Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
October 18, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Launch of @StateDeptSpox Twitter Account
    • London 11 Meeting Next Week
    • Greenpeace / Detained Americans
    • Attack on Dutch Diplomat in Moscow
    • Denial of Visa to Kosovo Miss Universe Contestant
    • Snowden / Transfer of Information to Journalists in Hong Kong
    • Decision on UNSC
    • Continued Cooperation with Saudi Arabia on Syria and Range of Issues
    • Non-lethal Aid Continues
    • Ongoing Discussion on Post-Assad Syria
  • UNSC
    • Saudi Arabia's Decision
    • Resolution on Chemical Weapons
    • Geneva 2 / Russia
  • IRAN
    • Sanctions / Geneva / Way Forward / November Talks
  • MEPP
    • Talks Ongoing
  • IRAN
    • November Talks
    • Israel
  • MEPP
    • Talks Ongoing
    • API
    • Recent Violence in Benghazi
    • Al-Shabaab / Terrorism in Africa
    • Embassy Security Message
    • Yasakuni Shrine
    • Kerry-Hagel Visit to National Cemetery
    • Secretary Kerry Meeting with PM Sharif Sunday
    • Upcoming Elections


1:32 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Happy Friday. I have one item for all of you at the top. To further our own – our efforts and my efforts, of course, to – in providing all of you with information about what’s happening in the building and what Secretary Kerry’s up to and his various travels around the world, I’m kicking off my State Department Twitter account today. So not a major foreign policy announcement, but just wanted you all to be aware. It is @ --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: I have a personal Twitter account, but this is @StateDeptSPOX. So look for updates on there. Look forward to interacting with all of you on the Twittersphere.

QUESTION: I’m sure it will all be scintillating, inside information and leaks, right?

MS. PSAKI: It always is, Matt. Always.

QUESTION: Good. Well, congratulations. I had – just have a housekeeping thing.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: You saw the Brits announce that they were going to host this conference next week; we all knew about it. And it says in there that members that – that representatives of the Syrian opposition will be present. Do you know if that is in fact the case?

MS. PSAKI: My understanding, and I just spoke with our team about it before I came down here, is that they’re still determining whether they will be able to attend. They are, of course, invited and always welcome. We have had meetings with this same group with representatives of the opposition and without, but we will wait for them to announce whether they’ll be able to attend.

QUESTION: Okay, so their – is your – their participation is not a make-or-break thing for you guys. You’re going --

MS. PSAKI: That’s correct. They have attended in the past before and have not attended on other occasions.

QUESTION: Can you – well, obviously, it would be of interest if you do find out – maybe, well, if you find out before the Brits, if you could let us know.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Their – if in fact they do not attend, does that take away any – is there a concern that that might take away from the effectiveness of this conference?

MS. PSAKI: No. Our goal for these conferences is to enhance coordination among the parties and among the countries who all have a great stake in the future of Syria. We are in touch with the Syrian opposition every single day, as are many of the other countries who are attending and participating. Of course they’re welcome, they’re invited. We would certainly welcome their participation, but we also understand they have their own meetings and agenda and work they’re doing as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Jill.

QUESTION: Could I jump in with a very quick other subject --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- which is Greenpeace?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. And we can go back to Syria as other people have other questions on that.

QUESTION: Thank you. There are these reports coming out of Murmansk, where the people who were involved in that activity have been held, that somebody broke into the Greenpeace headquarters there, stole something. Are you aware of these reports? Can you confirm any of it? And can you give us an update on the Americans who are being held?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. We have, of course, seen the same reports you have seen. We don’t have any additional information on those reports, and don’t have any information linking in any way to the recent events on the ground.

In terms of the status of the Greenpeace volunteers, the legal process, as you all know, is ongoing. We have been – we have raised and will continue to raise the case with Russian authorities as appropriate, to ensure the provision of consular services to the detained Americans. We are, of course, monitoring it very closely. And our officers from the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg have met with both since they were detained, as you all know. Beyond that I don’t have a new update as of today. In terms of the specific legal proceedings, I would, of course, point you to their lawyers.

QUESTION: Jen, can we go back to Syria?

QUESTION: Well, actually, if we’re on Russia --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I got two very brief ones.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Both of which I have a feeling you don’t really – you won’t have anything to say about.

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s see, Matt. Try me.

QUESTION: Well, do you – did you notice this report about this Dutch diplomat being beaten up in Russia?

MS. PSAKI: I spoke to it, I believe, yesterday or the day before at the top of the briefing.

QUESTION: You did?

QUESTION: Wednesday.

MS. PSAKI: Wednesday. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you – when you had spoke to it, did you talk about what seems to be some kind of bizarre reciprocity for the beating up of a Russian diplomat in --

MS. PSAKI: I did not, and would not speculate on that now either. The comments I made on Wednesday were just, of course, expressing concern for his well-being.

QUESTION: And then the second one is about the visa for Miss Universe, Kosovo. Do you have any – do you care?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t. I have not seen this.

QUESTION: You don’t care about Miss Universe in Kosovo? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I do care, of course. Scholarships are important. I have not seen those reports. I will look into it. What are the specific --

QUESTION: All right. I’m not sure that you would have – that the Administration would care to venture – she was denied a visa, apparently, denied a visa to go to the – this year’s pageant.

MS. PSAKI: In Russia.


MS. PSAKI: Okay. I will look into it if there’s anything to tell you.

QUESTION: You know, it all fits this – it’s kind of like the whole Sochi Olympics coming up, that kind of thing.

MS. PSAKI: All right.

QUESTION: But I don’t know if you care. You may not.

MS. PSAKI: I will see if there’s any more light I can shed for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Margaret.

QUESTION: In the Russia file --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The New York Times piece on Snowden today makes reference to his claims that while in Hong Kong, before going to Russia, he transferred information to other journalists at that time. We do know, of course, that the Consulate and whatnot had been alerted, and I’m wondering if there’s any information as to what the State Department had done at that time, whether there’d been any outreach to these journalists who allegedly received this information from him.

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any new information. Obviously, as you all know, we work with journalists frequently when they’re reporting on stories, but in terms of what the statements were in The New York Times and the accuracy of those, I don’t have anything new for you on that.

QUESTION: But was there – was there any outreach by the Consulate in Hong Kong at that time to make contact with those journalists?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I’m happy to do that for you .

QUESTION: Can we go to Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Back to Syria, I’m sorry. On the issue of the London 11.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Who is – who are they? Could you list them for us, the London 11?

MS. PSAKI: I should have had them in front of me because we often do this when we go to the London 11.

QUESTION: Okay. Is Saudi Arabia a member of the London 11?

MS. PSAKI: They are, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. Now Saudi Arabia, as you know, yesterday turned down membership at the Security Council --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and citing differences on Syria. They are disappointed, apparently, in the way you aid and help the opposition. So what do you have to say to them, especially that the Secretary’s making a trip to Paris to meet with the Saudi Foreign Minister?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary’s trip to Paris is also for the API Follow-on Committee meeting, which the – Saudi Arabia is also a part of, and I believe they’re one of the founding members. But we have, of course, seen the statement indicating – from Saudi Arabia – indicating that they will not take up their seat on the council. I would refer you to them on more specifics. I know the statement had specifics in it as well. That doesn’t change the fact that, of course, we work with Saudi Arabia on a range of important issues, including Syria, including Iran, including Middle East peace.

And on Wednesday, as you all know – I think somebody asked me about it in here – the Secretary Kerry met with the Saudi Ambassador. The Secretary during that meeting, of course, reaffirmed our close relationship. And he’s also has a meeting scheduled with the Foreign Minister last week – I mean next week, sorry. He had one scheduled; it was rescheduled.

QUESTION: So I just want to follow up on the issue of Syria, because he – they put down a range of issues in which they don’t see eye-to-eye with you on, like Iran, like the Palestinian issue. But I want to focus on the Syrian issue. Are you actually on opposite sides of what’s going on in Syria in terms of the Geneva conference, in terms of bringing the opposition, or which opposition that you are working with?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to speak for them on where there’s disagreements or agreements. We don’t agree with all of our partners on every single issue, and that’s not our expectation or our bar. But they have been – Saudi Arabia has been an important partner on Syria; they will continue to be. They’ll be participating in the API meeting. I believe they’ll be at the London 11 meeting. So we’ll look forward to coordinating with them in the days and weeks ahead.

QUESTION: So they are an important member, partner on Syria, but they’re not the most important Arab partner on Syria, are they?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I said that, and I’m not going to do a ranking. But clearly they’re important given the Secretary’s going to be spending time with the Foreign Minister and how closely we’ve worked with them for the past several months.

QUESTION: Okay, sorry, but if you will indulge me a little bit because --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- the Saudis are --

MS. PSAKI: You’re sitting in a different seat. It’s throwing me off a little bit.

QUESTION: All right. The Saudis have been the major suppliers and funders and armorers of the extreme opposition. Are you sort of in conflict with them at least on the issue of who they are supporting among the opposition groups?

MS. PSAKI: Well, you are familiar with our position and our view on this, which has been agreed to by members of the London 11, that aid and assistance should be driven through the SMC, through General Idris. That’s something all the members signed on to and something we’re continuing to press on.

QUESTION: And do you think that the Saudis are forthcoming in terms of helping you decide which opposition is moderate and which opposition is extremist?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s something we’re committed to. That’s who we would like to provide aid and we continue to provide aid to, and certainly is something I’m certain the Secretary will discuss next week.

QUESTION: Jen, can I ask you more generally what’s the U.S. reaction is to the fact that the Saudis have decided not to take up this highly coveted Security Council seat?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any really more than what I already said, which is just that we’ve seen their statement. We think the UN does important work. Evidence of course is just a few weeks ago with the UNSCR and these steps moving the removal of CW forward. But beyond that, we will continue to work with Saudi Arabia on a range of issues.

QUESTION: Because the Russians have come out and said that they think it’s a bit strange that they’ve given up this chance to sit on the UN Security Council, whereas the French seem to be saying that they understand their frustrations with it. Where are you? Do you think it’s a strange decision, or do you understand why they’ve done it? What do you sort of say to them about why they’ve decided to do it? Surely, you’re better – you’re stronger within the organization than you are on the outside of it.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think I have anything more to add than what I just said, which is we’re going to continue to work with Saudi Arabia. Clearly, we think the UN Security Council has an important role they can play on a range of issues, and there’s evidence just from six weeks ago. I understand different countries will have different responses, but we’ll continue to work with them on issues that we share a mutual concern about.

QUESTION: But surely, the Saudis wanted to have a stronger input into some of the big issues of the world, and it would better for them to be sitting on the Security Council rather than on the sidelines.

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a decision they have to make, of course.

QUESTION: So the U.S. has no position it. What --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more than I just offered.

QUESTION: Can you describe --

QUESTION: In other words, you don’t really care.

QUESTION: You don’t care.

QUESTION: It’s up to them and if they don’t want to be on it – and do you agree with the premise of the question that the spot is highly coveted, because apparently it’s not? India and Japan might highly covet it, but it looks like the Saudis do not. So one, do you agree that it is an important seat to have and one that should be highly coveted? And two, is it correct that you basically have no opinion on whether the Saudis are on it or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s no question the Security Council performs an important role in the world maintaining peace and security; recent evidence of that which I’ve referred to a few times speaks to that. In terms of what decision that the Saudis make, that’s up to them. I think I reaffirmed our own belief that there’s an important role the Security Council plays.

QUESTION: Well, I guess the way that I think – would you – did you or would you counsel the Saudis against turning down the seat? I mean, do you think it’s important for them, for the interests of global peace and security for them – for countries who are elected to take up the opportunity to sit on the council?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to discuss our diplomacy efforts with Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure they’ll discuss this next week when the Secretary meets with the Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: All right. But you cannot say that you are disappointed that the Saudis decided not to take this?

MS. PSAKI: That is not what I said.

QUESTION: No, no – well, no, no --

MS. PSAKI: Right. I did not say that.

QUESTION: You are not disappointed?

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t say that I was disappointed is what I’m saying.

QUESTION: Right. So does that mean that you are not disappointed?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I would go that strongly. I’m just conveying that they’re going to make their own decision. We’d refer you to them. The UN certainly – UN Security Council certainly plays an important role, as evidenced by the actions a few weeks ago. We have a range of issues we work with Saudi Arabia on; that will continue.

QUESTION: Were you surprised by their decision? Were you surprised?

MS. PSAKI: Were we surprised?


MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a heads-up, but --

QUESTION: Okay. The way the membership – the elected membership rotates --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it’s more than likely that it will go to another Arab country, probably in the Gulf. Do you have any sort of favorite candidate?

MS. PSAKI: I would refer you to the UN on that. That’s out of my depth of --

QUESTION: So you don’t have a preference, let’s say. You don’t want to see Oman versus Kuwait --

MS. PSAKI: I would refer you to the UN, Said. I’m sure they may have some thoughts on that.

QUESTION: Jen, (inaudible) more general question about – I mean, this dissatisfaction of Saudis on Syria beyond this.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And also Turkish President made a statement about the Saudis’ decision and he supported their decision actually --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- focusing the decision-making process in United Nations Security Council, because Turks also are very critical of this process.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And they are suggesting to find a new way to – for this mechanism in the international community. Are you discussing this concern with the Turks and Saudis in terms of the general critics against the body of United Nations Security Council and the decision-making process?

MS. PSAKI: I believe what we will be discussing next week is the path forward in Syria, and frustrations we all have about the rise of extremism and a variety of issues we talk about frequently in here. In terms of the makeup of the UN Security Council and the role the UN plays in decision making, I would refer you to our U.S. mission in New York and the UN.

QUESTION: What is the stand of U.S. Administration on this issue in terms of the critics against the body of United Nations Security Council, the decision-making process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I just conveyed that they – the Security Council has an important role they play performing vital work, maintaining peace and security around the world. Beyond that, in terms of the workings or the agenda or their logistics, I would refer you to our mission and to the UN.

QUESTION: Can I back to Syria?


QUESTION: I just wanted to clarify, sorry. When you said you were not aware of a heads-up from Saudi, do we understand that to mean that Secretary Kerry did not discuss this issue of the Security Council seat with Ambassador al-Jubeir this week during their meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware that he did. I’m happy to double-check and make sure that’s the case.


QUESTION: Could I ask you about Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s finish Syria --

QUESTION: When you’re done. Fine.

MS. PSAKI: -- and then we can – I’m sure there are more questions on Iran.

QUESTION: Could you please tell us the current status about the U.S. aid to moderate groups on especially SMC? I mean, is still the aid, nonlethal aid is going on?

MS. PSAKI: Yeah. Yes, it is.

QUESTION: I mean, because the – in the mid-September, there was clashes in northern Syria, and the ISIS, the al-Qaida-affiliated group, took control over the region --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in the border gate across Turkey. And the Turkey closed the border, and it was the gate that the U.S. Government and the NGOs, U.S. NGOs, are using to bring these aids to moderate groups. And according to some sources, this aid has stopped.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re asking about a couple of different things. Our support for the opposition and our efforts to provide them aid and assistance that will help bolster their strength on the ground – that has not changed. There have been some serious challenges on the ground in terms of access, humanitarian access, that I’ve spoken about a few times in here this week. That remains a concern. And certainly the roads and the ability to get in to people who need that assistance has been a challenge.

QUESTION: But still the nonlethal aid going to SMC groups are going on in northern Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Yes, yes. We are making every effort for that to continue.


MS. PSAKI: Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah. I wanted --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah. I just wanted to follow up quickly on the KRG. The spokesman for the KRG parliament, the Kurdistan Regional Government, reasserted yesterday, I think, that they will go in and fight Jabhat al-Nusrah. They will go into Syria. So do you have a position on statements like this made by the KRG, the Kurdistan Regional Government, that they will send in the Peshmerga into Syria to fight against the extremist groups?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen those reports, Said. I mean, we have expressed before --


MS. PSAKI: -- concerns about outside influence or influx of outside fighters. But I’d have to look into that more specifically for you.

QUESTION: Would you consider that as an influx of outside fighters if they go in to aid – because apparently they are attacking Kurdish villages and Kurdish towns and so on in Syria, and then they feel obligated to go protect the Kurds of Syria.

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to look into that more specifically for you on those reports.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Regarding the Saudi decision, I mean --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- whatever we heard from you is that, okay, you are not surprised, you are not aware of it. I mean, but is it – it’s an issue of concern, or you are concerned about it, or not?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve answered this pretty substantively in that we have, of course, seen the statements. We work with Saudi Arabia on a range of issues. I would refer you specifically to them for more explanation of their reasoning or confirmation of that. And beyond that, I don’t know that I have anything to add to what I already said.

QUESTION: So the other thing related to Syria, the Secretary Kerry in an interview with NPR yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- mentioned once again – or maybe it’s the first time or he said it before – that a political solution would seek to maintain the institution of state.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate little bit more about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is something I think we talked about yesterday a little bit in that there are certain institutions in Syria that certainly for the good of the Syrian people we would support maintaining, and that’s long been our position. Obviously, discussing what that would mean and how that would work is part of what would happen at a Geneva conference and in a range of conversations leading up to that.

QUESTION: The reason I am asking this because it’s – with the system of Syria, with the head of Assad and the Baath party --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- institutions – I mean, you are talking about the head – I mean, you are talking about the body without the head, you mean?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t heard that term before, but our position on Assad, who’s brutalized his own people, has not changed. But we are talking about some structures and systems, and that’s a part of what will be an ongoing discussion. I don’t have any proposal or plan to lay out for you on those specifics.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Was Syria a subject in the Iran – U.S.-Iranian meeting in Geneva on the margin of the P5+1?

MS. PSAKI: It was not. The focus was on – was on their nuclear program and concerns on both sides about where that goes and, of course, determining whether we can find a diplomatic path forward.

QUESTION: Did they talk about it without being the focus of --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware that that was a part of the conversation.

QUESTION: Can I ask just one more on Saudi Arabia?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure.

QUESTION: Do you agree with the premise that the reason that they’re not taking up the seat is because the world – the Security Council has double standards in the way that it handles world affairs?

MS. PSAKI: I think by conveying what I already did about the role that they play in the world, in terms of maintaining peace and security, is an accurate statement of where the United States views the role they play. And clearly, they played an incredibly important role just a few weeks ago in moving forward on a path to removing chemical weapons from Syria. So that’s a recent example.

QUESTION: So you reject the Saudis’ explicit reasoning for not taking up the seat?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not rejecting, accepting. I’m just providing our own opinion and view, and I’m not going to do an analysis of everything they stated in their statement.

QUESTION: But Jen, there are more than one example where it failed to address – I mean, the CW was one success.

MS. PSAKI: That’s true. And --

QUESTION: So somehow the Saudis are right that it may be – it may not be the right place, probably, to solve problems.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think there’s much more I can do on this particular topic.

QUESTION: But you just answered yes to saying it was a success. Are you in a position to say that it was – it’s been a success?

MS. PSAKI: It was a success in moving forward on starting a process, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. All right, but --

MS. PSAKI: We’ve long said that there’s a lot of work left to do.

QUESTION: Right, exactly. But you’re not – but by saying yes, it was a success, you’re not saying that everything is fine now in terms of CW in Syria. It’s still in progress.

MS. PSAKI: I was saying it is a success passing a binding resolution to move forward on a process that we’d had no success at for the past two years.

QUESTION: Well, can I just take up on that? Yeah. I mean, the reason why Secretary Kerry has led efforts with Russia --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- to try and get things moving on Syria is because everything was stalled at the UN Security Council; you couldn’t get any resolutions through. So you sort of went off and you did your own bilateral thing, and now suddenly the UN Security Council has agreed to the resolution about chemical weapons --

MS. PSAKI: Well, but --

QUESTION: But before that, it was completely stymied. So that would actually back up what the Saudis are saying on this.

MS. PSAKI: But remember the reasons why it was stymied in that it was Russia blocking – playing a role in blocking resolutions. So obviously, they were a key partner and a key component of coming to an agreement on in order to go back to the UN Security Council and move forward on a resolution.

Certainly, there are times when things have not been successes. I’m not here to give a historical analysis of the highs and lows of the history of the UN Security Council. But I’m just referencing the fact that that is a particular process that we worked on just recently.

QUESTION: But the reason that process worked was because the United States and Russia went off and did it by themselves and then brought it to the UN Security Council.

MS. PSAKI: Well, because Russia – because of the pivotal role Russia plays as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the importance of making sure we had reached a point where we could work with them in moving it through the process.

QUESTION: But it was a parallel process to the UN Security Council. It wasn’t the UN Security Council that agreed it. It was you guys working together --

MS. PSAKI: It wasn’t parallel. It was prior to. It was prior to going to the rest of the members, in coordination with, I suppose, to see if we could break the logjam and move forward. There’s no question that the United States and other countries all have bilateral relationships where we work on a range of issues. That continues to be the case. So – but ultimately, with that particular example, it still went back and went through a binding resolution with the UN Security Council.

QUESTION: You do understand, though, that prior to the Secretary’s comment in London which opened the door for all of this, U.S. senior – U.S. officials, including the Ambassador to the United Nations and the National Security Advisor, were saying essentially the same thing that the Saudis are saying now about the Security Council, I mean, denigrating the whole institution in no uncertain terms and saying it’s basically a waste of time. And as I remember correctly, the Ambassador to the United Nations, who has spent a great deal of time --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- lauding the work of the United Nations, said that the Security Council is not the Security Council that the world needs. And that was just – that was only a couple weeks ago.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: So things changed, I understand. But I mean, it’s a far cry from saying that – from giving the Council a ringing endorsement of relevance and utility.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m up here waving a blue ribbon. I’m just giving an example of how we’ve recently worked through the Security Council and reiterating, actually, sort of the point Jo made. We are working with the Saudis. We’ll continue to work with them. The London 11 is another way we coordinate. We work through API. We work through a range of coordinating systems.

QUESTION: So it’s kind of like Congress.


QUESTION: It’s kind of like Congress, yeah? (Laughter.) It’s a horrible institution, they’re screwing up the government and all this stuff, but they come up with one deal and then it’s okay, right? (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s any of what I said. Why don’t we move on to a new topic?

QUESTION: One last --

QUESTION: Are you confirming that the Saudis are coming to the London 11?

MS. PSAKI: I would refer you to them, but they’ve been a member in the past. They’re coming to API on Monday. I would assume they are, but they can give their own confirmation of their plans.

QUESTION: A quick one. Would you say with the Russian, are you at a same – a similar point now for Geneva 2 like you were with the CWs?

MS. PSAKI: A similar point in terms of – we’re certainly in a --

QUESTION: Of having something of a solution in hand and going forward with it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the purpose of a Geneva conference is to discuss the issues where we agree and disagree, including with the regime and with the opposition, of course, and to move towards creating a transitional governing body. We are in agreement with the Russians that this is the right mechanism and the right vehicle to doing that – a Geneva conference – and we have been for months. We don’t agree on every particular issue; that’s true. But they’ve played an important role working with the regime and encouraging them to have representation at the conference, and we’re, of course, encouraging the opposition and working with them to strengthen their membership and have representation.

QUESTION: So we shouldn’t expect something as quick as the CW thing?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we haven’t even set a date yet for a conference, and so that’s the next step. And we’ll see. We’ll take it step by step from there.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: To move on to Iran, if that’s all right.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Do we have any more on Syria?

QUESTION: Just one.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are you inclined to --

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you, I promise, next.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Are you inclined to support Iran as a participant in Geneva 2 so far?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we talked about this a bit yesterday. One of the – our premises is that any country we believe would need to support and – the Geneva communique, the goals of the Geneva communique. That’s not something Iran has done. If they were to do that, we would be open to considering that. But that’s not a decision we would make.

QUESTION: Are you in agreement with the Saudi about this point?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – you’d have to check with them and see if it matches up with what I just said.

QUESTION: Just to clarify the nature of the aid that you mentioned --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the last month, one of the leaders of opposition, Mr. Saleh, said that in a press brief U.S. is providing lethal aid also, some lethal aid to opposition, too. And Secretary Kerry participated in the Google – the interviews aftermath of this press brief --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and he didn’t give any detail about the nature of the aid. So what is the current status of this aid in terms of the lethal (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Well, to the frustration of all, we’re not in a different position than we were publicly a few months ago, which is when we announced the first letter on the use of chemical weapons. We also announced that we would be expanding our scale and scope of aid. I’m not in a position to outline, just as I wasn’t then, what that means. But that was the case then. We’re continuing to work with the opposition. We talk with them every day. That has not changed.

QUESTION: But practically – you said that on the paper still U.S. is providing nonlethal aid to opposition. But practically, as I said, the border gates are closed, so you are not talking in this that imagining this – the delivering of this aid in practice (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: I’m – we’re aware certainly, in certain parts of Syria, but we continue to provide aid and we’re working through the challenges presented by the blockades and other things that are happening on the ground.


QUESTION: If it’s okay, that’d be great.

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: When we were in Geneva, a senior Administration official said that the Western powers and Iran are still far apart on what sanctions relief is, quote, “appropriate.” And I wonder if you could give any more detail on what that distance is. Is it a timing issue, for instance? There’s a chicken-and-egg problem here, right? Does the relief come after confidence-building measures or at the same time, which we know is the Iranian position? But is there something that the Iranians are asking that’s just out of bounds with what the Administration is willing to offer at this point. I wonder if you could give more detail.

MS. PSAKI: Well, not too much detail. I believe that same senior Administration official made clear we have to leave room for the process to proceed. I can say that nothing was agreed to in Geneva regarding sanctions relief. We’re not taking steps to relieve sanctions. Iran will have to agree to meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions before we can seriously consider taking steps to ease sanctions. So discussions of specific types of relief at this point is premature and speculative.

Of course, as I stated a couple days ago, and I believe senior officials on the ground did as well, now that Under Secretary Sherman and the delegation is back, they will be briefing Congress, will be having discussions with Congress, will also be having discussions within the national security team about where we go from here. And that is what will happen over the next weeks and – days and weeks leading up to the next meetings.

QUESTION: The Iranians clearly offered something, though, while they were there, knowing that they’re going to have to give something to get something, of course. So I’m just curious if you can say that there’s something that they – just that those offers are not anywhere near where the Western powers are expecting. I mean, they know they’re going to have to offer something to get sanctions relief, so you see what I’m saying.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I just said that they would need to take credible and verifiable steps, right, in order to be – to consider sanctions relief on our end of any kind. As we’ve said for the past couple of days, clearly these discussions in Geneva happened at a more serious and substantive level than have happened in the past, and that was certainly a positive sign. But all of that said, we’re still at the beginning. A positive outcome at the end is far from certain. So there are many more discussions, meetings at the technical level, which will be the next step, which need to happen before a determination is made.

QUESTION: Is that the substance of the disagreement, then, that the – you’re saying make – take those steps before we will consider, and the Iranians want them to happen at the same time?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to outline the substance of the disagreements, but given how complex and detailed these discussions are, as well as sanctions themselves, the need for a range of more time discussing and more meetings is evident.

QUESTION: Just one final thing on The New York Times report --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- asset freeze. I know you’re not commenting on sanctions relief. Asset freeze is actually not a sanctions relief per se.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that that’s one option, one carrot, as it were, being considered?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I said discussions of specific types of relief, not just sanctions relief – you are right, it is not sanctions specifically – is premature and speculative. Of course, there will be a range of discussions in the coming weeks within the Administration on the national security team and with Congress about how to work together and where we should go from here.

QUESTION: Jen, could we just --

QUESTION: Do you know if anything has been scheduled in the way of Under Secretary Sherman going to the Hill?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – well, we have started --

QUESTION: Or is this being done in person or by phone, or how is – how are these consultations?

MS. PSAKI: We anticipate that there will be briefings on the Hill, probably in classified sessions. I don’t believe it’s been scheduled yet, but certainly we’re open to doing it sooner rather than later.

QUESTION: So does that mean that next week is likely? I mean, when’s the next round – I’ve forgotten now – when is the next round of the talks?

MS. PSAKI: November 7th and 8th.

QUESTION: So presumably it’s going to be before that, yeah?

MS. PSAKI: It hasn’t been scheduled yet, but certainly we’d be open to that and that would be the plan. I know the Senate is out till the 28th. I’m not sure how long the House is out.

QUESTION: Is a quid pro quo formula ratio workable? I mean, that if we open this facility, we will give you back this much or we’ll release the sanctions by this much? Is that something that you will consider?

MS. PSAKI: I would not characterize it in that way. Obviously, we’re having not a discussion about back-and-forth responding to proposals at this point. We’re having a discussion about where we go from here. So, obviously there are steps that the Iranians need to take. There are steps they would like us to take. I don’t think I’m going to outline it any further.

QUESTION: My question is the following.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does it have to be, like, all or nothing kind of a deal? I mean, you – either we reach an agreement completely, or the sanctions will be lifted completely or whatever, or we can do it incrementally?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more to outline for you, other than to repeat what I said, which is that we would – the Iranians would need to take verifiable and credible steps in order for us to consider steps on our end.

QUESTION: And Jen, just to make sure, because sometimes I find it’s hard to follow all this --

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: -- the – does it have to be that they actually take the steps, they do the action? It’s not just that they promise to do it in some sort of agreement, but they actually have physically followed through on something and then a deal can be struck or whatever?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to clarify it any further. We will see, as the next days and weeks proceed, where we are. And obviously, we’re discussing all of these things internally as we speak.

QUESTION: So on that, on the internal discussion, when you say that any talk of relief from sanctions or from asset freezes or whatever is premature and speculative, are you saying that the Administration could go ahead and do this without any preparation at all? In other words, it’s like flipping a light switch on and off? Because if it’s not --

MS. PSAKI: No, I’m saying the opposite.

QUESTION: -- and it wouldn’t require any planning, then it’s absolutely not speculative and premature to talk about how sanctions might be – how there might be relief from sanctions or asset freezes.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it is speculative to talk --


MS. PSAKI: It is speculative and premature to talk about a definitive step we would be taking.

QUESTION: No, but you’re obviously – I would hope, at least, unless you’re – unless you don’t believe that it’s necessary to do any preparatory work, in the off-chance that Iran actually does comply, unless you don’t need any preparatory work.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just --

QUESTION: Maybe the Administration has had these plans in – set aside for years and years and years on the hope that the Iranians might comply. But I think that saying that it’s speculative and premature to say that you’re considering, one, a specific – one specific thing as part of a range of options is just not – it’s not true. And if it is true, I think it’s a problem, because I hope someone’s preparing for the possibilities.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, clearly we had sanctions experts at these talks, I believe, for the first time.


MS. PSAKI: So that is evident of the fact that we are discussing and preparing for a range of options.


MS. PSAKI: What I was referring to, just to be clear, is the story that Jim mentioned, that I know many of you read, referenced a specific step.


MS. PSAKI: So it’s premature to go far down a road on a specific step that we are planning to take.

QUESTION: Well, no, but I mean I don’t think it’s – but that is one possible step that is being considered; is that correct? You might not decide – in the end, you might not decide that that’s the way to go, but at the moment, I don’t think it’s speculative or premature to say that that’s one of the things that you’re considering, unless you’re not considering it.

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of options, as there have been --

QUESTION: And I don’t see why it’s difficult to --

MS. PSAKI: -- that are being discussed.

QUESTION: -- say that that is one among the range of options that are being discussed, right?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into confirming each different option.

QUESTION: Well, let’s put it this way: Are any – have any options been taken off the table as with respect to Iran and its nuclear program?

MS. PSAKI: You know what our answer is on that, Matt.

QUESTION: The answer is no. Correct?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a response --

QUESTION: So a military option is still on the table?

MS. PSAKI: That’s a response to a different question.

QUESTION: Yeah, but if you can say --

MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s relevant.

QUESTION: -- that a military option is still on the table, then you’re – that’s not speculative and premature, is it? I mean, it’s something that there is plans for. So I don’t understand why it’s difficult or impossible for you to say that, yes, in the grand range of options that there are for sanctions relief in the event Iran does comply, that this is one of the ideas that’s being considered. How – why is that problematic?

MS. PSAKI: Because I’m not going to get into confirming individual options that are being considered.

QUESTION: But you will confirm that military action is a possibility. Correct?

MS. PSAKI: I think you know that our – what our position is, that all options remain on the table in that case.


MS. PSAKI: There will be lots of reports --

QUESTION: Do you see the inconsistency here?

MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. There will be lots of reports over the next couple of weeks, as we all know, of a range of things we may or may not be considering.


MS. PSAKI: The only point I’m making is that we’re not going to get into playing whack-a-mole and confirming or not confirming individual proposals.

QUESTION: All right. Well, then don’t confirm one and then – the military option – and refuse to confirm anything else.

QUESTION: Could I just ask, at the technical level --

MS. PSAKI: Yes, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there was – in Geneva, it was said that there’s going to be talks between technical experts prior to the November 7th --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you decided yet where and when those are going to be held?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t – I’m not aware of a date being set yet. It may be. I’m happy to check on that and see if there’s been any progress on that.

QUESTION: I mean, you will let us know? I mean, it’s not something that you’re planning to keep secret?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, since we announced that it was going to happen, so – (laughter) --

QUESTION: Happen, right, okay. Well, no, you could announce it’s going to happen, then just not say it’s happening until after it’s happened if he’s --

MS. PSAKI: Well, it obviously would be coordinated through all the partners, so we can check and see if they’ve made any progress on that.

QUESTION: And would the idea be to hold it just before November 7th, or to have a – to allow a gap of time to – for whatever the technical experts and sanctions experts talk about to then be brought back and talked about by political directors?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what they’ve determined in terms of the right strategic approach, but I’m happy to check and see where we are with that, with the EU and other P5+1 members.


QUESTION: So going back to the idea of announcing meetings and then not saying whether they’ve taken place or not, have you gotten an answer on how many times the Israelis and the Palestinians have met together – (laughter) – since the Secretary announced that they were intensifying their contacts?

MS. PSAKI: Matt, I think what I said yesterday is that if there’s anything more to share in terms of numbers of meetings or intensity, I would be happy to share that with all of you. But I don’t have any update to share with all of you.

QUESTION: Okay. So there’s nothing that you can point to that would prove that the talks have intensified?

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re just going to have to take the Secretary of State’s word for it.

QUESTION: Okay. That’s – and --

QUESTION: Staying on that topic – staying on that topic --

QUESTION: I will. I will. But at some point, there’s going to have to be some kind of tangible evidence that, in fact, talks have intensified, if you’re going to continue --

MS. PSAKI: Well, just a few weeks ago, as you know, at UNGA, he gave a speech where he gave an update, and perhaps there’ll be an update in the future.

QUESTION: On the Palestinian-Israeli talks, should there be --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Iran. We let Matt go off the trail there, but --

QUESTION: Okay. I thought we were on the talks.

QUESTION: Just finish very quickly on Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Jim.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Zarif said he would return for the November 7-8th talks.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, any chance he’ll go for those?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve always said that when appropriate, if appropriate, we would be happy to consider participation at the foreign minister level. That’s obviously something we would do in cooperation and coordination with our other partners. I would just caution that there is a great deal of technical work to be done over the coming days and weeks, and so I don’t think that’s a determination we’ll make anytime soon.

QUESTION: Going back to the --

QUESTION: Jen, just on Iran?

MS. PSAKI: On Iran?

QUESTION: And seguing to Israel.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Israel has said that they want to see Iranian cap their production of enriched uranium at 20 percent to like – something like 529 pounds. And I was wondering if the United States shares that view also.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not – you know that Secretary Kerry is going to be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday, and part of their discussion will certainly be Iran. I will remind you that we are in lockstep with the Iranians, that we will not – I mean, I’m sorry, with the Israelis – that we will not allow the Iranians – it’s Friday afternoon – not allow the Iranians to acquire a nuclear weapon. That has not changed. I’m sure they will discuss what happened at the P5+1 meetings and the readouts that the Secretary has received, what the views of the Israelis are, and we’ll see where we go from there.

QUESTION: The latest IAEA report states that Iran is 70 percent to that cap, to that number.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So are we approaching another redline situation, perhaps?

MS. PSAKI: Our redline has not changed. It is that Iran cannot acquire a nuclear weapon. That has not changed.

Any more on Iran? Okay.

QUESTION: Going back to the Palestinian-Israeli talk?

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are we going to get, like, a progress report at one point? Or are we have – or do we have to wait all nine months?

MS. PSAKI: Said, we gave – the Secretary gave a speech at UNGA just a few weeks ago.

QUESTION: I understand, but (inaudible) --

MS. PSAKI: I’ll send you a copy. It was very thorough.

QUESTION: -- but there are many meetings that have taken place since then. And I’ll tell you why – because one of the reasons cited by the Saudis for turning down their position on the Security Council is they’re claiming that these talks are nothing more than they may be cornering the Palestinians and beating up on them regarding borders and so on and maintaining Israel’s security and so on for nothing in return. So that’s a legitimate complaint. If you can dispute that, why don’t you issue a progress report?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, one of the reasons that the Secretary promised the Arab Peace Initiative follow-on committee that he would provide regular updates is to hear from them, to provide them updates on what’s happening. That meeting is happening on Monday. The Saudis will be participating in that, and I’m sure they’ll be discussing.

QUESTION: So since this peace initiative was basically initiated by the Saudis --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- some 11 years ago and so on, and now they’re saying all of this, are they abandoning the peace initiative? Are they – you think that they are abandoning the Arab Peace Initiative that is their initiative?

MS. PSAKI: I would not jump to that conclusion. They’ll be participating in the meeting on Monday and the Secretary will be meeting with the Foreign Minister in Paris as well.

QUESTION: New subject?


QUESTION: Benghazi?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There’s been a spate of violence recently. Do you draw any conclusions from that? What’s your level of concern? What’s happening?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Jill, I know that October 5th, I believe, was the last time that we put out a new security warning to our – let me just double-check that, make sure I have the right date – to our – to American citizens who are living there. And that’s something you know we do regularly and we evaluate regularly, and we of course watch closely violence and concerns we have for people living there. I don’t think I have any further analysis beyond that as to how we’re looking at it.

I’d just like to say that we work with Libya and we work with the government to – as they continue to build their – through their democratic transition. And that includes a range of issues we work with them on. And that, we hope, will continue.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you look at this violence, it would lead – could lead you to the conclusion that the government is incapable of really even having order, ensuring order in the country. I mean, is there concern right now? Because it’s been a constant problem which seems to be getting worse.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly recognize that the Libyan Government and the Libyan people are facing significant challenges in their democratic transition. They have stated that security is their number one priority. We’re committed to working with them on these challenges and helping them to build up their basic security and increase rule of law in the country. But let’s not forget they’ve been through a serious transition over the past couple of years, and working through this is part of what we need to help them with.

QUESTION: How are you helping them beef up their security or train and so on? Do you have teams that are training them? What kind of efforts that are ongoing now in Libya?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve had a long – you know the past couple of years of working closely with them on their security needs. I can get you some more specifics on it. I don’t have any more in front of me in terms of funding or resources.

QUESTION: In reference to the UN uncovering the al-Shabaab terror plot at Mogadishu, would you say that the threat from al-Shabaab is growing?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any analysis of that. I’m not sure that our CT team does either. I will – I’m happy to talk to them about that. Obviously, we’ve been long concerned about al-Shabaab and the threats posed and have made that very clear. But I don’t want to give a grade on less or more. Obviously, the events on the ground were of great concern to not just the United States but to countries around the world.

QUESTION: But the overall terror threat in Africa is growing. I mean, if you like from Mali – everything we’ve been talking about the last few days – Mali, Libya, and the Westgate Mall attacks. Is there a chance that this is just the beginning? I mean, the Westgate attacks is seemingly isolated but could be much bigger.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I certainly don’t want to make a prediction of that. We – as we are concerned, we do issue new travel warnings country by country that have specific information in it whenever that is available and appropriate. And that’s something that we have done in countries in Africa, as we do in other places around the world. But beyond that, I don’t have any prediction or analysis of this.

QUESTION: But is it – does it take detailed analysis to come up with yes, the threat is growing or no, it’s not growing, maybe it’s receding?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you, Lucas.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

QUESTION: Regarding the --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: You – yesterday, you put out – or Tuesday – sorry – you put out a message from the Embassy in Uganda --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- about the possibilities or possible threat of a Westgate style attack. And today, Ugandan police are sort of guarding all the shopping malls in Kampala. Do you have anything more you can give us on that? Is there more of a threat level? Is there more detail about why – what prompted you to put out this notice? I know you were asked about it yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You didn’t really have very much.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. No, and I didn’t have it in front of me yesterday. But I took a look – a closer look at it since then. This was an Embassy Security Message, something that we send regularly as needed in countries. We don’t have any further specific information on the timing and/or location of a potential attack. That is noted in this message as well. We, of course, take any threat reporting seriously, and in accordance with our no-double-standard policy, we shared our information through our public – through a public message to U.S. citizens living there. So that was the purpose of this particular message.

QUESTION: So there was a threat made?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it is – any threat reporting – as is evidenced in the language that’s included in this specific message, we don’t have anything specific on the timing or location of a potential attack.

QUESTION: But there was chatter about a threat? There was general chatter about --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further specifics on it for you, other than to say that it was serious enough that we put out a message to citizens. But we didn’t have any – anything on the timing or location.

QUESTION: And you shared that with the Ugandan authorities? Or were you at the origin of this, or was this something --

MS. PSAKI: The note to our --

QUESTION: Yeah. You shared it with the Ugandan authorities, which is why they’re now in a heightened state of alert, or was it something that came from them to you and then you decided to put it out to U.S. citizens?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other specific details to share on that. Obviously, we work closely with authorities in any of these countries. I don’t know what their decision-making process was. This was a decision-making process based on information that warranted putting out the note.

QUESTION: Just for clarification on that --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so was this a new threat or was it made in the shadow of, like, the 2010 threat, because Shabaab consistently threatens Uganda?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new information other than to say that this was a new message sent out, so obviously it wasn’t just an update or a regular update. This was a new message that was sent out, but it wasn’t – it wasn’t based on specifics on a location or timing or details along those lines.

QUESTION: Has the language of that message been changed since it was first --

MS. PSAKI: Since it was first sent out?

QUESTION: -- first released on Tuesday?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay. Can you read the last sentence before it goes into the standard stuff about how people should register?

MS. PSAKI: “We again take this opportunity to remind” – that sentence?

QUESTION: No, the thing about not specific about time or venue.

MS. PSAKI: “At this time, there is no further information on timing and/or location of this attack.”

QUESTION: Yeah. “This attack.” I mean, I put it to you yesterday that this was poorly written. It should say potential attack, right, or the threat of this attack? Is that --

MS. PSAKI: The threat of? Sure.

QUESTION: So – okay. So threat of? So that there is a specific threat, then. This is why I was – this is why – what the point of my questions from yesterday. The way that’s written, it seems to suggest that there is going to be an attack, that you have definite information that something is planned and going to happen. Is that – and that is not the case; is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, by saying that we don’t have any specifics on the timing or location, that makes clear --

QUESTION: Of the attack. And if you’ll look at – I’ve been reading these things for years, and usually --

MS. PSAKI: I know you have.

QUESTION: -- usually, it’s a potential attack, or a threat of an attack. That doesn’t say that. Should it say that?

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check with our team. This is the information --

QUESTION: Well, that was the whole point of what I was asking yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: I understand, but I also have it now in front of me. I think it’s very relevant that it doesn’t have anything specific in terms of timing or location of an attack.

QUESTION: Yeah. But when you put these messages out and they are deliberately vague as to where the information is coming from – the threat information, because you don’t want to reveal sources and methods or whatever – I think the language that you do use is very important. And I’m sorry if you think I’m nit-picking, but the way that’s written would suggest that you --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I’m disagreeing with you. And as you know, I don’t write these, so --

QUESTION: No, I know. And I’m not saying – I just want to know if perhaps the Embassy in Kampala should have used more precise language --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in talking about a potential attack rather than just the attack, which would suggest that something is definitely going to happen.

MS. PSAKI: Understood.

QUESTION: And Jen, I mean, assuming that you’re getting credible intelligence about these threats, and you’re putting out this statement, how can you not say the threat is growing?

MS. PSAKI: Because, Lucas, this is something that we do and have done for decades. Even longer than Matt’s been covering the State Department, we’ve been putting out travel warnings and notes to U.S. citizens. And I don’t have any analysis for you as to how many there were five years ago and ten years ago versus now, and I wouldn’t venture to guess on that either.

QUESTION: It just seems like if you keep throwing out warnings, they lose their meaning.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think people – U.S. citizens living in Uganda or living in any country who are receiving important information would feel that way.

QUESTION: Would you tell those citizens living in Uganda that the threat is growing?

MS. PSAKI: I would tell them exactly what was in the Travel Warning or the – I’m sorry, the notice that was sent to them, that is carefully put together by a team from the State Department and other officials.

QUESTION: But you’re saying watch out. I mean, last – I realize we need to move on here, but wouldn’t you say, hey, this warning is here, be careful?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re obviously providing them with information to be careful. But at the same time, I don’t want to give you an analysis of what that means and compare historically to past years or past levels of warnings.

QUESTION: How about just once? How about the last month? I mean --

MS. PSAKI: That’s not something I’m going to venture to do.

QUESTION: Jen, can we go to East Asia?

QUESTION: Can we go to Japan?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Oh, okay.


QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. PSAKI: You can duke it out.

QUESTION: What is the U.S. Government’s stance on the Japanese official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve obviously seen, of course, those reports. The real issue here, as we’ve indicated many times, is encouraging – which we continue to do – Japan to continue to work with its neighbors to resolve concerns over history in an amicable way, through dialogue. The U.S. obviously has an interest in regional peace. That’s why we’re so supportive of that. Beyond that, I don’t have any further comment on decisions made by authorities in Japan.

QUESTION: Having more than 100 lawmakers visit the shrine, and one cabinet member --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you think this move help to resolve the concern, or actually increase the concerns of the neighbors?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other further analysis on that, other than to convey that what we’re pressing for, and certainly what we – the Secretary did when he was in Japan just a few weeks ago is the importance of continuing to work with Japan’s – of Japan continuing to work with their neighbors and addressing concerns about history in an amicable way.

QUESTION: But one thing I don’t understand is why the U.S. Government don’t have a clear stance, since the shrine has 14 Class A war criminals in that shrine, and whom actually the U.S. helped Chinese to fight against (inaudible). Why are you being so cautious?

MS. PSAKI: So cautious? I don’t think I am. I think I’m conveying what our focus is, and I don’t have any further comment on whether an official does or doesn’t visit a shrine.

QUESTION: Do you encourage Japanese Foreign Minister Abe to visit the shrine in the future?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more for you.

QUESTION: But you do understand why the question is being asked, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I do, Matt. Thank you.

QUESTION: I mean – no, I know you do, so it’s – you have in the past, I think – I’m pretty sure – expressed disappointment that certain officials, and particularly very senior officials, even higher than cabinet ministers --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- have visited the shrine. Is it the determination of EAP now that opining on your disappointment or lack of disappointment in this case is going to be counterproductive to what your goals are? Because this is a very sensitive thing for the Koreans and the Chinese.

MS. PSAKI: You are right. I have not opined.

QUESTION: I know. You’re avoiding --

MS. PSAKI: I have reminded all of you what our goals and our focus is here.

QUESTION: Okay. So do you know if this issue – this specific visit that was mentioned in the question has come up in conversations between U.S. and Japanese officials?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. I’m happy to check if there’s anything specific on that.

QUESTION: Can I ask a related question?


QUESTION: Secretary Kerry was in Japan recently.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: He and Secretary of Defense Hagel visited a different site, the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery. Can you talk a little about why that site was chosen for a visit?

MS. PSAKI: I – it seems like a decade ago. I know we answered this question at the time. I will venture to get you something after the briefing.

Let’s do one more here.

QUESTION: Specifically as to why it was chosen, given that it’s only less than a mile away from Yasukuni, and it seems like that was a very deliberate choice of choosing that particular site to visit.

MS. PSAKI: They wanted to lay a wreath. It was an opportunity to do that. They are both veterans, as you know. Beyond that I would caution you for analyzing too much further.

QUESTION: Pakistani Prime Minister is here next week. Do you have any guidance on U.S. expectations for that visit?

MS. PSAKI: I know that there will be some briefing later this afternoon available to all of you, so I would point you to that. But let me just say, while I have the opportunity --

QUESTION: There will?

MS. PSAKI: There will be.

QUESTION: Phone? Where?

MS. PSAKI: I will provide you the information.

QUESTION: Is it a State Department thing or is it a --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. One thing I just want to make clear, if I can take this opportunity, though the Secretary is traveling early next week, he will also be meeting with Prime Minister Sharif and his delegation on Sunday prior to his departure.

QUESTION: Jen, can I --

MS. PSAKI: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- one on Honduras, actually.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Apparently, three congressmen earlier this week sent a letter to the Secretary asking him to speak out against what they called the militarization of civil society in Honduras.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There are general elections there next week, and I just wondered what your – what the U.S. is advising people in Honduras to do with the elections coming up.

MS. PSAKI: Let me take and get some more guidance and send that around to all of you guys.

QUESTION: Sure. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:28 p.m.)

# # #