL, which is changing sort of by the day; we are in the process of looking at potential targets, but that at this point no decision has been made to actually take military action; and that the President, the Secretary, and everyone else believe strongly that political steps forward and development and eventually the context of a new government is very important to the success of any military action that we take, if and when we decide to go down that road, while the President also reserves the right to take this action at any point that he deems sort of consistent with America's interests.
So he basically made clear that we had made no decision to go ahead with military action like that, but reserve the right to do so if and when our interests call for it.
QUESTION: Did any of them raise the possibility of ever taking military action themselves?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The others?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. No one raised that.
QUESTION: Can I --
QUESTION: What was the --
QUESTION: Did they talk about any support though? Did they talk about any support they might give to support?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: To?
QUESTION: To the Iraqi leaders?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: On the – are you talking about military specifically?
QUESTION: No, just – yeah. I mean, whether they would give aid or weapons or whatever, or training or advice to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So we certainly didn't ask for anything like that, and it was not something that was discussed.
QUESTION: Can I – just a propos of this one point – apparently, a statement was issued in Israel from Lieberman's office that Israel could provide effective and reliable assistance to moderate Arab states who are dealing with extremists, referring to the ISIL threat. I guess this came out after the meeting with Secretary Kerry. Was there any discussion about any of that? Is there any there there or is --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: There was no discussion about the possibility of Israel providing assistance directly to Arab states related to the ISIL threat. What there was a discussion about though in the Lieberman meeting, I think we can say, is a very real sense that this threat is shared region-wide, which is what we've been saying all along, that this is an existential threat to the Iraqi state, but that it's a threat that each of the countries that the Secretary met with today, but also the rest of the region and the United States, shares as well, and that includes Israel.
QUESTION: Can you please clarify, on background, what happened?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yes. On background or off the record, my recollection of the meeting was that it was not raised with regard to the specific ISIL threat that is ongoing today, but that Israel did – that Foreign Minister Lieberman did speak generally to the idea of a shared threat to all countries in the region of extremists, and I'd – I would just sort of leave it at that. I don't think that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, I think --
QUESTION: But there was no detailed discussion of collaboration on --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, no, no.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No. No.
QUESTION: -- what – or how that might be operationalized.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. Zero.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: What was the --
QUESTION: Can I ask what exactly you want them to do?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Them, who?
QUESTION: If they're not involved, they – the countries with which the Secretary met today. If you're not asking and they're not volunteering to provide material support or aid to Iraq, what role do you want them to play? Just sort of --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, so they are playing a significant role already – not inside Iraq, per se – but they certainly are playing a role inside Syria as part of the sort of coalition of countries that are providing support to the moderate opposition. We have an approach to ISIL in Syria as well as in Iraq. And in Syria, the dominant aspect of our approach is support for the moderate opposition, which is not only fighting the Syrian regime, but is also fighting ISIL.
QUESTION: I'm asking about Iraq specifically.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Iraq. I guess I don't understand the question.
QUESTION: Well --
QUESTION: I think --
QUESTION: What exactly are you asking these countries to do to assist – stem the threat from ISIL in Iraq?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: What exactly are we asking them to do to stem the threat from ISIL in Iraq?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We are asking – as a general matter, although it didn't come up in these particularly meetings – in our general interactions with these countries, we talk about things like shutting down ISIL facilitation networks, funding sources – although we don't believe that any of these governments at the government level is providing any funding to groups like ISIL. We do believe that private money occasionally flows from some of these countries to these guys. That's a part of our kind of daily diplomatic --
QUESTION: But that is not a new item. I mean, that's a subject in terms of funding --
QUESTION: And that didn't come up today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: They did not specifically talk about financing – both ISIL inside --
QUESTION: What is the facilitation network that you're asking them to shut down?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, so at its most basic level it's people, radicalized individuals coming from these countries and ending up inside – fighting inside Syria. And that's a threat to all of us on some level, but it's first and foremost a threat to the countries from whom these people emerge. Because as we – the Secretary discussed yesterday and as we saw erupt a few months ago, the threat in some ways many of us are most concerned about is that these guys then come home, have been further radicalized by their experience inside Syria and fighting on the frontlines, and then commit acts of terrorism in their own countries.
QUESTION: But what is the network? If you're telling me individuals are deciding I wish to pursue jihad, so I'm going to go to Syria, gain a whole bunch of skills, and then go back to my home country and wreak havoc there, it doesn't sound like there's an actual network at work there. It sounds like there's individuals who are doing their own thing. So --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, of course. So I'm – look, we're not counterterrorism experts, but the way this often is described is people do their own research about how to sort of find their way to Syria on the internet and other places, they come into contact with individuals who can help sort of facilitate their passage, and then they go, and they sort of move through a network of people and institutions along the way. And this is exactly the sort of thing that we're concerned about.
QUESTION: I mean, which of the three countries are we talking about – Saudi, UAE, or Jordan – would you say those – the networks that you're describing are most --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Just about every country in the region has sent – has had individuals from that country travel to Syria to fight.
QUESTION: Where is it most prevalent, is the problem? Saudi?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I don't want to get into --
QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official Two], I have a just quick follow-up. I thought one of the – your talking points is that you want these countries to use their influence with the Sunni community, right, in Iraq to further this political process, right. I think Kuwait just withdrew their ambassador. I'm not sure the UAE has an ambassador currently in Baghdad. Maybe you can answer that. And I'm pretty sure the Saudis don't, that they have an embassy, but it's – they don't have an ambassador physically located in Baghdad. Would you like them to have – to play this role? Would you like them to have diplomats in Iraq?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So we'll get – we can – without getting – speaking to the exact status – because we saw a report that the Kuwaitis had withdrew their ambassador, and then we were told in one of our meetings, I think with the Iraqi foreign minister, that they weren't sure that that report was accurate.
QUESTION: Well, I'm pretty sure the Saudis don't have an ambassador at Baghdad.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Right. I think that – we can get you the status. So --
QUESTION: Well, would you like them to have ambassadors in Iraq to facilitate this process? Do you want them to do it by phone?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I mean, as I general matter, we think it's positive to have diplomatic relations with Iraq. The security climate in Iraq is such that I don't think it's our place to decide what sort of – what the climate allows in terms of a presence and security arrangements. We've obviously made some of our own decisions about security arrangements in the last couple of weeks.
But I will also say that it's not a requirement of having – having an ambassador is not the only way you can conduct diplomatic relations. The Secretary makes many, many, many, many phone calls to people during the course of pretty much every day, and that's – that can be an effective way to conduct this business as well. But generally, yes, we are supportive of countries having diplomatic relations, which all these countries, by the way, do have, whether or not their ambassador is present on the ground.
QUESTION: In the meeting --
QUESTION: Did the ministers – sorry.
QUESTION: In the meeting with the Saudis and Emiratis and Jordanians, what was the discussion of Maliki specifically? And what did Secretary Kerry say, if anything, about Maliki's future?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So I think what these countries say privately about the Iraqi prime minister is not something I want to characterize, but I think it's safe to say that it's very consistent with what they say publicly.
QUESTION: The Saudis have publicly called for him to go --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Exactly.
QUESTION: -- so clearly (inaudible).
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So we didn't hear – put it this way, we didn't hear anything more positive.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, and I said at the beginning that they talked about their concerns about the lack of inclusivity of the current leadership. That's obviously a reference to Maliki, so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And the Secretary's message on this was essentially to – that we share concerns and we are as focused as they are on making sure that the next Iraqi government is inclusive and is formed in the near future. But our belief is that, to the extent that they have interactions with people inside Iraq, that they use those interactions to encourage their interlocutors inside Iraq to engage constructively within the constitutional process and quickly, and that they convey a sense of urgency about moving – continuing to move the constitutional process steadily forward to the point that we can form a new government.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: And that it's not our role to – and that it's not our role, I mean, is what he said during the meeting, that it's not our role, the United States, to determine, as he says publicly.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. We are not focused on names of individuals. What we are focused on is facilitating a process that moves forward rapidly so that we don't have another eight-month delay, the way we did in 2010, and that results in a government that is as we've described it should be, which is inclusive, taking into accounts the rights and grievances of all of Iraq's communities, and can bring the country together. And that's critically important, even more important now than it was in 2010, because unlike in 2010 Iraq really does now face an existential security crisis. And we – while there certainly is no silver lining in a crisis like that, we do hope that it infuses a sense of urgency into the process that clearly was not present the last time that --
QUESTION: When you say these countries have their people inside of Iraq and you're trying to – I think you said something like you're trying to make sure that they're talking to their people inside of Iraq to have some --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: To the extent they do.
QUESTION: Did you mean the tribes, I mean kind of the cross-border tribes?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, I think we mean whoever – actually, honestly I think whoever they're talking to. But they – these – they have regular interactions with Iraqi political leaders as well. And our view is that one constructive use of those interactions would be to impress upon them the way we did when we were in Baghdad, because this is very much the message that we carried to Baghdad and that our team on the ground is constantly sort of pushing, which is we need to see continued progress, we need things to keep moving forward, we can't – Iraq can't abide months and months or even weeks and weeks of delays.
QUESTION: And are they --
QUESTION: And do you know if U.S. Government officials have any contact with the tribal leaders?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. I think Iraqi officials do have contact with tribal leaders.
QUESTION: No, I mean U.S. Government officials.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Oh, did I say --
QUESTION: Yes, you just said Iraqi.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Sorry. I think U.S. Government officials do have contact with tribal --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. We've talked about that.
QUESTION: Specifically on the --
QUESTION: Okay. Tribal leaders, not just Nujayfi and all of –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Just specifically on the Saudi Maliki thing, I mean did that come up, the fact that the Saudis had gone on record that they want him to go, and whether the Secretary sees that as helpful, unhelpful?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. I mean, I think each of the – maybe not each of them, but sort of the views of the current government were made clear, but our response to that is, again, the most constructive use of your energy is to encourage the political process to continue to move forward, not to focus on the perceived transgressions of past years.
QUESTION: Did you have a sense from their leaders, who are talking to Sunnis, to prominent politicians there, that they will – the Sunni community – move forward with the selection of a speaker? So beyond --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- getting together a parliament, they did receive assurances that that will happen, the speaker --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think that's an important question, and I don't think we have a definitive answer to that at this point, but --
QUESTION: You don't have a definitive answer to whether they'll hold up the process by not selecting --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I don't think we have – it is our assumption that they will select a speaker eventually. The question is how soon that will take place, and I don't think we have a clear sense of when that will be. But certainly as a critical step in the constitutional process, it's the kind of thing that we want to happen sooner rather than later.
QUESTION: Because they have indicated that Maliki must go before they do that, and that's been a line in the sand.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. And I --
QUESTION: So did you make progress beyond that in the conversation today?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, but – so you couldn't make progress beyond that in the conversation today because this is between Gulf leaders and the United States.
QUESTION: Right, but they also think that.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: But I think the general view among everyone in that conversation was that it's important for the process to keep moving forward.
QUESTION: But the constitution --
QUESTION: And will even if Maliki is there to oversee this process?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Again, it's not up to either the other foreign ministers who were there or Secretary Kerry to make that decision, but our desire and what we are conveying to our interlocutors is that it's important that the process continues to move forward, and that includes naming a speaker, that includes naming a president, and that eventually will include naming a prime minister as the next piece of that.
QUESTION: Did they agree – the ministers that you spoke to today, did they agree with you that that can happen while Maliki remains in office, at the moment?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. I mean I think that nobody drew a hard line or a hard condition around any steps in the political process or in front of any steps --
QUESTION: Doesn't the constitution say that the day that the COR convenes is – they have to select their parliament speaker that day?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The constitution, I believe, says that. We should double check that and --
QUESTION: Right. I believe it does too, and so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: But look, there are – yeah, I mean I believe that is the – does that mean with 100 percent certainty it's going to happen on that day? No, not unless they decide and actually execute on that.
QUESTION: But I believe the senior State Department official who talked to the pool report yesterday said that July 1 was the goal for having a Sunni speaker. Is that not the case?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think he said July was the --
QUESTION: By July?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay. July starts on the first, but okay.
QUESTION: By July or in July?
QUESTION: By July.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, as soon as possible. I mean, it's our --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Look, would we like it on the first day? Of course we'd like it on the first day.
QUESTION: Well, the point is --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: If we can't get it on the first day, we'd like it on the second day. We want it to be as soon as --
QUESTION: The point is that you're pushing for this constitutional process, and the constitution says that the speaker has to be put in place the day the COR convenes.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. So adherence to the constitution is --
QUESTION: And so if they bust it – and if the COR convenes and they don't settle on a speaker, is that going to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That's right. The sense I don't want you to leave here with is if for some reason they don't end up naming a speaker on the first day, all of a sudden the process is thrown into even more chaos and disarray.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is Iraq, and things do not always work according to rigorous clockwork efficiency. But that is our strong preference, is as soon as possible for this process to take its next step, which is, again, the parliament convening, naming a speaker and naming a president and naming a prime minister. It's all laid out very clearly how this should proceed.
QUESTION: Right. And I know you guys hate being pinned down to timelines on this kind of thing, but granted --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, it's just realistic --
QUESTION: -- well, wait, just let me just ask. Stipulated, and I mean, it is Iraq, things gets drawn out, if it doesn't happen on the 1st but it happens maybe on the 2nd or 3rd, that would be fine. But if it happens on the 31st or goes into August or goes into September, at some point I assume the U.S. Government would come back and say, no, no, no, wait a minute, this is not in the spirit of what --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I think it's safe to say our concern will increase with every passing day that something like this does not happen. And if only because we really strongly believe that to deal with the security threat that Iraq is facing right now requires a government to pull the country together and direct sort of full resources of the government and of the population towards expelling this threat.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Let's just do two more.
QUESTION: Could I – will you guys – the announcement today by the vice president said the process starts on Monday. Was that – were you surprised by that? Was that a positive surprise, or that's what you left Baghad --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, because the – I think we – the Secretary at the press conference after his meetings that the assurances that we got from everybody we talked to was that the process was going to proceed on schedule. And the next scheduled moment is July 1st. And so this was just more of a confirmation that what we were told in our meetings is continuing to proceed as we were told it would.
QUESTION: Was Iran's role discussed?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: What's that? What?
QUESTION: Iran's role?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Iran's role in Iraq generally, or --
QUESTION: What was discussed about Iran?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I'm trying to remember. I mean, Iran certainly was discussed. Yeah, I mean, I think it's safe to say each of these countries has a concern about Iranian influence in Iraq. There's no doubt about that. And again, this is very consistent with what each of these countries says publicly. That said, we didn't get very specific in terms of kind of laying out what those concerns were or any action sort of related to those concerns that would be taken.
QUESTION: [Senior State Department Official One], can I have a quick follow-up on these bombings? We've a Syrian source confirming that the airstrikes were taken – were carried out by Syrian jets overnight. Other Western diplomats say that's not true. Do you guys have any independent --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The ones in Iraq from two days ago?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: You're talking about the – inside Iraq?
QUESTION: Qaim --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That's Iraq.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah, that's Iraq.
QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, have you any kind of independent confirmation who –
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, are you talking about the ones from yesterday?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, I think what we said yesterday on the record was that we had no information to dispute that, so --
QUESTION: The Secretary mentioned it in his news conference.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Sure.
QUESTION: He referred to Syrian actions in response to a question about the war widening. It seemed like confirmation.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well --
QUESTION: I'm only asking because there are other Western allies who are saying that it was not from Syria.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I don't think we have any --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That it was not from Syria?
QUESTION: Maliki gave an interview to the BBC and he said it was a strike inside Syria --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Inside Syria. That's right.
QUESTION: -- not Iraq. Maybe that's --
QUESTION: Well, Qaim is a border crossing. I mean, it's like right there. So, I mean, it could've --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Literally on the border.
QUESTION: But the quote in the interview was "in Syria."
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We don't have any new information, Lesley. I mean, we can – from what we said yesterday. But we can circle back if there's more to add.
QUESTION: Can I ask why Kuwait and the Qataris were not here? Were they invited?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I mean, I guess I don't have explanation as to why they weren't here. The Secretary regularly talks with certainly Foreign Minister al-Attiyah from Qatar and a little bit less regularly, but in the last, I would say 10 days with – or even week with Foreign Minister al-Sabah of Kuwait. They're – it's important to see this meeting not as kind of a one-off event in and of itself but as part of broader engagement that we've been doing really over the – since this crisis first emerged but in a particularly intense ways since the President came out and spoke and said that he was sending the Secretary to the region. That included meetings that we had at NATO yesterday. It included the meetings that we had in Baghdad and Erbil. This was an opportunity to get people together to sort of cover a lot of bases in one session.
QUESTION: Were they not invited?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I mean, everybody that was invited showed up. How about that?
QUESTION: Okay. Great. Thanks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: James.
QUESTION: Just to return to this issue of shutting down facilitation networks in these countries. I know you're not a counterterrorism expert --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: (Off-mike.) Sorry?
QUESTION: Just to return to this issue of shutting down facilitation networks in these countries. The reason I return to it is because all the things that you have talked about in response to questions about what we are asking these countries to do, that seems, in my eyes, to be the most tangible --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think he said it wasn't even discussed today, though.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah. What I said was this is something we generally speak about in our diplomacy with some of these countries, but it didn't come up in the meeting today.
QUESTION: What, nonetheless, would that kind of action entail? You mentioned that these are radicalized individuals from the internet --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So --
QUESTION: -- so are you asking them to monitor their internet activity a little more closely, or how would it work to shut down these kinds of networks?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Here's an example: The Saudi Government has passed a fairly strict counterterrorism law in – somewhere in the last two months, I think, directly in response to the --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: About two – yeah, about two months ago.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: -- in response to the crisis in Syria. And since the passage of that law, I think they have disrupted at least one ISIL cell that's been reported publicly inside Saudi Arabia. So law enforcement steps is a big part of it. I don't know what else --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah, and it's not exclusive to Saudi Arabia, either – the law passing, because I think Kuwait passed laws as well. And --
QUESTION: Who? I'm sorry.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: I think Kuwait, if I'm not mistaken, passed laws. It's not an exclusive Saudi thing. And I think other countries are considering it. Saudi was – Saudi Arabia was the first one, I think, that came out and really did it and did it in a very public way.
And then there's two aspects of this. One is punishing those who are making it illegal and then trying to punish those who go to fight, and then also taking steps to more broadly crack down on private financial – financing networks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: But I think it's fair to say this isn't a current focus right now as it relates to the situation in Iraq.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: No, like I said – no, no, this has been a longstanding matter --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Right.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: --for --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: That we've expressed concern about for a long time related to Syria, months and months ago.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT THREE: ---financing violent extremists. That's right.
QUESTION: So at the heart of what he has asked them to, it seems to me, is atmospherics, correct? In today's meetings, right, or today's session was – what did he say to them in terms of what he wants them to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well --
QUESTION: -- support in like an inclusive process in Iraq. I mean --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I mean, I think there's an important context here that [Senior State Department Official Two] referenced, which is that this is a part of ongoing engagement, right? The President asked him to come and have these consultations and these meetings. Part of it was having a meeting in person and giving an update on what our thinking is and what we're seeing, and what the Secretary's meetings were in Iraq.
So it wasn't – the purpose wasn't to say we need you to do these 10 things. It was to provide an update on what our thinking is and tell them also --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And to hear their --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: -- what we're seeing as it relates to the threat of ISIL, to focus on that. So I don't know, I think the perception of what the meeting was is part of the context here, but I don't know.
QUESTION: Separate from the meeting --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- what you are asking them to do, apart from disrupting the networks is work with their interlocutors inside Iraq to encourage rapid formation of this government. Is there something else that you're asking them to do?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No. I mean, I think – I think that's basically it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: An important component, yeah.
QUESTION: Can I have one follow-up on Iran? Did the Secretary brief the leaders on the negotiations in Vienna? And are there – did they raise any concerns that the terms might – whether the terms are going to be soft or anything on that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So I just need to ask you one question. (Off-mike.)
Yeah. I mean, he gave a general update on the current state of the talks, and he also discussed that this morning with Foreign Minister Fabius in his conversation there, and briefly discussed it with Foreign Minister Lieberman as well.
QUESTION: And finally, did he discuss at all what his meeting with King Abdullah tomorrow is about? Was that raised in the meeting?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, I don't think that meeting was directly referenced, although I think you can expect that it will follow a similar series of subjects to what was discussed with the foreign ministers today.
QUESTION: Can I just have one question as well? Did you get a sense – I want to ask about Jordan particularly. Did you get a sense of how vulnerable they may be feeling now that the main border crossing has been taken, and whether there was any ask from the Jordanians – I mean obviously, they've got a very strong army themselves, but was there any ask from the Jordanians for any kind of help?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: I don't want to really speak to any particular country's perceptions of vulnerability. I don't really see a – I think – I don't think any country would appreciate that. I will say that, as a sort of frontline state in the fight against ISIL, Jordan is certainly one of the countries that we are directly referencing when we talk about the potential of a threat.
That said, the current focus of ISIL activity is inside Iraq, is inside Syria, and to the extent that ISIL has sort of designs on other places, that was not directly discussed today.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: All right. Thanks everyone.
QUESTION: Thank you.
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