Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 6, 2013


Index for Today's Briefing
  • SYRIA
    • Continued Evaluation of Potential Chemical Weapons Use
    • Fighting in Qusayr / Concern Over Influx of Foreign Fighters
    • Golan Heights / Concern For Regional Stability / Austrian Withdrawal
    • Geneva 2 Conference
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Talks With South Korea
  • TURKEY
    • Continue to Urge Calm / Supportive of Peaceful Protests
    • Secretary Kerry's Conversation with Foreign Minister Davutoglu
  • EGYPT
    • Court Convictions / Secretary Kerry's Conversation with Foreign Minister Amr / Secretary Kerry's Conversation with Congress
  • VENEZUELA
    • Establishing More Constructive Relationship


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:29 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.

QUESTION: Hello.

MS. PSAKI: Welcome back, Matt, and anyone else who was on the trip in here, if anyone else was. I don’t have anything at the top, so let’s go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION: Right. Well, Mrs. Psaki --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I thought it might be --

MS. PSAKI: My husband wouldn’t like that one. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I thought it might be fun and instructive to have a complete rehash of your discussion about Syria policy yesterday. But assuming --

MS. PSAKI: Great.

QUESTION: But assuming that your answers to the questions that you were asked yesterday will not have changed --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: All right. That’s a good assumption. I wanted to ask you specifically about some things that the Secretary said yesterday in Guatemala.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And these are, I think, relatively easy questions to answer. He said that he had specifically asked Foreign Minister Fabius to send – to pass along the evidence that they had collected and all the information about it surrounding chain of custody. And he said that he thought that it might have even arrived here yesterday while he was in Guatemala. Can you say if the U.S., if the government, has received this information from the French?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And if so, what do you make of it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, thank you for your question. We have received – and I believe in that same context of the comment that Matt’s referring to, the Secretary said it may already be sitting in Washington.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: So in fact, it was.

QUESTION: Oh, it was here yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: Exactly.

QUESTION: So it arrived yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have the exact timing, but I can confirm for you that we have received, of course, the information from the French. We’ve talked about this a little bit over the past couple of days. We, of course, do work closely with our allies and sharing information, like the French, around the potential use of CW, of chemical weapons, in Syria. We will take a close look at this, just like we take a close look at any information that’s provided. And we always recommend that any country provide information as well to the UN for their full investigation.

We’re not going to evaluate it or litigate it in public, but I will just reiterate that we are still looking into finalizing the facts, looking into confirming the facts, and we don’t want to get ahead of our confirmation of any of that.

QUESTION: Well, do you know, has the information that you got from the French been reviewed, or is that ongoing?

MS. PSAKI: I would say it’s more accurate to say it’s ongoing. I don’t know if the Secretary himself has had an opportunity to look at that information quite yet.

QUESTION: But is this something that you will take and then make a judgment yourself as to whether you think that the information that they have given you is enough?

MS. PSAKI: I would not --

QUESTION: Or not?

MS. PSAKI: I would not suggest that we will take one country’s packet of information or evaluation and make an evaluation of that in public or make an – our own evaluation based solely on that. There are a number of factors. Of course, we’re working with our allies, including the French, to evaluate all the information. We’re doing our own due diligence on this as well. We’re encouraging the UN to continue their process. But I would not expect that there will be a public evaluation of information we received from the French or any other country.

QUESTION: All right. Well, does that mean that if it’s good enough for the French, it’s not necessarily good enough for you?

MS. PSAKI: Not at all. What I was suggesting – we take every country – every country’s information that is provided and shared, just like I’m sure they take ours and evaluate that as a part of the overall look into CW use.

QUESTION: Jen, on this --

QUESTION: But they – but the French in particular took a look at your information back in 2002 and concluded that it was not reliable, correct? So I guess the point of the question that I asked the Secretary yesterday is that I don’t understand, when the biggest skeptic of – the country that was one of the biggest – among your allies, was one of the biggest skeptics of the intel on Iraq leading up to the Iraq war now has said that it is satisfied that it has conclusive intel that chemical weapons were used, I guess – are you suspicious that the French might be trying to, I don’t know, push you into doing something, push you into saying that --

MS. PSAKI: Not at --

QUESTION: -- that the redline has been crossed?

MS. PSAKI: Not at all what I’m suggesting. The President has been very clear, as has the Secretary, that it is a redline. They’ve reiterated that a number of times. We’re doing our own process of evaluating the facts. And each case is different, so I wouldn’t – we, of course, have learned from, as I’ve talked about from up here from the podium, events from 10 years ago in Iraq, and we want to check every box and dot every i.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: And when we are firm with the facts, I’m sure we’ll be able to provide more information.

QUESTION: The Secretary said yesterday, when I was in Guatemala as well, trying to – saying that they are collecting this evidence to make sure that people are held accountable for these atrocities. I guess it would lead to something bigger. He also said that – that they’re collecting them to make a judgment. How soon was their judgment? I mean, this kind of evidence can build, but beyond that, I mean, if some of your reviewing of it has found that there is – that these facts are true, I mean, how much time do you then need to really – to move on this?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not putting a deadline on it. What is most important is that we feel firm with the facts. So just to dial back a little bit to where we started here – not where we started, but recent events, I should say – the President and the Secretary were clear back in April when this letter went to Congress that we were seeking credible and corroborated facts to build on the assessment made by our intelligence community. Beyond that, we have been working both with our allies and sharing information where appropriate. We’ve been continuing to push for a UN investigation and push for the Syrian regime to let them into the country. And we’re working on multiple, multiple facets in order to determine the facts here. But we’re not going to get ahead of where we are in the process, and unfortunately, I can’t give you a timeline of when that will be concluded.

QUESTION: Jen, the Arab diplomatic sources that the French were really befuddled, if not shocked, by your skepticism on the evidence presented. Is that true? Could you --

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just reiterate what the Secretary actually said, which was that he looks forward to, of course, reviewing the information, it may be sitting in Washington, which, of course, it was. He was on a trip, as you know, which Matt and others were on him – with him on. And so he wasn’t expressing skepticism. He had not yet reviewed any of the information.

But beyond that, as I said yesterday and the day before, we’re not going to evaluate or give an analysis of information in a public forum.

QUESTION: So did you tell the French that you are looking into this, into the veracity of the evidence presented, and once you analyze this, that you will take certain actions?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you back to what I just stated, which is that back in April the President and the Secretary made clear that we were looking for credible and corroborated facts. Part of that process is working with our allies, including the French, to share information on all sides, and encourage and continue to encourage and push a UN investigation. When we have a conclusion, we will make a conclusion, but we’re not there yet.

QUESTION: And lastly --

MS. PSAKI: But I wouldn’t over-read into the French. And Foreign Minister Fabius is a very close friend and a working partner of the Secretary. They talk frequently about Syria and a number of issues, and so I wouldn’t over-read into what the Secretary said when, clearly, we were – we had not yet looked in – looked specifically at the information.

QUESTION: And lastly, just one last thing on this issue, the evidence that the French collected, is it your understanding, based on soil samples or blood samples, or what is it?

MS. PSAKI: I would send you to the French for more specifics --

QUESTION: Okay. But you’re looking --

MS. PSAKI: -- on what they’re comfortable --

QUESTION: -- at the evidence and the data?

MS. PSAKI: -- what they’re comfortable sharing.

Dana.

QUESTION: Is there any connection or are there concerns about the timeline being timed to the situation on the ground? For example, as you said, you’re waiting to sort of cross all your Is and – dot all your Is and cross all your Ts.

MS. PSAKI: I may have said the wrong thing right there, Nicole.

QUESTION: No, I said the wrong –

QUESTION: If you cross an E, doesn’t it become a T?

QUESTION: I said the wrong --

MS. PSAKI: It becomes a T, so that’s where it gets confusing.

QUESTION: Right. Is there a concern that time may be running out? I mean, you saw what happened in Qusayr, and there are reports that the regime really could overtake Aleppo. Does that affect your timeline at all for what kind of conclusions and what kind of action the United States is thinking about taking in regards to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, chemical weapons use is a redline, as the President and the Secretary have stated. But in terms of decisions that will be made by the President and his evaluation of all options, there’s a number of factors that go into that. That’s for him to make that decision. Of course, the influence of Hezbollah, the events on the ground, all of these are factors that everybody takes a close look at. But in terms of evaluating CW use, we can’t expedite that and what our final facts and our final findings are, despite what’s happening on the ground and our concerns about the influx of foreign fighters and what’s happened in places like Qusayr.

QUESTION: Would you say that an additional redline or an additional concern would be if, for example, with the help of Hezbollah fighters and basically Iran, the regime is able to overtake Aleppo and basically, it becomes a stronghold not just for Assad but for Iran? What kind of concern do you have about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to get ahead of where we are. Of course, we are concerned, as we’ve said many times, about the influx of foreign fighters, about Hezbollah’s ability to help the regime make movements on the ground. But I’ve been in this business long enough not to draw any redlines for anyone, certainly not people far above me on the food chain, so I’m going to avoid doing that.

QUESTION: That’s a quick study since you’ve only been in this business for about a month. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Right. Well, in this collective business, Matt, so maybe a month is long enough to know not to do that.

Syria? More on Syria? Go ahead.

QUESTION: I would like to know if any other countries except France shared this kind of intelligence information with you about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. Brits made similar accusations with regards to the regime. Did you ask them to provide this kind of info to you? And also, are you exchanging anything of that sort with the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, let me first say broadly with our allies around the world, we have talked publicly, as the Secretary has, about our plans to share information with them. I don’t have any update on where that’s specifically been shared, and I’m not – I don’t think I will.

With the Russians, we have agreed – and the Secretary and the Foreign Minister spoke about this when they were in Moscow just a couple of weeks ago – on plans to share information on this front and that they plan to do that in the near term.

QUESTION: Jen, the French claim that sarin gas was used repeatedly many times, not only once. Now, the evidence they presented to you, is that – does that pertain to one use or more than one use?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I would point you to the French to talk about the specifics of their findings and information that they’ve shared.

QUESTION: Do you have an update on the situation in al-Qusayr city? I mean, there are some reports that the Syrian regime didn’t take over all of the city.

MS. PSAKI: I do, and thank you for your question. We have seen, of course, the reports, as we all have over the last couple of days, and it appears that Hezbollah has been aided – has aided – aided by regime forces, I should say, has achieved some success in Qusayr. We remain doubtful in – with the regime’s ability to reassert military, and more importantly, political control over the entirety of the Syrian territory.

And let me just remind everyone that we must not lose sight of the significant progress the armed opposition has made over the past two years when faced with tremendously disproportionate force, including scuds, attack helicopters, heavy artillery, barrel and cluster bombs, and potentially chemical weapons use from the regime and its proxies. But the events in Qusayr remain an example, a significant example, of the influx of foreign fighters, the influence of Hezbollah, and the impact that that has had on the ground in Syria.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you – your reference to the Syrian territory back halfway through that --

MS. PSAKI: Entirety of Syria, the country.

QUESTION: The entirety of it, so not necessarily Qusayr itself?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. I was saying Syria as --

QUESTION: So you think that they could hold or could take – but the entire country, you don’t think that that’s --

MS. PSAKI: Right. That they have made progress, of course, in Qusayr. We – as a result of the reasons I just outlined. But I was just making a broader point.

QUESTION: Did you say the regime use of chemical weapons before in your statement now?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe so.

QUESTION: The use of scud and helicopters and chemical weapons, you said?

MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t – helicopters, heavy artillery, barrel and cluster bombs. I did not say chemical weapons. Something we’re still determining, though nice try. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Just on the regime’s ability to regain all control, fighting today along the Golan Heights, the reports are that the opposition took some and then the regime took it back. Do you see that as – I mean, are they going to be able to hold that site as well, that one? And have you talked to your Israeli allies about that in particular being of particular concern to them?

MS. PSAKI: We do. We do note the reports of clashes overnight in the Golan Heights that you just referred to, where the regime fired four mortar shells that struck Israeli territory. We’ve been very clear about our concerns over regional instability caused by the crisis in Syria. This is of course another example of that, and we continue to call upon all parties to avoid any action that would jeopardize the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

In terms of specific contacts with Israel today, I don’t have any specific update for you on that.

QUESTION: Well, if you’re calling on all parties to maintain regional stability, does the opposition’s attempts to take that area, does that help destabilize the region?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve long said – I mean, there are a lot of complicated issues around the Golan Heights, as you all know, but that any effort to take this fight out of Syria into neighboring areas is of concern to us, just as the influx of foreign fighters is of concern to us as well.

QUESTION: So are you urging the opposition to not try to contest that territory?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not aware of specific conversations on this specific case, but we have urged them not to take the fight into areas like Lebanon and other areas outside of Syria.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Austrians pulling out?

QUESTION: Contention.

MS. PSAKI: We do. We would broadly refer, of course, to the statements today from Austrian officials. I’ll just remind everyone that Austrian forces have served with distinction in UNDOF since its beginning in 1974, and we thank them first for their efforts to preserve peace. We’ve asked the Austrians to work with the UN on the timing of their withdrawal in order for the UN to find a replacement for these forces, and I would refer you to the UN for any specific update on the status of that.

QUESTION: Jen, you spoke of the territory of Syria. I know from this podium it was made clear time and again that you recognize the coalition politically but not legally, and it was an issue of territory. Does this remain the case? Will there come a time where the opposition or the rebels control enough territory for you to recognize them legally?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the process right now, which you’re very familiar with because we speak about frequently, it seems, in here.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the trilateral meetings in Geneva and to the issue of Geneva 2 in general?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The position of the Russians, as far as I understand it, is the opposition should table a unified, single delegation for Geneva 2. What do you think about this? Do you hold a similar position? Do you think they need to – can win the one and only delegation or just a number of – any number of divided groups?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure the full context of that. So let me just state what our positions is, which is: We’re working with the opposition. We have long said, and let me repeat again today, we believe they need to be more united and that will strengthen them as a group. In terms of who will participate from the opposition, that’s something that will be determined over the course of the next couple of weeks, and will be something that the United States discusses with them, the UN discusses with them, as well.

QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: Wait. Just --

MS. PSAKI: Sir, go ahead.

QUESTION: I just want to check.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So there isn’t any – there’s nothing new in terms of the planning for this hypothetical conference that might occur sometime in the near or far future?

MS. PSAKI: The conference that will occur, Matt.

QUESTION: That will? It definitely will?

MS. PSAKI: It will.

QUESTION: At some point in --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: Is there any progress to report?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I went through this a little bit yesterday.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Since yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Since yesterday? Not a new update since yesterday.

QUESTION: Yes, and what was the biggest sticking point? Why the plans collapsed to hold a conference in June? Why you decided to postpone until July? What’s the biggest problem at this point?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t call it a problem as much as us working with – making sure the conference takes place in the most conducive environment to using it as an opportunity to move towards a political transition. And so we’ve talked about one of the factors here is the opposition electing leadership and working with that leadership to determine who should participate and attend from the opposition. That’s something they’re working on. But as you know, it has not been concluded yet. So that, of course, is a factor. They’ll meet again in just a couple of weeks. I should say the UN, the U.S., and the Russian representatives will meet again in just a few weeks and continue to work towards setting a date and agenda and determining participation.

Syria? Or another topic?

QUESTION: No, Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Syria, Lebanon.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you see any special – do you have any special concern about Lebanon being – without a real government being – the army not being ready for any overspill from Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are very concerned, and we’ve talked about this a lot in here, but about Hezbollah and about the impact that not only their influx into Syria but the influx of the fighting into Lebanon has had. We have long respected, of course, the sovereignty of Lebanon and believe that the overflow and the impact on regional stability is something that is of great concern and is something that everybody in the world is taking a close look at.

QUESTION: Jen, sorry about my impatience. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Not at all. No, you’re not that impatient.

QUESTION: North Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about Korea. North Korea agreed hold talks with South Korea on their economic project. I think you have some response to that.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. So we have seen, of course, those reports. We welcome news that South Korea and North Korea have agreed to talks on the Kaesong Industrial Complex and other issues. We support and have always supported improved inter-Korean relationships, and we will continue our close coordination with our allies and partners in the region.

As you know, they’re still working towards these talks, and I don’t want to get ahead of the outcome.

QUESTION: Let me follow up on that.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you think that such a move in Korea, between the two Koreas, will help the United States efforts to bring North Korea back to the nuclear talks?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – I would caution you against combining all of the issues here. North Korea and South Korea are going to get together. They’ve indicated they will get together, and I would send you to both of them on updates on that, to discuss the industrial complex and other issues. But there remain a number of steps that the North Koreans need to take, including abiding by their international obligations, by the 2005 joint statement, in order to have further discussion. And we of course, as always, encourage them to do just that.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Glyn Davies has said in public that North Korea would shift their strategy to seek engagement with the individual countries to try to exploit the differences in each of the respective national positions. Is this case an example of that? How do you relate this, for example, to North Korea and Japanese engagement?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I’m completely following your question, to be honest. Can you just restate or maybe paraphrase what you’re asking? If this – if the talks between South Korea and North Korea are – they’re talks they’ve said they will participate in reflective of something else, or --

QUESTION: Do you think that North Korea is trying to engage South Korea to try to exploit the situation and divide the Six-Party partners, I guess?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t speculate on North Koreans’ motivations. That would be hard for me to do. But I can just reiterate that we remain committed to the Six-Party Talks, and that’s where our focus is, and we have regular contact and engagement on that. And I don’t think that’s something that would be impactful in our direction.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: My question is about --

QUESTION: Wait, hold on. Impactful?

MS. PSAKI: Well, efforts to use this.

QUESTION: In other words, if the North Koreans were trying to split the Six Parties, this wouldn’t work for you, this wouldn’t affect that?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. I was trying to follow the question.

QUESTION: Gotcha. I just --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: My question is about North Korea and China. After North Korea’s Kim Jong-un’s special envoy visited China recently, China indicated that it would send $200 million aid in food and oil, and as a condition of this aid, China has requested North Korea to rejoin the Six-Party Talk. So could you please give a comment on that? Does the United States – U.S. Government see this offer is good or bad?

MS. PSAKI: I just haven’t taken a close look at the offer. I’m not familiar with all of the details, so I would send you to the Chinese for that. We, of course, are in regular contact and regular conversation, but I don’t have any update for you on this specific report.

QUESTION: So which mean the United States didn’t hear anything about this before?

MS. PSAKI: Not what I’m inferring. I don’t specifically myself have any update on these reports. I’m happy to look more closely into them, and if there’s anything more to add, I’m happy to get that back to you.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: I have two quick questions on North and South Korea.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: South Korean newspapers reported that Robert King met with North Korea’s Ri Yong-ho in Berlin at the end of May. Do you know if that’s the case?

MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s a false report. I’ll have to check on that specifically for you, but I did hear that this morning, so --

QUESTION: Okay. And I have another one. Do you have a readout on Countryman’s visit to South Korea? He, I think – believe he was there on the 3rd and 4th.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t specifically have one myself. I’m not sure if we put one out. We’re happy to look into that as well for you.

QUESTION: Jen, where is Robert King and then? The report said that he met North Koreans in Berlin. So he’s in Washington, DC?

MS. PSAKI: Where does he live, or where does he --

QUESTION: Where he is in now.

MS. PSAKI: Where is he now?

QUESTION: Mm-hmm.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – I don’t know --

QUESTION: He’s traveling?

MS. PSAKI: -- his exact location at this particular moment, but we have seen those reports and my understanding is that they’re incorrect.

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, did you have another one on --

QUESTION: No. Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, Turkey? Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. How do you take the last comments of Prime Minister Erdogan accusing terrorist organization to be behind the anti-government protest? And do you have informations on the seven foreigners who have been detained by the Turkish police, including one American in Ankara?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more information on reports of Americans being detained. Though this was not your question, I know some have asked me this, so let me just take this opportunity – that there were reports – some reports yesterday of four individuals with diplomatic passports. That is incorrect, just to confirm that for everybody.

In terms of – broadly on Turkey, and we’ve talked about this also a bit over the last couple of days, our focus is continuing to urge calm in the country. A number of government officials have done that and we have seen and commended their efforts to do that. We remain supportive, of course, of peaceful protest and of freedom of speech that individuals are exerting in the country, and just would encourage any official there to refrain from unhelpful rhetoric and unhelpful comments that will not help calm the actions that are happening in Turkey.

QUESTION: Follow-up on that?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Erdogan reportedly said that there are terrorists among the protesters, some of which are the same people who attacked U.S. Embassy in Ankara in February. Do you agree with that assessment?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’ve seen the comments. I don’t have any further – anything further to add to that.

QUESTION: Because the White House had said that those are ordinary people just protesting.

MS. PSAKI: We have – as have we, as have we from here.

QUESTION: As have you.

MS. PSAKI: As have we from here.

QUESTION: Sorry --

MS. PSAKI: But again, we don’t have – there’s no reason for us to confirm or believe that, but we here are watching the events happening. Our focus has been encouraging the citizens who are participating in peaceful protests and using their freedom of speech, their freedom of speech rights, to do just that.

QUESTION: So your official position is that these are ordinary citizens asking for their rights, and not terrorists?

MS. PSAKI: I believe what we said was the vast majority of these individuals are ordinary citizens who are exercising their rights, freedom of speech. That’s what they’ve been doing. There are, of course, events that are happening on the ground. I just don’t have any further level of specificity and I don’t want to analyze every comment when I don’t have more information to provide to all of you.

QUESTION: Just one more. Foreign Minister Davutoglu said in response to Secretary Kerry’s remarks that Turkey is not a second-class democracy. Do you have any comments on that? Would you like to classify Turkey’s democracy as a first-class or a second-class?

MS. PSAKI: We spoke about this quite a bit yesterday, so I would point you to those comments. Let me briefly reiterate that the Secretary and the Foreign Minister have a very positive working relationship. They work closely on a number of issues, including the ongoing crisis in Syria. They did speak the other day, and the Secretary remains concerned, as we all have been, about some reports and incidents that are happening on the ground. That, of course, was expressed, as he’s expressed publicly. But he also encouraged calm, which he’s done publicly as well. So we certainly – but I would refer you, beyond that, to comments I made about this just yesterday.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Erdogan was welcomed very warmly here last month. Does the Administration – does the State Department, still feel as close to Prime Minister Erdogan as it did on May 16th?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think we’ve ever been in the business of classifying the closeness, but Turkey remains a close NATO ally, remains a close partner on a number of issues, including Syria. We work closely with government officials up and down the ranks in Turkey. We have a very robust presence in the country and will continue to do just that.

QUESTION: Just last one. Do you feel like the U.S. shares the same values of democracy and human rights as the current leadership in Turkey? Do you feel like you have the same values?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I can speak to what our values are, and I would point you to times where we have raised concerns, including in conversations, in meetings, about certain issues around human rights with Turkey. And that remains the case still today.

QUESTION: You said that you would encourage any official not to engage in rhetoric that could inflame the situation, or words to that effect, that’s correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does that mean that you believe that there have been officials who have been making comments that – or engaging in rhetoric that are making the situation worse?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t --

QUESTION: And if so, which officials and which comments would you point to as being the problem?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, a number of the comments that have been raised here today. I can’t speak to whether those have specifically prompted or motivated protesters to take more action. I would send you to them and encourage you to take a trip to Turkey and talk to all of them, of course. But broadly speaking, there are some officials who have encouraged calm and who have made public statements doing just that. There are others, who have been referenced here today, who have not.

QUESTION: Okay. So that would be --

MS. PSAKI: So we hope that they will all be in the same pool --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- of encouraging calm.

QUESTION: But – and I just want to put a fine point that the comments that were referenced here in this briefing were from Foreign Minister Davutoglu and from Prime Minister Erdogan.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So those are the ones that you think are unhelpful?

MS. PSAKI: No, well, Foreign Minister Davutoglu, the question regarding that was about a phone call that the Secretary made.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re very familiar with the Prime Minister’s comments. I don’t think I have to add anything further to that.

QUESTION: Right. Would you – how would you like to characterize the tenor of that phone call that the Secretary had with his colleague, the Foreign Minister? Was it warm and fuzzy, or was it more terse and businesslike?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that any foreign ministers would like their calls described as warm and fuzzy, Matt, so --

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. It sounds like they are with some, but you don’t want to characterize this call? In – was it businesslike and frank, or was it two old friends slapping each other on the back over the phone?

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) Well, I would say none of those descriptions is accurate. We did a readout of the call, as I know you received on the road. But let me just reiterate that for everybody. The call was focused in part on Syria, their ongoing cooperation and coordination on that – our ongoing, I should say, with Turkey, and also about the events happening in Turkey. And the Foreign Minister provided an update on what was happening on the ground and efforts to calm the situation on the ground. And the Secretary reiterated what he has said publicly. So in terms of the tone of the call, I would not read too much into the comments. They have a very good working relationship.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: They speak regularly --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- and I’m sure they’ll have a warm greeting next time they see each other.

QUESTION: Right. And just one last thing on Turkey, and apologies if you have – this has been asked and answered before, but am I correct in thinking that the U.S. does not take a position on what started this, which is essentially what appears to be a local zoning issue?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think it would be accurate for us to not – take a position or not take a position.

QUESTION: No, you don’t.

MS. PSAKI: We’ve all seen the reports of what --

QUESTION: You don’t have a position on the – what instigated this, beginning, that started this.

MS. PSAKI: I would just say that’s maybe a formal name for it. We’ve all seen the reports that seem pretty consistent that this was over a zoning issue. So I haven’t seen refutes of that, but --

QUESTION: No, no, no, no, no. But you don’t take a position in that – in the dispute, do you?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, no. No.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Sorry. I was misunderstanding your question.

QUESTION: New subject?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary is meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain this afternoon. I wonder if you could tell me what the – what topics they’re going to be discussing at that meeting.

MS. PSAKI: I just – I’m – I just don’t have anything more in front of me on the specific topics that they’ll be discussing. I’m happy to get you something later.

QUESTION: Can you specifically find out if he is going to raise the issue of Bahrain’s refusal to allow the UN Special Rapporteur in, as well as Bahrain’s refusal to allow other rights monitors, observers, interested parties?

MS. PSAKI: We’re happy to get around a short readout of the meeting after it’s done.

QUESTION: And arms sales as well.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: I’ve got another rights question in the region. Egypt.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Things just keep going from bad to worse, and I’m wondering if you have any comment on the blog – on the decision on the prosecution of bloggers.

MS. PSAKI: Of the --

QUESTION: If – unless this has already been raised. If you already talked about it, if you talked about it yesterday, then --

MS. PSAKI: I believe I did --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- unless there’s a new report today that you’re referring to.

QUESTION: I thought I saw one, but maybe it’s old. Sorry. If you don’t --

MS. PSAKI: I do have one update on Egypt, so let me do that for you.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary did speak with the Foreign Minister yesterday, I believe, about the events, the court convictions. And his private comments to him were consistent with the public comments he’s made, that the Secretary has made about this, or his public statements, I should say.

And one other update on – somebody asked this yesterday – is that the Secretary has also been in touch with members on the Hill about this and has been listening to their concerns that many of you have seen them make statements about publicly, and we’ll continue to be available to them on that issue.

QUESTION: Okay. So when – that conversation was what, on the plane on the way back yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on the exact time of it.

QUESTION: You want to – would you like – would you care to describe the tenor of that phone call?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I would.

QUESTION: Okay. I’ve got another brief one --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- on what – something the Secretary said – well, actually a meeting the Secretary had yesterday in Guatemala. And that is with the Venezuelan and the agreement to start this high-level dialogue. I’m just wondering – and I realize it’s very early days since this happened, so I’m not sure that there is anything more to report on it, but has an initial high-level meeting been set up yet? Is there a time or a venue for this? Or is it still just being determined?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a specific logistic update on that front, just to reiterate what the Secretary said yesterday, which is that we’re working to try to establish a more constructive and positive relationship with Venezuela. Obviously this meeting was a small step toward that. In terms of the next step, I don’t have anything specific scheduling update on it.

QUESTION: All right. I have one more but if --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- again, it’s brief, and it has to do with the question that I asked some days ago, which you answered this morning. I don’t imagine that you – on the World War II era declarations. The response, which thank you very much for getting one. I’m surprised that you were able to pries something out of them on this.

MS. PSAKI: We’re very thorough in response to inquiries, Matt.

QUESTION: But what I’m interested in knowing is – the answer said that U.S. – that the U.S. does see these as a legally binding but rather statements of shared policies, these World War II era declarations. I’m wondering does that apply just to World War II era declarations or like all declarations. And then – in other words if it’s not a treaty or an actual article of surrender or a declaration of war – I presume that you do regard that as legally binding – but does it just apply to these or does it apply to declarations that have been made very recently? And if they are not legally binding, kind of what’s the point of having them?

And then the second one is that you say that it’s a statement of shared policy, referring specifically the two that are mentioned in the answer were Potsdam and Yalta. I’d like to refine that if I could, just to ask, who is – does the United States believe is the inheritor of the shared policy when it comes to Taiwan and China, the PRC, considering that the signatory was the ROC back then in Potsdam and the ROC is still the name of Taiwan? So does the United States – maybe you don’t have an opinion at all on it, but if you do, I’d like to know what it is. Who inherited that shared policy? Is it now the PRC or is it Taiwan? Is it both? Or do you not have an opinion? So if you could take those, I’d appreciate it.

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to take them.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I’m afraid you’re beyond my legal depth on the Potsdam Declaration, which is what Matt was referring to. But we’ll get a little follow-up for you on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Dana.

QUESTION: So with the NSA wiretapping story, obviously it’s the NSA and so that’s from the White House. However, many of the citizens that are affected by this are also people that live in other countries. And I’m wondering if you’ve heard from any allies about concerns over this policy that the United States has, if that’s something that has come up.

MS. PSAKI: I would refer you, of course, on this case to the Department of Justice and others who are involved in it. Beyond that, I just don’t have any update on what you’re asking.

QUESTION: And you don’t know of – you wouldn’t know of any example of a closed case or a case that’s been closed where this kind of wiretapping has resulted in thwarting a plot or capturing a culprit from another country and you’ve heard about that from --

MS. PSAKI: I would just point you to DOJ and others who are leading the process here.

Scott.

QUESTION: Have you had a chance to look at the allegations by the Enough Project that the Lord’s Resistance Army is funding some of their operations through elephant poaching?

MS. PSAKI: I have not, although I know our team is looking into that. So let me venture to get an update and see where we are on that.

QUESTION: Can we stay in Africa? This might not be on your radar, but I was wondering if you had any comment on Madagascar delaying elections. The U.S. has been always very concerned and watched Madagascar very closely because of the coup, and actually – this is from my previous beat – stopped or voted against a loan by the World Bank to Madagascar. So – but I’m not sure if it’s on your radar now, and if you don’t have anything --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t. It very well is probably on the radar of our Africa team, so I will ask them about that following the briefing and see if I can get you anything.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just a follow-up to Scott’s question, and if you want to take this too, it’s obviously not just the Lord’s Resistance Army that’s used poaching. Al-Shabaab has been accused of using poaching. It’s been – the money has been used for various illicit activities by various groups in Africa. How closely do – how closely does the – and I know there’s a whole project that the State Department has with poaching and with wildlife protection – how closely is that department working with the Africa desk and with the Africa Bureau and in general with like the Terrorism Bureau on all of these issues together?

MS. PSAKI: It’s an excellent question. I think I will follow up on Scott’s question with your question. And for others who are interested in this issue, perhaps we can do a little briefing with the appropriate people to make sure an update on all of your questions on it.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:11 p.m.)

DPB #93

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - June 6, 2013]