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Daily Press Briefing

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 17, 2014

Index for Today's Briefing

Ballot Audit / IEC / UN Supervision
U.S. Condemns Terror Attack
Malaysia Airlines Incident
New Round of Sanctions
Secretary Kerry's Calls with Regional Leaders
U.S. Concerns about Civilian Casualties
Egypt Ceasefire Proposal / President Abbas Engagement / Two-State Solution
Secretary Kerry's Engagement with Arab League
Readout of Department Discussions with Hill Leaders
Sanctions / Oil Accounting Mechanisms / Oil to Syria
Reports of Journalists Sentenced
US Support for Democracy and Human Rights
Dialogue on Counterterrorism / U.S. Concerns about Religious Freedom and Human Rights
Condemnation of Taliban Attack at Kabul Airport
Update on Bilateral Security Agreement Timeline
Secretary Kerry Call with Prime Minister Abe / North Korea Abduction Issue
BRICS Summit / Development Bank / Prime Minister Modi Visit to U.S.
FAA Advisory / Safety of Air Travel



1:27 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Thanks for your patience. I have a few items for all of you at the top.

In our effort to provide you updates on what's happening in Afghanistan, today the Afghan IEC began auditing ballots from the Afghan presidential runoff. The audit is being conducted in Kabul by the IEC under close supervision of the United Nations in accordance with international best practices, utilizing an IEC checklist supplemented by UN best practice recommendation. At today's kickoff, 33 boxes were audited, each in the presence of international and domestic observers. UN personnel, IEC and Electoral Complaints Commission representatives and candidate agents all were there. Live television covered the process, so it's also publicly available to all of you. And the first day of audits proceeded professionally, setting a good tone for the process.

These are the first 33 boxes of approximately 23,000 that will be audited in the next few weeks. There is a planned ramp-up, of course, of the auditing process. This is just the first day. Once it's up to scale, the audit will involve a hundred teams operating simultaneously. The process is set to ramp up tomorrow, and there are over a hundred accredited international observers already in Kabul. We note that the EU also plans to bring in an additional 100 professional observers from Europe next week to continue to support and ramp up this process. And --

QUESTION: Wait, how many did you say were done today?

MS. PSAKI: Thirty-three.

QUESTION: Thirty-three. So when you say ramp up, you would expect them to do more than 33 in a day?

MS. PSAKI: Significantly more. This was just the first day. It was a kickoff. Obviously, there were a great deal of media present. So it will significantly pick up in the coming days. The purpose of the audit is to finalize, of course, the election, honor the millions of Afghans who participated. Clearly, there's still work to be done. We're working closely with both candidates, with Afghan officials, and with the UN Mission in Afghanistan to ensure the agreement is translated into action.

Next item at the top: The United States strongly condemns last evening's terrorist attack near Kasserine, Tunisia, which killed at least 14 Tunisian soldiers. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and hope for a quick and full recovery of the wounded. Recognizing that only in an environment of security and stability will a democratic Tunisia be able to continue to move forward in a positive direction, the United States will continue to support the efforts of the Tunisian Government to combat the threat of terrorism.

And finally, all of you have seen and many of you have asked me about what we know about the reports of the Malaysian plane crash. We have seen the same reports you have. At this point, we do not have any confirmed information about casualties, the cause, or additional details. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those onboard, their families, and loved ones. We're closely monitoring the situation. The Secretary is, of course, aware of these reports, and we're seeking additional information. Our Embassy in Kyiv is also in close contact with the Ukrainian authorities on this incident. But at this point, those are all the details that we have.

QUESTION: Jen, so you have seen these reports apparently coming from the manifest that there were 23 U.S. citizens onboard. Even if you don't know if that's actually correct, can you say whether you have that information from the manifest that apparently there were 23 U.S. passengers aboard?

MS. PSAKI: We've seen the public reports. I spoke to our team right before I came out here. We don't have any additional details at this point on American citizens. We're looking to, of course, obtain that information. As soon as we have it available, we'll make it available to all of you.

QUESTION: And has the Secretary – we know that the President was – spoke to President Putin this morning about – not this, but the plane came up. Has the Secretary made any calls to anyone in Russia, anyone in Ukraine that you're aware of?

MS. PSAKI: Not at this point. Obviously, this just happened a couple of hours ago. We can keep you updated as well on any additional calls that he makes this afternoon.

QUESTION: Does he plan to?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have any planned calls to predict for you, but if any calls happen, we can make sure those are available to all of you.

QUESTION: So the Ukrainians' foreign ministry is saying that they have reason to believe this – not just a guess, but based on their assessment – that this was a Russian-made Buk missile that is in the hands of the Russian separatists. You also have kind of chatter on Twitter about some of the separatists saying that they did shoot down a plane. Has your team on the ground spoken to the Ukrainians? Have they told you that this is your assessment – that this is their assessment and you just want to get your own confirmation? I mean, where are you at this point?

MS. PSAKI: As I mentioned, we're in touch with Ukrainian authorities on this incident.

QUESTION: So they've obviously shared this assessment with you?

MS. PSAKI: I'm not – I don't have further readouts, but I think it's a safe assumption that we're discussing reports and, obviously, a range of comments that have been out there. We don't have our own confirmation of details. I can't predict for you if and when we will. But obviously, events are very fluid on the ground. We don't have any more information from here to share.

QUESTION: Because given the fact that it is very fluid and it's very early, I mean, there is already a kind of – some common wisdom that says, like, the separatists have done it. But just to confirm that, is this your belief and you don't have confirmation of that?

MS. PSAKI: It's --

QUESTION: I mean, do you have suspicions of that at this point?

MS. PSAKI: I'm not going to speculate on this, Elise, for obvious reasons. We don't have any additional details to share other than the reports you've seen about the plane crash. In terms of the causes, the individuals onboard, I have nothing else here from the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: There were some Ukrainian transport planes that were shot down, I think, in the last week, maybe in the same area. I mean, is that something that you're looking at in terms of that this could be a similar mistaken --

MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to speculate further for obvious reasons.

QUESTION: Quite aside from the actual – what actually happened, whoever or whatever was responsible for it, is it correct that this type of missile that Elise just mentioned, the Buk missile, was among the --

QUESTION: I could have said that wrong.


QUESTION: I could have said that wrong, but I think it --

QUESTION: Well, however you pronounce it, this kind of missile was among the weaponry that you have said over the past – the course of the past couple – month or so that have been transiting from Russia, from these military facilities, sites in southeast – in western Russia, sorry – in western Russia to the separatists in Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I'm happy to check that, Matt, but I'd also note that we don't have confirmation that that is the cause --

QUESTION: I know. I'm not suggesting --

MS. PSAKI: -- or the source of the plane being down.

QUESTION: I understand that. But are these missiles that the Ukrainians say were responsible for this plane, are those the types of missiles, quite apart from this incident, that you were complaining had – that the Russians had been sending into Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I'm happy to check with our team on that information separately from this particular incident.

QUESTION: I mean, one of the things yesterday when you imposed these new sanctions on the Russians, I mean, isn't it true that one of your concerns is that the Russians have been doubling down on their – increasing, actually, their supply of weapons to the separatists?

MS. PSAKI: We have stated that publicly and still have a concern about that. But I think there's a difference between making unfounded or unconfirmed accusations from the podium --

QUESTION: I understand. But without talking about the specific Buk missile or something, has it been a concern that the Russians have been supplying them with truck-mounted or shoulder-fired missiles?

MS. PSAKI: We have expressed concern about it in the past, Elise. That hasn't changed.

QUESTION: Particularly of those type of missiles?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to past comments we've made about them.

QUESTION: The Administration has made very clear that it blames the Russians for escalating the conflict in this area and that they've added to the tensions there. So whoever is to blame, ultimately, for this downing of the airliner, is there some source of responsibility that must be borne by Moscow for the situation as it now exists in the area?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think broadly speaking, Matt, the fact that we announced yesterday a new round of sanctions, including several defense companies, several energy companies, speaks to our level of concern about the escalatory actions that we continue to see from Russia. However, we don't have enough information with this specific incident, and that's why I'm not going to be able to provide you any confirmation of details and I don't want to speculate on who's to blame or the root causes when we don't have that information at this point.

QUESTION: When I speak of the climate, the climate of conflict that's escalated there and obviously led to this tragedy.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we don't know that at this point in time because we don't know what the causes are or who is responsible for the plane going down.

QUESTION: And what, if any, assistance would the Administration provide for any investigation of this incident?

MS. PSAKI: It's too early to say. And we have traditionally or historically provided a range of assistance. You're familiar with the assistance we provided when the Malaysian plane disappeared. But we can keep you all up to date on whether there's a request made and a request granted from our end.

QUESTION: Given the fact that it did – this plane did fall down in separatist territory, clearly those separatists are not equipped, capable to launch – I see that they've called – they've said that they'll try and help with an investigation. But given the fact that they clearly don't have any type of capability to launch any type of investigation – I think they might have control over the black boxes – I mean, how do you see the Ukrainians and how can you help navigate ensuring that there is an investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we're in close touch with Ukrainian authorities, and if there are requests made, we will keep you all abreast of whether we are providing assistance and what kind of assistance we're providing.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that any Americans were onboard?

MS. PSAKI: I can't at this point in time. And again, this just happened so recently, Lucas, but we are happy to provide all of you with that information as soon as we have any details to confirm. And obviously, we're seeking that information as we speak.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more? Okay, go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: I have --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, I just have one more – one on Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Apart from this incident, just generally speaking the situation in the east, I presume – but please tell me if I'm wrong – that you still have the same concerns and the same issues with the Russians that you did yesterday that led to the imposition of the new sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Is that correct?


QUESTION: And you haven't seen any movement by them towards meeting – toward meeting the – what has been asked of them?

MS. PSAKI: In the last 24 hours, no.

QUESTION: And then – excuse me. I'm not sure if you had a reaction – I don't think you did because it happened so late – but to the EU – the EU's move --

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: -- which they said that they would have new sanctions by the end of the month. Is that okay with you guys? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, they placed some restrictions – they took steps yesterday to impose costs on the Russian economy. We have been doing these, and including yesterday, in close coordination with the EU. They moved also to put in place the legal framework needed to impose costs on Russian companies that undermine Ukraine's stability and territorial integrity with an end of July deadline for naming the first list of entities. I think that's what you're referring to.


MS. PSAKI: And certainly, we were coordinating closely with them; we were in close touch with them. And we certainly welcome the steps that the Europeans have taken in this regard. I'm sure you have the details. I'm happy to outline those for you if you have any questions.

QUESTION: One of the companies that was hit by the sanctions yesterday was the Kalashnikov company, the company that makes AK-47s. The Russians today are saying that this specific sanction runs counter to the interest of U.S. consumers. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that, clearly, as we are making decisions about sanctions as it relates to here or any around the world, we take into account the impact on the United States, on U.S. businesses and consumers, and certainly we feel that peace and political stability and respect for international law are of critical importance to the global economy and to U.S. businesses.

But let me give you some specific examples of the precautions that we take. The sanctions we imposed yesterday were deliberately crafted to limit, to the extent possible, spillovers on the United States and on third-party countries – third-country companies, pardon me. For example, in the financial sector, we deliberately avoided interfering with day-to-day operations to avoid a shock to global financial markets. In the energy sector, we took steps to limit the ability of certain companies to raise dollar financing, but we have not tried to interfere with their ability to export oil and gas or to maintain their existing joint ventures. So we take into account, of course, any impact on U.S. businesses, U.S. consumers, as we make these decisions.

QUESTION: So these specific sanctions on the Kalashnikov company will not affect American consumers of AK-47s?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven't seen the specific impact that's been listed. We can – if there are specifics out there, we can certainly look into that, but --

QUESTION: But as far as you know, the ability of the American consumer to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles from Kalashnikov has not been affected. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: I can check that level of specificity and see if there's a direct impact.


QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Gaza, Israel bombardment.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any efforts undergoing now of talks for the ceasefire and whether the United States is actually involved in this directly?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first let me say that Secretary Kerry has been in touch daily with Israel and with Egypt and with a range of countries in the region. Let me just see if there are any other specific calls to read out for you this morning. Today he spoke with – again with Egyptian foreign minister, with the Qatari foreign minister, and those have been regular occurrences. He hasn't just supported the ceasefire track, he's encouraged others to support it in full coordination with Egypt, who's leading this effort and in full coordination – of course, we're in close touch with Israel, as I mentioned. So I think our engagement is evident in his calls, in his level of focus on this important issue.

QUESTION: Israeli press reports say that the Egyptian proposal of last Monday was basically worked out between Tony Blair, the Israelis, and Egypt. And in fact, the Government of Egypt wanted to sort of to keep the Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry out of the process and not to give him any credit. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I've seen the same report that you're mentioning, and I'll say that the anonymous source is either out of the loop or ignorant of the facts, because the Secretary has been closely engaged at every point in this process, including in the Egyptian proposal, including – ever since then he's been closely engaged on a daily basis with the foreign ministers in the region about how to proceed moving forward.

QUESTION: So neither the Israelis nor the Egyptians tried to keep the Secretary of State out in the dark?

MS. PSAKI: Hard to see how you're keeping someone out of the dark if you're speaking to them multiple times a day.


MS. PSAKI: In the dark. Sorry. In the dark.

QUESTION: In the dark.

MS. PSAKI: Out of the loop, in the dark, a combination.

QUESTION: Out of the loop. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Just wanted to follow up. Former President Bill Clinton told Maariv, the Israeli newspaper, that what needs to be done really is the peace resolution, otherwise Israel will risk being isolated, further isolation, and being chastised in international forums and so on. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: That there needs to be a two-state solution?

QUESTION: There needs to be not just issues of ceasefire and so on, although this is quite urgent at the present time, but also the issue of a peace settlement and a two-state solution should be addressed immediately or right away or in a expeditious fashion, lest Israel be isolated in the international arena. Do you agree with that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Secretary's view is very much that the absence of a two-state solution leaves a vacuum that is often filled by violence. And we've seen what's happened historically. Of course, our focus in the immediate terms is achieving a successful ceasefire that will bring an end to the violence, bring an end to the civilian casualties. That's what our focus is on right now. And any two-state solution will require the parties to be willing to make the tough choices they haven't been willing to make to date. But certainly, in the medium and long term and the stability and security of the region, we would agree with that point.



QUESTION: -- yesterday you didn't have a lot to say about the incident on the beach in Gaza. I'm wondering if you have more to say about it today now that things are a little bit more clear --

MS. PSAKI: More clear.

QUESTION: -- about what happened, but also in general whether you think – well, what you think of the restraint or lack of restraint being shown by either side in this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, as the violence continues, and it's continued overnight, there were reports – that we don't have confirmed – of additional children, I think, since then, unfortunately. But we are increasingly concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides. We continue to urge all parties to do all they can to protect civilians, and we have been heartbroken by the high civilian death toll in Gaza, including the death of four innocent Palestinian children as they were playing on a beach in Gaza just yesterday.

It was – the reports were horrifying, the photos were horrifying, the video was horrifying. The tragic event makes clear that Israel must take every possible step to meet its standards for protecting civilians from being killed. We will continue to underscore that point to Israel; the Secretary has made that point directly as well.

QUESTION: You said that they (inaudible). Are they?

QUESTION: Is that – hold on, hold on, hold on – does that mean --

QUESTION: You said that they (inaudible). Are they?

QUESTION: Does that mean – let me – can I finish, please? Did – are you – does that mean that you don't believe that Israel is doing – is practicing what it preaches in this, that they have not shown the restraint that you have called for?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, you have seen – you may have seen, but I can flag for you – that they have – the Israelis have expressed their sorrow and regret in these cases. What we're asking for is a redoubling of efforts moving forward to prevent civilian casualties, given the events of the last couple of days.

QUESTION: So you do not believe they have done enough to prevent civilian casualties – or you do?

MS. PSAKI: I think --


MS. PSAKI: We believe that certainly there's more that can be done.

QUESTION: And you said that the Secretary has made this point to Prime Minister Netanyahu and --


QUESTION: Was that today? Have they spoken?

MS. PSAKI: Over the last 24 hours. I think they spoke yesterday.

QUESTION: Can I ask about the ceasefire and all of the various parties? It seems as if there's a little bit of a rivalry going on right now between on one hand the Egyptians, who you seem to want to take the lead here in the current efforts with their proposal in terms of trying to manage – trying to get a ceasefire in place, and on the other hand, Qatar and Turkey, who also have close ties with Hamas. And it seems as if there's kind of dueling agendas and both trying to play the major role here. Have you talked to the Qataris and the Turks and the Egyptians about kind of playing nice and working together for the common goal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary's been in touch with leaders from all of those countries. There is an Egyptian ceasefire proposal, as you all know, that was put out there just a couple of days ago, which we've continued to support – remains on the table. And we're engaging with any country that we think could play a role in influencing Hamas and bringing an end to the violence and the death of civilians on the ground. I'm not going to speculate or weigh into any political rivalries in the region, but we'll remain engaged with all of the countries that we think can play a role.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the question differently. So are you focusing on the Egyptian plans for the ceasefire, or are you trying to create another parallel mechanism whereby the Qataris seems to be want to offer another cease plan – ceasefire plan for Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Egyptian proposal is the one that has been out there to date. We remain engaged with all of the countries in the region who can play a role. I'm not going to predict for you whose ideas or whose views may be most incorporated.

QUESTION: Change subject?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. Do you want – go ahead. Go ahead.

QUESTION: So for the time being – I'm just trying to understand --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: For the time being – so the Egyptian proposal is the dominant proposal for the time being?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: And everybody else will help – will play a supportive role, including the Qataris and the Turks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we're engaged with all countries to see what role they can play in influencing Hamas to engage and return to the 2012 ceasefire. So we are having a range of talks in that regard.


QUESTION: Just on the 2012 ceasefire, but not really – talk about opening the entry points and the border points and so on or lifting the siege that Gaza has suffered from for seven straight years. So this is a real problem that's creating a humanitarian disaster. Should – after the fighting stops, or after the exchange of rockets and bombardments stop, should there be almost an immediate effort to sort of include things like this, to lift the siege, to open the borders, to allow – or to pressure the Egyptians, your allies, to open their point of entry and exit and so on? Should that be part of any sort of larger ceasefire agreement?

MS. PSAKI: I'm just not going to speculate on that from here. I think our view is that these conversations and discussions need to happen behind closed doors, and so we're going to leave them there to the degree we can.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I'm trying to figure out regarding this Egyptian proposal, and you mentioned again maybe for the second or third time in the last two or three days the ceasefire of 2012. Is – can we say it it's a kind of reset? I mean, it's coming – going back to what was the situation at that time, or how do you look to it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we're referring to it because that was sort of the last – well, not permanent – successful ceasefire, I believe is accurate to say, and so we think it can be a model or a basis. But of course, the Egyptians have been in the lead in putting a proposal forward. There are discussions happening behind closed doors, and we'll see how they proceed. The Secretary, as I've mentioned, has been very engaged in discussions with all parties in that regard.

QUESTION: The – in the last 24 hours always the raised question is what kind of carrot you are offering to Hamas to accept a Egyptian proposal. Is there any carrot there?

MS. PSAKI: We're not engaged with Hamas, so I would point you to the Egyptians or others to lay out, if they choose to, more about their discussions.

QUESTION: So you talked a bit about wanting the – saying that the Israelis needed to do more to live up to their own standards, but you didn't mention Hamas. I wanted to give you the opportunity now. There are rockets that are still being fired into Israel; you have condemned that in the past. I presume that you still do. But just to put – to make it perfectly clear, Hamas – it's not just Israel that needs to do more to prevent civilian casualties as well. Hamas needs to stop the rocket attacks, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely. And I think I have not – I don't think we've made any secret about our concern, strong concern about the actions of Hamas, the indiscriminate rocket attacks, the targeting of civilians, and that concern remains.

QUESTION: And you believe that while Israel needs to do more to make sure it lives up to its own standards, you do believe your statements in the past that they have the right to defend themselves, and they are – and that's what they're doing in this operation --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that those – those still stand as well, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. That remains the case, absolutely. And let me just make one more point. We were all so heartened to see the statement by President Peres – and I don't know if all of you saw that – where he also condemned – or I don't think that's the word he used, so I'll let you take a look at the statement yourself, but he spoke to the deaths of these children. And that was something the Secretary also noted.


MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: And then one – just one more thing. During this UN-organized brief humanitarian ceasefire, there were several mortars that were fired from Gaza into Israel. Did you have any thoughts about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there were rumors over the past 24 hours, or unconfirmed reports, that there had been a new ceasefire put forward. But we never saw confirmation of that.

QUESTION: Not even of the UN – of the humanitarian pause?

MS. PSAKI: There was not – there were mixed and unconfirmed reports of that.

QUESTION: Okay. So that was not – that wasn't a violation, because there wasn't one?

MS. PSAKI: Correct --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- although obviously, that's where we would like to return to. But --

QUESTION: One more quickly, one more quickly. If this Hamas is already a designated terrorist organization and they are killing innocent people and throwing all these rockets, where is the Palestine government?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Have they ask any U.S. help or Israeli help to fight against these terrorists?

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Abbas has been very engaged as the chairman the PLO and as, of course, the president of the Palestinian Authority. He is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. He is – I believe he was in – today he's in Cairo. He's been in discussions with all parties. He will play a central role in any solution, and we believe there is a role for him to play and for the Palestinian Authority to play at the table precisely because we believe there is a need that speaks for the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Palestinians. He has, I believe, a travel schedule over the next couple of days to engage in these discussions as well.

QUESTION: And if this continues, there cannot be a two-state solution, and also there cannot be a stable region.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, in response to Said's question, our view is that the only way to bring an end to this type of violence is to have a two-state solution.

Do we have any more on this topic?

QUESTION: Yes. Just to --

MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: -- clarify an issue, you've mentioned other people, other partners' role. What is the role of United States? How you define it? Is it a facilitator, guarantor of this agreement, or what?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we have a stake. The United States has a stake in a stable region, and we're certainly very concerned about the civilian casualties and about what we're seeing in the increasing violence on the ground. And as you know, we have long been a strong partner of not just the Israelis and Prime Minister Netanyahu, but also the Palestinians. And so we're looking at this and feel real concern about what we're seeing. The Secretary has been engaged because he has strong relationships with many of the parties in the region. I'm not sure I'm going to put an additional label on it other than to convey that he's deeply committed to seeing an end to the violence on the ground and a return to the ceasefire.

QUESTION: And yesterday, you mentioned that he called the Arab League secretary general.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you see – foresee or whatever you can expect – a role from the Arab League or other international organization that – as UN to play in this process, or it's just an Israeli-Hamas process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe over the past couple of days you've seen some members of the Arab League speak out in support of the Egyptian proposal. Obviously, they have also an incredible stake in seeing an end to the violence on the ground, so that's one of the reasons the Secretary is engaged. And to the degree any of them can play a positive role, we certainly support that and encourage that.

Go ahead, Samir.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary considering travel – considering traveling to Qatar and Egypt?

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary – while no final decisions have been made on travel, he remains prepared with his bags packed in the event it is productive and makes sense for him to travel to the region.

QUESTION: Can we change subject?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: To Iran. The Secretary met this morning over breakfast with some lawmakers. Can you tell us what was discussed and whether or not he, as some participants are saying, said that – or expressed any interest or openness to sanctions, to new triggered sanctions? That's the end of the question.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the Secretary had a meeting with a range of House – members of Congress this morning. There is a broad level of engagement from a number of senior Administration officials, including Under Secretary Sherman, Deputy Secretary Burns; Tony Blinken has done a range of meetings and calls as well. So this was a part of that effort, and part of the discussion was certainly on the P5+1 negotiations that are ongoing. They also discussed the situation in Gaza and shared concern about that. They discussed Iraq; they discussed Syria. So it was a wide-ranging discussion.

In terms of reports that the Secretary had proposed or embraced any proposal on a trigger, I can tell you that is inaccurate. Our position – his position – has not changed. We do not support additional nuclear-related sanctions while we negotiate. Secretary Kerry made that clear this morning. Part of our role and his role is to engage with members. It's no secret that they have proposals on the table that include triggered sanctions. Certainly, they raised those this morning, and we will continue our close consultations with Congress. But that has not changed and our position hasn't changed.

QUESTION: So what breakfast was Congressman Sherman at?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are times when members of Congress hear and project what they want to hear. But the Secretary's position hasn't changed, and he certainly made that clear this morning.

QUESTION: Okay. And do you know if – and I realize this is probably a White House question, but I mean, is it your understanding that if such legislation containing new sanctions was to pass on the Hill, that it would be vetoed? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: I would certainly point you to them, but I'm not aware of any support in the building that's-- in the White House for this – for a proposal like that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I just have one more.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Lucas.

QUESTION: So earlier you sent out a tweet saying Secretary Kerry does not support additional sanctions. Doesn't this kind of fly in the face of some comments he made back in December, as well as you and Mr. Carney?

MS. PSAKI: In what capacity?

QUESTION: That you that said if there was not a comprehensive agreement made after six months, there would be new sanctions. And Secretary Kerry said if Iran does not meet its commitments – I'm quoting here – "we will be the first ones to come to you if this fails" for additional sanctions.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. No, it doesn't conflict at all. The negotiations are ongoing on the ground. We've been – consistently said we don't support additional sanctions legislation while the negotiations are ongoing. We're going to spend the next couple of days determining what's next. But if Iran doesn't meet its obligations, certainly he'd be the first in line. That hasn't changed.

QUESTION: But hasn't for eight straights months Iran has been selling more oil than is allowed under the JPA, in violation of your agreement?

MS. PSAKI: Actually, over the past six months, Iran has met its commitments under the interim deal we reached last year. We believe that it's consistent that the numbers we've seen – we feel comfortable that the crude oil exports of Iran are remaining in the million to 1.1 million barrel a day average, as we anticipated under the JPOA. That remains the case.

QUESTION: So no redlines being crossed? It's not a Syria-part-two situation?

MS. PSAKI: I don't believe so, but obviously if the Secretary maintains, the President maintains, of course, the right to call for, embrace, endorse, advocate for any legislation if they so see fit in the future.

QUESTION: So it looks like there'll be an extension on the negotiations over the course of the weekend?

MS. PSAKI: Well, today on the ground, Lucas, in Vienna our team is discussing what the contours of an extension would look like if all parties were to agree to one. That – we're not at that point yet, but certainly those discussions are ongoing on the ground and over the course of the next couple of days we'll consult with Congress and certainly make a decision.

QUESTION: So if all countries agree on an extension, there will be an extension?

MS. PSAKI: I'm not predicting that. I think we're going to see how negotiations play out on the ground, and certainly all countries would have to agree. That's part of the requirement.

QUESTION: Jen, on the --

QUESTION: Yesterday, you said that --

QUESTION: Excuse me.

MS. PSAKI: Hold on. One moment, Said.

QUESTION: On the oil issue.


QUESTION: This is all just massaging of statistics, isn't it? I mean, there are statistics out there that are not inaccurate that show that Iran is in violation of the JPOA.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Those statistics, though, include things, items, condensates, whatever, that you, meaning the Administration, do not include.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: I mean, you do accept that, right?

MS. PSAKI: Nor does the accounting or the – or Congress or the way that we measure the JPOA include condensates. And the numbers we calculate also don't include oil that is going to Syria, given that is not producing revenue to Iran. So there are a range of public accounting mechanisms, but our mechanisms, which are based on a range of public and private data, still maintain the million to 1.1 million barrels a day average.

QUESTION: Okay. But it was my understanding that even stuff that's not exported to Syria, they don't get the money from, they don't – I mean, it goes into an account that they're not allowed to use without approval, right?

MS. PSAKI: You're right. Even other countries, you're correct, yes.

QUESTION: So I don't understand what the difference is.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there won't be --

QUESTION: And it would to me that you would, like, count Syria – the exports to Syria twice because those are going to fuel – I mean, I'm being facetious a little bit, but I mean, that oil is going to fuel the Assad regime and its – what you call its killing machine.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there's --

QUESTION: So it's worse, in fact --

MS. PSAKI: It doesn't --

QUESTION: -- than oil that Iran is selling to India or China or South Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me be clear. We have long opposed and had strong concern about Iran's support for Syria, as well as a number – a range of other concerns we continue to have about Iran.


MS. PSAKI: But I'm talking about the technical aspect. There's no revenue being paid or sitting in any bank held or not anywhere for this oil, because it's being contributed from Iran to Syria. So it's not increasing their revenue.

QUESTION: Right, but the problem with that is – or the – maybe not the problem, but the argument that those who say they're in violation is they say that this is – it's fungible. So that by giving Syria this oil, Iran is saving money that it might otherwise spend to prop up Assad. So --

MS. PSAKI: I think that's speculative, Matt. I think we're talking about how we account for or count the barrels and concerns about any revenue being held in accounts that's coming in for them.

QUESTION: Well, wouldn't – at least isn't this a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of the law? If you include the oil that is sent – that Iran sends to Syria, that would put them over the limit, correct? And if you – but – and if you do that, or if you – sorry, if you don't do that, it seems to me the problem is that they're – not only are they getting a foreign policy benefit, from their point of view, but they're also giving Assad benefit, which works directly in opposition to what the U.S. policy is.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it's a separate question. One, the fact that many countries, when they report the oil purchases, they lump in a number of products. It's not just crude oil. I know we already talked about this, but that is one of the contributing factors to a range of the reported numbers. Otherwise, we're talking about abiding by the JPOA. Separately, certainly, we're incredibly concerned about Iran's support for the Assad regime and their continued assistance. And we've long talked about --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- how that assisted and boosted Assad on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so that concern, though, does not enter in at all to the nuclear negotiations. Your concern that Iran is doing nefarious things, according to you, in Syria and elsewhere with – in Gaza, probably, and with Hezbollah and Lebanon – those concerns about Iranian behavior don't give you any pause in the nuclear negotiation?

MS. PSAKI: They give us pause in general, of course. As do human rights violations, as do a range of media freedoms, other issues. But we're focused on the nuclear aspect and addressing that.


QUESTION: Last one? One more, Said, one more.

MS. PSAKI: Can we just finish this, Iran? Or --

QUESTION: Iran. It's on Iran.

QUESTION: Just one more, Said.

QUESTION: If I could ask you on the – you mentioned yesterday that extension will be contingent on progress, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You said "progress made." So how would you – what kind of progress Iran needs to be – to make as opposed to when these negotiations began --

MS. PSAKI: Well, if we make that --

QUESTION: -- to have the merit of an extension?

MS. PSAKI: If we make that determination, perhaps we'll have more to say publicly. Until that time, I'm going to leave it in the hands of the negotiators on the ground to determine and conversations between the Secretary, the President, the Vice President, and other decision makers in this case.

QUESTION: Jen, can you explain how an extension without more sanctions helps Iran not attain a nuclear weapon?

MS. PSAKI: Well, what we're talking about, Lucas – and obviously what you're suggesting is purely speculative, so let me just say that first – but we're talking about here is preventing Iran over the long term from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We know before these negotiations the path they were on. So if a determination is made that enough progress has been made, that we can seek a comprehensive agreement, that that's attainable, those are all factors that will be taken into account. What it will mean and what it will entail, I will certainly leave that to the negotiating team to determine.

QUESTION: And isn't it speculative, though, to say that they're not attaining a nuclear weapon right now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the fact that they've abided by the JPOA – they have stepped back a range of steps they had taken previously, I think answers that question.

QUESTION: Isn't it true, though, that Iran today is actually less capable to manufacture or produce a nuclear bomb than they were when these negotiations began?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they've taken a number of steps --

QUESTION: They're actually setting back, correct?

MS. PSAKI: -- obviously, to halt and roll back – to halt and roll back. But again, what we're determining is whether enough progress has been made in the negotiations to warrant moving forward.

QUESTION: But that would be calculated as part of that progress, correct?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of steps and pieces that will be calculated.


QUESTION: No, hold on. Just let me know, would you expect that there – that it will run right up until the 20th, or could a decision on an extension or not be made tomorrow or before the weekend? Or do you think that --

MS. PSAKI: The negotiators certainly have the prerogative to make a decision at any time they warrant. I don't have any prediction on the timing, of course, as you are all familiar with the deadline.

QUESTION: Right. Which is the 20th, which is Sunday, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, Sunday.

QUESTION: So I'm just trying to figure out if our weekends are all going to be ruined with an announcement on Sunday when it could be just as easily made tomorrow.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are a fair number of events in the world, so your weekend is perhaps ruined regardless.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Laughter.) Thank you. I look forward to it. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Samir.

QUESTION: On Iraq --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: -- do you have any update --

QUESTION: Fix them.

MS. PSAKI: Samir, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on what Deputy McGurk is doing regarding the political process in Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: In Iraq?

QUESTION: Any update?

MS. PSAKI: He continues – he remains on the ground. He continues to meet with the parties. You all are familiar with the events that have occurred this week in terms of the election of a new parliamentary speaker, two deputies. Of course, the next step in this process is the selection of a president. So he continues to work with a range of parties and contacts on the ground, as does Ambassador Beecroft, of course.

QUESTION: Change of topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, Shaun.

QUESTION: Burma, Myanmar.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There's a court decision – five journalists who alleged the government was producing chemical weapons were all sentenced to 10 years in prison. This comes during the democratic reforms of Myanmar. Do you have any concerns about this? Do you think this says something overall about the progress in Myanmar?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, and we can get you something more formal on this. I'm very familiar with these reports, but we are concerned about – while Burma has made a range of progress in a number of areas, we are still concerned about media freedom and these reports of these journalists being first arrested and, it sounds like, sentenced today. But those are concerns that we raise, of course, directly. But why don't I talk to our team and we can get you a more formal response.

QUESTION: Sure. Do you know if this one specifically has been raised – this case?

MS. PSAKI: I will check on that. I will check on that and see if it has, absolutely.

QUESTION: A little hop, skip, and jump to the east of --

MS. PSAKI: I'm going to start taking these maps down because I never know what anybody's looking at. But go ahead. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Cambodia.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Have you seen these reports of the arrest of these opposition, or – I'm not sure it's arrest – something happening to the opposition?

MS. PSAKI: Something happened in Cambodia? Okay.

QUESTION: Something not good happening with the opposition in Cambodia. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Why don't I take that --


MS. PSAKI: -- and we'll get you all a response and find out what happened and how concerned we are about it.

QUESTION: I'll – actually, I got an – I'm asking for a colleague of mine.

MS. PSAKI: Understood. We will get you – we will send you out something that you can send to your colleague.


MS. PSAKI: Turkey, sure.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Today, Turkish foreign minister stated that U.S. is attempting to dismantle the legitimacy of AKP's success story and wear out the party. Are you trying to dismantle the AKP?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything to add beyond what I said yesterday, but the question you asked me yesterday was about the comments of Ambassador-designate John Bass made before the Senate. And my points – my comments certainly stand, that these were consistent with the concerns we've expressed before, including in our Human Rights Report. The United States supports democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms around the world, and anything suggesting that we were doing other – anything other than restating our support is false.

QUESTION: Also, foreign minister said that about discussions on the Hill two days ago between the senator and the Ambassador John Bass that the discussions about drifting in the direction of authoritarianism is part of the campaign against the ruling party, his own party. And this is foreign minister of Turkey. There was someone else --

MS. PSAKI: A good friend of Secretary Kerry's. (Laughter.)



QUESTION: And he accuses U.S. that – undertaking a campaign against his own party.

MS. PSAKI: Well again, any suggestion that Ambassador-designate Bass was doing other – anything other than repeating – expressing concerns we've expressed before about anything from freedom to democracy to human rights issues is untrue, and hopefully that can be recognized.

QUESTION: And the final one: Foreign minister also says that, actually, there is authoritarianism in the U.S., that it's increasing. This is quote by the foreign minister just today.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm not sure what that would be a reference to, so perhaps you can ask for more clarity and we can talk more about it.

QUESTION: He said that if he gives – this is also quote – if he gives samples about this increasing authoritarianism in the U.S., that would be shameful for the U.S. counterparts.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it's hard to see what that's a reference to, so --

QUESTION: So on this Cambodia thing --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it was six Cambodian opposition politicians arrested or charged yesterday with leading an insurrection movement and then two more arrested in – since then. So that's the question, if you could take it.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I'm certain we will express some concern about that, but why don't I take it and we'll get you a comment and something for Shaun as well.

QUESTION: And then on China, yesterday you guys put out a statement of the resumption of the counterterrorism dialogue with the Chinese. There's some concern in the human rights community that this is a suggestion or this implies that you are fully supportive of China's counterterrorism strategy, including out in its west with the Uighurs. Do you – does the U.S. still have concerns about the Chinese counterterrorism operations or their policy in the west of the country? And if so, why was it – was it appropriate to be – to resume this discussion with them?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that counterterrorism is, of course, an area that China and the United States have cooperated on. And as part of the dialogue that took place just a couple of days ago, we discussed – the United States representatives discussed our comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that includes an emphasis on the protection of human rights, access to education, social development, and appropriate security measures.

Our concerns that we've expressed, when warranted, about ongoing discrimination and restrictions on members of ethnic and religious minorities in China remains. And we will continue to urge Chinese – China officials to take steps to reduce tensions and uphold its international commitments to protect religious freedom.

We do an annual report, and the Secretary, of course, raises human rights issues at every opportunity he has in his discussions with the Chinese.

QUESTION: Sorry. You said – so you're urging the – sorry – the dialogue includes you pressing China on the need to protect human rights in – while it conducts its counterterrorism operations?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Is the United States really in a position to be telling any country about the protection of human rights and counterterrorism programs, given Guantanamo, given the deaths of innocent people in drone strikes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think we express concerns about issues, including the treatment of Uighurs, in these dialogues as we felt it was appropriate to do so, and as others have concerns they can express them to us as well.

QUESTION: Okay. So anyway, the main point of my question was: You do not see that there is any kind of a disconnect here in having this dialogue along with your concerns about – at the same time as you're still expressing your concerns? This is an opportunity for you to raise those concerns? Is that the way the U.S. sees it?

MS. PSAKI: That's part of what is certainly raised in this dialogue. But we think cooperation on counterterrorism issues is something that is important and should continue and will continue as well.

QUESTION: Just to pursue that, to clarify: Was the issue of human rights actually raised during the counterterrorism dialogue?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, that was part of the discussion that we had just two days ago.

QUESTION: And was there a specific reason why the dialogue is being held now? Was it a regularly scheduled thing or is it – in light of various incidents that have happened in China?

MS. PSAKI: I believe it's been scheduled for some time, but why don't we check on that for you and see if there's anything that prompted it at this particular moment.

QUESTION: On Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In view of the two series of big terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan this week, including on the Kabul airport, what is the assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we condemn in the strongest terms the Taliban attack on facilities at Kabul International Airport early this morning. We note the Afghan national police led a successful operation to secure the airport. I would certainly direct you to them for additional information, but security officials in Kabul are currently surveying the area and assessing the situation, so they would have more information.

As I noted at the top, the process of moving forward on the audit has started today. That's proceeding. That will increase – or ramp up, I should say, in the coming days, and there hasn't been an impact that I'm aware of of these incidents on that.

QUESTION: The ministry Afghan – Minister of Interior today said that those was – the terrorists who were in the Kabul airport attack were Urdu-speaking people from Pakistan. Do you have any information on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have any information on the individuals or beyond what I just stated, and I'd certainly point you to Afghan authorities on that.

QUESTION: Are these attacks anyhow linked to the Pakistani actions in north Waziristan?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have any other information. Again, the Afghans have the lead on any process of surveying and assessing the situation.

QUESTION: On the agreement that the two presidential candidates reached on the auditing of ballots, what is the expectations once the results are declared? Do you expect a nation government to be formed, or --

MS. PSAKI: What do we expect the outcome to be?

QUESTION: Outcome would depend on the counting of ballots. But once the results are declared, do you expect a national government to be formed in Kabul or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know – and we will leave it to the candidates to speak to their agreements – obviously, the Secretary was there just this past weekend facilitating that. The purpose of the audit is to finalize the election, and of course, honor the millions of Afghans who participated. And both candidates have agreed to abide by the results of the audit, and the winner of the election will certainly serve as president and will immediately form a government of national unity.

In terms of additional specifics, I – we are going to leave it to them to spell out anything in addition.

QUESTION: National unity means members from the opposition camp too?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, that's typically what the word means, but we'll let the candidates there describe it in more detail.

QUESTION: So you do expect Abdullah Abdullah to become the prime minister in any new government?

MS. PSAKI: We're not prejudging the outcome. That's the purpose of the audit, as to make sure that both candidates – that there's a restored legitimacy to the process and to Afghan democracy.

QUESTION: But you don't have any timeline to this auditing of ballots?

MS. PSAKI: To the process of counting? Well, we have – let me – I have a quick update on this. We do anticipate that the process will take a number of weeks. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has requested that President Karzai – as well as the candidates have, and they did this this past weekend – postpone the inauguration date to accommodate the requests. As you know, President Karzai has agreed to do that, and the timeline, of course, will be determined by when this is concluded. And we still believe there's time to sign the BSA.

QUESTION: But this will also push back – or push the signing of BSA with U.S, the new president will sign.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it would push the inauguration back, but both candidates have said they would sign it, and we still feel comfortable with the timeline to sign the BSA.

QUESTION: Are you surprised that President Karzai would agree to stay on a little longer as president, delay the inauguration? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think everybody wants to see legitimacy restored to democracy in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: My question –

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: My real question on this is: Are you not concerned at all that this might drag on past the NATO summit, at which – I mean, I presume you would like to see this to be done and have the BSA signed before the summit, so that NATO members could make decisions on how they're going to proceed. Is that not correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it's ramping up significantly over the coming days. We think it will take a number of weeks. Obviously --

QUESTION: You got six.

MS. PSAKI: -- we have I think six or seven weeks. But certainly we want to see – we've long wanted to see the BSA signed as quickly as possible, but we still feel comfortable with the timeline with that in mind.

QUESTION: Okay. But does that mean comfortable like you think it can be done before the summit, or comfortable in that if it's not done by the summit it – that's not a hard and fast deadline?

MS. PSAKI: I just don't have anything more on the timeline at this point in time.

QUESTION: On the same subject.

MS. PSAKI: Let's just do – go ahead.

QUESTION: A Pakistani news channel journalist who had gone to Afghanistan on assignment to cover events – he has been jailed by Afghan authorities. Pakistan has called for his release and said that he was a journalist working on an assignment. What is your reaction?

MS. PSAKI: I hadn't seen those reports, so why don't we talk to our team, and we'll get you a comment on it.

QUESTION: Okay. You'll take the question?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Sure.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: There was a news report a couple of days ago that Secretary Kerry told his Japanese counterpart, foreign minister, during a phone call last week that the Prime Minister Abe should refrain from going to North Korea because such a trip could undermine trilateral cooperation between U.S., Japan, and Korea in dealing with North Korea's nuclear missile program. Is this report true, and do you have such a concern?

MS. PSAKI: I know there have been a range of reports out there. We've provided a readout. I just don't have any additional readout to share with all of you. I can reiterate that during their call last week they discussed the full range of bilateral and regional issues, as well as cooperation that reflects the global nature of our partnership. The United States, of course, supports Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner. We are close allies and partners. But beyond that, I know there have been a range of reports; I just don't have anything more to add from here.

QUESTION: Do you have any – yeah. Do you have any updates with – on the U.S. engagement with the Security Council with regard to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: To North Korea? No, I do not.

QUESTION: Can I just pursue that? I mean, does the U.S. have a stance or whether it would appropriate for Prime Minister Abe to go to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: I don't have anything more to add on this particular issue --

QUESTION: Quickly, India.

MS. PSAKI: -- and I'm not aware of a particular trip plan they've announced either, so --

QUESTION: India. Five nations that includes Brazil, India, China, Russia, and the South Africa – they met recently in Brazil and also they announced $100 billion bank and --

MS. PSAKI: I spoke to this yesterday, Goyal, so I would point you to that. I gave a couple of comments on it.

QUESTION: But my question is actually in this regard, that even Russia is part of this. As far as these sanctions are concerned, how this will affect these five nations have announced unity in fighting against terrorism and also working on unity on economic --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it remains to be seen what the focus of the BRICS Development Bank will be. The BRICS summit has been around long before the issues in Ukraine over the past couple of months. So at this point, many of the important details aren't yet clear, but beyond that, I would point you to what I said yesterday.

QUESTION: And one more quickly. I'm sorry.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: There had been a lot of high-level visits to India from the U.S., including Deputy Secretary and also Madam Biswal and among others. One, if you have any quick summary on these visits? And finally, there have not been any visits from India to the USA. Are they waiting for the prime minister's visit?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we're looking forward to the prime minister's visit, whenever that's scheduled, and I expect we'll continue to have high-level visits to India. I don't have any summary in front of you. So many, hard to lay them all out.

QUESTION: Thank you, madam.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: Still on --

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Still on India, health minister (inaudible) --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Health minister – see, there was an assist from your colleague there.

QUESTION: Jen – Jen, just – I'm sorry, one more. There was some news over the course of the briefing about the Malaysian Airlines flight that I just wanted to get your comment on.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. I don't know that I've seen it yet, obviously.

QUESTION: I know. I'm going to tell you. A number of foreign-based airlines have announced that they will no longer fly over Ukrainian airspace, and I was wondering if the State Department plans to urge U.S.-based carriers to follow suit.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you may be familiar that in April, the FAA and a Special Federal Aviation Regulation prohibiting U.S. civil flight operations in the airspace over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent portions of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov went out. I don't have any additional updates. Obviously, this happened while I've been out here. We will see if there's more to share. I expect any announcement would be – come from the FAA if there's a decision made.

QUESTION: Great, thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:25 p.m.)

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