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Daily Press Briefing

Marie Harf
Acting Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 14, 2015

Index for Today's Briefing




12:02 p.m. EDT

MS HARF: I have two quick items at the top and then, Matt, I'm turning it over to you.

QUESTION: Right-o.

MS HARF: First, the White House announced today that on Monday, April 20th President Obama will meet at the White House with the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to consult on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues. As you know, we work together and talk about regional issues, whether it's Iran, whether it's ISIL, violent extremism, so obviously we're looking forward to that visit. I just wanted to highlight that for people.

And then I want to welcome the FSI class of Department Foreign Service officers in the back. These folks will be department information officers and assistant information officers at posts around the world. I think they're heading out to places like Burundi, Afghanistan, The Gambia, Mali, Macedonia, South Sudan, and Latvia. So thank you for coming. There's more of you today than reporters, so you can just feel free to start asking questions too. But thanks for coming and happy to have you heading out to post soon.

QUESTION: Did you say Maui or Mali?

MS HARF: Mali.

QUESTION: Mali. Oh, too bad.

MS HARF: I said it with my Ohio accent, which sometimes --

QUESTION: Too bad. Maui would be nice.

MS HARF: I did not – who wants to go to Maui? No, I said Mali.

QUESTION: All right.

MS HARF: With a little bit of a Midwest accent.


MS HARF: Which I caught as soon as I said it.

QUESTION: Can we start with Iran?

MS HARF: We can.

QUESTION: And the Secretary, who was up on the Hill --

MS HARF: Yep, he's still there. He's still there.

QUESTION: -- yesterday and again this morning.

MS HARF: Yep. He's still there right now as we speak.

QUESTION: Judging by the meetings themselves, as well as the reaction from lawmakers as they came out, it – well, how would you say these briefings have gone? Because it certainly doesn't appear that any minds have been swayed.

MS HARF: Well, I haven't done a full survey of everyone who was in the meeting on the congressional side, but I know the Secretary values the consultation, values the ability with his colleagues, Secretaries Lew and Moniz, to go into more details with them up at the Senate right now. So I think we'll let those conversations continue and certainly speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, just two of the more colorful responses that I saw last night from House members were, one, that this is – it's not a deal, it's total surrender. That was one. And then another one was that I – I can't remember which congressman it was, but said he had this sense that Secretary Kerry was trying to sell him a car. How is --

MS HARF: Is there a question?

QUESTION: Yeah. How are you – these people do not seem – are you of the feeling that minds have been made up and can never be changed and if you --

MS HARF: No, of course not.

QUESTION: Okay. Well --

MS HARF: I think that we've heard from a lot of members of Congress who value the fact that we are coming to speak to them, I think very much value Secretary Moniz, for example, walking through why we are confident in the science behind what we've already agreed to. And I know that those conversations are continuing. So some people's minds may already be made up. I think what we have said to them is before making up your mind about an agreement that's not even a final agreement yet, hear from the experts who were in the room, who are doing the scientific calculations. I think that's a key part of members of Congress deciding where they fall on this.

QUESTION: So you still think that people are – can be convinced that this is --

MS HARF: I do. I do.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, good luck on that.

MS HARF: I do. Thank you, Matt. I appreciate the well wishes. Anything else?

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Zarif said that the next round is going to be – I think the 21st, he said.

MS HARF: Right. And we always, as you know, defer to our – the EU as the coordinating --

QUESTION: That sound about right?

MS HARF: -- party to make an announcement as to the specifics of the next meeting between the P5+1 and Iran. As I said yesterday, we expect to reconvene with the parties next week at the expert level and possibly the political director level. But we don't expect Secretary Kerry or Foreign Minister Zarif will be a part of that.

QUESTION: Do you know where the --

MS HARF: We don't. The details are still being worked out.


QUESTION: Can I just go back to the Senate?

MS HARF: You can.

QUESTION: And yesterday Senator Bob Corker said on CNN – this is before the Secretary went up to brief – that he believes they could be close to getting the 67 votes they need in the Senate to override any kind of presidential majority, which would then give Congress an oversight, a review, of any final deal. Do you think that's likely? Do you think that's possible?

MS HARF: I think the conversations are ongoing. And I understand that the committee's marking up the bill this afternoon. I don't want to get ahead of that process and what the final legislation that comes out of that markup ends up looking like. So we've had many, many conversations as – yesterday, I was looking for some numbers, and I have them here today. The President and Vice President, Cabinet members, and other Administration officials have made over 130 phone calls alone to members of Congress since the announcement of the parameters of a joint comprehensive plan of action. So that's just since April 2nd. So we've had many, many consultations, both on what's in the agreement, what's been agreed to so far in the parameters, but also on what possible oversight role and legislation might look like. And I don't want to get ahead of today's markup.

QUESTION: But do you envisage some kind of role for Congress of this deal?

MS HARF: Absolutely. Absolutely. We always have said that.

QUESTION: There was – I think it was Senator Risch was just talking again to CNN, saying that he believed that Congress should have a vote after you've hammered out the final details. Would that be more acceptable than a vote before?

MS HARF: Well, at a baseline, we've always said they will have an eventual vote to lift sanctions, that only a vote by Congress can eventually terminate U.S. sanctions when it comes to the sanctions they've put in place. So that's always been a way they would be able to vote. But again, I don't want to get ahead of the conversations in – with Congress right now. The Secretary's up there as I speak. I think we'll probably have more to say about this in the coming days.

QUESTION: Yeah. I don't think he was talking about a vote on the sanctions. He was talking about a vote on what the deal --

MS HARF: I know, but I was saying they will have – in order to fully implement the agreement at a baseline they will have a vote on terminating sanctions. So that has always been the case. But in terms of what the legislation might look like, again, those conversations are ongoing and I just don't want to get ahead of them.

QUESTION: Can I turn to something that I saw Senator Corker as being quoted as saying? "By the way, I know they've made comments that somehow they have been working with me. I can tell you nothing could be further from the truth. I've had no conversations about the substance of this bill with any principal – whether it be the President, Secretary Kerry, or others."

MS HARF: I know the President and Secretary have both spoken to Senator Corker. So --

QUESTION: Yeah, that's what I had thought, which is why I wanted to check.

MS HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: And that was – just to be clear, that was about his legislation or about the deal more generally, or both?

MS HARF: About both. It's my – check with the White House on the President's call. I, obviously, am familiar with the Secretary's call, but it was, in general, about both.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: But the draft legislation from – about – setting aside the one about the possible sanctions, which is a different one, but the Corker co-signed legislation about having a vote or approving the deal – is that something that you intrinsically disagree with, or do you believe there could be a way of writing that legislation that would make it acceptable to the Administration?

MS HARF: I think we've been over this a lot, as has the White House. The President has said if the bill comes to his desk in the current form then we would veto it – then he would veto it.

QUESTION: So there is a way to rewrite it to make it acceptable.

MS HARF: But what we're talking about – well, we don't know. Right? What we're talking about with all these conversations is the possible way we could move forward, Congress's appropriate oversight role. Those discussions are ongoing and I really just don't want to get ahead of the mark-up that the Senate committee will be doing this afternoon on this legislation. I think we'll have more to say about this in the coming hours and days as this moves forward.

QUESTION: Do you have any concern that even if this bill comes before the President and he vetoes it that that could have an effect on the negotiations?

MS HARF: In what way?

QUESTION: Well, I don't know. I mean, you're – you seem to be – well, you don't seem to be, you are saying that you're opposed to the legislation in its current form.

MS HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So is the concern that even if it's going to be vetoed, if it goes ahead – if they go ahead that that will also impact the negotiations?

MS HARF: I think let's just see how this plays out over the coming hours and days, and I think we'll have more to say about it as this moves forward. I just don't have much more to offer today.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, do you think that once it does – once the committee does do the mark-up you'll have – or the White House will have something to say about it?

MS HARF: I'm guessing we may.

QUESTION: You will?

MS HARF: Yeah. What else? This is a thin crowd today, people.



MS HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: Iran – still staying with Iran, but on Yemen. Foreign Minister Zarif apparently said to Spanish reporters today in Madrid that he's put forward a peace plan for Yemen. Are you aware of this? Has it been communicated to you? Is it something that you might support?

MS HARF: Well, we're certainly aware of what he said in terms of having a plan. Obviously, Iran plays a role here given their support for the Houthi. And I think what would be most helpful from the Iranian side at this point is to respect this newly imposed UN arms embargo that was just passed today and stop supporting the Houthi. So broadly speaking, of course, we need to get back to the political dialogue, that that's always what we said the way forward is. So whatever Iran can do to push the Houthi to do that obviously is the direction we need to go in, and want to make sure going forward now that all countries understand what their obligations and responsibilities under this new UNSCR that, again, was just passed today. So I know those are conversations at the UN that are happening right now.

QUESTION: But the call for Iran to abide by the terms of the Security Council resolution is interesting to me. Can you --


QUESTION: Because I'm not sure Iran has ever abided by a Security Council resolution.

MS HARF: So we shouldn't try?

QUESTION: Well, I don't – I'm not saying that, but I mean, doesn't – if in fact Iran does not – and I realize this is hypothetical, but it plays into the whole idea of whether Iran is really interested in or is committed to upholding its obligations, because it certainly hasn't upheld or it didn't – wasn't upholding its obligations under the nuclear-related sanctions.

MS HARF: Right, but it has upheld every obligation under the Joint Plan of Action.

QUESTION: Yeah, but we're talking – you're talking about enshrining whatever agreement you get, if you get one, in a UN Security Council resolution.

MS HARF: Mm-hmm. Correct.

QUESTION: And that they haven't abided by them in the past --

MS HARF: But, I wouldn't --

QUESTION: -- and so why would you expect that they would abide by this one on Yemen now?

MS HARF: Well, because – well, you're mixing, I think, three or four different issues here. The UN Security Council resolution that would be a part of a comprehensive agreement would only be part of this. There would be a joint comprehensive plan of action that they would be required to abide by, as they have with the Joint Plan of Action, and if they don't, there are ways – there are consequences, right. So that's a little separate. But we think it is important that the Security Council today did adopt this measure to put an arms embargo, a global asset freeze, travel bans, targeted arms embargo, other things as well, and really shows, I think, that the council will take action quickly in this regard, which is good. But again, we understand the complications here. You are right: Iran has repeatedly been incredibly destabilizing in places in the region. So it's not about hope here; it's about trying to get the parties on the ground in Yemen back to the table.


MS HARF: And this is just another tool that's helpful.

QUESTION: On the American citizens who are remaining there --

MS HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- the Embassy in Djibouti has received and is helping some that have arrived there with consular services.

MS HARF: And I have a little bit more information. I think you asked me about what they're doing on the ground in Djibouti.

QUESTION: Right. The ambassador said today earlier, I think, that they were getting reinforcements to help. What does that mean?

MS HARF: Yeah, so I have some – yep, I have some more information on that. So while awaiting security screening and processing by Djiboutian immigration officials, U.S. citizens and their families have been offered food, water, medical attention, hygiene items, infant care items, access to phones to contact relatives, and when feasible, a place to – it's quite hot there; I think a place to stay and remain that's out of the heat and a little more comfortable. These have been – much of this food and the items have been provided by embassy employees and local staff, which I think is important. The Department of Homeland Security has granted exceptional authority for the consular team in Djibouti to accept and approve immigrant visa petitions for spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens. The State Department is working to transfer immigrant visa cases for recently arrived refugees to Djibouti. We are also increasing consular staffing in Djibouti in order to process petitions for immigrant visa cases as quickly as possible; also to help Yemeni – help U.S. citizens with Yemeni family members find long-term housing while they work through their options here.

So we are doing a number of things in Djibouti. This is where many of people – the people leaving Yemen have gone. Our ambassador, I think, is sharing some of these experiences on Twitter, so I'd check those out as well.

QUESTION: Yeah, that's where that came – but do you have a rough estimate? Is it a couple hundred people? How many are we talking about?

MS HARF: We're not exactly sure. We've – I think he tweeted something like 149 or something like that. We know of a couple hundred; we just don't know if that's everyone.


MS HARF: So we don't know how accurate it is.

QUESTION: But that doesn't – that's only the ones who have American citizenship. That might not include --

MS HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- their families and spouses.

MS HARF: That is my understanding.

QUESTION: And so when you have – DHS has given your – are they sending people there, or is it they've just basically delegated --

MS HARF: Our – I think our consular team is sending additional people there.

QUESTION: So if you are a – the wife of an American citizen who is trying to get an immigrant visa, what's the timeframe we're talking about – looking at here?

MS HARF: I don't know what the timeframe is. I'm happy to check. I don't know.

QUESTION: But they would have to stay, though, in Djibouti until --

MS HARF: Well, they couldn't come to the United States, ostensibly.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS HARF: Right.

QUESTION: But the process, though, is not a short one, is it? I mean, it's --

MS HARF: I – Matt, I --

QUESTION: I'm not saying – I'm not making the argument that it is.

MS HARF: I don't know. I'm happy to check. I don't know.

QUESTION: Okay. All right.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

MS HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I don't know if you saw that – sorry, are you still on Yemen?


QUESTION: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: And I apologize that I missed the top, if you've already addressed this. But there are reports out that Secretary Kerry thanked Lavrov for Russia's involvement and using a Russian ship to bring 18 U.S. citizens --

MS HARF: I can check on that. We do know that some Americans were able to board a Russian ship, I believe. And we have – I am happy to thank the Russians publicly for that. The Indians, the Djiboutians, and the Koreans have as well. I can check and see if that came up in the call. I'm not positive.

QUESTION: Are those – sorry, but are those ships still – to your knowledge, are those ships still going back and forth, or has it stopped?

MS HARF: I don't know. I don't know.


MS HARF: And as we get that information, we're sending out security messages to U.S. citizens.

QUESTION: I saw some of them on the website, yeah.

MS HARF: Yeah. So I just don't know.

QUESTION: You don't know if there's more today or --

MS HARF: Yeah. We'll get you the latest information, but probably the website's the best place to go.


QUESTION: Ukraine. Six Ukrainian servicemen or troops are said to have been killed and 12 wounded in the latest fighting, and both sides are trading accusations that the other is building up weaponry and materiel in areas that they shouldn't under the agreements. What is your comment on this, and are you doing anything to try to de-escalate the situation?

MS HARF: Well, yesterday, as I think you all know, the foreign ministers from Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia met to discuss implementation of Minsk. We, I think, welcomed this meeting and think this is an important forum for discussions to continue. We understand that there was agreement to withdraw additional types of heavy weapons and tanks from the front lines and to launch discussions and working groups in the coming weeks as soon as possible. Basically, these are also things we support.

But the Russian-backed separatists continue to take aggressive action in Ukraine. They continue to have ceasefire violations reported by the OSCE, access problems on both sides, and the Russian-backed separatists continue to stall Minsk implementation. So we are concerned. I know it'll be a topic of conversation when the Secretary goes to the G7 later today. Ukraine certainly will be, as will some other issues as well.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, I missed what you said about both sides.

MS HARF: That there have been access problems with the OSCE on both sides.

QUESTION: Thanks. Got it.

MS HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Could we just – if we haven't got any more on Ukraine, can I just stick with a slightly tangential Russia question?

MS HARF: You can stick with whatever you want, yes.

QUESTION: May 8th is the 70th anniversary.


QUESTION: I know that we've already discussed this here and that the Secretary has no plans to go to the parade in Russia.

MS HARF: Correct, correct.

QUESTION: Do you have any indication yet what level of representation the United States may have at that parade?

MS HARF: We did this last week, but that's okay.

QUESTION: Oh, did you? I'm sorry, I wasn't here last week. I apologize.

MS HARF: It's okay. I'll do it again. I was in Panama, I think, when we did it, so we can just all do it again.

QUESTION: And also, if there's any celebrations, commemorations that will be going on here.

MS HARF: Yeah. So we, as I think we've said, certainly honor the sacrifice of those who fought against Nazis in World War II, including, I would note, millions of Russians who sacrificed as well. As you know, President Obama and other heads of state met in Normandy last year to commemorate World War II. There are a variety of ways I think people across the world will honor Victory in Europe Day. On May 8th in Washington, there will be a flyover to mark the occasion here in Washington. I think some European capitals will also be marking that day.

At the military parade in Moscow on May 9th, we expect to be represented by Ambassador Tefft.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

MS HARF: You're welcome.

QUESTION: Can I ask --

MS HARF: Yes. Wait, hold on. Let's go back here. Or do you have some related?

QUESTION: It's Russia.

MS HARF: Okay. Sorry, stay on Russia.

QUESTION: Well, related to these ships that are in the English Channel, do you have anything to say about this, considering your special relationship with the Brits, who seem to be concerned about it?

MS HARF: Who seem to be what?

QUESTION: Concerned about it.

MS HARF: I would – I mean, I would check – I don't think their level of concern has been --

QUESTION: No, but they've mentioned it.

MS HARF: They mentioned it, right. We certainly recognize the need for routine military training activity. As we've said in the past, any such activity must be consistent with international law and conducted with due regards for the rights of other nations, the safety of aircraft and safety of vessels. I think the Russian Government probably has more details, but that's where we are.

QUESTION: All right. And then I'm just wondering, is the – is your unhappiness with the S-300 transfer, has that been conveyed in its entirety to the Russians, or is it still going on, or was it only --

MS HARF: Well, Secretary Kerry conveyed it yesterday.

QUESTION: I know. But is that --

MS HARF: That's pretty high-level.

QUESTION: Well, yeah. I'm not saying it's not high-level. I'm just wondering if you've --

MS HARF: If we continue --

QUESTION: -- if you're finished, if you're finished with it, if you've made your – because I noticed that Prime Minister Netanyahu called President Putin today and said we don't like this either. So I'm just wondering, are you going to continue --

MS HARF: I don't have anything --

QUESTION: -- to press the Russians on it?

MS HARF: We will. I don't have anything new to outline for you.

QUESTION: And did you get asked yesterday about the relationship between the ability of the S-300 to prevent aerial attacks and the credibility of the U.S. threat to potentially use a military option against Iran?

MS HARF: I think DOD is probably the best place to answer that question. I spoke with them about this this morning, so I'd point you there. I think in general, we're confident in our capabilities that we have, but I'm not going to get into more details than that. They may be able to.


QUESTION: All right. Pope Francis over the weekend and his characterization of the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a hundred years ago as the first genocide of the 20th century. And since we are marking the anniversary, if you could restate the U.S. position on what happened?

MS HARF: Yes. The President and other senior Administration officials have repeatedly acknowledged as historical fact and mourned the fact that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, and stated that a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests, including Turkey's, Armenia's, and America's.

One of the principles, I think, that's guided the Administration's work in this area and in atrocity prevention more broadly is that nations are stronger and they progress by acknowledging and reckoning with pretty painful elements of their past; doing so is really essential to building a different, more tolerant future. And I think that sort of guides how we look at this and other issues.

QUESTION: Any reaction to the Pope?

MS HARF: Nothing beyond what I just said.

QUESTION: Are you --

QUESTION: And so you're asking for Turkey to make that public acknowledgement then? Is that what you're saying?

MS HARF: Nothing more than I just said.

QUESTION: The Turks recalled their ambassador to the Vatican. Erdogan has said today that he condemns the Pope for these comments. Are you concerned at all at this kind of uptick in tensions surrounding it --

MS HARF: I don't think --

QUESTION: -- regardless of the use of the word --

MS HARF: I don't think I have much more to say on this.

QUESTION: All right. Can you remind us what candidate Obama's position was on the Armenia --

MS HARF: I'm happy for you to check with the 2008 Barack Obama campaign, Matt. I don't speak for them. I speak for the State Department and the Administration.

QUESTION: Does anyone still speak for the 2008 campaign?

MS HARF: I'm happy for you to call someone and find out.

QUESTION: Because I seem to recall that he was in favor of using that word.

MS HARF: I'm happy for you to get in touch with the campaign.

QUESTION: It's interesting how many candidates run on that, as that as part of their platform, and then upon winning change their minds because Turkey is a NATO ally and no one wants to upset them. Is that why?

MS HARF: Why what?

QUESTION: Why the President has revised his position on whether what happened was a genocide?

MS HARF: I'm happy for you to check with the White House on the President specifically.

QUESTION: Okay. As --

MS HARF: As I said, he has made clear and what our policy is is clear.

QUESTION: As it relates to the State Department then, what is the State Department's position?

MS HARF: I just outlined what our position is very clearly.

QUESTION: Are there any plans for any commemorations again, given it's the 100th anniversary?

MS HARF: Let me check. I don't know.

Anything else? Abigail.

QUESTION: A Connecticut soldier vanished in a scuba diving trip in Thailand. There have been reports about that.

MS HARF: I hadn't seen that. Happy to check.



QUESTION: On South Korea.

MS HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yesterday South Korean Government lifted their travel ban for Japanese journalist, Sankei Shimbun journalist, Mr. Kato. He is accused of defaming President Park. Do you have any comment on the issue and the South Korean humanitarian situation?

MS HARF: Well, in terms of this specific exit ban being lifted by the Seoul prosecutor, we're certainly aware of those reports. We've seen them and have been following the investigation since its initiation closely. Don't have much more to say than that.


QUESTION: Did the U.S. Government make some effort to lift the ban?

MS HARF: Well, it's a decision for the Seoul prosecutor's office. I just don't have more for you than that.


QUESTION: Yes, on Bosnia. The senior leader of the Bosnia's ruling party told Bosnian media over the weekend that the party will vote on and adopt a resolution calling for a "free and independent Republika Srpska," seeking independence from the rest of Bosnia. And the party leader said that it's a move in response – it's a move, rather, in response to increasing say by other ethnic groups on Bosnian Serb positions in key institutions. So what is a – any concern about what something like that might do?

MS HARF: Well, the U.S. – we've long said that territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina are guaranteed by the Dayton Peace Accords. Neither the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina nor, I think, any other part of the Dayton accords offers any entity the right to secede. And any action taken towards the dissolution of Bosnia and Herzegovina would violate the Dayton accords.

Yes, anything else? Abigail.

QUESTION: It's the anniversary of the kidnapping of 200 girls in Nigeria, and I was wondering if you had any comment on that or what the U.S. is – what the involvement still is of the U.S. to help locate the girls.

MS HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, as you know, as we've talked about, we've been involved for some time here, and again, on this anniversary call for all hostages held by Boko Haram, including these girls, to be released immediately without preconditions. We have supported Nigerian efforts to bring about the safe recovery of those who've been kidnapped, certainly not just the girls but others as well.

Secretary Kerry, when we were there in Lagos in January, made an important point about Nigeria having peaceful and credible elections in order to effectively combat Boko Haram. And as we've seen with the conduct of the recent elections as well as, I think, President Jonathan's statesmanship in accepting the results that this, I think, bodes well for ongoing and future counterterrorism actions. And President Buhari has indicated that he wants to focus on counterterrorism as well.

We still have an interdisciplinary team in Abuja that consists of specialists on temporary assignment and personnel assigned to the Embassy from a number of U.S. Government agencies. The number varies from time to time depending on specific assistance being requested by the government, whether this can be staff already in Abuja or whether we need to send new people. So we've continued to help both in the search, providing training, equipment to try and help them find not just the girls but all of those kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Anything else?

QUESTION: Yeah, I just had one. This is a logistical thing about Lubeck.

MS HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Does the Secretary have any meetings other than the group G7 foreign ministers meeting, or is he going to meet people on the sidelines?

MS HARF: I don't believe so. I don't believe so, but we'll keep you all posted over the day tomorrow.

QUESTION: Is he going to speak at all in a public setting, for example, in the opening session?

MS HARF: I think there may be a camera spray at the top of the plenary, is my understanding. There may be. I can double-check. But we don't have a press availability given the amount of time we're there.

QUESTION: But do you expect him to – I mean, does he have remarks at that, or is that just a quick camera spray and --

MS HARF: I'm not sure.


MS HARF: I'm happy to check. But if it's with all the foreign ministers, I'm guessing it's just a quick photo.

QUESTION: Can I just ask – sorry if I missed this at the very top: Did you address the Blackwater sentencing yesterday?

MS HARF: I did not. I did not.

QUESTION: Can I ask for the reaction to the --

QUESTION: Good catch.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: No, I mean --


MS HARF: Well, we respect the court's decision in this case and have no comment regarding the findings, the decisions here. Refer you, I think, to the Department of Justice for any comment that it would wish to make. As you know, following the tragedy there, the Department took a number of steps to strengthen oversight of private security contractors, such as moving quickly to improve investigative policies and strengthening procedures for use of force and less-than-lethal force by security contractors.

QUESTION: So are you confident that the procedures that you took in the wake of this incident mean that it's unlikely any such instance could occur again, in a different country, obviously, but --

MS HARF: That certainly was the goal of undertaking this – to put in place better and more robust oversight, of course, to make sure that we had better rules and regulations for private security contractors.

QUESTION: But it didn't lessen your willingness to work with private contractors in such situations?

MS HARF: Well, in some places we have to, for a variety of reasons. But that's why I think the Diplomatic Security Bureau, but others here who deal with this issue went to great lengths to make sure we had in place what we needed here.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS HARF: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:29 p.m.)

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