State Department Briefing by Marie Harf, Jan. 31, 2014

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 31, 2014.

Index for Today’s Briefing
    • Human Rights Violations in Ukraine / Missing Activists / Secretary Kerry to Meet with Ukrainian Opposition Leaders
    • Update on Secretary Kerry’s Travel to Germany / Munich Security Conference
    • Video of Team U.S.A Olympians / Sports Diplomacy
    • Release of Environmental Impact Statement / Public and Agency Comment Period
    • Ongoing Legal Matter / Extradition Requests
  • IRAN
    • Next Round of P5+1 Comprehensive Talks / Joint Plan of Action
    • Nuclear Related Sanctions / Congressional Legislation
    • India FAA Safety Rating Downgraded / Regulatory Decision
    • Climate and Environmental Priorities
    • Reports of New ADIZ over South China Sea
    • Special Representative Glyn Davies’ Trip to Beijing, Seoul Tokyo
    • Chinese Military Maneuvers in South China Sea
    • Removal and Destruction of Chemical Weapons / Russian Role
    • No Deadline for Secretary Kerry to Make Decision
    • Commitment to U.N. Security Council Resolution
    • Geneva II Talks / Additional Rounds
  • CUBA
    • Migration Talks / Postal Service Talks
    • Visa Confidentiality
    • President Obama’s Remarks on Israel
    • Boycotts Directed at Israel / Settlements
    • Final Status Agreement



2:06 p.m. EST

MS. HARF: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a couple things at the top, including something a little different we’re going to try today, so get excited. It’s Friday.

First, as the Secretary said during his phone call with Ukrainian opposition leaders yesterday, we remain deeply concerned about reports of human rights violations in Ukraine such as disappearances and killings. We are appalled by recent instances of targeting peaceful protestors in Ukraine. For example, the evidence that AutoMaidan organizer Dmytro Bulatov suffered prolonged torture during his week’s disappearance is extremely disturbing. The Ukrainian Government must actively investigate and locate all the missing activists and prosecute those who played a role in their disappearance.

For the political dialogue to succeed, the government must take immediate steps to change the atmosphere, and Secretary Kerry will be meeting tomorrow with Ukrainian opposition leaders, and we’ll have a readout of that after he does.

Just a quick travel update: This morning in Berlin, Secretary Kerry met with German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and with German Chancellor Merkel. A host of issues were discussed, as you saw him talk about in his press avail, including Ukraine, Syria, Geneva II, Iran, Afghanistan, and the economic relationship, which she noted Germany is our largest trading partner in Europe. Obviously, a lot of work to do there with the TTIP negotiations and other issues as well.

This afternoon, he traveled to Munich, where he is having meetings with the German President Gauck, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, and others as well. He will then participate in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Representative Brahimi. Tomorrow, he will attend the Munich Security Conference. Secretary Hagel is there as well. I would also note for folks that the Secretary went to Germany on his first trip as Secretary of State, a fact he mentioned today.

And my third item at the top, which is what we’re trying a little different today – Matt, you missed this – we’re trying something different.

QUESTION: I don’t like change.

MS. HARF: We’re going to be talking, over the next few – I know, I can tell; I don’t either, actually – over the next few weeks, a lot about the Olympics and the Paralympics. I know we talk about a lot of very serious and complicated issues in here, but we’re going to do a lot of work in highlighting our athletes at the Olympics – just to mix it up a little and talk about something maybe a little more lighthearted but very important, obviously, as we get closer to Sochi.

So in honor of Team USA’s participation in the 2014 Winter Olympics and the Paralympics in Sochi, the State Department has produced a one-minute video titled We Are All Athletes. The video showcases the broad diversity of U.S. athletes who come from various backgrounds, are of different genders, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities. We will be releasing a media note to folks shortly with links to the video. It’s also been translated into a number of different languages.

But taking advantage of these screens behind me that I never use, we’re going to play it for you right now. It’s a Friday, it’s a minute, it’s really great, and I’d love for you all to see it.

QUESTION: Then why is it only a minute? It would seem that –a lot to pack into a minute. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: How can you possibly ask a negative question about our Olympics video? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It’s not a negative question. I want to know why it’s not longer.

MS. HARF: You have to go hard-negative on me at the beginning.

QUESTION: I want to know why it’s not longer.

MS. HARF: Why don’t we all watch it? Why don’t we watch it – (laughter) – I’m actually going to step over, and this is the first time we’ve tried this, so I hope this works, guys. I’m going to step aside to see if we can actually get it to play with the sound.

(Video is played.)

MS. HARF: See, we got a lot into that minute, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah, and —

MS. HARF: Some of our folks —

QUESTION: I noticed the blatant favoritism in it for the Broncos, though. (Laughter.) Does that mean that Seattle can’t —

MS. HARF: Some of our folks who are responsible for the video —

QUESTION: It’s very well done.

MS. HARF: — are actually here today in the back. Thank you. We’re – wave, guys. I know I just embarrassed you. From IIP.

QUESTION: I think the problem is that Matt is still looking for a Team USA scarf.

MS. HARF: I know. He’s been online shopping.

QUESTION: I got one. I found one last night.

MS. HARF: He’s been shopping.

QUESTION: eBay. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Good.


MS. HARF: I just wanted to kick off – the Olympics start a week from today, and all joking aside, it’s a great opportunity both to showcase the diversity of our team, but also to talk about sports diplomacy and how, in the middle of crazy things going on all across the world, athletes from around the world gather in one place every two years now to compete in sports. And I think it’s something important we’ll be talking about a lot. I also personally love the Olympics, so thank you for indulging me.

QUESTION: Okay. Can I just ask on that, I mean —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — is it going to – is it only going to be seen on – be able to be seen online, or is it being aired someplace?

MS. HARF: So we – and we’ll have more information about it when we release the media note – we have encouraged our posts, if they want to, to post it on their social media. Also, if folks want to buy airtime around the world in local media markets, it’s up to posts whether they want to do that or not. This is an IIP product – they do these things fairly regularly – been translated into a number of languages, including Russian, Portuguese – I’m going to get this wrong, sorry guys – it’ll go out all in the media note, but a bunch of different languages so folks around the world can see it.

QUESTION: Esperanto?

MS. HARF: I’ll put the request in with them, Matt. But thank you for taking a look at it, and I’m glad that our technology worked today. We’ll be using more of it as the Olympics get started.

Matt, do you want to kick us off?

QUESTION: Actually, no, I’ll pass. I’ll pass to someone else.

MS. HARF: I think this may be —

QUESTION: I do have questions.

MS. HARF: — the first day in history that Matt has passed.

QUESTION: I do have questions to ask, but I will allow – it’s Friday. Someone else can go first.

MS. HARF: Okay. Who wants to start?

QUESTION: I’ll go first, okay. (Laughter.) Last night, a senior State Department official said that the Keystone Pipeline environmental impact report was coming out soon. How soon is that? And —

MS. HARF: Well – sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: And is there any kind of guidance you can give on what it’s going to look like?

MS. HARF: So the supplemental environmental impact statement, which is what I think you’re referring to, is in the final stages of preparation – the very final stages, I would say. And we anticipate a release of the document very soon. I don’t have a specific timing to give you, but I would stress very soon. As a reminder, when it’s released, this is not a decision. It’s another step in the process, as prescribed by the executive order.

I think just a few process points here. Obviously, I’m not going to be able to get into the substance before it’s released. But at this point in the process is now when Secretary Kerry will become involved for the first time. After the SEIS is released, there’s a comment period for the relevant agencies of up to 90 days. There is no deadline for Secretary Kerry to make a decision. There’s also a 30-day public comment period after the SEIS is released to gather comments from the public. I’d stress that this is only one factor and a determination that will weigh many other factors as well. And for Secretary Kerry, climate and environmental priorities will, of course, be part of his decision making, as will a range of other issues.

QUESTION: Sorry, could I just follow up on that?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The final decision though, that remains with President Obama?

MS. HARF: I can get exact details about where that lies. Obviously, we have a key role in that. I can see where the exact decision lies. That’s my understanding. Yes.

QUESTION: So Secretary Kerry will be making a recommendation to the President?

MS. HARF: Let me double-check on the specifics. But yes, that’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Why the disparity in the comment periods between what government agencies get to say and what members of the public get to say? Obviously, there’s a lot of passion on both sides —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — of the issue. Why should people, private persons, companies, local organizations, why do they only get 30 days to try to shoe-horn in all of their comments?

MS. HARF: Well, I would remind folks that there also was a public comment period for the draft SEIS where the public was able to weigh in, and there were, I think, over a million public comments. So the public has had a chance to weigh in at different parts of this process. Thirty days is, I think, a lengthy comment period. The agencies have up to 90 days but don’t have to take 90 days. So I don’t actually expect that it probably will for all of them to get their comments in.

QUESTION: But there is some initial reporting suggesting that this report will have some changes that – from the draft —

MS. HARF: From the draft?

QUESTION: Right. And so —

MS. HARF: Well, that was certainly the point of getting the public comments and the agency comments before.

QUESTION: Right. And so certainly people would want to have the same amount of time – not to mention public fora – in order to express their views to the State Department on this.

MS. HARF: And they have 30 days to do that. I think that’s a pretty long comment time for folks to do.

QUESTION: Is it 30 days from when it’s released?

MS. HARF: Correct. Yes.

QUESTION: So 30 days from about, what, 43 minutes from now?

MS. HARF: From whenever we release it from the State Department.

QUESTION: Would you say very soon means, like, minutes – less than an hour?

MS. HARF: I am not going to have more specifics about very soon for you.

QUESTION: That’s why I didn’t want to start today.

MS. HARF: Thank you for – did – you missed Matt passing on starting, Elise.

QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Yeah, but he passed the buck.

MS. HARF: And the video.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can I ask about the Amanda Knox verdict —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: And whether you think that there is a case to be made against – if she loses appeal to be made against her extradition, given that some legal experts have said there were irregularities in the case and given that she already was acquitted by —

MS. HARF: Well, the case is still – it’s my understanding – still working its way through the Italian legal system. So we don’t want to get ahead of that process. For any comments on the ongoing legal matter, I’d probably refer you to her attorneys or her herself.

QUESTION: But her attorneys have said that there were irregularities in the case. And given the fact that she was already overturned. I mean, does that say anything about whether the U.S. would consider extraditing her?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ll keep monitoring the case, obviously. We’ve been following it closely as it’s gone through the Italian legal system. I don’t have any more analysis of the Italian judicial procedure for you. But again, we’ll just keep monitoring it, and if we have anything else to say, as we get further along in the process, we will.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) can I just clarify whether there has actually been an extradition request made yet by the Italian authorities?

MS. HARF: Well, extradition requests, I understand, are legally private and confidential. So I don’t think I have more comment than that. We do have an extradition treaty, which has been in force since 1984.

QUESTION: But there have been several cases in which you’ve denied extradition to Italy.

MS. HARF: That’s true. I’m happy to see if – what the latest is from our folks. But I don’t think we generally comment on whether a request has been made.

QUESTION: Can you just more broadly just talk about the process apart from this case? What exactly is the State Department’s role? If it gets an extradition request, what do you do with a request?

MS. HARF: I understand that there is a legal process we go through here depending on whether there’s an extradition treaty or not.

QUESTION: Right. In the case of a country with – that you have a treaty with —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — what is your role?

MS. HARF: I can check with our legal folks and see what the specific process is for how we consider extradition requests. I actually just don’t know what it is.

QUESTION: All right —

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I don’t know the intricacies of that process.

QUESTION: Yeah, except that I raised this hours ago with your staff, who are supposed to be —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — I mean, really? L can’t come up with a very simple answer like that in – is that right?

MS. HARF: Matt, I’m happy to check with our team to see – I understand it’s a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: They didn’t get back to you?

MS. HARF: C’mon, Matt. The questions are for me, and I’d appreciate you addressing them to me —

QUESTION: Well, okay —

MS. HARF: — and I did not get any —

QUESTION: I would —

MS. HARF: Wait. I did not get any clarity from our attorneys, who obviously have many things going on, about the process for extradition requests. I’m happy to check back in with them. And if there’s a TQ we can put out about how we evaluate those, generally speaking, I’m happy to do so.

QUESTION: I had specific questions as to what it is that the State Department does.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You will recall, in the case of Manuel Noriega – or maybe you won’t – but in the case of Manuel Noriega, when the French requested his extradition, the Secretary actually had to sign off on the extradition once it had been approved by the Justice Department. I’m wondering if that is also the case with American citizens.

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Again, I’m happy to check with our folks. But every case is different, obviously. I would urge folks from making broad generalizations about the process, but I’m happy to check to see what it is. Obviously, every extradition request is taken on a case-by-case basis.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Back to Keystone.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Two questions. One, is it going to be – are you able to say anything about how substantially different it’s going to be from the report that came out in March? And then second, I understand there is still an inspector general probe regarding the contractor going on. Is there any reason to release it before that’s done?

MS. HARF: I am not, from – I just can’t get into any of the substance of the difference between the draft and when eventually we will release the SEIS at some point very soon. I think as we release that we can talk about the differences. But I’d remind you and other folks that the version that will be coming out very soon has taken into account the over a million public comments, also agency comments, on the draft that have been taken into a account by the folks doing that.

In terms of the IG, let me check with our folks on it. I just don’t know what the latest is. I’m happy to look. I’m sure we’ll be talking about Keystone much more in the coming days.


QUESTION: Can we go back to the timeline and next steps that you mentioned at the top? On Keystone, you said —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — there was 90 days for the agencies to weigh in?

MS. HARF: Up to 90 days.

QUESTION: Up to 90 days —

MS. HARF: Yeah, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and then a 30-day public comment period?

MS. HARF: They both start on – when it’s released.

QUESTION: So they’re running consecutively —

MS. HARF: They’re – yes.

QUESTION: — or at the same time?

MS. HARF: No, at the same time. Yes, not consecutively.

QUESTION: Oh, you’re right.

MS. HARF: Concurrently.

QUESTION: Concurrently, rather. Are you all going to respond to the public comment period? I remember that was – to the public comments. That was what had been taking a lot of time. And does the Secretary have some sort of timeline or clock running on, after he gets the NID, when he needs to make a recommendation for that?

MS. HARF: There’s – no. No, there’s no deadline for Secretary Kerry or, of course, his designee, but this is when he becomes involved in the process. There is no deadline for that. I know that, obviously, we do the – ask for public and agency comments for the reason of incorporating them into our decision making here. So I can find out the exact specifics of what that will look like. Again, I think we’ll probably all be talking about this much more in the coming days as well.

Yeah. Go, and then I’ll go back. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thanks. Yeah. Can we move to Iran?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter to Catherine Ashton saying that she’s “deeply troubled by recent reports that” – I’m just going to read it —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — “of EU member states sending or preparing to send extensive government and trade delegations to Iran.”

MS. HARF: Okay. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is this something that’s of concern to you, that they’re sort of jumping the gun, considering you’ve said, obviously, that Iran is not open for business?

MS. HARF: Not open for business, yeah. Well, just – and thank you for the Iran question. Just to update folks if they didn’t see, and then I’ll get to your specific question, the next round of – the first round, I would say, of the comprehensive talks with the EU, the P5+1 in Iran, will take place on February 18th in Vienna, so we’re mixing it up a little bit. A European city made more sense because of travel schedules. I know there have been lots of questions about where we’ll actually be holding the talks. And, of course, the UN facilities in Vienna give us an international organizational structure, similar to what there is in Geneva or New York or other places, that we need for these talks. So that’s the update on that. I know we’ve all been asking about that.

We’ve been very clear that Iran is not open for business. We’ve had Under Secretary of Treasury David Cohen traveling around to different countries, talking to them about what exactly is in the Joint Plan of Action and what isn’t – we’ve had State Department folks involved in that as well – because we’ve been very clear that as the Joint Plan of Action is implemented, we need to keep communicating with our partners around the world who helped us put in place the sanctions architecture, what exactly it does and what it doesn’t do. We’ll continue those conversations and, of course, appreciate members of Congress being involved in the discussion as well.

QUESTION: Still on Iran —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — I asked Jen this question about two weeks ago – just following up because I was hoping to get more clarity.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: We were discussing whether – Iran says that new sanctions in Congress, their passage, would amount to a violation, a technical violation, of the JPOA. And I’m wondering what the U.S. position is on that, if it’s a technical violation or if it’s just politically inconvenient and diplomatically hazardous —

MS. HARF: Well, I think – I wouldn’t actually use either of those terms, right? I think what we’ve said is under the Joint Plan of Action, no new nuclear-related sanctions are allowed. And whatever word you want to use, passing any new nuclear-related sanctions and implementing them into law would amount – would go against the terms of the Joint Plan of Action, which is why we’ve been very clear that we should not, and the President was very clear in the State of the Union recently that he will veto any new sanctions that come to his desk.

QUESTION: So – but the word that was chosen in the JPOA was “impose.” And —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — I may be the only one who’s fixated on this, but I’m wondering what’s wrong with Congress passing a bill that specifically says it won’t impose new sanctions until negotiations are passed.

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make two points. Then why pass the law now?

QUESTION: Well, they —

MS. HARF: I would turn it back on Congress and say if – okay, if – on the one hand, if you’re not “imposing new sanctions,” why are you doing it when it could threaten to derail the negotiation process? And on the flip side, if you do say at date X these sanctions will go into effect through legislation, that is imposing. The JPOA doesn’t say “imposing now;” it says “imposing.” So I would make that point, I think, back to our friends in Congress who are working on this issue. And I think we’ve seen over the past week or so some folks come out and say we all support sanctions, but now is not the right time to vote on them because we need to let the diplomacy play itself out.

QUESTION: So those who would vote in favor of this now, you think, are intending to harm the negotiating process?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to venture to guess their – what their motivations are. What we’ve said is it would – certainly has the strong potential to do exactly that. And it goes against the stated negotiating posture of the United States Government and our P5+1 partners and the EU.

QUESTION: At one point, both you – this building and the White House were saying that people who want this want war. Is that still the case?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve been very clear that the alternative to diplomacy – because the President has said he’s committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon – is doing that in another manner which could, of course, involve military action. So we have said this is the best chance we have probably ever had to resolve this diplomatically and we don’t know when we’ll get it again, so no one – including Congress – should do anything to possibly derail that when we’ve also said in six months, if this doesn’t work, if we can’t get this done, we will be the first ones back up on the Hill asking for more sanctions.

QUESTION: Right. But – so that’s different, though, because what the President has said is should negotiations fail, the alternative is not war, it’s more sanctions, right? So like – should six months or a year pass —

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not saying in six months we’re going to go to war if we don’t get a deal done. Broadly speaking, the alternative to resolving this diplomatically is resolving it through other means. What those other means are is pretty clear, right? There’s only a few scenarios that come out of this: either we resolve it diplomatically or we resolve it a different way. And it’s just common sense that that different way could involve – is likely to involve military action. The President’s been clear that’s on the table. But when you’re talking about a more immediate – if in six months this doesn’t work, yes, we will ask for more sanctions, I’m not predicting that we would take military action right away. It’s more of a broad statement that, look, if we can’t get this done diplomatically in six months or a year or at any time, we will – we are committed to resolving it. And that involves less durable and, quite frankly, riskier actions.


QUESTION: I have a related question.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: It’s Iran-related.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can you – do you have any explanation for why the State Department did not respond to the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations or the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia? He was – the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia invited Iran’s UN ambassador to the United Nations to speak in Philadelphia. As you well know, he needs permission to travel outside —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — the 25-mile radius.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: They – the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia says they have – they did not get any response at all and have now had to cancel this event.

MS. HARF: Hmm. Okay.

QUESTION: I sent you an email about this yesterday.

MS. HARF: Okay. This is the day you’re going to yell at me for not having answers to your questions? I’m sorry, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. It’s been more than 24 hours and —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — or almost 24 hours. You don’t know what I’m talking about?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I know that there —

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: — have been some talk about the case. Let me check on what the specifics are on that and see if I can get an answer.

QUESTION: All right. We need to talk after this because the – we’ll do it offline.

MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll see if I have time.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: As you must have seen, the FAA has downgraded India’s safety standards, and do you have any comments on that?

MS. HARF: I do. So the FAA today announced a determination that India is not in compliance with international safety standards set by the International Civilian – Civil – excuse me – Aviation Organization. The FAA therefore downgraded India from a Category 1 to a Category 2 rating. I’d refer you to the FAA to discuss sort of how this decision came about and what that means in practice, but I’d made three quick points on this.

The first is that both the U.S. and India are fully committed to restoring India to a Category 1 rating as soon as possible. There is currently an FAA team in India, in part to discuss how to go about doing just that.

The second, that this decision was made within a regulatory framework. When a foreign country’s civil aviation authority has international flights into the U.S., the FAA is required to periodically evaluate whether that CAA is overseeing the safety of its international civil aviation operations according to the ICAO standards.

Third, the United States and India remain fully committed to cooperation in civil aviation. Again, for more details, I think the FAA can probably speak to what this means in practice.

QUESTION: But in the FAA statement, if you see, the FAA says that there were many meetings —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — and there were meetings even this week. So why it couldn’t be come to an amicable solution? Because they say that we are ready to work with India to restore.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: But what happened? Where was the deadlock?

MS. HARF: Well, this is a process with consultations and discussions that began many months ago. The assessment was conducted in New Delhi in September. The assessment team returned to India on December 11 for follow-up discussion. Our understanding is that while India has indeed made significant progress, a determination was made that it was not enough to meet the ICAO standards, hence the step that we saw today. But again, we’re committed to working with India to get them to take the necessary steps to get back to a Category 1 rating.

QUESTION: So you say that the – India failed to reach certain —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — where they could have made an effort to reach —

MS. HARF: Yep. Yes, that there are international standards that they did not meet in this case, but we’re working with them. Again, we have an FAA team on the ground right to do so.

Great, thank you.

QUESTION: Can I ask on that?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I mean, this isn’t going to help your diplomatic efforts, though, to restore relationships with India which have been frayed over the issue of the diplomat who was arrested in New York. Was it not possible to try and defer this decision and —

MS. HARF: It’s – and this absolutely had nothing to do with the ongoing case of Dr. Khobragade. Again, this was a regulatory decision. I don’t know how much leeway we have in those, but it’s my understanding that this was all made inside a regulatory framework that has very specific criteria countries have to meet under ICAO standards that we’re all party to.

QUESTION: But you’ve got India that’s declaring its disappointment, as my colleague mentioned. And we have seen that the relationship has been quite tense between the two countries recently.

MS. HARF: Well, again, these aren’t our standards. They’re the ICAO standards everyone has to live under, and we’re committed to working with India to help them get back to a Category 1 rating. So —

QUESTION: And how are relationships at the moment between the two countries?

MS. HARF: I think we’re all committed to moving on to working together on all of the issues we work on all the time. A number of folks obviously have talked to our Indian counterparts over the last few weeks, and I think we’re all committed right now to moving the relationship forward and really focusing on working together.

QUESTION: India got the Category 1 in 1997, if I’m right. And then in, as you say, September – there was a delegation in December, there was – so was India given a deadline that you’ve got to fix this by this date, otherwise we are going to —

MS. HARF: That’s – I don’t know if there was a specific deadline, but I think that the FAA team and the folks made absolutely clear what the Indians needed to do to maintain their Category 1 rating. They were not able to do so. We’re working with them right now to get them back on track.


QUESTION: Regarding Amanda Knox, will the Secretary have the final say when it comes to making a decision? And what sort of timeframe realistically are you working within in terms of having to make a decision?

MS. HARF: Again, I didn’t even say that there had been an extradition request. Those are private if they exist. I can check on the process. I just don’t have details on that.

Yep. In the back again.

QUESTION: Following up on Keystone again, sorry.

MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: Can you give a sense of what kinds of things Secretary Kerry is going to take into account now that it’s going to be going to him, and what do you think will be the biggest factors in his decision?

MS. HARF: Well, there’ll be a host of factors. Of course, the SEIS that we will be releasing at some point very soon; the public comments; the agency comments, as I said; also climate and environmental priorities as well. So he’ll be taking into account all of this as he makes his decision. Again, there’s no timeline for him to do so.



MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to China’s alleged plans to be implementing a new ADIZ, this time into the South China Sea?

MS. HARF: I do, yes. Thank you. We have seen unconfirmed reports of Chinese preparations to declare a new ADIZ over portions of the South China Sea. We would consider such an ADIZ over portions of the South China Sea as a provocative and unilateral act that would raise tensions and call into serious question China’s commitment to diplomatically managing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. We’ve made very clear that parties must refrain from announcing an ADIZ or any other administrative regulation restraining activity of others in disputed territories. And we would of course urge China not to do so.

QUESTION: If you say they’re unconfirmed, does that mean that they haven’t notified you at all, or you haven’t been able to confirm it with them on the ground?

MS. HARF: Yeah, let me check with our team and see. To my knowledge, they have not, but let me check with our folks. I know we’ve had high-level officials there recently. I want to make sure I have the latest on that.

QUESTION: Have you consulted with any of the other allies in Southeast Asia based on these reports?

MS. HARF: It’s a good question. Let me check.

QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.

MS. HARF: Thank you. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Ambassador Davies.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: He just wrapped up his tour of Asia today.

MS. HARF: He did.

QUESTION: Do you have a readout from his meetings in Tokyo?

MS. HARF: I do. Let me see what I have in here. He did. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies wrapped up a trip that took him to Beijing, Seoul, and, of course, Tokyo, and he’s on his way home. He held productive discussions on January 31st with the Japanese assistant chief cabinet secretary on a wide range of issues related to North Korea. These discussions are the latest in a series of regular ongoing consultations with all of our five-party partners, all of whom remain united in our pursuit of our shared objective: a denuclearized North Korea.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Do you have any confirmation of the Chinese navy conducting exercises off Malaysia’s coast?

MS. HARF: Let me see what I have on that. I think I have something. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Someday I will get rid of this cold.

We are aware of reports that the Chinese navy is conducting military maneuvers in the South China Sea near the coast of Malaysia. As we say, I think, repeatedly, claimants should avoid actions in disputed areas of the South China Sea that may raise tensions and undermine prospects for diplomacy. We encourage all parties to use their military capabilities in a manner conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

QUESTION: So you have no independent confirmation that they’re doing it, but you are acknowledging that there are reports of it?

MS. HARF: I do know that the Chinese did not inform us of these activities. I don’t have reason to believe that they’re not happening, but I don’t myself have independent confirmation.

QUESTION: Staying on China, I have —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Just on that – can we just stay on that for one second – does that – does your response mean that you have concerns about this exercise?

MS. HARF: That we have concerns?


MS. HARF: Again —

QUESTION: About this specific thing.

MS. HARF: About this specific thing? I’ve said that in general —


MS. HARF: — I can check if there are specific concerns about this exercise. In general, obviously, we would encourage countries not to do maneuvers or use their military capabilities in a way that could undermine diplomatic efforts.

QUESTION: Right. But that’s why – so I’m —

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: So the question is: Do you think that this – if you’re saying that that’s not – that you don’t want people to do things that are not conducive to that, do you have that – do you think there’s that problem here, or that this is undermining —

MS. HARF: I think we have indications of that. Let me check with our folks to see how much we can confirm independently.

Do you want to stay on China?

QUESTION: During Secretary Burns’ trip, did he raise the issue of Chinese incursions into India repeatedly – repeated incursions? I had raised this question earlier with you.

MS. HARF: I know, and let me see if I have anything on that. He, I know, talked broadly speaking about China’s relationship with its neighbors, resolving issues through dialogue. I can check and see on that. I’m not sure if I ever got an answer on that.

Yes, in the back.

UESTION: On Syria, please?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: The U.S. is accusing the Syrian regime of delaying the removal of the chemical weapons stock.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: In case this delay continues, is there any Plan B to deal with the Syrian regime and its commitments in this regard?

MS. HARF: Well, let me make a few points on that. The first is we believe the Syrian regime has the material and the equipment to fulfill their commitments. I know they’ve said otherwise, but we believe they do have the ability to fulfill those commitments.

I think the Secretary spoke to this in his press availability this morning – this morning our time – when he said that it was diplomacy backed by the use of military force that got us where we are, where we could work with the Russians to put in place a plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. And all options remain on the table, as he said, to make sure that we continue to make progress here. We’ll talk to our allies, talk to our partners going forward about what might happen if we don’t get back on track. But we do still think, even given this delay, that we can meet the ambitious milestones we’ve set for the total destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

QUESTION: Just (inaudible), so the fact that you and Jen have said in the last two days that you believe that there is the possibility of – that they can meet these deadlines, it doesn’t sound like you’re overly concerned right now about it. Is that correct?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s – well, we would say a few points. First, we do still think we can meet the milestones. We’ve said they’re not hard and fast deadlines. They were always ambitious and this is very complicated to do, but there’s no reason the Syrian regime can’t do it now. And they need to keep fulfilling their commitments that they themselves committed to. If there’s no reason not to, why can’t they right now?

So in terms of the milestone, we do still think we’re on track. But this is just another credibility issue with the Syrian regime – as if they needed another one, but this is another one – that this is something they committed to doing and need to do it.

QUESTION: What kinds of ways can you pressure the government to take action?

MS. HARF: Well, I think we’ve talked a lot with the Russians, who of course are the ones who negotiated this with us, to put pressure on the Assad regime to continue filling their commitments. That’s certainly probably the biggest. Secretary is meeting right now, I think, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, talking about a whole host of issues. I think this is probably one that they’re discussing.

QUESTION: And are you satisfied that the Russians are doing that?

MS. HARF: We – one of the things we said over the last year that we’ve been able to work with the Russians on is destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. They’ve committed to the process. Clearly, the Syrian regime isn’t doing what it needs to do, so we all need to do more to make sure they are.

QUESTION: Given that the Russians were celebrating this deal almost as much as the United States, have they expressed frustration as well? Are they as well deeply concerned that they’re not meeting these deadlines?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to – I don’t want to speak for the Russians. I’m happy to check with our folks and see if they have expressed that privately.

In the back, yes.

QUESTION: A question —

MS. HARF: And then I’ll go to you, Lucas, next.

QUESTION: A question about Keystone again.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, you said that once the 90-day comment period is up, or up to 90-day comment period is up, the Secretary does not have any sort of a deadline —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — before. So he can just take as long as he wants to make a recommendation to the President? Is that correct?

MS. HARF: Technically, there’s no deadline, correct.



MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Has the Syrian Government given you any assurances that it will comply and give up all its chemical weapons?

MS. HARF: Well, certainly, when we negotiated the original deal, they did. And then when we went to the UN, we got a unanimous Security Council resolution, the Syrian Government committed to doing certain things. So they have throughout this process, and we expect them to continue living up to their commitments.

QUESTION: But in the last 48 hours since this story has been – has – we brought attention to the story —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — that only 5 percent has gone to the ports —

MS. HARF: I can check with our folks and see. Again, I did not hear that this came up at the Geneva II discussions. Those are obviously focused on a political transition. We weren’t in the room for those discussions, obviously, but I didn’t hear that it came up. Let me check and see if they’ve expressed in any other way their commitment still.

QUESTION: And I guess my last question would be —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — what assurances do you have that Syria, if they haven’t complied to this date, will comply in the future?

MS. HARF: Well, again, they signed up to a plan of action for how we get rid of their chemical weapons, and it’s not about trusting, right? It’s about verifying what they’ve done and what they are committed to do and asking folks who have influence with them to help us get this done. But again, as the Secretary said, if they don’t make progress, we’ll talk to our allies and partners about how to deal with it.

QUESTION: This goes off Lucas’s question now.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: They complied to this agreement basically with a gun to their head. Is the gun still there? And this goes to Matt’s question —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — from yesterday.

MS. HARF: Well, the Secretary said this morning all options are still there that were there before. I think his words speak for themselves.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: With the end of the first round of negotiations —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — between the Syrian regime representatives and the opposition —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — how do you assess the progress made in those negotiations? And also, for the second round —

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: — like do you expect any concessions from the both parties in order to reach some kind of agreement between the two parties?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points. And actually, Joint Special Representative Brahimi made a fairly, I think, lengthy and detailed statement at the end of this round and said, and I’m quoting here: “The gaps between the sides remain wide. There’s no use pretending otherwise.” This speaks to the notion that we are not naive in how difficult this will be.

It is significant that for the first time since this conflict began the two parties were sitting at the same table together. That’s significant.

In retrospect, I think we’d say a few things. The talks in Geneva have shown us that the opposition can provide a credible alternative to the current regime. They showed up. They engaged in serious discussions. They’ve been statesmanlike and demonstrated tolerance, inclusivity, and respect for all Syrians. And they came to Geneva – it’s clear to folks who were there – to help figure out Syria’s future.

I think the regime on the other hand demonstrated that their continued brutality, that this dictatorship has no respect for the Syrian people, their aspirations for freedom and dignity, and that they’re only focused on their own survival. But that being said, I think Mr. Brahimi spoke about possibly getting folks back together on the 10th of February to get the next round underway. But this is going to be a long process and we know that.

QUESTION: But the – there will be like rounds for more negotiations between the two parties?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, he talked about the next set of talks, which he said around the 10th – I don’t know if that’s finalized yet, but negotiated by the UN.

QUESTION: But is there any frame – like timeframe or deadline for those negotiations? Or it will —

MS. HARF: No. I mean, look, we’ve said as soon as possible we need to end the suffering of the Syrian people. We need a political transition in place. This cannot go on forever, but this is complicated.

QUESTION: But don’t —

MS. HARF: So we don’t have a deadline or a timeline in mind because we’re realistic about the challenges here.

QUESTION: But don’t you think that maybe the Syrian regime is buying time for – like buying time out of those negotiations in order to get like more like comfort or aid from other regional parties in order to —

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly don’t think the regime should be able to use the negotiations to buy time, and to use your words. But again, what we’re focused on is the fact that we had both parties at the table. We started talking about these issues in the Geneva communique and have a plan for how we can set up a next round of talks that, again, the U.S. will stand on the sidelines to be able to help in any way we can these negotiations move forward.


QUESTION: (Inaudible)

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: There was a strong statement at the top by this building yesterday about the CELAC decision —

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: — in which you said it was – they portrayed the region’s avowed dedication to democratic principles by embracing the one-party system in Cuba. Why is it, do you think, that the United States is – has been abandoned on this by the other members of the organization?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to venture to guess why. I don’t think that’s probably a useful exercise. We’ve made it very clear what the future should look like for the Cuban people. Our position on this hasn’t changed. And we will keep working with partners in the region to make known our position and see if we can get some progress made there going forward for the Cuban people, which is why you’ve seen when we’ve had migration talks, when we’ve had postal talks, we are committed to helping the Cuban people be able to better express themselves and recognize their future together.

QUESTION: But why is it, for instance, that you can start talking with Iran but you can’t start talking with Cuba?

MS. HARF: Well, we do talk with Cuba, actually. I just mentioned the migration talks, which we’ve talked about a lot in here, the postal service talks. So it’s not as if we don’t have discussions with Cuba to advance policies that are in the best interest of the Cuban people, certainly. But every country’s different and we’ll treat each differently.

QUESTION: You also have an interests section in Havana.

MS. HARF: Yeah. Every country’s different.

QUESTION: In an interview with Arnab Goswami of Times Now, Rahul Gandhi, the vice president of Congress Party, accepted that there were some members of Congress who were involved in the 1984 riots, Sikh riots. And going according to Narendra Modi being banned from coming to or denied visa from coming to the U.S., will it be – will the U.S. also be denying Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi or other Congress Party members denial in visa?

MS. HARF: I don’t – I haven’t seen that, those comments, in regard to Mr. Modi’s visa. We said he’s free to apply for a visa, and we’ll make a decision based on the process that we have in place here. I just don’t have anything else for you on that.

QUESTION: No, but on the —

MS. HARF: I understand the question. I just, again, don’t have any other analysis of that. I’m happy to check with our folks.

QUESTION: No, but if a party is involved in the 1984 riots —

MS. HARF: People are free to apply for visas, and we’ll evaluate them on the merits and the process that we have individually.


QUESTION: In the President’s State of the Union, he devoted a couple sentences to the Middle East peace process.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And in one of them he referred to Israel as a Jewish state. Was that an endorsement of the prime minister’s condition in the peace talks?

MS. HARF: The President has spoken frequently about Israel remaining a Jewish and democratic state. He said it a number of times. So I wouldn’t try and read too much into that, except he’s making very clear what our position is. I wouldn’t read anything into it in terms of any specific policies or discussions as part of the ongoing peace negotiations. He was just making clear what our position is.


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Because the actual text of the speech was him saying Palestine will be recognized as a state and it’ll achieve dignity, and Israel will —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — will receive security —

MS. HARF: He has said that multiple times, including during his visit to Israel, including at his AIPAC speech a couple of years ago. He – it’s language he’s used a lot and is very clear about what our position is. I wouldn’t try and relate it specifically to specifics that are being discussed during the peace process right now.

QUESTION: So related to this and following on the settlement issue that was – we talked with Jen about yesterday, I’m wondering if today, after that discussion yesterday, you are able to offer any more – a bit more of a clear explanation as to why you believe that boycotts of products produced in settlements are de-legitimizing of Israel when you yourself believe that settlements are – Israeli settlements are —

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: — illegitimate. Is there a better —

MS. HARF: Well, as we’ve said, boycotts directed at Israel are unhelpful, and we oppose them. Again, just because we’ve made clear what our policy is on settlements, that doesn’t necessarily follow that there’s one course of action from a policy perspective that we think fits what we’re concerned about. This is exactly why we think that these issues need to be discussed at the negotiating table, and that we need to get a final status agreement. There’s just not a one size fits all that if we believe A, B should necessarily follow.

QUESTION: Well, okay, fair enough. But —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — I guess what I don’t understand is why you believe that a boycott of something – of products made in settlements would be de-legitimizing of Israel when, in fact, they’re being made in settlements which are contested areas that you believe the occupation of which is illegitimate.

MS. HARF: Okay, right. I’m sorry, I’m trying to —

QUESTION: I just don’t —

MS. HARF: Sorry. I don’t want to get tied up in the words here.

QUESTION: I’m having a problem with the —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — with the logic.

MS. HARF: Well, that we think the boycotts are unhelpful of Israel, and we oppose them because we believe that in order to resolve these issues, we need to discuss them directly between the two parties at the negotiating table, and that that kind of action isn’t helpful; it’s a part of that process. That’s part of the reason that we oppose them.

QUESTION: Well, I guess – it’s not directed at Israel; it’s directed at a private company —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — operating a settlement. And if you say you oppose boycotts of Israel because you don’t think they’re helpful, then that raises a huge question about —

MS. HARF: But it’s directed at a company because of Israeli policies —

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but people are —

MS. HARF: — or Israeli Government policies.

QUESTION: People are free to buy or not buy whatever product they want to, right? I mean —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — when you say if – when you say that boycotts are not helpful —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — boycotts of Israel are not helpful, it just raises a giant flag when you look at Jo’s question, when the entire world, with the exception of two – one other country thinks that your boycott/embargo of Cuba is wrong and unhelpful, why it is that you have this position that that’s okay, but then something to display – another country trying to display its displeasure with Israelis – Israeli policy, that that’s not helpful. I don’t – if you – what I don’t understand is, if you believe that the settlements are – that settlement activity is illegitimate yourself – and by you, I mean the United States —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — how is it that you can – how is it that you oppose other people who share that view taking some kind of action to demonstrate their unhappiness or to protest that that —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, each situation is different, obviously, when we’re talking about how to respond policy-wise when we disagree with policies in one country. I think part of the nature is the across-the-board boycott of Israel on some of these issues, certainly. Again, I’m happy to check with our folks, Matt. I think a trade embargo in Cuba is obviously very, very, very different than boycotts of Israel that we do not believe are the way to resolve these issues. We don’t think it’s helpful to the process. We believe that these issues need to be discussed between the two parties, and that’s how we’re going to get some resolution on them; not through boycotts of Israel.

QUESTION: Okay. So —

MS. HARF: I’m happy to see if there’s more analysis. I’m sorry. I just —

QUESTION: Okay, but – no, no, no, I understand. But I just –

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Hold on. Hold on, Lesley. One more thing. How do you suggest that other countries or people, other groups, should demonstrate their unhappiness with another country’s – in this case, Israel’s – policy? If not through a peaceful action like a boycott, what should they do? I mean, this is not just something —

MS. HARF: I think we speak out very clearly when we don’t agree with Israel’s policies, and what – that we don’t think the settlements are legitimate. We say that very clearly and make that very clear, and work with the parties to get resolution on these issues through final status negotiations. That’s how we think we should help resolve these issues that are really underneath the boycott issue.

QUESTION: Okay. But by your own admission, your speaking out against this particular policy hasn’t had any effect.

MS. HARF: I don’t think I’ve ever said that.

QUESTION: Well, let’s put it this way. You speak —

MS. HARF: I think that’s your analysis.

QUESTION: You speak out about them, and the Israelis keep doing it. Is that not correct?

MS. HARF: Well, I think you’re making a broad generalization. You have no idea what the impact always is of our private diplomatic discussions and what would’ve been done differently if we hadn’t had those discussions.

And I am actually am on a time schedule, so we need to —

QUESTION: So you’re saying that you think that the Israelis would be doing more of this if you hadn’t been doing those —

MS. HARF: I’m saying I wouldn’t make any assumptions, Matt, about the kind of leverage we have.


QUESTION: Well, let’s go back 25, 30 years.

MS. HARF: I have about three more minutes.

QUESTION: Sure – 25, 30 years, there was, as part of the anti-apartheid movement, a concerted effort on people who opposed the regime in South Africa to not spend money with companies that did business with that government, notably multinational oil companies. How is this situation with SodaStream any different?

MS. HARF: Every situation is different, guys, every single situation in every country. We have different policy, diplomatic, and economic tools that we think are important in getting us to the policy goal we want in every country. I’m just not going to compare them.

QUESTION: And the U.S. doesn’t consider Israel an apartheid state. I just want to clarify that.

MS. HARF: Yes, correct.

QUESTION: So, just going off this, is it the policy – do you think it’s fair to conflate the settlement issue writ large with the – this issue that has caused a lot of riff-raff, which is the private company of SodaStream employing 250 people in a settlement and selling its products?

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, I don’t understand the gist of your question.

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

MS. HARF: No, it’s okay. We’re all getting tangled up in words here.


MS. HARF: I mean, what we said is we don’t support boycotts, we oppose them, period, of Israel. So —


MS. HARF: — I think that’s pretty clear.

QUESTION: Not under any circumstance?

MS. HARF: Period.

QUESTION: Under any circumstance?

MS. HARF: Matt, yes, we oppose them. I’m sure you will find some circumstance in 20 years where we would not, but right now we do.

QUESTION: No, I – okay.

MS. HARF: This is going to be my last question.

QUESTION: Narendra Modi had a visa, and after the 2002 riots it was revoked, period. Now the Congress Party vice president is accepting that Congress members of his party and some people in the government have. So can you check and let us know, if any of them have the visa, are you going to revoke that visa or not?

MS. HARF: Visa records are confidential. I’m not sure I can share that information even if I knew it. I’m happy to check and see if that’s not the case.

Thanks, guys.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:56 p.m.)