Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
December 18, 2013


Index for Today's Briefing
  • DEPARTMENT
    • Secretary Kerry Concluded Fourth Trip to Asia Earlier Today
  • PHILIPPINES
    • Post-Typhoon Reconstruction Efforts
  • SOUTH SUDAN
    • Evacuated Three Groups of U.S. Citizens / Ambassador Page Met with President Kiir in Juba / Encouraged by President Kiir's Remarks Welcoming Dialogue
  • INDIA
    • Secretary Call to Indian National Security Advisor Menon
    • Deputy Consul General / Diplomatic Security Arresting Authority / Diplomatic Notification in September
    • Under Secretary Sherman Spoke with Foreign Secretary Singh
    • State Has Not Received Official Communication on Possible Change of Credentials
    • Vienna Convention
  • SYRIA
    • Islamic Front / Ambassador Ford / General Idriss / SMC / Opposition
    • Trilateral Meeting / Geneva II / External Participation to Be Discussed at Trilateral
    • London 11 / OPCW
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Chair of the Afghan High Peace Council Rabbani / Ambassador Dobbins / Ambassador-at- Large Cathy Russell
    • BSA
  • LIBYA/BENGHAZI
    • Blue Mountain Group
  • RUSSIA
    • Delegations for Opening, Closing Ceremonies in Sochi
  • JAPAN
    • National Security Strategy, Revised National Defense Program Guidelines
  • SOUTH SUDAN
    • Working to Arrange Additional Transportation as Necessary to Accommodate Demand / Evacuations / Emergency Personnel Remain
  • TURKEY
    • Expect Turkey to Meet Highest Standards in Judicial System
  • ECUADOR
    • USAID / Efforts to Renegotiate Bilateral, Country Assistance Agreements
  • DOMINICAN REPUBLIC/HAITI
    • Deep Concern re. Impact of a Ruling on Citizenship Status Involving Persons of Haitian Descent in the Dominican Republic
  • DPRK
    • Dennis Rodman
    • Kenneth Bae
  • ROK
    • Deputy Secretary Burns' Meeting with ROK First Vice Foreign Minister
  • COUNTERTERRORISM
    • Designation
  • EGYPT
    • Remain Concerned about Politically Motivated Arrests and Detentions
  • INDIA
    • Embassy Security
  • AFGHANISTAN
    • Third Country National Detainees
  • BOLIVIA/PERU
    • Jacob Ostreicher
  • COLOMBIA
    • Reports re. Anti-Coca Spraying


TRANSCRIPT:

2:14 p.m. EST

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the briefing. I have three things at the top, and then I’m happy to open it up for what I am sure are a lot of questions today. And thank you for your patience in the time change.

Just a quick trip wrap-up. Secretary Kerry concluded his fourth trip to Asia earlier today, is – has returned to the United States. I think they’re in Honolulu right now, on a stop back. He will join his family for Christmas and return to Washington after the holiday. Earlier today, he visited Tacloban in the Philippines to witness the post-typhoon reconstruction efforts. There he announced an additional nearly 25 million in humanitarian aid from the United States. This additional assistance now brings the entire U.S. humanitarian assistance package to $86 million. The U.S. assistance will continue to provide food aid, shelter materials, clean water, and other items for families affected by the typhoon as well as protection for vulnerable populations.

The second statement I have at the top – we put this out earlier as a statement, but I just wanted to briefly mention it at the top, and then I’m sure there’ll be some questions on this. This morning, we safely and successfully evacuated three groups of U.S. citizens from South Sudan. Two Department of Defense C-130 aircraft and a private charter flight departed Juba at 0530, 0535, and 0940 Eastern Time respectively, carrying non-emergency chief of mission personnel, private U.S. citizens, and third country nationals. We continue to urge U.S. citizens to depart South Sudan, and will work to arrange for additional transportation as necessary to accommodate demand, of course taking into account security conditions and availability of commercial flights. The Department of State expresses our sincere gratitude to our colleagues at the Department of Defense for their critical assistance.

As you know, we’re deeply troubled by the recent fighting in South Sudan. Today, Ambassador Page met with President Kiir in Juba to discuss our concern about this violence, the increasing death toll, and growing humanitarian challenges. She also raised the arrests of several opposition members, and called on the government to ensure their rights are protected. And I would note finally that we are encouraged by President Kiir’s remarks today welcoming dialogue going forward. Of course, that’s what we’re calling for.

The third statement I have at the top, and then happy to take questions on all of this – again, this just went out to all of you, but I wanted to highlight it again at the beginning – that today Secretary Kerry called Indian National Security Advisor Menon to discuss the December 12th arrest of Deputy Consul General – excuse me – Khobragade. The Secretary understands very deeply the importance of enforcing our laws and protecting victims, and like all officials in positions of responsibility inside the U.S. Government, expects the laws will be followed by everyone here in our country.

It’s also particularly important to Secretary Kerry that foreign diplomats serving in the United States are accorded respect and dignity, just as we expect our own diplomats should receive overseas as well. As a father of two daughters about the same age, the Secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after the arrest. And in his conversation with National Security Advisor Menon, he expressed his regret as well as his concern that we not allow this unfortunate public incident to hurt our close and vital relationship with India.

And with that, Deb, get us started.

QUESTION: I have several questions about the statement.

MS. HARF: Which one?

QUESTION: The statement you just read about the Indian diplomat. First of all, you said he expressed regret.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What did he express regret for, exactly?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to --

QUESTION: The treatment? The arrest in general?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to parse too much the words that were discussed in private diplomatic communications. He expressed regret with what happened. Again, as the father of two daughters about the same age --

QUESTION: You mean he --

MS. HARF: -- he empathizes with the sensitivities, certainly. I’m not going to further parse what he said in a private conversation. But needless to say, it was a positive conversation, and we’re focused on moving the relationship forward.

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MS. HARF: Hold on. I --

QUESTION: On – okay. And also on the statement, you – it says here that Kerry expects that laws will be followed by everyone here in our country, and then it also says that he is – it is important that foreign diplomats in the United States be afforded dignity and respect.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It sounds to me like he’s saying that because he doesn’t think that they were. I mean, why else would you say that?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to further parse what we said or what he said. He’s expressed regret at what happened, and he reiterated that we’re focused on the way forward. I think what the general idea here is obviously, particularly as a former prosecutor, we take very seriously upholding the rule of law. We’re not saying that’s not important. We’re not saying that these charges aren’t charges that we think, of course, we would need to enforce if in fact true. But what he was also saying is that as Secretary of State, we do think it’s important for diplomats here and our diplomats overseas to be afforded, as we said, respect and dignity – again, just as we want our diplomats to be afforded overseas. So he had the discussion with the national security advisor, and again, reiterated that we’re focused on moving forward.

QUESTION: So do you – does he think that she was treated with respect and dignity --

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse what we said --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- in the statement.

QUESTION: Okay. And just one more thing real quick.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What led the – to the arrest, do you know? What led to --

MS. HARF: What led to what the charges were?

QUESTION: Yeah. What led the Diplomatic Security to make the arrest? Do you know?

MS. HARF: Well, it was the result of being charged with some --

QUESTION: I mean, how were they --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Was he – were they just executing, like, a warrant to get her, or were they actually – they were actually making the arrest, right?

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: So they must have been – they must have had a reason to --

MS. HARF: Well, we – again, I said yesterday we notified the Indian Embassy in September that there were allegations against this person involving some of these issues, so they knew back in September that we, the U.S. Government – and obviously, this is a Department of Justice issue and a District of New York – Southern District of New York issue – about the charges that were eventually filed against the deputy consul general. And that’s, of course, as a result of those charges why she was eventually arrested.

QUESTION: Can I ask a follow-up?

QUESTION: Did you have any reply from the Indian Embassy about your communication with them?

MS. HARF: In September?

QUESTION: In September.

MS. HARF: I can double-check on that. I’m not sure.

QUESTION: May I follow up on --

QUESTION: A couple things on this.

MS. HARF: Yeah, there’s, I’m sure, a lot on this. We’ll get to everyone. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, no, I just --

MS. HARF: Go ahead. Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask as to why Secretary Kerry called the Indian national security advisor particularly and not his counterpart, the foreign minister.

MS. HARF: I can double-check if there was a reason. He has a relationship with a wide range of Indian officials. I’m happy to check if there was a specific reason.

QUESTION: I wondered if it was anything to do with some of the measures that were taken yesterday, including removing the concrete blocks from in front of the --

MS. HARF: I wouldn’t – I honestly wouldn’t read anything into it. I’m happy to check what the reason was, but as you know, he talks to a range of officials. And we’ve spoken to a range of officials. Just this morning, Under Secretary Sherman spoke with Foreign Secretary Singh to convey our understanding of Indian displeasure at this incident, and our expectation that Indian

Government agencies will continue to fulfill their host government obligations regarding the safety and security of our personnel and mission premises. So obviously, we’re talking at a number of levels to a number of folks.

QUESTION: Marie, there are reports and we have Indian sources telling us that the Indian Government has transferred the diplomat in question from the Indian Consulate in New York to the Indian Mission at the United Nations. To your knowledge, is that true? And does that require any kind of approval on the part of the State Department, or can they just do that if they wish to?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve seen these media reports, but we at the State Department have not received any official communication regarding a possible change of credentials. In terms of the process, if and when such a request is made to the UN, it would be made to the UN secretariat who would then inform the Department of State. If, again, such a request is made, which we have not received any communication on such a request, it would have to be reviewed by all appropriate authorities at the UN and at the Department of State. It’s not an automatic thing by any means. But again, we haven’t received such a request.

QUESTION: So you would have to sign off on it?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s a yes?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Great. And then secondly --

MS. HARF: There’s a process.

QUESTION: Yeah. I get it.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And then would her being grant – would her transfer to the Indian Mission to the United Nations alter her immunity status?

MS. HARF: Going forward or in the past?

QUESTION: Both.

MS. HARF: I can double-check on the specifics. Again, since no request has been made to us, I don’t know what that would look like in practice, and I don’t want to get into a hypothetical here. I’m happy to check on that. I’ve been very clear about what her diplomatic status was at the time of the arrest and currently is, which is, of course, consular immunity. I’m happy to check if it would change it.

QUESTION: There are also reports and Indian sources saying that she would have full diplomatic immunity were she transferred to the Indian Mission to the UN. And her lawyer – her American lawyer has said in public that that would give her – that that would apply retroactively to any alleged crimes she may have committed in the past. I find it a little hard to believe that someone could be granted ex post facto immunity, so that’s particularly my question. I realize it is hypothetical in the sense that – but I’m sure that the State Department lawyers could address that question of --

MS. HARF: I’ll check and see.

QUESTION: -- a change of status leading to retroactive immunity.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I’ll check and see. But again, as we have received no official notification, there’s no changes in respect to her immunity status. But I’m happy to check the hypothetical.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) if somebody got it. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. Yes. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Marie, a few questions. Did Secretary Kerry in his conversation receive any assurances? You said it was positive.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So did he walk away feeling like U.S. diplomats in India will be protected?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly what we conveyed, what Under Secretary Sherman conveyed. I think he walked away from the discussion with – squarely focused on where we go from here in moving the relationship forward. That’s why I said it was positive. Obviously, we don’t want this to negatively further impact our bilateral relationship. Secretary Kerry wanted to directly engage on this with the Indian Government, and I think that’s how I would describe what he walked away from it with, and we have no reason to believe that they didn’t as well.

QUESTION: Because there have been very specific threats made by Indian politicians – maybe not the leader of the country itself; however, those in positions of influence and power have threatened retribution, retaliation against Americans.

MS. HARF: Yes. And we, of course, believe that those have no place at all in this discussion. We made very clear that the Indians have to uphold their obligations both on security – also, we don’t believe they should undertake any steps that prevent diplomats from doing their job, right? We talked about some of the demarches and what those might have included.

QUESTION: And can I just clarify --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- is the statement – is an expression of regret an apology?

MS. HARF: I’m just going to use the word regret. I know people are really, really focused on what words we’re using and why we use what words. But I think the Secretary was very clear that we regret what happened here and that we’re focused on moving forward. I don’t believe he used that exact word but was very clear, again, about – personally, the notion that as the father of two daughters, he regrets what happened, and as the Secretary of State who’s responsible for our diplomats all over the world. He wants to focus on how we move forward.

QUESTION: What exact word? Regret or apology?

MS. HARF: Regret. The statement says regret.

QUESTION: You’re not sure if he used that exact word?

MS. HARF: No, I’m – the statement says he expressed regret – that exact word, I can tell you.

QUESTION: Great.

QUESTION: Could you on this point, when you said that as a parent – is that what you said? As a father of two daughters?

MS. HARF: As the father of two daughters who are about the same age.

QUESTION: So, I mean, a lot of those that break the law have parents and have fathers and so on, but they still break the law. So is he saying that, “I, as a father, don’t like to see this person who has a father arrested”? Is that --

MS. HARF: That’s not what I said, Said. You’re putting words in my mouth and in his mouth.

QUESTION: No, I’m just asking – I’m trying to understand.

MS. HARF: What I said first, actually, was that, obviously, the U.S. – all laws of the U.S. have to be respected by everyone who’s here, diplomat or not. That’s point A. And certainly, as a former prosecutor, he feels very strongly about that. He was speaking about the overall situation and what transpired and expressing his regret at that. I’m not going to further parse his words, but suffice to say the point of the conversation was to focus on how we move forward.

Yes, Catherine – we’ll get to everyone on this. I promise.

QUESTION: To pick up on a question that Jo asked in response to this letter that the State Department sent, if you could check into what the response from the Indians --

MS. HARF: If there was a response.

QUESTION: If there was one.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: But also --

MS. HARF: And that was September 4th. I don’t know if I gave you the exact date yesterday.

QUESTION: The 4th.

MS. HARF: That was September 4th.

QUESTION: But also now, obviously, the Secretary is expressing regret. One would assume that the State Department and the Indian Embassy would maybe work in the meantime between September 4th and December – I think it was 12th of this arrest to try to avoid this, that you’re now – this incident that you’re now expressing regret for.

MS. HARF: Well, let me be clear about what on September 4th we advised them of. It’s State Department policy to advise foreign missions of allegations made involving a member of a mission or a family member. So we did so. We advised them of this on September 4th. But again, that’s separate – entirely separate from the law enforcement process that is an important one of looking into these allegations. And then if the Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York think there should be charges brought, obviously that’s a totally separate process from our diplomatic notification when there were allegations brought forward.

QUESTION: Why was – sorry to jump in.

MS. HARF: It’s okay. And then we’ll get back to you guys.

QUESTION: Why was this decision actually made to arrest this diplomat?

MS. HARF: It was based on charges that had been filed in the Southern District of New York.

QUESTION: So it was purely because the charges had been – when were the charges filed? I sorry; I should know that, but I don’t.

QUESTION: It was on the 11th.

MS. HARF: I believe it was the --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yeah, I can – I think it was the – let me double-check on the exact date. But obviously, this was just a response to charges that had been filed.

QUESTION: But I think to follow-up on Jo, I think one of the questions that we’re circling around is since DS was the arresting agency --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Because of her position.

QUESTION: Because of her position.

MS. HARF: Yes, uh-huh.

QUESTION: Others in her position, even if they are junior, are sometimes given the opportunity, as her lawyer would say, to turn themselves in. Why the choice to arrest in front of the school, by DS?

MS. HARF: I can double-check. Honestly, the – I can double-check with our folks and see what the exact logistics of it were and why. I honestly don’t have the answer.

QUESTION: Can I go to the letter? Sorry, Arshad. I guess in the letter that you wrote on September the 4th, was, the Indian Embassy warned that their diplomat could face arrests on these charges?

MS. HARF: I don’t have the text of it in front of me. We notified them that allegations had been made. I think it probably goes without saying that if allegations are made and we’re looking into them, consequences could come. I don’t have the exact text. I’m happy to see if I can get it.

QUESTION: And --

MS. HARF: Yes, I’m going to go back to you guys, and then I’m going to come back around.

QUESTION: Okay. Sure.

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So --

MS. HARF: No, no, I’m going to go behind you then I’m going to come around. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: I’ll get to you. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) back in – before September, in June or July, the Indian Delhi high court issued an arrest warrant against a maid, and this request was made to the State Department, also the Department of Justice. What effort – what attempt was made to follow the court’s orders issued in Delhi to get back the maid back to Delhi?

MS. HARF: I know you asked about this yesterday. I don't have any more information for you about --

QUESTION: But did you receive any communication from the Indian Embassy on this?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the – I mean, not that I know of. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t. Let me check again with our folks and see what we may have received. I just don’t have any more information on that. I know you had asked about that yesterday.

QUESTION: The Indian Government --

MS. HARF: But all the information I have starts in September.

QUESTION: Okay. Secondly, the Indian Government today also accused the U.S. of indulging in visa fraud by helping the maid to get out of the country and the family, whereas they were charged of serious offenses inside the country in Delhi. What effort has been made? Do you agree with their charges?

MS. HARF: Well, again, U.S. officials have been in contact with the complainant in her family, who would be this person you’re referring to, as part of their investigation into this ongoing U.S. law enforcement matter. I can’t comment on the substance of that contact, but I want to stress that all authorities have followed and are following all laws and procedures certainly related to this issue and any other issues as well.

QUESTION: And on the phone call, where was the phone call made from? From the plane or from --

MS. HARF: Where? From the plane.

QUESTION: From the plane?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So before you landed in Honolulu?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: So according to the media report, and the Indian police removed a concrete security barriers outside U.S. embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday, it’s a kind of retaliation for the treatment of this issue? I mean, is there a State Department response, any kind of response?

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, Under Secretary Sherman and others have made clear to the Indian Government that they need to uphold their obligations to protect our security. I’d note a few other points. We welcomed a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs that India is fully committed to ensuring the safety and security of all diplomats in Delhi and elsewhere, and that they fully intend to fulfill their Vienna Convention obligations. So we’ll keep talking to them about it and working on this moving forward.

QUESTION: According to the report that – because she was strip-searched. So may I confirm that? Is it legal for – as a kind of diplomatic – I mean, foreign diplomat here in United States? May I confirm this?

MS. HARF: Well, I believe that the U.S. Marshals spoke on the record to this last night, and I – if they have anything additional to add about that, I’d refer you there.

QUESTION: Can I just follow?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And then you’re next, I promise. I’ll get to everyone.

QUESTION: That kind of normal behavior is for the criminals, right, and not for the diplomats? Is this the kind of treatment you give to the foreign diplomats; you treat them on par with the criminals, hardcore criminals?

MS. HARF: Well, again, I’m not going to speak to those specifics. I think they put out an on-the-record statement last night about their process and their procedure, and if they have anything additional to add, I’m happy for them to do so. Again, what we’re focused on right now is what I said today about the Secretary’s conversation and about where we go from here. If they have anything specific to add, I’m happy for them to – wait, you’re next.

QUESTION: I have a few points. First is that India had asked for an unconditional apology. You are using the word “regret.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did the NSA Menon accept the regret?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further detail their conversation. On our side, we’ve said it was a positive conversation. I believe folks on the Indian side may now have as well. And what we’re focused on is moving forward. And I do think it was a good opportunity for the Secretary to very directly express his regret and talk about where we go from here.

QUESTION: The Secretary made two points in his – from your readout. One was on laws and the other was on diplomats. Laws, obligation to follow that were followed really to the – and the second one, diplomats, the Secretary said “accorded respect and dignity, just as we expect.” Was that accorded? If not, whose fault is it?

MS. HARF: Again, I think I already got asked this question. I’m not going to further parse what I read out in terms of what the Secretary conveyed to the national security advisor. Clearly, he expressed regret with what happened here, broadly speaking. We’re continuing to look at exactly what transpired to see what exactly was done, and are focused on, of course, moving forward with the relationship.

QUESTION: So have you heard anything further on this from the Indians? Because there is a list of things they have done. They have removed the barricade. They have – and with Christmas coming they have stopped the import of liquor and food. There’s a detail – they’re asking for details of salary. Have you provided the details of salaries of domestic help for the U.S. diplomats?

MS. HARF: Well, as I said yesterday, we’ve received several demarches from the Government of India. I’m not going to get into the substance of them. But we’ve been very clear that we believe our diplomats should be allowed to continue with their jobs; they should not be impeded from doing them in any way by any of these actions. That’s what we’re focused on. The conversations continue at high levels, clearly, and we’ll keep having them going forward.

QUESTION: Can you explain how giving details of salaries of their domestic help impedes their jobs?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to speak to specifics that have been out there rumored that were potentially in one of these demarches. I’m just not going to get into the specifics.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: So you referred earlier to when the allegations were made known to the Indian side, and then when the charges were later filed. So when the charges were filed, why was she not given the option to surrender instead of being arrested?

MS. HARF: Again, I don’t – that was the question Margaret asked. I don’t have those details about how that exactly transpired. I’m happy to check into that and see if there’s more I can share.

QUESTION: Okay, and a quick follow-up.

Ms. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you say that you would come back on the question of whether immunity would change and she switch – if she switches from consular to diplomatic status?

MS. HARF: I said I would check into that hypothetical. As of right now, there’s no change in her immunity status because we haven’t received any kind of communication like that.

QUESTION: So has there never been a past precedent where charges have been leveled against – faced by a diplomat and their immunity status has changed?

MS. HARF: I don’t know. I’m happy to check in with our – I mean, “never, ever” is a big question but I’m happy to look and see if there’s some sort of precedent. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on immunity?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: You’ve been very clear about the difference between diplomatic immunity and consular immunity, but it’s my understanding that consular immunity may still protect consular officers from detention. There’s a section of the State Department website that says: “Although foreign career consular officers enjoy limited immunity from jurisdiction, Article 41 of the VCCR does grant them personal inviolability, therefore such individuals may not be arrested or detained pending trial except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision of a competent judicial authority.”

So were the standard procedures followed in detaining this consular officer? And it seems that a judicial authority would have to sort of initiate that. Do the charges being filed --

MS. HARF: Well, that would --

QUESTION: -- constitute that?

MS. HARF: Certainly, not. We wouldn’t be the judicial authority that would speak to that. It would be the Southern District of New York, I think, the Department of Justice, or of course, the U.S. Marshals who were involved in this as well.

QUESTION: But does consular immunity – not diplomatic immunity but consular immunity – protect someone from detention except in the cases of grave crimes?

MS. HARF: Well, and I can check in terms of what this charge, she was charged with, where that falls into that rubric. I’m not familiar with every single part of the State Department diplomatic immunity code. I’m happy to look into it and talk to our experts and see exactly why this case was handled as it was. But again – and these are important questions to answer. We’re happy to do more digging on it. We’re focused here in finding out exactly what happened and on how we move forward because we don’t want this isolated episode to negatively impact our relationship.

QUESTION: Just a quick one?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: It’s been two days since I’ve been asking about that will – did the State Department give a go-ahead for this operation? Was – were all these --

MS. HARF: What operation? What are you referring to?

QUESTION: The operation to arrest the --

MS. HARF: Well, we were the arresting – the Diplomatic Security was the arresting authority here.

QUESTION: You arrested her.

MS. HARF: Correct. Yes.

QUESTION: So the --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: So the whole procedure was followed that should have been followed?

MS. HARF: Again, we’re looking into what happened right now on all parts of it. We aren’t responsible for every part of this process. We had a limited responsibility for one part of the process. Exactly what we’re doing right now is talking to other agencies and other folks to tease out the details of exactly what happened. We’ve been very clear that we played a role in this, and that’s why we want to get more details, certainly, about what our folks but other folks did as well.

QUESTION: When can we expect an answer on that?

MS. HARF: We’re looking into it right now. Obviously, it’s complicated. It involves a bunch of different folks. But as soon as we have something to say further on it, I’m happy to.

Said.

QUESTION: Can we move to Syria?

QUESTION: No (inaudible).

MS. HARF: There might be – I think there’s probably more on this. Yeah.

QUESTION: On the --

MS. HARF: And then, yes, we can.

QUESTION: On the phone call, do you know how long the phone call lasted?

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: And on the regret, regret on what happened in New York or on what happened in Delhi?

MS. HARF: Regret on the situation writ large. I would say both, honestly. He certainly expressed regret about what happened with this case writ large, sort of how this has all played out. But I think part of it, of course, was focused on the fact that we don’t believe that there should be steps taken in Delhi or elsewhere in India by the government to prohibit us from doing our work, to put restrictions on our work, some of the things we’ve talked about with the demarches. It was really about the whole situation, honestly, and focused on how we move forward.

QUESTION: Really?

QUESTION: So it’s not about the arrest, it was about --

MS. HARF: It was about – I said about what happened. Take whatever you will from that.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up on the call --

QUESTION: There are a lot of things --

MS. HARF: Don’t shout, please. I’ll get to you.

QUESTION: One minute. There are a lot of things happened. One was the arrest, then she was strip-searched, and then – and he mentions --

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further parse what that means.

QUESTION: No, because he --

MS. HARF: The Secretary expressed regret about what happened in this situation.

QUESTION: And he mentioned his daughters, so that becomes a personal attach and that --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, absolutely. As I said, as the father of two daughters about the same age, but also as the nation’s top diplomat who’s responsible for the safety and security and treatment of our diplomats around the world, this is an issue Secretary Kerry feels very strongly about, wanted to personally engage on it at a high level, wanted to express regret about what happened, and wanted to reiterate that what we’re focused on is moving the relationship forward.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION: Marie, on --

QUESTION: That was my question.

MS. HARF: Shouty McShout, yes. Yes.

QUESTION: On the Vienna Convention, does – the Indian Government has taken several steps after this event. Does any of them, do you think, is in violation of Vienna Convention, or they are not?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly told them they shouldn’t take any steps that are – they have to uphold all of their obligations, and we’ll keep talking to them about the specifics.

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, you are reviewing or questioning, or these questions are related to the procedures?

MS. HARF: We’re having conversations with the different folks that were involved, yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Is – do you have any doubt about the charges? Are you reviewing it or not?

MS. HARF: Not to my – certainly, that would be a Department of Justice question. That’s not what I was referring to that we were reviewing. What we’re looking at and having conversations about is what transpired in terms of the arrests and what happened afterwards.

QUESTION: Okay. You were not asked --

MS. HARF: We’re not reviewing the charges, to my knowledge.

QUESTION: And – but you were --

MS. HARF: But that’s not really a question for me.

QUESTION: No. I mean, I’m just – but you were not asked by Indian Government to review the charges?

MS. HARF: I can’t speak for what the Indian Government has or hasn’t asked us. I’m not privy to all of those conversations, but we’re talking with them about how to move forward from here.

Yes, on India still?

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: As to the procedures that were followed during the arrest itself, I’m aware, obviously, that’s the U.S. marshal’s responsibility. But they’ve indicated that they are – the arrest was in accordance with their procedures; they were happy with what happened. How does the State Department feel about that? Because clearly, this has caused such a huge diplomatic problem for you guys. Should there not be a review of those procedures?

MS. HARF: Well, I think I’ve said very clearly that we’re doing that right now. We’re looking into exactly what happened – not just us, but the other folks, including the marshals that were involved. I think I’ll let them speak for their own agency and their own procedures, but I do think that Secretary Kerry was very clear when he expressed regret at what happened. That includes multiple steps in this process, right. And going forward, we’re focused on looking at what happened and not having another unfortunate episode like this happen.

QUESTION: So you are unhappy with the procedures followed by the U.S. marshals?

MS. HARF: That – I mean, the Secretary very clearly expressed regret about the whole situation. I’m not going to further parse what that might mean.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: Yes, in the back. In the back. Yes.

QUESTION: Can I – okay, low volume.

MS. HARF: See, and I call on you. Yes.

QUESTION: So you indicated earlier that the U.S. would probably have to sign off on the transfer to the --

MS. HARF: Not probably. We would – the UN and the U.S. both, yes.

QUESTION: Right. So under what authority would that be? Because in a sense, this is India reassigning its diplomat from one posting to the – to another.

MS. HARF: Well, it’s my understanding – and let me double-check with our experts on this – that when a diplomat’s posted to the United States, right, there’s a process. Just like when we’re posted somewhere overseas, there’s a process in terms of them accepting your posting and all of that, and giving you immunity, which is – we’re the ones who would give immunity, so I think it’s a credentialing process, right.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: But on the --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: In a sense, they’re moving – if this happens, she would move to another entity. She’s moving to the UN, which is not the U.S.

MS. HARF: But still is a diplomat in the United States. U.S. missions to the UN are technically in New York.

QUESTION: Right, but --

MS. HARF: UN is technically international property, but the missions are in New York.

QUESTION: Yes, but the immunity that flows from being in the UN comes from the UN’s authority.

MS. HARF: I can double-check on the specifics. Again, they would be the ones that have the lead in the credentialing process and how that would work, but we do have a role to play, and I’m happy to get more details on that. But again, it’s a hypothetical because we haven’t received any communication to that effect.

QUESTION: Marie, as part of --

MS. HARF: Yes, Lucas.

Wait, Lucas hasn’t had a question yet.

QUESTION: Did Secretary Kerry personally sign off on the arrest?

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s how it works. I’m happy to check. Sign off officially or – I don’t even – I mean, in any way --

QUESTION: Was he aware that the arrest was going to take place?

MS. HARF: He was certainly aware, yes, absolutely. He’s been kept up to speed on this case. I can double-check on exactly how it works.

QUESTION: The last one --

MS. HARF: How the process works, I just don’t know.

QUESTION: So he approved the arrest?

MS. HARF: I can double-check on how it works, because I don’t know he has official approving authority.

Yes, wait, and then I’ll come up to --

QUESTION: Now, did you see the statement that came out from the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs today? He was asked – there were some Q&A, and he said there seems to be a difference between the understanding about the Vienna Convention, because he says we understand our obligations and our rights under the Vienna Convention and we will implement them fully, and also ask for their implementation fully. So actually, the word --

MS. HARF: We don’t disagree with that.

QUESTION: -- we are getting in Delhi that they feel that the U.S. has not been fulfilling its obligation under Vienna. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. HARF: We fulfill all of our obligations, yes. I don’t believe that we would – I mean, there’s no indication that we haven’t in this case or any other. So I’m not exactly sure what he was referring to.

Yes. Jo’s been waiting for --

QUESTION: Sorry, I just wanted to check.

MS. HARF: That’s okay.

QUESTION: On the credentialing process --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Let me go back to that.

QUESTION: -- if you are changing her status, which would have – to me, implied change of visa nomination, does that mean that one of the criteria is whether she has any charges pending against her in the United States?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that. I can double-check on that. I just don’t know. Obviously, the UN plays a big part in this process if that’s where she would be credentialed to, so you should probably check with them about their processes, and I’m happy to check on our end as well.

QUESTION: But you’d be granting the visa, so --

MS. HARF: I don’t know if it’s a visa. Let me – I don’t have that in front of me. Let me double-check. What I’ve seen is that when such a request is made, the UN Secretariat informs the Department of State, it would have to be reviewed by appropriate authorities and the Department of State. I don’t know if that involves a visa. I don’t know exactly what that includes. I’m happy to check.

Yes, Arshad.

QUESTION: So Jay --

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

QUESTION: Jay Carney in his briefing today said, “We’re looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all standard procedures were followed and that every opportunity for courtesy was extended.”

MS. HARF: I agree.

QUESTION: Was – is it – I mean, you’ve been looking into this since last week, I think. Do you think that every opportunity for courtesy was extended?

MS. HARF: We’re still looking into it. There’s just a lot of facts to gather here. We want to make sure we know all of them, talk to everyone involved. We’re still looking into it.

QUESTION: And how long was she in the custody of DS before she was handed over to the marshal service?

MS. HARF: Marshals? I can double-check. I don't know.

Chris – wait, wait, wait. I said Chris is next, then you’re next.

Yes?

QUESTION: On the process of ascertaining everything that happened, can you maybe go into a little bit more detail about what that entails? Does that mean you’re talking to the marshals who handled this detention process? And have you spoken with this diplomat?

MS. HARF: I don't have any specifics to read out in terms of what those conversations look like. I’m happy to check with folks and see if there are. We’re talking to the different players that were involved in different parts of the process.

QUESTION: Do you plan to reach out to her?

MS. HARF: I can double-check and see if there are any plans on that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: And would you tell us, when this review process is over, what the outcome of the review process was?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. When we have more to share about our conversations we’ve been having, I’m happy to do so.

Wait, Said. We need to finish this. In the back, go ahead.

QUESTION: And do you think this entire process has derailed the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries? Prime minister was here, foreign secretary was here. Day before she was arrested, there was huge, long series of talks – series of talks been going on with the two countries --

MS. HARF: Not at all. And our hope, certainly, and what the Secretary conveyed today, is that it doesn't. There are too many important issues that we work on together. We do have a very close, vital relationship. As you said, all you have to do is look at the meetings with the President and the Vice President and the Secretary have had with our Indian counterparts to really demonstrate how important this relationship is. That’s why we don't believe this isolated episode should further hamper our efforts to work together. And that’s why we’re focused on moving forward here.

In the back, yes.

QUESTION: This one, yes or no. Is this the highest level of Indian official the U.S. has spoken to or has contacted, NSA?

MS. HARF: On this issue?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: I don't know technically in the Indian hierarchy where the foreign secretary is compared to the national security advisor. They were both spoken to today by senior State Department officials. I don't know of any other contacts.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) don’t you mean foreign secretary also?

MS. HARF: Yes. Under Secretary Sherman, today, as I said a little while ago --

QUESTION: Okay, yeah.

MS. HARF: Let me pull this back up – spoke with Foreign Secretary Singh this morning.

QUESTION: Okay, yeah.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That’s the foreign secretary, not the minister of external affairs, however?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Correct, yes. The Foreign Secretary Singh.

Yes. In the back. Very back.

QUESTION: So again, while you’re checking on that hypothetical about the credentialing, could you also please clarify whether this is only about the U.S. signing off on her getting a potential UN credential, or also do you have authority, or are you involved in her exiting her consular immunity or her consular position?

MS. HARF: I will double-check on all of that. Again, this is a total hypothetical at this point. But I’m happy to check and see what in general it is about here.

Nicole, yes.

QUESTION: I’m just curious about standard practice. If you have a foreign diplomat on U.S. soil who has knowingly broken U.S. laws and lied to the federal government about it, is there any precedent for that person continuing to serve?

MS. HARF: That’s a good question.

QUESTION: And does that disqualify them somehow from, like, in terms of the agreement you have with their country or any country?

MS. HARF: It’s a really good question to which I don't know the answer to either. I’m happy to check with our folks and see if there is any precedent and how that would impact anything. Again, at this point she’s only been charged. There’s a judicial process, of course, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Anything else on India?

QUESTION: (Off-mike).

MS. HARF: Syria. Yes, Said?

QUESTION: Syria. Ambassador Ford today gave an interview with Al-Arabiya network, and he said that is Islamic Front turned down a request for a meeting. Could you please explain the situation?

MS. HARF: Yeah, I’m not – we’ve said we’re open to a meeting. I’m not going to further get into the details of the back and forth with the Islamic Front. As we said, we have not met with them, but would not rule out the possibility – excuse me – of meeting with them in the future.

QUESTION: So just so we can understand this properly, you reached out to them for a meeting and they actually said, no, we don’t want a meeting with you?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to further detail what Ambassador Ford said. Clearly, we said we’re open to it, and we have --

QUESTION: But you’re aware of what he said.

MS. HARF: Right. And I’m not going to further detail it or explain it.

QUESTION: Okay. But you can't take us through – although it is in – I mean, it’s in the past.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to take you through the detail – how we schedule meetings and how we decide on what meetings to do when.

QUESTION: How does that impact whatever interlocutors that you might have, like General Idris, or others, and so on?

MS. HARF: How does it – how does what impact?

QUESTION: How does it impact – in terms of having contacts with the other opposition groups? Does that stop you --

MS. HARF: We’ve long met with a broad swath of the opposition. We’ve been very clear about that. But at the same time, that doesn’t impact or change our support for General Idris and the SMC. We’ve been very clear about that as well.

QUESTION: Do you believe that this – the fact that they turned down a meeting with the United States of America in a way hinders the process for Geneva II?

MS. HARF: Again, we said we’re open to meeting with them. We meet with a broad swath of the opposition. Ambassador Ford’s on the ground meeting with folks now. I believe he’s still there. And we’re tracking towards Geneva II. Again this – end of this week, we have a trilateral in Geneva with the Russians and the UN to make progress on all of these issues around Geneva II.

QUESTION: So everything is in motion for the 22nd of January for Geneva II to take place. Nothing has changed?

MS. HARF: It is. Nothing has changed. We know this is a hard process. Nobody’s naive about that.

QUESTION: Right, but --

MS. HARF: But things are certainly moving. We’ll see what comes out of the trilat.

Anything else on Syria?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: In the back, Michele.

QUESTION: Yeah. Marie, why do you think Ambassador Ford made sure to make this point that the Islamic Front didn’t want to meet with them?

MS. HARF: I think he was giving a broad interview about the state of play right now and what we’re doing and where we’re going, and I don't think there was a particular reason. But we said very clearly, we meet with a broad swath of the opposition, we’re open to meeting with the Islamic Front. Just don't have anything to announce at this point.

QUESTION: A follow-up on this: Islamic Front has rejected the idea of negotiating with Assad, and saying that anyone who does is a traitor. Do you think this statement will affect the participation of the Syrian opposition in Geneva II? And what if the Islamic Front doesn’t want to go to Geneva II? What will happen then?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve been very clear in all of our conversations with the opposition that the opposition needs to be represented by a wide-ranging, representative delegation at Geneva II to give it – exactly as you, I think, are alluding to – the best chance of success. So one of the conversations that’s going on within the opposition right now is what their delegation will look like. When they have something to announce, I’m sure they will. But we’ve encouraged them throughout this process to try and bring more folks in and to try and get a representative body to Geneva II for exactly that purpose.

QUESTION: At this point, are you confident that Geneva II will be held in January 22nd?

MS. HARF: I mean, I think that’s what Said just asked. We’re certainly working towards that. We have a trilateral meeting this week when more planning will go on, and we’ll see what comes out of that meeting.

Syria?

QUESTION: Yeah, Syria.

MS. HARF: Samir.

QUESTION: Well, what will happen if the opposition is not able to have a wide representation of the Syrian people? Will you hold Geneva II without them?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to venture to guess what various scenarios might look like. We’re going to Geneva this week to sit down with other folks and talk about the process in getting people to the table. We’re talking to the opposition about it right now. I just don’t want to entertain different scenarios that we just haven’t seen happen. We’ll see what the opposition comes up with in terms of their delegation.

Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the Syrian Kurds? PYD leader is in Moscow today. Do you know the latest status their participation at Geneva?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I’m happy to check with our team.

QUESTION: Wait. If I could quickly follow up --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it conceivable to hold Geneva II if the neighboring countries want to attend, if the P5 want to attend, if a whole host of people want to attend, including Iran and Turkey and others and so on, but the opposition does not want to attend – is it conceivable to hold it?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a few points. The first is that we are – haven’t made decisions on external participation yet. That’s one of the issues that’s on the table to be discussed at the trilateral. The opposition has said they support the Geneva communique, they’ve talked about the Geneva II process. So that hasn’t changed to my knowledge. And we know it’s very hard to do, but that’s what we’re all working towards right now.

Yes.

QUESTION: I have one more on Syria.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: There was a report yesterday, I believe, that Western diplomats now are open to President Assad staying in the power for the next year.

MS. HARF: That report is completely false, I can say categorically. We have a longstanding position that has not changed: Assad must go. We’ve said very clearly that given the blood he has on his hands, he has no place in the future of Syria. I would point you, actually, to the press statement issued after the most recent London 11 senior officials meeting on Friday states clearly, “Assad will have no role in Syria as his regime is the main source of terror and extremism.” We remain, of course, firmly committed to the Geneva II negotiations implementing the Geneva communique, which says we need mutual consent from both sides to form a transitional government, which, of course, the opposition would never permit to include Bashar al-Assad.

QUESTION: On the removal – the removing of the chemicals from Syria.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There were again some reports that the timetable might be postponed. I don’t know if it was official or --

MS. HARF: Well, no, the OPCW actually came out today – the executive council did, I think it’s today – with a statement continuing to support the December 31st deadline for removing the priority one chemicals from Syria. We’re still, obviously, making progress. As we’ve talked about, these are milestones, right, that as long as we see forward progress – it’s a very difficult progress, and we just need to keep tracking towards these goals. The executive council meeting also sort of outlined more about the removal and destruction plan that’s been identified by them. I’m happy to talk about that a little as well if people have questions on that.

Yes, Syria?

QUESTION: Yes, one more. Do you have any idea about the relation between the Islamic Front and Saudi Arabia with Qatar?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I’m happy to ask our experts and see what the story is there.

Anything else on Syria? Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Afghanistan.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: The chairman of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council is here in town. Do you know what meeting he’s having here?

MS. HARF: Yes. Chair of the Afghan High Peace Council Rabbani is visiting Washington this week as part of regularly scheduled meetings in the United States. He has meetings scheduled with Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan Ambassador Jim Dobbins, and Ambassador-at-Large for Women’s Issues Cathy Russell. He’s here to discuss a range of issues related to the Afghan-led reconciliation process and the role of women in that process in an Afghan society.

QUESTION: Do you have any update on the BSA’s signing?

MS. HARF: No. No update. Our position hasn’t changed on that. We clearly believe it’s important to give the Afghan people the security of knowing that we have a BSA in place. We believe that President Karzai should sign it as soon as possible, and we’ll keep working with him and his team.

QUESTION: What if he doesn’t? Are you willing to wait till next president is elected?

MS. HARF: No. We don’t believe – we believe it should be signed as soon as possible, and we don’t believe that that would be a viable option. Every day that goes by that we don’t sign it, there are costs to that, right? And certainly, we need to do planning, our NATO partners need to do planning, the Afghan people need to do planning about what will happen after 2014 and it’s hard to do that without a BSA in place, certainly.

QUESTION: I know zero option is not a preferred option, but when do you plan to restart thinking or planning for the zero option if the BSA’s – what is the red line for that?

MS. HARF: Well, the President is considering options right now about what our troop presence might look like. He hasn’t made any decisions yet. Obviously, there’s a range of options and there’s a range of factors that impact that decision. Obviously, when we have something to announce, we will But I think it’s clear that the BSA is important to get signed as soon as possible as part of that discussion, right, because it affects how we plan and what different options look like in practice.

QUESTION: Any recent phone calls by Secretary Kerry to President Karzai?

MS. HARF: Not recently, no. I can check on the last time they spoke, but not recently.

Lucas, yes. He’s been – oh, yours is on Afghanistan still?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: Okay, sorry. Then, Lucas, you’re next.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, on Lalit’s question: Do you concede, though, that the signing of the BSA is likely to slip into the new year now, though?

MS. HARF: We’ve said it needs to be as soon as possible. I don’t want to put a hard and fast deadline. Obviously, what matters is getting it signed. And if that goes a little after the first of the year, then we’ll deal with that,, and we’ll just keep encouraging him to sign it as soon as possible. We’ve been very clear that every day that goes on that it’s not signed, we do incur some cost in terms of the uncertainty. And so we’ll keep working with the Afghans to get it signed as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And in his interview with – at the weekend, Secretary Kerry did say that there was a cutoff date that you guys have. He was asked whether there was a cutoff date by which it has to be signed.

MS. HARF: Okay. I’ll – I didn’t see that comment. I’m happy to check on it.

QUESTION: He wouldn’t specify, so I was going to ask you if you could specify for me.

MS. HARF: I will – I’ll check and see if there’s anything to add on that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Lucas.

QUESTION: Marie, on Benghazi, is it accurate that the Blue Mountain Libya group did not have a valid license to protect the mission in --

MS. HARF: No. They had a license.

QUESTION: Okay. Does Blue Mountain or any related entities hold other contracts at State or other entities?

MS. HARF: Well, I can only speak for the State Department, as you know. And I think this is a question about local guard programs, right, obviously. And to my knowledge, the State Department has no contracts with Blue Mountain group for local guard programs currently.

QUESTION: And so they did not have a contract at the time of the Benghazi attacks?

MS. HARF: Currently, I said.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yeah. And they did have a license.

QUESTION: They did have a license on the day of the attacks.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

Catherine.

QUESTION: And --

MS. HARF: Oh, sorry, Lucas. Was there a follow-up? You sure?

Okay, Catherine.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Sochi?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: The delegation was announced yesterday, and previously First Lady Michelle Obama has headed the delegation, and Vice President Biden did so in Vancouver, and I was wondering: You don’t have such a high-level representation going to Sochi and if there’s a maybe broader message that that sends.

MS. HARF: Well, the President’s and the First Lady’s schedules don’t allow them to travel to Sochi, as I think the White House has said. But in his stead, he’s asked a high-level delegation led by former DSH Secretary Janet Napolitano and featuring a number of former Olympians to represent the United States Government at the opening ceremonies. I’d also note that Deputy Secretary of State Burns will be heading the delegation at the closing ceremonies, along with some other folks as well. These delegations represent the diversity that is the U.S. All of our delegation members are distinguished by their accomplishments in government service, in sports, in civic activism. And we’re proud of them, think they’ll be great ambassadors for the U.S. at the opening and closing ceremonies.

QUESTION: Was there any consideration given to Secretary Kerry going, either for the opening or closing?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. Not to my knowledge.

Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So we know that this week Japan – the Japanese cabinet approved national defense program guidelines --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and the (inaudible) defense program and also national security strategy.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Does the U.S. Department paid any attention to these issues?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. We welcome Japan’s adoption of a national security strategy and their revised national defense program guidelines. Our alliance with Japan, as I think I’ve said many times, is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. We’re pleased that both the strategies and guidelines contain language on strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance. We think that’s, of course, very important. And we’d also note Japan’s outreach to explain its security policies, including by sending officials to other foreign capitals. We certainly appreciate Japan’s efforts to be as transparent as it implements its evolving defense policies.

QUESTION: Because some experts say – many people worry about, both inside and outside Japan, that the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hasn’t really learned from the lesson from the wartime history, and says that there’s a kind of danger of a rise of militarism in the long term. How do you see this kind of plans?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think I have any unique analysis to do on that. Again, we welcome Japan’s adoption of the strategy and the guidelines, and we’ll keep working together as very close allies and partners on a host of security and economic and other issues.

QUESTION: Because the – I mean – sorry – the Japanese will kind of boost military spending in the coming years, do you think to some extent (inaudible) their original intentions on this issue?

MS. HARF: Again, we welcome their adoption of this. I think I don’t have much further analysis to do on it. I’ve seen some of that analysis out in the public, but our focus is on working very closely with Japan and other allies and partners in the region on a number of issues, whether it’s stability on the Korean Peninsula, whether it’s maritime security, or other issues as well.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Question on Sudan.

MS. HARF: Then I’ll come to you all. Uh-huh.

QUESTION: With the airlifts you announced at the --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- earlier today and at the top of the briefing --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you expect more of those to happen as – if the situation deteriorates, or how is this going to --

MS. HARF: So – no, it’s a good question. We are working to arrange for additional transportation as necessary to accommodate demand. I don’t have anything to announce at this point, but certainly are open, working with the Defense Department or private contract aircraft, to help other folks get out as well. As I mentioned, we evacuated U.S. officials, private U.S. citizens, foreign diplomats, some NGO folks, foreign private citizens. We sort of – we’re trying to help with – get a wide range of folks out.

QUESTION: Do you know how many U.S. --

MS. HARF: And there are also commercial flights. The airport is now open for a limited amount of time, and there are commercial flights that are flying out, so that’s sort of another way folks can get out as well.

QUESTION: Do you know how many U.S. diplomats still remain in – or are U.S. citizens?

MS. HARF: It’s the emergency personnel. We don’t give out official numbers on that, but we do have a contingency there that is focused on securing our facilities, on providing emergency services to U.S. citizens, and of course reporting back here on the situation on the ground there.

QUESTION: On this, I – in the travel, or in the announcement of the two C-130s and the --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- chartered aircraft, you said that they had taken chief of mission personnel.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Is there some reason you didn’t use the word Embassy personnel?

MS. HARF: A number of folks fall under chief of mission, right, whether it’s USAID or Department of Defense or other – I mean a whole host of folks fall under chief of mission authority in a country, not just someone at the Embassy.

QUESTION: Okay. Got it.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: So it’s U.S. Government officials generally?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: And just on that, do you have an indication of – you said according to need.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Have you any estimation of how many more people are wanting to get out?

MS. HARF: We – I don’t – we don’t have good estimates of that. I would say that we evacuated approximately 150 private U.S. citizens as part of these evacuations. That is one number I’m able to give out. I attempt to whenever I can. I don’t have a good sense for how much else there is.

QUESTION: So the evacuation was actually higher than that, then, because you --

MS. HARF: Yeah. That was just private U.S. citizens.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: There were three planes – U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, other folks as well.

QUESTION: Are you able to say which are the countries the foreign diplomats represented?

MS. HARF: I don’t actually know. I’m happy to check. I know a number of other countries are also evacuating their folks.

QUESTION: So DOD used the number 120, so --

MS. HARF: For the planes?

QUESTION: Yeah. For – yeah, for --

MS. HARF: For the C-130s?

QUESTION: Well, I wasn’t sure if they were --

MS. HARF: Let me double-check. That sounds accurate. I just need to double-check.

QUESTION: They were only talking about two planes, so I was thinking it was just 120.

MS. HARF: Right, there are two planes.

QUESTION: So maybe there was another --

MS. HARF: Right, there are three planes. There’s the two Defense Department C-130s --

QUESTION: Plus a private charter.

MS. HARF: -- and then the private charter that we chartered ourselves.

QUESTION: So what’s the 150?

MS. HARF: Those are the number of private U.S. citizens in a combination of all three planes --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: -- that we evacuated.

QUESTION: These private U.S. citizens --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- have you any idea what do they do? Are they mainly business people? Are they scholars?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I don’t have a breakdown for that.

QUESTION: Are they NGOs?

MS. HARF: Some are NGOs. Some have dual citizenship. I just don’t know.

Yes, Michel.

QUESTION: Is Washington playing any role in the reconciliation between President Kiir and his vice president?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re certainly encouraging it. I mentioned today that Ambassador Page met with President Kiir. We’re certainly encouraging all folks to not move forward with violence, to take a step back here, and to work on addressing their issues they have peacefully. So we’re certainly going to keep making that point very clear.

QUESTION: And there is a group of African foreign ministers going to Juba soon. Do you expect anything from them?

MS. HARF: I’ll check on that. I wasn’t aware of that trip, but I’m happy to check.

Anything else on South Sudan? Yes?

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. HARF: When I say “anything else on South Sudan,” you keep your hand raised. It’s trickery.

QUESTION: Turkey?

MS. HARF: Turkey, yes.

QUESTION: Ready? (Laughter.) Okay.

MS. HARF: That’s a good way to get me to call on you. Yes, Turkey.

QUESTION: Trying.

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: First of all, for the last two days there have been arrests are going on --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- some of them very closely, key officials, and ministers. What do you think is happening?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve seen the media reports of the arrests – I think it happened on the 17th – of individuals in Turkey on alleged corruption charges. I’d refer you to the Turkish Government, I think, for more information. We’re obviously following the issue closely. We don’t have a specific comment on these cases specifically. Obviously, we would reiterate that we expect Turkey to meet the highest standards for transparency, timeliness, and fairness in its judicial system. And if we have any more to share, I’m happy to.

QUESTION: So since these arrests started – over dozens, maybe 50 people – today the prime minister fired about 50 or 60 police officers – I believe chiefs, some of them. Do you think – or what – do you have any reaction to that?

MS. HARF: Well, we – again, we’ve seen these reports as well. We’re following it closely. I don’t have a specific comment on these cases. We’re trying to get more information. If we do going forward, I’m happy to share of it.

QUESTION: The part of the case is focusing on the Halk Bank. It is a public bank which is dealing with the gold trades, with Iran and all those that. Do you still have any concerns regarding gold trade with the Turk and Iranian --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check on the latest on that issue. I just don’t know what our assessment is of that at the moment.

QUESTION: Can I go to Ecuador?

MS. HARF: Yes. Yes, you can.

QUESTION: Earlier this week, the Ecuadorian authorities informed USAID that they were freezing cooperation with the agency.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Could you confirm that and give us your reaction to the news, please?

MS. HARF: Yes. The Government of Ecuador did recently inform USAID that it could not execute any new assistance activities or extend existing activities pending negotiation of a new agreement governing bilateral assistance. Over the past two years, efforts have been made to renegotiate the bilateral agreement and country assistance agreement. Those have, unfortunately, been unsuccessful. As a result, USAID began incurring significant costs for four recently launched projects which have been unable to proceed. Their cancellation was for us the only fiscally prudent option. I don’t have anything to detail about where the process goes from here, but clearly, it’s an issue we’re concerned about.

QUESTION: What were the projects? What were the four projects?

MS. HARF: They were focused on environmental protection and strengthening of civil society.

QUESTION: And do you have any – how long as USAID been working in Ecuador? And do you have any figure, either annually or globally, for how much money has been invested in this way in the Ecuadorian society?

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know how long they’ve been in Ecuador. I’m happy to check on that. I just don’t have that in front of me.

QUESTION: And how does it affect --

MS. HARF: I think for decades, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Okay. And how does it affect the USAID workers who are there? Are you having to withdraw them all now?

MS. HARF: Let me check on that.

QUESTION: And how many?

MS. HARF: I’m not sure, logistically, what that looks like on the ground.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yeah, Catherine.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about the Dominican Republic --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- and Haiti? There was a recent ruling in the Dominican Republic which would strip citizens of Haitian descent of their DR citizenship. Just recently there were immigration talks going on that were being moderated by Venezuela, and this caused the breaking of them. Do you have a reaction to that ruling? And then also, Venezuela announced that these talks may resume.

MS. HARF: Okay, yeah. We’ve certainly seen the plan, I think that was in response to the ruling. We’ve conveyed our deep concern to the Government of the Dominican Republic regarding the ruling’s impact on the citizenship status of persons in the Dominican Republic, the majority of which, as you mentioned, are of Haitian descent. We’ve urged the government to continue close consultation with international partners and civil society to identify and expeditiously address in a humane way concerns regarding the plan’s scope and reach to affected persons. So we’ll continue the dialogue, but we have expressed our concerns over it.

QUESTION: Marie?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did the United States Government involved with Mr. Rodman’s visit to North Korea?

MS. HARF: I thought we were going to go a whole briefing without talking about Dennis Rodman, but no. (Laughter.) He – did we talk to him? We haven’t – he hasn’t contacted us about his trip. He has not.

QUESTION: She asked if the United States Government was involved in his trip.

MS. HARF: Involved? No, no.

QUESTION: Yeah, because he have kind of some message – government message bring to the --

MS. HARF: No, he is not there representing the United States Government.

QUESTION: So when he come back he bring to Mr. Kenneth Bae – bring back before the Christmastime?

MS. HARF: I mean, we’ve certainly been very clear that the North Korean regime needs to release Kenneth Bae as soon as possible and allow him to return home.

QUESTION: Is the --

MS. HARF: Our position on that has not changed. It’s a very high priority for us.

QUESTION: I also have another question. Deputy Secretary Burns meeting with the South Korean --

MS. HARF: Yesterday, yes.

QUESTION: -- first vice foreign minister.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any detail on the meeting?

MS. HARF: I do. I don’t have it in here. Let me have someone email it to you after the briefing. I know they met and talked about a wide range of issues.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Very quickly on the designation of Fatah al-Islam as a terrorist organization --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- was there anything in particular that they have done at this particular time?

MS. HARF: Well, we released a Media Note outlining the designation. I don’t have any further details on it than that.

Yeah, in the back. Michel.

QUESTION: Egypt ousted President Morsy to stand trial for espionage. Do you have anything on this?

MS. HARF: Let me see. Our position on this has not changed in any way. We remain concerned about politically motivated arrests and detentions in Egypt. We are continuing to look to the government to ensure that Egyptians are afforded due process with fair and transparent trials. That hasn’t changed in any way.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Just a clarification.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: You said about the phone call that the U.S. diplomats should be allowed to do their duties, so --

MS. HARF: I said broadly speaking. I’m not – those are not the words Secretary Kerry used.

QUESTION: Oh. Yes, but --

MS. HARF: I’m using those words.

QUESTION: Broadly speaking.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: But where does it come from? Do they feel that they are not being allowed to do their duties?

MS. HARF: Well, I’ve – we’ve all seen reports out there about potential – what might happen. We’ve seen – we talked about the security at the Embassy. There have been other reports out there about ID cards or other issues like that. Broadly speaking, we believe that the Indian Government should continue to allow our diplomats on the ground, who are working very hard to advance the bilateral relationship, to do their jobs. And I think I’d probably leave it at that.

QUESTION: Marie?

MS. HARF: Jo.

QUESTION: Can I ask you about a report that was in The Washington Post last night about a Russian national who was captured some time ago, I believe, and is being held near Bagram. He was captured fighting for the Taliban, excuse me --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and is now being held near Bagram. Apparently, the Administration’s thinking that – of possibly putting him on trial before a military commission in the United States. Do you have anything on that?

MS. HARF: I don’t. I’d probably point you to other folks including DOD on this, but I don’t have any additional information.

QUESTION: Would you not be obligated under things like the Vienna Convention to inform Russia if you’re holding one of their nationals?

MS. HARF: Well, in general, the Defense Department and the State Department, in consultation with other relevant agencies, review third country national detainees to determine appropriate dispositions. That review, of course, continues. We talk about Afghanistan a lot when we talk about this. I don’t have any additional information on that, but I’m happy to check with our team.

QUESTION: You don’t have anything specific on this specific case?

MS. HARF: I don’t.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Anything else?

Deb, one last one.

QUESTION: On Bolivia?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Do you have anything more on how he left the country and whether the United States was involved in this?

MS. HARF: Yeah, I have a little more on this. I got a little more clarity --

QUESTION: And also, have you talked to him by chance?

MS. HARF: I haven’t. I’m not aware if anyone here has. I’m happy to check. We were not involved in his departure from Bolivia. Again, I would refer you to him for further details. He apparently – and again, I got a little more information on this – went through Peru, and consular officers in Peru provided consular assistance to him in making transportation arrangements to return to the U.S. And he --

QUESTION: Did they give him a passport? Did he have his passport?

MS. HARF: I do not – I believe he did, but let me double-check on that. I don’t know. What I have here is that we assisted him in making transportation arrangements.

QUESTION: So is he not a fugitive?

MS. HARF: From who? From the Bolivians?

QUESTION: Well, he was in – yeah. He was under house arrest for --

MS. HARF: Again, we’re in frequent – we’ve been in frequent contact with Bolivian officials about this. I don't have any update on that for you or classification of what his status is. I just can confirm he’s back in the U.S.

QUESTION: Have they made an extradition request?

MS. HARF: To – yesterday, to my knowledge, the answer was no. I have no reason to believe that’s changed, but I can double-check.

QUESTION: And I had one more on Colombia, or actually – sorry – for South America day.

MS. HARF: I know.

QUESTION: Apparently, the Colombian press is reporting that the anti-coca spraying in Colombia has been halted after a couple of pilots were shot down by FARC rebels. Is that something --

MS. HARF: That the Colombian Government does?

QUESTION: I believe so, yes.

MS. HARF: I’ll check.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that. I can check.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes. Thank you, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 3:15 p.m.)

DPB # 207

[This is a mobile copy of Daily Press Briefing - December 18, 2013]