State Department Briefing by Jen Psaki, March 5, 2014

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 5, 2014.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Detained U.S. Citizen / Privacy Act Waiver / Role of Consular Officers
    • UN Representative Robert Serry Safety Situation / OSCE Monitors
    • Alleged Audiotape of EU High Representative Ashton Phone Call with Estonian Foreign Minister
    • U.S. Calls for Russian Troop Withdrawal / NATO Process
    • Secretary Kerry Meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov / EU Relations / Sanctions Options / Secretary Kerry Talks with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier
    • Russian Launch of ICBM / U.S. Global Engagement on Ukraine
    • Response to China’s Military Development/Call for Transparency
    • U.S. Rebalance to Asia Policy
    • Iranian Arms Shipment Seizure
    • Middle East Peace Framework
    • U.S. Coordination with Israel on Vessel Carrying Iranian Arms / Movement of Illicit Weapons
    • Gulf Nations Recall Envoys to Qatar / U.S. Encouraging Dialogue Between Gulf Nations / Meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister in Paris
    • Ship Interdiction
    • Dalai Lama’s Security in the U.S.
    • Travel of Syrian UN Representative / Meeting with Brahimi / Brahimi Resignation Reports / Chemical Weapons Shipments
    • Egyptian Human Rights Report Findings
    • Reports of Human Rights Abuses


Summer and Fall at Prairie State College

12:35 p.m. EST

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Wednesday.

QUESTION: Ash Wednesday.

MS. PSAKI: Ash Wednesday, all right. I don’t have anything at the top, so, Matt, let’s start with you.

QUESTION: All right. Before going on to more – potentially more urgent matters, I just want to clear up a little – do a little housekeeping from yesterday —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: — on this Medea Benjamin in Egypt story.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I understand, and please tell me if I’m correct, that you guys have not yet gotten a Privacy Act waiver from her. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is correct.

QUESTION: And does that mean in the absence of that, that you’re unable to say anything about the case, or do your comments from yesterday at the briefing still stand?

MS. PSAKI: They stand, but let me just give you a little more information on how this works. So we cannot share information about a specific U.S. citizen’s arrest without – or detention even, without his or her written permission. So absent written authorization, we’re unable to share details, of course, about individual cases.

QUESTION: Okay. And those details would include what assistance may or may not have been rendered to that person?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But – and I just still want to make sure we get this. But if and when you do get a Privacy Act waiver with all the correct boxes checked and – you will be able to?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. We can – we would be able to provide more information.

QUESTION: All right. And then last on this just to make sure. So the comments that you made yesterday at the – in here about this situation, though, stand despite the Privacy Act considerations?

MS. PSAKI: That we – I’m just trying to recall what was stated, but —

QUESTION: That you were in touch with her and that she received all – or that she was offered and received all appropriate consular assistance.

MS. PSAKI: Right. Nothing has changed.

QUESTION: Okay, all right. Now —

QUESTION: Can I just follow up —


QUESTION: — very quickly. Where is she now?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t provide any more details to you, Said, than what I’ve already provided.

QUESTION: Are you – let me ask you something.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The impression is that you’re not giving this case the proper attention because she was going to Gaza. Is that true?

MS. PSAKI: Said, broadly speaking, and I can’t speak to this particular case, we treat all American citizens and their safety overseas with the utmost focus and attention. And that is the case regardless. So that is not an accurate depiction.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Yes, please. But in general, between the arrest of a person in a certain place in a certain country and the meeting by – arranged by the Embassy to meet this person which – him or her, who is informing the Embassy that somebody is there at the airport or somebody at any place?

MS. PSAKI: It really —

QUESTION: Because you – so just to explain. I mean, you explaining the —

MS. PSAKI: Sure. So broadly speaking —


MS. PSAKI: — oftentimes it’s local authorities. And after local authorities notify the embassy or consulate of a U.S. citizen’s arrest or detention, a consular officer will visit the citizen as soon as possible. Typically, in the initial visit, the consular officer ascertains the individual’s physical well-being and conditions of the arrest or detention. And if that individual wishes, the family and friends can be notified. So that’s kind of what the standard practice is. Every case is different.

QUESTION: For me the missing link is that to be informed in order to be in touch with the person —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — who is doing that? The person or the authorities or foreign authorities or —

MS. PSAKI: Typically, local authorities, but every case is different.

Do we have any more on this issue? Okay. Ukraine.

QUESTION: All right. Yeah. So there was some breaking – semi-breaking stuff out there on Ukraine that you may – I’m sure you’re probably aware of, and that is the situation with Robert Serry. Are you in a position – do you know what is actually happening on the ground there with him?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have additional details. We’ve seen the same reports on Twitter and that have been reported out there. I understand that the UN has come out and said it was incorrect that he was abducted in some way, which had been reported. But beyond that in terms of the specifics of his travel plans, I’d point you to the UN.

QUESTION: You don’t – okay. So in other – when you say specifics of his travel plans, this – it’s now being reported that he is going to – he has agreed to leave —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and that he’s – you’re not aware if that’s true?

MS. PSAKI: I have seen those reports. I don’t have any confirmation of that of whether it’s accurate or not.

QUESTION: All right. So a little bit earlier in the day – do you have anything to say about the OSCE monitors being blocked?

MS. PSAKI: So our understanding —

QUESTION: And forgive me if this was already addressed in Paris. I don’t know if it was.

MS. PSAKI: It may have been, but I’m happy to also address it. Our understanding is that the monitors had difficulty moving into the area today. They’re going to try again. Obviously, if Russia and the Russian authorities want to make sure that minority rights are being looked out for and ensure that that is taking place, letting in the monitors is a key part of that process. There are some representatives of OSCE on the ground, so this is just specific to —

QUESTION: You mean already?

MS. PSAKI: Already. Exactly.

QUESTION: Right. And then were there any American members of this OSCE contingent that you’re aware of?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a good question. I’d have to check on that.

QUESTION: All right. And my last one on Ukraine is —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — have you heard this latest audio tape of apparently bugged conversation between Catherine Ashton and the foreign minister?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen the reports of it, yes. And —

QUESTION: Have you listened to it?

MS. PSAKI: I have not had a chance to listen to it yet.

QUESTION: It’s very high quality. In stereo, too.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. As seems to be the theme.

QUESTION: Yeah. In that call, the foreign minister – and forgive me, what country is the foreign minister from?

QUESTION: Estonia.

QUESTION: Estonia. The Estonian foreign minister says something about suspicions that the snipers, the people who fired on protestors in the square, were not directed to do so by the then president, but rather by the protestors themselves. Do you have – do U.S. officials share this suspicion?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know you’re asking about the content, which I don’t have anything for you on. But —

QUESTION: Right. Quite apart from it, it’s out there that a foreign minister of – a NATO member says that there are these suspicions. Do you share those suspicions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, not that I’m aware of, Matt. But broadly speaking in terms of this report, we don’t have any – we’ve seen the reports. We don’t have any confirmation of the validity of this call or confirmation that there wasn’t any doctoring of the call either. So it’s hard to speak to the content as it’s been reported.

QUESTION: Well, just about – how about – does the United States have any reason to believe that the people who were doing the shooting in Kyiv were not doing so under the orders of the president and, in fact, were doing so under orders of people affiliated, at least, with the opposition?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – that’s not a discussion that I’m aware of internally here being had. But obviously, the context of where this information was reportedly coming from is important here too.

QUESTION: Okay. And then last thing: Do you have any comment in general on the release of such a phone call since – particularly since one of your own colleagues was victimized, if that’s the right word, in a very similar fashion on the same subject not so long ago?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, Matt, obviously these reports just came out. But as I said around the last unfortunate case, this is just another example of the kind of Russian statecraft that we have strong concerns about. And we don’t, again, know the content. I can’t verify the content of the call, that the call hasn’t been doctored in any way. So we’ll see that report itself out and look for confirmation from individuals in the countries.

QUESTION: Sorry. You said statecraft, but the first time around with Toria’s conversation you said – I think it was tradecraft. Is that what you meant to say?

MS. PSAKI: Tradecraft. Sorry. Tradecraft, not statecraft. Thank you for correcting me.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Please note in the transcript. (Laughter.) Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, just related to the discussion just concluded, do you believe that it’s a mistake perhaps to dismiss completely the narrative of the former government and the former president of Ukraine – their side of the story?

MS. PSAKI: In what capacity, Said?

QUESTION: In the capacity that you are adopting – you have adopted the story of the new government, and that was proven by these high-level visits by the Secretary of State no less, and others and so on, that you’re taking their narrative of what has really happened and not, let’s say, the former government. We don’t hear anything about —

MS. PSAKI: I would refute that notion. I think we’ve been very clear, the Secretary has been clear, the President of the United States has been clear, that there is an off-ramp here for Russia. They can withdraw their troops. They can call for an end to these aggressive steps that they’ve taken. Our focus is on a stable and economically prosperous Ukraine. Certainly, we view the new government as legitimately representing the people. They’re all looking ahead to elections, and so that’s what all of our focus remains on.

QUESTION: Would that off-ramp or should that off-ramp include some sort of a commitment or a promise that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO in their backyard, in their own backyard, so to speak?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a NATO process that NATO oversees, so I would point you to them on that.

Do we have any more on Ukraine, or shall we move on to a new subject?

QUESTION: If I might just ask a very straightforward question —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — about what do you have to say about the meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Secretary?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, it’s ongoing – the meeting is – and the purpose – part of the message that the Secretary will deliver today is that Russia needs to stop its military intervention in Ukraine, let international monitors in to verify that the rights of all Ukrainians are being respected, join an international effort to de-escalate the situation and assure the stability of Ukraine and the region, entering into immediate and direct dialogue with the Ukrainian Government, and respect Ukraine’s democratic future. We are believers in diplomacy. I’m not going to predict that all will be resolved from one meeting, certainly not, but that is the message the Secretary will be delivering today.

QUESTION: Are you having problems with – in your efforts towards diplomacy with Europe, presenting a unified and cohesive front in terms of sanctions against Russia?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there were some steps that were announced today by the EU in terms of implementing sanctions in Ukraine, so I’d point you to that. But I will say that today and over the coming days, the Secretary, the President, U.S. officials will be very closely engaged with the EU in terms of coordinating and discussing details of sanctions options that are under consideration. So we’re very closely intertwined.

The Secretary spoke with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier this morning. He’ll be in Paris as well, but he was en route. So he spoke with him. They talked about how this is a critical moment, how it’s important to present a strong and united front, and they’ll be engaging in that discussion over the coming days.

QUESTION: Given the fact that European nations have a much higher volume of trade with Russia and are much more dependent on trade with Russia, does that present a problem in getting the EU and European nations to go along with what Secretary Kerry and the President want?

MS. PSAKI: Well, they do have a – you’re right, they do have a closer tied trade relationship. However, if you look at what a range of officials from European capitals have said about the situation in Ukraine, they’ve been very clear about their willingness and openness to taking steps to hold officials, whether they’re officials in Ukraine or Russia, accountable. And that is what the discussion is about at this point.

QUESTION: And finally, do you view the test launch of the ICBM yesterday as a threatening gesture, perhaps an effort to drive a wedge between the United States and Europeans as these negotiations go forward?

MS. PSAKI: We don’t – this was a previously notified and routine test launch of an ICBM. As required under the New START Treaty, Russia provided advance notification of this launch to the United States. Such advance notification is, of course, intended to provide transparency, confidence, and predictability, and we routinely – Russia and the United States routinely flight test their ICBMS. So we don’t view it in that manner.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: If you can provide us a list of the countries where you have least at the level of secretary or deputy secretary on Ukraine issues – we know there are a few countries (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Where the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary have engaged–


MS. PSAKI: — have discussed, have been in touch with?

QUESTION: Yes. Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Sure.

QUESTION: The – your global outreach on Ukrainian issue.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Okay. Absolutely.

Any more on Ukraine, or we’ll move on? Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes. I would like to come back to the phone call, the leaked phone call —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — since Toria Nuland’s phone call was very, very similarly leaked. Back then, it was called Russian tradecraft, the – not the recording of the phone call but the leaking of it, and this time it’s been attributed to – for some reason to the – to Yanukovych’s own secret service, and it’s still being leaked via Russia Today, RT. So my question is: The last time when it happened to the State Department officials and diplomats, did you – was there an inquiry as to how was this phone call compromised, by whom, and what’s – what was this – what – where did it come from?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any details of that to share with all of you. And I certainly, as I didn’t last time, have any confirmation of the source of the leaks or the mechanism of recording. But obviously, these issues raise concerns, which is why we express them.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I don’t hang around here as much as I should, Jen, and I apologize for that.

MS. PSAKI: Come on over. We have a good time. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The last I heard, you weren’t acknowledging that it was actually Assistant Secretary Nuland’s voice on that tape, but you’re not knocking down the premise of any of these questions.

MS. PSAKI: No, that wasn’t actually what happened at the time.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re acknowledging that it was her voice?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – we litigated this a couple of weeks ago, but this is obviously a different case that’s unrelated to any U.S. officials. So obviously, I wouldn’t be weighing in on the validity of it.

QUESTION: But the premise of these questions is that it was Toria’s voice on those tapes.

MS. PSAKI: I think the premise of these questions is also about the recently leaked information today.

Any more on Ukraine? Okay, in the back.


MS. PSAKI: China.

QUESTION: China just announced its biggest military budget increase. First of all, what’s your reaction to this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, have seen those reports. We encourage China to use its military capabilities in a manner conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. That’s a message that the Secretary conveyed when he was there and senior officials convey all the time. We continue to carefully monitor China’s military developments and to encourage China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its capabilities and intentions.

QUESTION: Do you see China has become more transparent than before?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any analysis of that for you other than to convey that transparency is something that’s not just evaluated about one event. It’s something that we all need to continue to aspire to do more of.

QUESTION: Because the Japanese Government, they have expressed their concerns, given the tension in East China Sea and South China Sea. Do you share their concern, given the circumstance? Right now, China is increasing its military budget in two digits.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t think I have anything to add beyond what I’ve conveyed on this issue.

QUESTION: Then finally, how does this fit into the big picture of the U.S. Asia rebalance policy? Do you see this may pose any challenge to your Asia rebalance policy?

MS. PSAKI: We don’t. We remain committed to the Asia rebalance, and the Secretary’s, I think, fifth trip to Asia just a few weeks ago is just the most recent indication of that.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Why do you think China is not being transparent in its military defense thing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, we’ve expressed concern in the past, say, about issues related to the ADIZ and the release of information and prior notification, but it’s just more a broad point about the need to be transparent about information as related to your military capabilities.

QUESTION: And what part of Chinese military capabilities do you think is of more challenging to the U.S. interest in Asia Pacific region?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to give you an answer to that.

China or something else?


MS. PSAKI: I was surprised – Said, China. Expanding your repertoire.

QUESTION: I have – (laughter) – I’m an international kind of guy, yeah.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Okay. Before I ask about the negotiation, do you have any comment on what the Israelis are claiming that they caught this boat laden with arms going to Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I can confirm the reports that the Israeli Government interdicted a shipment of illicit Iranian arms. The United States and Israel have had routine communications about this issue through intelligence and military channels, as well as through our national security advisors.

QUESTION: So you have independently confirmed that there was a ship and it was loaded with arms going to Gaza?

MS. PSAKI: We have —

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: — I’m not going to outline all the details. I would refer you to the Israeli Government for that, but we have confirmed that there was, of course, a ship. I’m not going to outline the details, but the Israeli – we have confirmed the details that the Israelis have put out there.

QUESTION: And the Israeli press is also saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu requested that the talks be extended until the end of 2014. Could you comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any comment for you on that. I would point you to them. Obviously, as we’ve said many times, the next step is a framework for negotiations. If there is – if both sides can agree on that, then we can look ahead to the path forward. Both sides will have more of a clear road that they would need to travel to get to a final status agreement.

QUESTION: Okay. So once the framework is presented, when and if it is presented, you do expect that the talks will go on until they completely run out or resolve the issue?

MS. PSAKI: We can talk about that when there’s a framework, Said.

QUESTION: Back on the ship.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: You don’t have any broader comment on what this means, what it – the fact that there was this seizure clearly should raise —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — I mean, the fact that there were – was a boatload of weapons headed there must —

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — raise some concern.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me give you a few more details. Soon after becoming aware of the imminent movement of the suspected vessel, the White House directed the Department of Defense to monitor the vessel and to develop concepts of operation for a range of options in order to be prepared to take unilateral steps if necessary. This is part of, of course, a robust effort on the part of the Administration. We were closely coordinated, our intelligence and military activities, with the – with our Israeli counterparts, who ultimately chose to take the lead with this case. And even as we continue our efforts to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy, we will continue to stand up to Iran’s support for destabilizing activities in the region in coordination with our partners and allies. There are still details that are – have not yet been confirmed about this specific case, which we’re watching, of course, and monitoring closely.

QUESTION: Right, but I – it was my impression when Said was asking before that you didn’t want to say that it was definitely Iranian weapons —

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re illicit Iranian arms. I don’t have a confirmation of that.


MS. PSAKI: So that is – yes.

QUESTION: So – but does this incident raise your concerns, or were they already pretty much as high as they could be?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think this a case where we have long been watching closely, and that is – the fact that the White House directed the Department of Defense and other resources to take steps to monitor is an indication of that. Obviously, details are being confirmed over the course of time, so we’ll see what the outcome of that is.

QUESTION: So it – this doesn’t come as a surprise to you that weapons were being sent to —

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve expressed concerns about the movement of weapons in the past. As you know, broadly speaking, obviously, the transfer of Iranian arms would be a violation of the UN Security Council resolution (inaudible).

QUESTION: All right. Can I ask a somewhat – well, very tangentially related question about what you think the health and state of your GCC alliance is these days?

MS. PSAKI: Broadly speaking, or just in relation to a recent event, or —

QUESTION: Well, in relation to the governments of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, a couple others, withdrawing their ambassadors to Qatar. Does not seem to bode well for intra-Gulf cooperation.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have, of course, seen that report, Matt. We would point you to all of those countries for a specific analytical comment on it. We enjoy strong relations, the United States does, with all of these countries. We, of course, hope they can resolve their differences as soon as possible for the benefit of regional security and cohesion. As you know, the President has an upcoming trip. The Secretary spends quite a bit of time in the region, so we will remain engaged with our partners there.

QUESTION: So you’re not – you don’t – this is not some disastrous occurrence, you don’t think? You’re still confident that these countries can – which have had their differences before, but certainly not as public and not as apparently deep as this latest episode – you think that they can —

MS. PSAKI: Resolve their differences?

QUESTION: — work it out?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, we do.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Can I just quickly follow up on this? I mean, the United States maintains huge naval presence in Bahrain. It also maintains a large military base in Qatar. These are very small countries but are very closely allied to the United States. Could the United States in this case say, “Look, simmer down. Let’s see if we can work this out.” I mean, their fear, obviously – and let me just take it a step further.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: They accused Qatar of fanning the flames of the Muslim Brotherhood and so on, and it’s related to Egypt but also related to aiding activities and having a huge media outlet that is day and night beating the drums for the Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder if you would act – react to that.

MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, this is related to the decisions of other countries, not the United States. Of course we’re encouraging dialogue and encouraging them to resolve their differences.

QUESTION: But I mean, conceivably the United States, that actually provides protection, a great deal of protection to these countries, should at the end exercise its leverage, shouldn’t it?

MS. PSAKI: I would not go down that road with you.

QUESTION: Do you expect the Secretary to discuss this issue with the Saudi foreign minister today in Paris?


MS. PSAKI: I believe that he is no longer meeting with the Saudi foreign minister, so there are a range of issues that we discuss, of course, with our counterparts and partners. I’m not sure if this will be on the agenda or not. Of course, Syria, Egypt, Iran, a range of issues will likely take preference.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: First question related to this: I mean, is there any contact between you and those countries in the recent hour – I mean, the last hours, regarding this specific issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re in close contact on the ground. I don’t have any other details or calls or anything to read out for you.

QUESTION: And regarding the shipment, is there any idea – I mean it was, like, announced at – when was that exactly?

MS. PSAKI: Which one? Are you talking about the ship that was interdicted?


MS. PSAKI: In terms of when it happened?


MS. PSAKI: I believe the Israelis announced it early this morning or overnight. I would point you to them in terms of the specific timing.

QUESTION: On Tibet. The Dalai Lama is here in the U.S., and there has been some protest against him during his current trip. Are you aware about this? And secondly, around 30 Tibetan American organizations have written that the security of the Dalai Lama should be increased while he’s in the U.S.

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t aware of his recent trip or travel plans. So unfortunately, I don’t have anything new to update you on on that front.

QUESTION: About his security in the U.S., do you know anything about —

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to check if there’s more to convey on that.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Syrian bloggers have been reporting that the U.S. is limiting the travel of the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari. Have you seen those reports? Is there any validity to them?

MS. PSAKI: I believe I have seen the reports. I may have to check with our team and see what the latest is on these reports specifically. Let me see if I have anything.

We have delivered a diplomatic note to the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Mission to the United Nations in New York informing him that his – he is restricted to a 25 mile travel radius. I’m not in a position to comment any further on it. As you know, and probably do know, UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25 mile radius. So this is not something that is out of the realm of what we’ve done before.

QUESTION: When was the note sent?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. Broadly speaking, I believe the end of February.

QUESTION: And why the change in policy? I mean, he didn’t just arrive.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Obviously, he’s been at the UN for —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything else to outline for you in terms of the reasoning.

QUESTION: Well, one, if he applies for permission can he get it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t —

QUESTION: Or is he – or is it – because it’s been my understanding and this may be slightly technically wrong, but legally I think if a country is on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, as Syria is, this kind of restriction applies. And it may not exactly be the State Sponsors list, but – Syria is definitely on that – but is it not the case that – was it not the case prior to the delivery of this note that his travel had – or at least he had to notify whoever it is that he – that one must notify to travel outside of the (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s correct, Matt. I just would have to double-check that.

QUESTION: And now the presumption is that he is not allowed to go at all even if he asks for permission?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s correct, but let me just double back with our team and make sure that’s an accurate description of it.


QUESTION: If you could clarify this to us, because I know he did make a trip to Los Angeles, like, a month ago or so.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: When he was invited, he applied through the process and he was granted permission and so on.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s only March – what’s today’s date, 5th, 6th, something like that?

QUESTION: Yeah. Okay. No, no, I’m saying that he went last month to Los Angeles.

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I just conveyed that. I believe this happened at the end of last month.

QUESTION: Is that a result – yeah, okay, whatever, but by the – I mean, it has always been enforced. I mean, I don’t understand what has changed with this note, that he’s been – he’s always been restricted.

MS. PSAKI: I have nothing more to convey to you about the reasoning or the internal decision making as to why.

QUESTION: Okay. Can we stay on Syria for a minute?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I know that Syria has been eclipsed by the – what’s going on in the Ukraine, but you could – could you update us on what is going on in terms of any diplomatic effort?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s diplomatic efforts every single day as it relates to Syria. As you know, there’s the UN resolution that just passed a few weeks ago. Certainly, Syria will be a big topic of discussion for the Secretary and his engagements over the course of the next couple of days. And we remain – this remains at the top of our minds every day.

QUESTION: There was a meeting with the – Lakhdar Brahimi in the last —

MS. PSAKI: There was, yes, today.

QUESTION: Yes, could you tell – uh-huh.

MS. PSAKI: Unfortunately, I don’t have a readout of that with me. I’m happy to – I believe they may have done one on the ground. If not, we can get something around to all of you.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that Mr. Brahimi might resign his post?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to speak to what his intentions may or may not be. Obviously, we have confidence in him and he has done a great job convening the beginning of the Geneva process. There are many paths and many routes that we are pursuing at the same time as it relates to diplomacy in Syria.

QUESTION: Okay. And finally, could you tell us if Mr. Larry Silverman already had any meetings with the opposition since his appointment, or a phone call?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have meetings to outline for you. If there’s anything to convey, we’re happy to send that.

In the back.


MS. PSAKI: Syria, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yes, please. It was reported recently that there are – the Syrians are shipping more chemical weapons.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have – what is your understanding of this news of these reports?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, after weeks of inaction, we can note that the Syrian Government has moved additional chemicals over the last week. Less than one third of Syria’s chemical weapons materials and only 16 percent of priority 1 chemicals have been removed from Syrian territory via the Port of Latakia. That is still an increase. However, we – this remains a far delay from what we had set out initially, so we continue to press for these steps to be expedited.

QUESTION: So now it’s 16 percent of the chemical – I mean, chemical weapons are shipped, you mean?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Great.

QUESTION: Can I ask about Egypt, please?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I’m not sure if you saw this in a report by the National Council for Human Rights. It’s a government-appointed human rights committee. They came out with a report today criticizing both the government and pro-Morsy supporters for an investigation they concluded on the breakup of pro-Morsy supporters in Rabaa Square. Have you seen the report? Do you think it’s —

MS. PSAKI: Whose report is this? I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Sure. It’s a government-appointed human rights council. It’s called the National Council for Human Rights. So —

QUESTION: Egyptian.

MS. PSAKI: Egyptian Government-appointed, okay.

QUESTION: Correct. And today, they issued a report investigating the government’s crackdown of pro-Morsy supporters in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. So they have criticized both security services, that they used excessive force, but also that organizers made the situation worse by having people with guns within the crowd. Have you seen that report? Are you satisfied?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen it. I would point you to the fact that we released our own Human Rights Report just last week which certainly had a section on Egypt, and that outlines what the U.S. Government position is.

QUESTION: Do you feel that the situation was exacerbated by gunmen within the square as well as by police?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I would point you to the – our own Human Rights Report that we released just a week ago.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more? All right.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Just go back quickly to the —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: — Palestinian-Israeli issue.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I know you had addressed the excessive use of force in the occupied territories by Israeli soldiers in your Human Rights Report.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But there was a report that Israeli soldiers at checkpoints are targeting Palestinian soccer players, that they shoot them in the legs and so on. A number of them have been sent to hospitals. Do you have any comment on that or are you aware?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that. Obviously, we spoke to our concerns, again, in the same Human Rights Report about certain actions and behavior.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. (Inaudible) because FIFA – I think FIFA has warned Israel that it might —

MS. PSAKI: I will check that out. Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:07 p.m.)



Summer and Fall at Prairie State College