Jen Psaki
Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 19, 2013


Index for Today's Briefing
  • AFGHANISTAN / QATAR
    • Secretary Kerry Calls President Karzai
    • Opening of Political Office of the Afghan Taliban in Doha
    • Support for Afghan-led Peace and Reconciliation / Commitment to Continuing Negotiations
    • Role of Pakistan and India
    • Amb. Dobbins Travel / Secretary Kerry Travel to Doha
    • Topics of Potential U.S.-Taliban Meetings / We Remain in Discussion with Afghans and High Peace Council about Next Steps
    • Women's Rights / Parliament's Draft New Electoral Law
  • ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS
    • Secretary Kerry's Trip / Meetings with Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian Officials Announced
  • SYRIA
    • Secretary Kerry's Discussions with Administration Officials on Range of Options
    • Coordination with Jordanians
  • R.O.K. / JAPAN / D.P.R.K.
    • Readout of Glyn Davies' Bilateral Meetings with Japan and ROK on DPRK
    • Trilateral Meeting Today
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Six-Party Talks / Denuclearization
    • President Obama's Announcement
    • Working with Russians and Other Allies
  • VENEZUELA
    • Working to Schedule Next Meeting / Assistant Secretary Jacobson will be Lead
    • Venezuelan Opposition Leader in DC
  • HONDURAS
    • Letter from 21 Senators to Secretary Kerry Regarding Human Rights Concerns in Honduras
  • PAKISTAN
    • Ongoing Dialogue with Prime Minister
    • Secretary Kerry Plans to Travel to Pakistan
  • INDIA / PAKISTAN
    • Secretary Kerry to Discuss Regional Issues while in India
    • Encourage Cooperation between Governments of India and Pakistan
  • BANGLADESH
    • U.S. Focus on Bangladesh
  • R.O.K. / JAPAN
    • U.S. Supports Close Cooperation


TRANSCRIPT:

The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:28 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hello, everyone. All right. Well, before we get started, I just had one readout that I wanted to do at the top. The Secretary spoke with President Karzai last night and again this morning. Just to reiterate, in January, President Karzai and President Obama jointly called on the Government of Qatar to facilitate an office in Doha for the purposes of negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the authorized representatives of the Taliban. The U.S. supports, as you all know, the opening of the political office of the Afghan Taliban for this purpose.

The Secretary reiterated the fact that we do not recognize the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. We note – he noted that the Government of Qatar has taken steps today to ensure that the political office is in compliance with the conditions established by the Government of Qatar for its operations, and noted also that we are pleased that the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement clarifying that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban and not the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and has had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down. The office must not be treated as or represent itself as an embassy or other office representing the Afghan Taliban as an emirate government or sovereign.

With that, let’s move to what’s on your minds. What I did at the top was I read out – the Secretary spoke with President Karzai last night and again early this afternoon.

QUESTION: So I see you saying the sign’s been taken down now. What response do you have to President Karzai’s statement that he’s suspending the U.S. bilateral security agreement talks as a result of this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo, as you know, we’ve seen the palace statement, of course. And as President Obama and President Karzai affirmed in January, an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the surest way to end violence and assure – ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region. The U.S. supports, of course, a peaceful, democratic, and unified Afghanistan. We remain committed to peace and reconciliation, and remain prepared to negotiate with Afghanistan to conclude a BSA that supports our shared objectives.

So we remain committed to the process. And again, there – the update I provided at the front end were several conversations he had with President Karzai, and we continue to work to coordinate and work with Afghanistan on all of these issues.

QUESTION: But despite those conversations, do the talks remain suspended by the Afghan Government or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would refer you to the Afghan Government. They put out the statement, of course, saying they were suspended. But we remain committed to continuing these negotiations and open to discussing, and are hopeful that we will be able to do that.

QUESTION: So how do you respond to criticism from people who are longtime observers of the situation in Afghanistan that the whole rollout of this very important announcement that the talks were going to start between the U.S. and Taliban has been mishandled the State Department and this Administration, because it just immediately got President Karzai’s back up?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Jo, I would point you to what the President said this morning, or this afternoon, in Germany, which is that we always knew that there would be bumps in the road. This is a case where there have been decades of strife. They’re – are at war and continue to be at war. Clearly, this is challenging. But diplomacy is hard, and we are – remain focused on it. Obviously, as evidence of that is the – are the Secretary’s calls, the statements the President has made, and our continued commitment to moving towards a political reconciliation.

QUESTION: So you do accept, though, that their having a sign, the Taliban having a press conference with a sign saying the Islamic Government of the Emirates of Afghanistan or whatever it was, it was inappropriate?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, we do.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Deb.

QUESTION: Didn’t anybody know that that the flag issue and the naming of the office was going to tick him off? I mean, he said that long ago, so --

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly that was not what was agreed to. And that’s --

QUESTION: Was it a surprise on the part of the Taliban or the Government of Qatar?

MS. PSAKI: Was it a surprise to --

QUESTION: The U.S. that they did it this way.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it certainly wasn’t what the agreed-to proposal was here. And as I stated at the top, the Qataris have taken steps which the Secretary and others are pleased by.

QUESTION: Jen, so – also, Jen, there’s another thing that they’re angry about, or I would say Karzai is angry about, which is that they would say that they are taking the back seat to the United States. After all, as we discussed yesterday, the United States is the first country that’s going to be talking with the Taliban, not the Afghans. So there’s another obvious problem. I mean, what do you say to that backseat comment, number one?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I would point to comments we’ve made for months and months about how these negotiations and discussions need to be Afghan-led and Afghans talking to Afghans. And we certainly anticipate that that will be the case. The U.S., as I mentioned yesterday, certainly has stakes here and we certainly have stakes that we will be conveying, as I mentioned yesterday, as a part of our own discussions. But this is ultimately up to the Afghan people, I should say Afghans of all sides, talking to one another, and that’s consistently been our position and our belief.

QUESTION: Yes, correct. But I mean, just again we’re into the rollout and the symbolism, and if the first meeting is going to be the United States with the Taliban, you’d have to say, “Why didn’t you take a pass and say no, please, go ahead? Why don’t you talk?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re continuing to coordinate with the Afghan Government and the High Peace Council on the next steps. I know there have been lots of reports out there about various meetings that have been scheduled or not scheduled, but what I can tell you is that we’re coordinating closely with them, and our goal, of course, is to play a positive role in moving towards a political reconciliation here.

QUESTION: So does the U.S. then meet with them, as we expect, on Thursday?

MS. PSAKI: We never confirmed that was a meeting from here. And so, again, we are continuing to work with the Afghan Government and with the High Peace Council to determine next steps.

QUESTION: I thought you said --

QUESTION: So just again --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So you never confirmed it, as we know, from yesterday, but can you say right now what is the status? I mean, will there be talks? What is going to happen?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have an update for you. And as we do, I’m sure we’ll talk about this in the days ahead as well. So we’re continuing to coordinate. That’s where we are right now.

QUESTION: Can you clarify --

QUESTION: This seems to have risen out of background briefings from senior Administration officials. I mean, is this an appropriate way to announce a huge milestone in a 12-year war? I mean, it seems to have resulted in an awful lot of confusion and possibly the breaker of these talks. What will happen?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure specifically what you’re referring to, but the President has spoken to this. We talked significantly about this yesterday. The Secretary spoke to this briefly yesterday. So I would hardly say this was a rollout solely with a background briefing. Often we do that, as you know, to explain a process or provide additional details that would be helpful to all of you in your reporting.

QUESTION: Jen --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just keep focused on this issue.

QUESTION: Yeah. Could you clarify something for us? Now, the talks are still taking place tomorrow, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I think that Jill just asked that question.

QUESTION: Okay. So the --

MS. PSAKI: We’re continuing to – let me just finish.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: So what I just said was we’re in close coordination with the Afghan Government and their High Peace Council on the next steps. At the top, as you know – and I think you were here for this – I outlined the two calls that the Secretary did last night and today with President Karzai, and some of the steps that have been taken over the course of the last 24 hours.

QUESTION: Okay, and that’s exactly the point. I mean, Karzai seems to be – to remain displeased with your announcement about the talks. And the Taliban have taken action, actually, that are intended to scuttle these talks before they begin. So when you say Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and all these things, which Afghan and Afghan are you talking about?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you know, the Afghans. But let me just reiterate something I said, which is – and which is pointing to what the President has said and what – today, which is that this is going to be a difficult process. We never thought it wouldn’t be. Let’s not forget that the context here is that the parties have been fighting for a very long time. They continue to fight even now. And we don’t expect this process to be easy, but there have been a number of public statements, not just from the President but from military leaders and others, about how moving towards a political process and political reconciliation is the best path forward. So we will remain focused on it.

QUESTION: So you think that the Taliban taking credit for killing American soldiers in the last 24 hours, that does not in any way scuttle the talks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we didn’t expect that they would decry al-Qaida and decry terrorism immediately off the top. This was – this is an end result, or an end goal, I should say. It’s a bumpy road. We always knew it would be. And – but we’re focused on moving forward because we know political process is the best path forward.

QUESTION: Jen, the – publicly denouncing or breaking ties with al-Qaida used to be a precondition for talks going ahead. Since when it has become an end goal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I --

QUESTION: And does this not feed into the perception that the United States is ready to make any kind of concessions, because actually, it’s just getting ready to cut and run from Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our goals, or our end goals here have been very consistent in breaking ties with al-Qaida, ending violence, and accepting the Afghan constitution. I referenced yesterday the statement that was issued. That was a positive step. This is a first step. We’re still working towards the first step. And we know the first step is difficult. It’s hard to take, often, to kick these things off. But again, I think there’s broad agreement from President Karzai, who said this long before the U.S., has supported this, that the political reconciliation and the political process is the best path forward. But we know it’s not going to be easy.

QUESTION: Just to follow quickly?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Madam, (1) you are recognizing Talibans as a political party or is going to be leading in the future maybe some kind of a political – I mean more than a political office? And (2) Talibans are coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Which Talibans we are talking about? And finally, are you also in touch with the Pakistan Government? Because they are the one who will be playing major role in this process (inaudible) peace in Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I mentioned yesterday how we were pleased with the support by the Government of Pakistan, but it’s up to Afghan – the Afghans to determine next steps forward. In terms of what role they’ll play, this is the whole point with the naming of the office, that this is a political office for the purpose of moving forward on a political reconciliation.

QUESTION: Is this going to be just a political office or some kind of consulate or embassy in the future for Taliban?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that – I would point you back to the statement I made in the beginning about what the purpose of the office is and what the Secretary reiterated on his phone calls.

QUESTION: And finally one more, quickly. Are you also in touch – because this is very major steps that the U.S. or international community has taken, and I understand that you have spoken with President Karzai, and he must be agreeing what you are talking about – are you all staying in touch with the Indian Government? Because they are also playing a major role there in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and this will affect the entire region.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re in regular contact with the Government of India. As you know, because we just announced it, we are – the Secretary will be traveling to India next week, and I’m sure there’ll be a range of topics that will be discussed as part of that visit.

QUESTION: Thank you. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Alysa.

QUESTION: Just on our wire is two Afghan officials saying that the U.S. has given Afghanistan written assurance that the new Taliban office in Qatar does not constitute political recognition. Do you – can you confirm that this was a written assurance?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what the written assurance would be in reference to, although I believe I just stated that in terms of what was discussed on the call with President Karzai.

QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry. I missed the top, so --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Oh, no, I just – at the top, I read out the fact the Secretary had spoken with President Karzai both early this afternoon and last night, and that was part of the discussion.

QUESTION: Can you – I mean, look. Apparently the conversation last night didn’t go very well, did it? I mean, because it was after that phone call that Karzai announced that he was breaking off the bilateral security talks, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Was there some confusion from the first phone call?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there was any confusion, but again, this is a fluid process, Matt.

QUESTION: So – okay. Fair enough, then so what was the second --

MS. PSAKI: And so it’s not irregular for them to be talking regularly.

QUESTION: Well, would you describe the first conversation as cordial or friendly?

MS. PSAKI: I would describe it as the Secretary reiterating what our positions are, which are consistent with what he has said to President Karzai in the past.

QUESTION: Well, then why did he – but then he felt the need to call back again. So what, he called him up and said, “Doh, Hamid, what the – what’s going on here?” What – I mean, was there – (laughter) --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think you have a future as an actor. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Was he surprised for – (laughter) – “Yo, Hamid, wtf?”

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize whether he was surprised or what his feelings were, but there were developments, obviously, including the Qataris’ involvement overnight. And so it’s not at all abnormal. As you know, the Secretary believes in personal diplomacy and rolling up his sleeves and making phone calls, so not at all abnormal he would speak to him twice given the importance of this issue and importance of moving forward.

QUESTION: Well, let me put it this way: Was he or the Administration kind of taken aback by the position that President Karzai took earlier today?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that we were disappointed by the rollout on the ground, of course.

QUESTION: I understand that.

MS. PSAKI: And in terms of the position that he took, it was inconsistent with what we all believed the rollout would be. So I don’t know that I’m going to characterize it further, but --

QUESTION: There were – well, but yesterday you talked about how you liked the rollout, you thought the rollout was good and that the Qataris had made everything clear. So clearly that didn’t work out exactly the way it was planned. So it is fair to say, then, that you were kind of taken aback because President Karzai – or maybe he didn’t misunderstand, but it was – there was enough confusion there that he --

MS. PSAKI: Well, take --

QUESTION: You weren’t expecting him yesterday to say, “You know what? I’m going to stop the negotiations on the bilateral security agreement,” were you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, this is --

QUESTION: You didn’t think he would be upset?

MS. PSAKI: “Taken aback” would be an overstatement. I don’t think we went into any of this process here expecting that everything would be a smooth and sunny road.

QUESTION: All right. Fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: We knew it would be bumpy. This is an example of that.

QUESTION: So you think that – all right, so you – but your experience with Karzai is that he is that flighty and unpredictable that you’re not surprised by anything he does?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not – what I was talking about was the announcement and the rollout of the office, Matt. So that’s what I was referring to.

QUESTION: Okay. So you think the problem here was the mishandling of the way the office was rolled out; that’s what your position is?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think that where we are now is that --

QUESTION: No, no, no. I don’t want to know where you’re at. The problem that – what led President Karzai to doing what he did and saying what he said was that – was the – was because the rollout wasn’t handled appropriately, not because of any greater problem that he might have with the entire idea --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to --

QUESTION: -- of negotiating through the process?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to attribute what his thinking was or what his reasons were.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: But let me just point you to the fact that he has supported reconciliation long before the U.S. has, as you know, and he knows and believes this is the positive path forward.

QUESTION: All right. Okay. Is it your understanding now after the – post the second phone call with the Secretary that he is now okay, that he’s been mollified that his concerns have been addressed and that negotiations on the security accord will continue? Or is there – are you not at that point yet?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize his view or how he feels. I just wanted to read out what we had done and why we feel it’s important.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my last bit on this: You talked – I think you were asked about Dobbins’ travel.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is he – I’m not asking about the meeting date in particular, but is he still planning to go to those three places that you said he was going to yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: He’s still in Washington now.

QUESTION: So he didn’t leave yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: He did not. And we’re still in – or in discussions with the Afghan Government about the appropriate next steps, so I don’t have any updates on if and when he’ll travel.

QUESTION: But does – really? If and when? I mean, yesterday, it was pretty – you – it was pretty solid, it seemed pretty – you seemed pretty confident that he was leaving yesterday and that – without giving a date for a meeting in --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- with the Taliban, that he was going to go to these three places. That is now up in the air?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we’re – what we’re determining is what is the best next step. So, based on what the best next step is, we’ll determine his travel. He’s got his passport; he’s ready to go.

QUESTION: I would hope so. Okay.

QUESTION: These are --

QUESTION: And then the Secretary is also going to Doha, per your announcement.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is he going to have any discussions related with – I mean, I don’t expect that he would meet with the Taliban himself, but will he talk with the Qataris about this or maybe Afghans who happen to be in Doha?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you saw from our announcement, the purpose of the trip is both to talk about bilateral issues, of course, which this is often one that is discussed, but also there’s a meeting of the London 11 in Doha which is a big part of the reason why we’ll be going there.

QUESTION: So in other words, it’s mainly – you would say it’s mainly Syria and not so much Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, just that there are certainly a range of issues, including this, we expect will be discussed. But that’s a big part of our purpose of the trip.

QUESTION: And just to put a fine point on it --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the Secretary is not going to be meeting with any Taliban in Doha --

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: -- at this office --

MS. PSAKI: No.

QUESTION: -- or visiting this political office or cutting a ribbon or anything like that? He’s not going to be doing that?

MS. PSAKI: Not that is planned, Matt, no.

QUESTION: So was Special Representative Dobbins’s travel postponed as a result of what happened overnight with the office and --

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, our focus is on what the next best steps are. And I know I’ve said this a few times, but it’s very applicable here: We knew that this would be a bumpy road and a bumpy process. That’s exactly what it is. And so when it’s appropriate for him to travel, I’m sure he will travel. I just don’t have an update on that at this point.

QUESTION: Yeah, I understand. I’m just wondering why yesterday there was an announcement made from the podium that he would be traveling to places where he would be going --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and then suddenly today, he’s still here. What happened in the intervening period that stopped that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, we’ve talked about some of what’s happened in the intervening period.

QUESTION: So that did impact the – his visit?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly.

QUESTION: It was a result of that?

QUESTION: Did you expect the road to be this bumpy this soon? (Laughter.) I mean, literally, you pulled out of the garage and you hit a major pothole instantly. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Matt, all you need is a jeep and you can drive right through.

QUESTION: It’s that famous rearview mirror. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So you’re comparing the American foreign policy – the Administration is a jeep.

MS. PSAKI: No, I was just having a little fun with you.

QUESTION: Let’s hope it’s not one of the ones that’s just been recalled.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can I just ask one real easy question?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: An easy question.

MS. PSAKI: I’m excited. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: During the Secretary’s phone calls with President Karzai --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- did he encourage Karzai to indeed send representatives from the High Peace Council to the meetings that were announced?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he clearly conveyed that the political process is the best process forward. Obviously, we know what the steps are, but in terms of specific asks, it was more a broad conversation about what’s happened and where we need to go moving forward.

QUESTION: He would say, “Come on, Mr. President, please send your High Peace Council guys as planned?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the Secretary understands that this is something that we have to continue to work on. The President knows what steps need to be taken, so it’s not really a secret on either side, how they need to move the ball forward.

Kim.

QUESTION: I missed the very top, so forgive me if you’ve already answered that in some form or another. But I’m struggling to understand exactly what went wrong. Did you fail to coordinate closely with President Karzai, with the details, before making this announcement? Was there a general understanding about the fact that this announcement would be made, but the details were not discussed? Or is he changing the goalposts?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would dispute that anything went wrong. This is a process which has been long coming, one that we’ve been long focused on, making – moving forward, as you know, as the President and the Secretary have spoken about this a number of times.

What I did at the top was read out that the President – I mean that the Secretary had spoken and reiterated our agreement that we don’t recognize the name “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” which, as you know, was what was displayed as the office was announced, and as you know, the Qataris have also taken steps to change the banner and change other pieces of how this is displayed.

So I would refer you to President Karzai and his statements and what he has said are his concerns here. But he has also stated in the past his broad support for a reconciliation process, which we also support, and that’s what we’re going to be focused on moving forward.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up. Did you coordinate and discuss the details of the announcement with President Karzai before making the decision to go forward with these talks?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, there have been a lot of conversations. And I said also at the beginning that we were disappointed by how the office was opened, including all of the details that I just mentioned.

QUESTION: Did you say the Qataris were wrong, did something wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Again, these are issues about how the office was opened by the Taliban. We’ve been in close contact with the Qataris. I don’t think I need to define it that way. There have been adjustments made, and I’ll leave it at that.

QUESTION: Jen, can I just ask – I don’t understand your logic. In your answer to Kim, you said, “I dispute that anything went wrong.” (Laughter.) How are you able to say that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, what I meant --

QUESTION: You mean that everything went just fine and that you wanted Karzai to break off the talks and say he wasn’t going to attend and he wasn’t going to --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’ve already said, which I think Kim and some others missed, including you, at the top, that we were disappointed --

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: -- by how the office was opened --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- that the Secretary had spoken with President Karzai and reiterated our support for and our opposition to the naming.

QUESTION: I got --

MS. PSAKI: So there are certain things that clearly did not go as planned.

QUESTION: Well --

MS. PSAKI: But again, the larger point here is that this is a process we knew would be challenging. There have been challenges. We’ve been talking about them and – but we’re ready to move forward.

QUESTION: Jen? Jen?

QUESTION: Can we – I have --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Afghan ministry folks in Kabul are saying that it’s their understanding that there are sort of two diplomatic missions that are decoupled here. One is that the Americans can talk about Americans who have been kidnapped and the recovery of them, and then the other one is peace talks, and that when it comes to peace talks, Afghans have to be present. Is that the U.S. understanding?

MS. PSAKI: It’s not just Afghans have to be present; it’s Afghans talking to Afghans. It would be the Afghans determining if the U.S. have any kind of role in the room on that.

QUESTION: But – so is that the correct understanding, though, that any U.S.-Taliban meetings at this point are restricted in topic to simply the recovery of Americans’ interests?

MS. PSAKI: No, I talked about this yesterday, so I’d point you to that --

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: -- in terms of the broad range of issues that the U.S. is concerned about. So I mentioned, yes, absolutely, a discussion of Sergeant Bergdahl and others would be a part of what would be brought up and a part of what remains a concern. But the main dialogue would also be about the need for the Taliban to completely and verifiably break with terrorism, which is, of course, an end goal --

QUESTION: It’s an end goal.

MS. PSAKI: -- of this entire process. So that would be a big part of our focus in our conversations as well.

QUESTION: So – but the Afghans are saying that that’s their sticking point here; that when it comes to anything more than just pure U.S. interests, that they’re not supportive of this process, period.

MS. PSAKI: That whom? The Taliban or the --

QUESTION: The Afghan Government and the Afghan ministry is saying that right now.

MS. PSAKI: Well, President Karzai has said many times that this is the preferred process, even before – or the ideal process, a political process moving toward reconciliation, even before the U.S. supported the process. So certainly there may be some officials who are opposed to that, but we still feel, as do many Afghans, that this is the right step and the right process moving forward.

QUESTION: So nothing has changed in the mission of these talks between yesterday, the office blowup, the breaking-off of the official meetings, and now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve talked about a little bit of what’s happened over the past 24 hours, but in terms of the bottom-line goal of what we’re trying to accomplish, that is exactly the same.

QUESTION: And so is the Ambassador --

QUESTION: So the Ambassador’s trip is no longer definite?

MS. PSAKI: But our goal is the same, that’s what I’m saying. What we’d like to accomplish here is exactly the same thing.

QUESTION: Well, and world peace and the end of hunger is also your goal at the --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we do have those as well, Matt.

QUESTION: Exactly. But you’re about as close to getting to those goals as you are to this. But no – but the – the point is, is that the one significant thing is that – other than what was done on the ground by President Karzai, the one significant thing that is different between yesterday, 24 hours ago, and now is that Ambassador Dobbins and presumably General Lute, their travel plans, which had meant to include a meeting in Doha with the Taliban, are now either on hold or postponed; is that correct? Or canceled altogether?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there, again, were – I don’t have – we did talk about their plans yesterday. Right now, Ambassador Dobbins is in Washington. I don’t have any planned travel for you to announce.

QUESTION: Right. Right.

MS. PSAKI: What I heard Margaret’s question – and clarify for me if this is not what you were asking – what I was answering was what our end goal is here, what we’re trying to accomplish here.

QUESTION: Not the end goal, the premise for the conversation. The Afghans are saying the premise for the conversation between America and Taliban they’re cool with if it’s just about American interests. Anything that involves Afghan-to-Afghan peace, they need to be part of and they’re not okay with the separation of that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, and we talked about this a lot yesterday, so let me clarify some of the facts here. We’ve always thought and always said this would be Afghans talking to Afghans; the Afghans would determine if the U.S. would have a role here.

QUESTION: But the --

MS. PSAKI: But the U.S. has separate --

QUESTION: -- the first meeting is the U.S. and Taliban?

MS. PSAKI: The U.S. has a separate interest, our own stake and our own interests, which I just talked about, including them denouncing terrorism, including some of the issues with Sergeant Bergdahl as well, which we will discuss. But in terms of the reconciliation process, that is a process – Afghans between Afghans. That’s – that hasn’t changed from yesterday to today to a month ago and longer.

QUESTION: But for the Afghans, that’s a problem for them.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re saying the problem is.

QUESTION: The fact that the first meeting is going to be between the United States and the Taliban. Has that changed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, because we’re working with the Afghans on what the next appropriate step is, there isn’t a meeting. I know there were reports of it, but reports of a meeting being scheduled or on the books aren’t accurate. I also didn’t confirm them yesterday, to be clear. But beyond that, the process is going to be – this is what I’m just trying to get at as I’m hearing the issue they’re raising – is Afghans talking to Afghans about how the reconciliation process moves forward. If there’s a role for the U.S. to play in that, that’s up to the Afghans to decide.

QUESTION: But then any U.S. --

QUESTION: On that point, Jen, on that very point --

QUESTION: Just to – wait, just to button up on it. So the U.S.-Taliban meeting is now on hold as the broader process is also on hold; there will not be a U.S.-Taliban meeting, period, right now until we move forward as part of this conversation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re in coordination and in discussion with the Afghans and the High Peace Council about how to move forward.

QUESTION: So on that – on this point that you just mentioned --

QUESTION: When you say the reports weren’t accurate, can you clarify what you mean there? There was never a meeting scheduled or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there was – there were reports yesterday of one being scheduled Thursday, which we didn’t confirm from here. So again, we’re continuing to work on the process, and as we have more to update you all on, I’m sure we will.

QUESTION: Could you clarify --

QUESTION: Jen, you said --

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: Jen, you said that the United States did talk numerous times with President Karzai --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- of course, in setting this up. Did the U.S. talk directly with the Taliban about setting this up, in other words, perhaps telling them here are the ground rules? Was there anything like that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our end goals here have been very clear both publicly and privately. I’m not sure when the last conversation was on that. I’m happy to look into that. But it – there has been no secret about what we wanted to accomplish and what we felt the end goal should be here.

QUESTION: Jen, on something that you said, just to clarify, you said that the U.S. will participate if the Afghans wanted to participate. So if one or two parties decide that no, we don’t want the U.S. to participate, would that be acceptable to you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I’m not going to get ahead of where we are. We’re obviously --

QUESTION: But you said that.

MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish. We’re obviously in discussions, we’re working very closely. I mentioned two calls just today, over the last 24 hours, the Secretary himself has had. We are committed to a process. There is broad agreement that that is the right process. But again, I’m not going to get ahead of where we are and what it means. I think there’s been some confusion about the different components of this.

QUESTION: Jen, there’s another thing. Senator Casey issued a statement on women’s rights in Afghanistan, and he said that he’s very concerned about these recent attempts by the government – actually, I should say, I guess, their parliament – to erode women’s rights and political representation, and now especially, he said, with the reports about talking with the Taliban. What is the State Department’s position? There’s apparently a new draft of an electoral law that takes away some of the provisions for women to be represented. Senator Casey is saying it’s dangerously undermining gains by women in the political arena in the past decade. What does the U.S. think about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we share the concern. We’re aware that the parliament is considering its election legislation that would remove the requirement that 25 percent of provisional council seats be reserved for women. We urge the Afghan Government to uphold the rights previously granted to women in an effort to protect their political participation. Certainly, as you know, we broadly support, of course, women not only participating in the process but also being in elected office. And this is a point that we have made to the Afghan Government as well.

QUESTION: To President Karzai?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure if it was part of the conversations over the last 24 hours, but certainly our position is known there.

QUESTION: Jen, to clarify the disappointment that you mentioned, had you discussed this name before the meeting that you had – before the announcement, the name which will appear in front of this office?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: And Taliban changed it, that name?

MS. PSAKI: Again, there was agreement about what the name of the office would be to indicate what the purpose of the office would be.

QUESTION: And the Taliban changed that name later?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I need to confirm that for you.

QUESTION: Was there anything other than that that was disappointing about the ceremony, or was that just – was that the main thing?

MS. PSAKI: I think that --

QUESTION: I mean, the photo op didn’t – wasn’t a problem for you?

MS. PSAKI: Clearly, the --

QUESTION: I mean, what was in the photo --

MS. PSAKI: Clearly, the rollout, Matt, on that end was disappointing.

QUESTION: Well, but I mean, specifically, was there anything other than the name about the rollout that was problematic for you guys or that was disappointing for you guys?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re familiar with what – some of the components of this. And again, we were hopeful that this would be moving things forward, but we are still committed to the process.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

QUESTION: What was the name that you agreed?

MS. PSAKI: It’s the same one that I’ve stated a couple of times, which is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban.

QUESTION: And how soon do you hope to end this stalemate, and what should the Afghan Government do in order to let this process move on?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry, can you repeat it just one more time?

QUESTION: And how soon do you hope to end this stalemate in the process, and what should the Afghan Government do to encourage this process to move on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve – I’ve read out a couple of calls and indicated to you a couple of the steps that have been taken over the past 24 hours. And let me just reiterate here that we knew this would be challenging – the President said that just this morning – there would be bumps in the road. We were prepared for that, and so we’re going to focus on moving forward.

QUESTION: Jen, what is a political office?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, the purpose of this whole process is to move towards a political reconciliation and not be representative of any particular government or body, but to move towards reconciling all the parties.

QUESTION: So there’s no particular, like, legal --

QUESTION: Diplomatic sense?

QUESTION: -- diplomatic meaning to that word, “political office,” other than just it’s not a military office?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it was important to be clear on what the purpose of the office was.

QUESTION: Can we change topics?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s see if there’s any --

QUESTION: Could you just clarify quickly why this office in Qatar, not in Afghanistan? And second finally, are you hoping that one day, someday Taliban will be back in political power in Afghanistan?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re getting a bit ahead of where we are, Goyal, but the goal here is to move this to Afghanistan. The Government of Qatar, of course, offered to have this office there and have it under conditions that would help move this process forward, which was why it was a positive step. Said?

Oh, go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: I’m sorry – it’s just – I’m sorry to belabor the point, but --

MS. PSAKI: No, it’s okay.

QUESTION: -- who is responsible for building this particular bump in the road? I mean, clearly there must have been an agreement between yourselves, the Taliban, and Afghanistan to have this rollout yesterday. And as Matt said, you’re not even out of the garage door yet. I mean, was it the Taliban that gleefully kind of seized on this opportunity to give itself some kind of diplomatic recognition and status which you hadn’t agreed to? Or was it the United States that didn’t set their terms clearly? Whose fault was it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to place fault or blame. Again, this is a case where the circumstances and the conditions were clear. Obviously, the course of the last 12 hours, as we’ve talked about a bit, has been a bump in the road. But where our focus is now is moving forward. But I’m not going to place blame or anything along those lines.

QUESTION: So the conditions were clear to whom, exactly?

MS. PSAKI: To all parties involved.

QUESTION: To three parties involved.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure which three parties --

QUESTION: Well, I would talk about the United States, the Taliban, and Afghanistan.

QUESTION: And Qatar.

MS. PSAKI: And Qatar.

QUESTION: And Qatar. Sorry, four parties.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: So all four parties had agreed to terms over the previous months --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: -- how it was supposed to happen?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So somebody changed the conditions. Who was it?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a blame game from here. I think our focus is on moving forward and what’s productive to do just that.

QUESTION: Outside of the blame game, did you make your terms clear enough? I mean, I think that’s --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Said?

QUESTION: Move on?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary’s trip.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) subject.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: On the Secretary’s trip?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yes. The portion that deals with the Palestinian and the Israeli --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- portion of that. Is the Secretary taking some new ideas, like on land sharing and perhaps refugee issues and so on? Is he going to have meetings – trilateral meetings with the Israelis and the Palestinians all at the same time?

MS. PSAKI: Well, all I have to report on for you is what’s been announced and put out in our trip announcement we just put out.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: And I believe on there it outlines the fact that the Secretary will have meetings with Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials. We’re still working to set those up. Those were with a number of the officials he’s had many meetings with to date. In terms of what will be discussed, as usual I’m not going to predict or read that out for all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. Now will these meetings take place in Ramallah, in Amman, or Tel Aviv?

MS. PSAKI: Again, the meetings will take place in Amman and Jerusalem, which is outlined in our trip announcement.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Are you – your expectation at the moment, though, is these are all – just part of his question – they’re all separate meetings?

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.

QUESTION: There aren’t any group meetings?

MS. PSAKI: There are none scheduled, no. Again, these are meetings with a number of the officials he’s met with before, and we’re continuing to work on the schedule.

QUESTION: He’s not going to go to Ramallah? Is he not going to Ramallah or the West Bank at all?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe that the trip announcement makes very clear the meetings are in Amman and Jerusalem.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: To Asia?

QUESTION: I think you might want to say why he – how he can meet with all three – Palestinians, Israelis, and Jordanians – without going to the West Bank. Might you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I --

QUESTION: Explain it.

MS. PSAKI: It is well known and a simple statement of fact that President Abbas has a home in Amman.

QUESTION: New subject?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to outline specifics, but he’ll be meeting with him there.

QUESTION: New subject?

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead, Jill.

QUESTION: Another subject. Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There is a report that the Secretary was involved in a meeting that became rather heated with our military concerning Syria, and that the Secretary supports using some type of airstrikes to destroy the ability of the Syrians to launch planes that could deliver strikes with chemical weapons, et cetera. What – did that conversation take place? Does the Secretary think that airstrikes would be a good idea?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say, of course, I’m not going to read out discussions happening at the highest level in the government. But I can say broadly, and many of you have spent a great deal of time with the Secretary as well as the military official in question, and I can assure you that their style is to have a discussion and a productive debate about a range of issues. And in this case, as the President has said, and as the Secretary has said, the President asked his team, his national security team, to come up with a range of options for him. The Secretary has taken that and run with it, as have a number of other officials. And so they have had a discussion, and I expect they will continue to have a discussion about a range of issues. But I’ve seen some of those reports about the tone, which is very inaccurate, and can just assure you that the Secretary and the – and all Department of Defense officials are here to give the President the best advice and debate out the pros and cons of every option.

QUESTION: But it was – was it a theoretical debate, or is he actually proposing a position?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into what options are discussed in a private meeting with high-level officials. But I think we’ve been pretty clear – even from here, even from the podium, that all options remain on the table aside from military boots on the ground. So it should be no surprise that many, many options are being discussed in private meetings.

QUESTION: So that only comes in the realm of possible scenarios, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Hmm?

QUESTION: Plausible scenarios.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, there isn’t a decision I have to announce for you at this point, but again, as we’ve said many times, all options remain on the table aside from military boots on the ground.

QUESTION: About --

QUESTION: Could you tell us what is going on in terms of coordination with the Jordanians in terms of training and supplying the opposition right now, from the Jordan side?

MS. PSAKI: I know that the Department of Defense had an announcement, I believe it was last week, about some of their equipment they would be leaving there. And I would point you to that for the specifics of that. And beyond that I don’t have anything for you.

QUESTION: Okay. It is precisely that, because the U.S. is leaving airplanes and some 2,400 Marines either off-coast or on the ground in Jordan. Will – is that the kind of thing that – or the kind of type of equipment and so on that the Secretary might be talking about in terms of destroying Syrian air defenses?

MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your effort here, but I don’t have anything for you on that.

QUESTION: Jen, about Asia.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the consultations and the trilateral meetings among the U.S., South Korea, and Japan?

MS. PSAKI: With Glyn Davies?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: You do?

MS. PSAKI: I have a little update for you, Matt.

QUESTION: A little, right?

MS. PSAKI: Keep your expectations low, my friend.

QUESTION: Don’t worry. They’re really low.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: They talked about issues of mutual concern, right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would like to answer the matching young lady’s question here. So Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies had productive and in-depth bilateral meetings on North Korea with Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Sugiyama and Republic of Korea Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Cho Tae-yong.

Special Representative Davies and his South Korean and Japanese counterparts agree to continue our very close coordination on North Korea and to deepen consultations with China and Russia. These discussions reflect the close cooperation among the United States, South Korea, and Japan and reflect our common interest in ensuring regional peace and stability. And as you know, I’m sure there’s also a trilateral meeting today. And as that concludes, we’ll see if we have something more to say about that.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Today.

QUESTION: Any conditions --

QUESTION: No. When do you expect it to be concluded?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure the exact time of day.

QUESTION: What are the changes in terms of the approach to North Korea? Are there any changes?

MS. PSAKI: There’s nothing to announce. Our position has been very consistent in that – and the purpose of these meetings was to closely coordinate on the continued pressure that we’re pushing on North Korea. And as you know, the Secretary has spoken about this a number of times. It’s important for regional allies and regional stakeholders to work with us on that, as they have been.

QUESTION: Have you reached any conclusions?

QUESTION: Right. Your position hasn’t changed. You mean the North Koreans still have to do something --

MS. PSAKI: Right.

QUESTION: They have to meet these conditions?

MS. PSAKI: Yep.

QUESTION: So for talks with the North Koreans, they actually have to do something, but for talks with the Taliban, they don’t have to do anything? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, they did put out a statement, as we mentioned. This is moving towards a political process --

QUESTION: The North Koreans have exploded nuclear weapons.

MS. PSAKI: -- that we feel will move towards a positive end in Afghanistan. Our position on North Korea has been very clear. I was answering her question on whether there was a change in policy.

QUESTION: Jen --

QUESTION: But it just strikes me as odd that a group that doesn’t even exist as a government or – it gets a freer pass to have talks with the U.S. than a government that you – is a member of the United Nations. I don’t really understand that, but I’ll let it go for the moment.

QUESTION: Jen, North Korea --

QUESTION: Your previous --

QUESTION: -- and North Korean Government announced today that North Korea want the Six-Party Talks and were discussing about the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and included under U.S. or issue of the United States protect nuclear umbrella to South Korea. In the meantime, North Korea will not give up their nuclear programs. It seems too like North Korea want to talk for the talks. What is your comment on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not sure if this was a new call today or if this was from earlier this week, which I spoke to at the time and just conveyed that we’ve long expressed our openness in coordination with our key partners, Six-Party Talks partners. However, there are steps that North Korea needs to take, including credible denuclearization, abiding by their international obligations and by the 2005 joint statement. And certainly we’re not for talks for talks.

QUESTION: Well, they have a new subject about U.S. protect nuclear umbrella to South Korea, that they are having new issue (inaudible). What did you think of --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I’ve seen that specifically, but again, our position hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: In your previous briefing you mentioned it’s important for the D.P.R.K. to move towards concrete denuclearization. So I wonder what should the D.P.R.K. do to show its willingness to denuclearize to have those meeting with the U.S.?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I just stated what they need to do, which is abide by their international obligations, including the 2005 joint statement of the Six-Party Talks and credible steps to denuclearize. And beyond that, that’s what they need to take --

QUESTION: Credible steps?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m happy to send you the joint statement, and you can take a look at that for yourself.

Jill.

QUESTION: On the President’s announcement today on nuclear cuts, has there been any reaction – I have not seen any yet – but any reaction? And also since the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller’s office, usually does this, is there any plan for a trip to Moscow, begin discussions? Or are we still in the proposal stage?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you mentioned, obviously this was the President proposing this today. Just I think many of you saw this, but he announced a proposal for a one-third – pursuing a one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the level established in the New START Treaty. This is something that we’ve been in close contact with the Russians, with a number of our allies around the world on. And obviously talking with them, working together, is a part of the process. But I don’t have any updates on a trip or anything like that at this point in time.

QUESTION: How long will it take at this meeting, three party talks meeting today?

MS. PSAKI: How long was the – well, it’s still ongoing today, so I don’t have any update on how long it has taken or will take.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I have one.

QUESTION: I just have one more.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Today marks the first year anniversary of Julian Assange’s living inside the Ecuador Embassy in London. Ecuadorian authorities have also said that they’re not going to let him go unless there’s any guarantee of safe passage to Ecuador. Could I have a comment on that, please?

MS. PSAKI: I have to just look into that more closely, Jo, and I’m happy to, and get you any comment that we have.

QUESTION: Okay. That would be great.

QUESTION: I have --

QUESTION: When you do, could you actually find out if anyone in the U.S. Government cares where Julian Assange actually is?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure that’s part of the taken question process, but I’m happy to raise it.

QUESTION: Well, no, because I reckon that if you don’t get an answer, it will be because they say they don’t care.

I’ve got two very brief ones.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Latin America, two on Venezuela and one on Honduras.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On Venezuela, have we gotten anywhere since the meeting in Guatemala with – in terms of the --

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re still working to schedule the next meeting.

QUESTION: Okay. Nothing yet?

MS. PSAKI: As you know, Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson will be a lead on that. But I don’t have an update on the exact timing yet.

QUESTION: All right. And then, apparently, there’s a Venezuelan opposition leader in town right now. He’s one of Capriles’ top deputies. He’s got meetings on the Hill. I’m just wondering if he’s coming here at all, if you’re aware of it. And if you’re not, if you could look into it.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll – I’ll check on that for you and see – do you know what the – this individual’s name is?

QUESTION: I do, but I don’t have it with me here.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And then on Honduras, you’ve seen this letter that the senators wrote, 21 senators wrote to the Secretary yesterday?

MS. PSAKI: We have.

QUESTION: Do you have any response, reaction to it? Are these good ideas that they’ve proposed? Are you willing to accept them, or do you think that they’re unnecessary?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have, of course, received the letter and we share the concerns regarding human rights conditions in Honduras expressed by members of Congress. Encouraging respect for human rights and rule of law is one of our highest priorities, as you all know. We remain concerned about reports of abuses by members of Honduran police and we urge the Government of Honduras to investigate thoroughly all credible allegations. I believe part of this was referring to funding, if I’m correct – the letter – and the United States – part of this is an effort to improve and strengthen what is happening there on the ground, which is what the funding goes to. And we continue to support the government’s efforts to reform and professionalize the Honduran National Police, which is an effort to kind of address a number of the concerns they raised that we agree with.

QUESTION: Okay. And then, sorry, I had one more on this. It’ll probably be extremely brief, but were you able to get any more information about the – on the questions that were asked yesterday about this deposition and the DS – the Diplomatic Security officials, or is that just all buttoned down because of being an ongoing --

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, it’s an ongoing case, so I just wouldn’t have any specific comment on it, given it’s an ongoing case that the deposition was a part of.

QUESTION: Pakistan?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Now Pakistan has, of course, a democratically elected prime minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif. Recently he had someone – some U.S. diplomats about protesting the drone attacks. What is the future of these drone attacks? Because since he’s facing all these problems as his government go ahead with a more political and democratic process.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve had an ongoing dialogue about this with the Prime Minister, as you know, and I’m surprised you didn’t ask me about visiting Pakistan. That’s what I thought your question was going to be, so let me --

QUESTION: I was going to follow, thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I was reading your mind. Secretary Kerry – for everybody – plans to travel to Pakistan as soon as his schedule permits. As he has consistently stated, he is eager to meet with the new civilian government which just took office there. Given the range of bilateral issues of mutual importance to both us and Pakistan, including, of course, counterterrorism and coordination on that, it is very important to the Secretary that he have sufficient time in Pakistan when he travels there. And as all of you know, we combined two trips here, so we wanted to make some decisions that enabled him, at his request, to be able to spend a good amount of time on the ground.

QUESTION: Can I just follow about this?

QUESTION: So does that mean that the reason that he’s not going on this trip is because he wasn’t going to be able to spend as much time as he wanted to?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: But he – all right. So the Pakistanis weren’t making it up last week when they announced that he was coming? He had planned to go, but the way his schedule ended up he wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time as he wanted to --

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: -- if he had gone on this trip?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: And he explained this in his phone call with Prime Minister Sharif the other day?

MS. PSAKI: It’s likely they did discuss this. I am not totally positive, but it’s likely they did discuss it, and we’re working out a time to go visit.

QUESTION: So there’s no snub to Pakistan?

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. The Secretary is ready to go, he wants to go; we’re working on scheduling and time to go.

QUESTION: Can you confirm for us that --

QUESTION: As far as this --

QUESTION: -- during his visit to India, Secretary Kerry would be talking about the regional issues, including Pakistan-India relations?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I believe in our trip announcement we talked about how he’ll be giving a speech broadly on regional issues. That’s still being written. And as you know, there are a range of issues that are of great importance to the Government of India, to the people of India, including energy and innovation, and I’m certain that will be a part of what he discusses during his time there.

QUESTION: And just a couple of things. Since the inception of the new Pakistani Government, the Prime Minister has expressed his willingness to improve relations with India. But in between that time and now, two events have taken place. One was the Indian jets violated the Pakistani airspace which were turned back by the Pakistani jets, and then today there has been fighting going across the line of control in Kashmir and one Pakistani – one Kashmiri girl, a 10-year-old, she has been killed. Where do you stand on encouraging India and Pakistan to resolve their disputes, especially Kashmir?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as always, we encourage cooperation and consultation and discussion between the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan. Our position has not changed on Kashmir, as you know – well, I’ll just tell you it hasn’t changed. And those discussions are up to the governments of India and Pakistan.

QUESTION: As far as this trip is concerned, Madam, Bangladesh – they need U.S. help. So how Secretary is going to think about this ongoing problem in Bangladesh as far as economically and those trade and U.S. companies’ problems?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is an issue we’ve talked about in the briefing room before, but I can assure you that our team has been very focused on. As you know, Under Secretary Sherman was just there a couple of weeks ago. Assistant Secretary Bob Blake and others remain in close contact with the government, and we’re very focused on working with them on issues ranging from the economy to working conditions and how we can improve those.

QUESTION: Finally, could I --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Oh, I did? Uh-oh. Under Secretary Wendy Sherman. Thank you, Matt.

QUESTION: Could I have quick question on this TIP which President – I mean Secretary is going to have announcement on this trafficking in persons? Do you --

MS. PSAKI: I believe it’s not public yet, so we can talk about it --

QUESTION: General question.

MS. PSAKI: -- as long as you would like tomorrow.

QUESTION: General question.

MS. PSAKI: Do we have one more? Go ahead.

QUESTION: How about general question on this TIP? Do you agree that --

MS. PSAKI: Hold it for tomorrow. That means you’ll have to come back tomorrow, Goyal.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: It had been reported that the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers were going to hold a bilateral meeting while in Brunei for the ASEAN – at the ASEAN Forum. Does the U.S. have a position on this? Do you welcome this development?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any updates on even our bilateral schedule, so I certainly couldn’t independently confirm that for you. As is evidenced by our own meetings today and the trilateral meeting we’re having today, of course we support close cooperation.

Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:24 p.m.)

DPB # 102

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - June 19, 2013]