Daily Press Briefing - July 3, 2013
Index for Today's Briefing:
- Fast-Moving Situation / President Morsi's Speech / Engagement / Closely Monitoring Situation / Ambassador Patterson's Efforts / Embassy Status / NGOs / U.S. Assistance / Next Steps / Secretary Kerry's Efforts / Egyptian Military / Democratic Process
- In Touch with Broad Range of Countries / International Diplomatic Protocols
- Strategic Relationship / Energy Issues
- U.S. Assistance
- Secretary Kerry's Visit
- NORTH KOREA
- Range of Conversations
- Facebook / OIG Report / State Department Spending
- MIDDLE EAST PEACE
- Secretary Kerry's Meetings in the Region
- Finalizing Regional Constitution and Presidential Elections
The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.
1:20 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. All right. I have nothing at the top. Happy Fourth of July Eve. Hopefully you all have fun plans. And we won’t make it a marathon today, I promise.
QUESTION: Good. (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: Matt.
QUESTION: Yeah. I got a couple things on Egypt, just to begin with.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
And in anticipation of you saying it’s a very fluid situation and we don’t really know what’s going on, the second part of the question would be: What is your reaction, the Administration’s reaction, to President Morsy’s speech last night and your reaction, in turn, to the military’s response to that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, first let me say – and I hate to disappoint, Matt, as always, but we do, of course, remain very concerned about what we’re seeing on the ground. And we do realize, of course, that this is an extremely tense and fast-moving situation in Egypt. We are monitoring it very closely, as you all know and as we’ve talked about in here, for the past several days and continue to believe that, of course, the Egyptian people deserve a peaceful, political solution to the current crisis.
We did, of course, watch this – or monitor the speech or have seen reports on the speech from last evening and felt there was an absence of significant, specific steps laid out in Mr. – President Morsy’s speech. We had said that he must do more to be truly responsive and representative to the justified concerns expressed by the Egyptian people, and unfortunately, that was not a part of what he talked about in his speech.
And a larger point here is, of course, that regardless of the contents of his speech, actions speak louder than words and any words that could be in a speech. And as the President as conveyed, as the Secretary has conveyed, and others have conveyed to their counterparts, it’s important for President Morsy to listen to the Egyptian people and to take steps to engage with all sides.
QUESTION: Okay. And your – then after the President finished speaking, the military had quite a interesting response. What’s your reaction to the military’s response?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say broadly here that we believe all sides need to take steps to talk with each other, to engage with each other, to lower the level of violence, and call for an end to the violence, and we’re hopeful that that is something that can happen.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, it sounds as though you were not pleased, to say the least, with what the President had to say. And your refusal to say anything, at least up to this point, in response to the military statement, which was basically – I believe basically just we’re going – not going to let fools or idiots ruin Egypt, that you’re unhappy with the President but you’re not so unhappy with the military.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t characterize it in that way, Matt. We think that all sides need to engage with each other and need to listen to the voices of the Egyptian people and what they are calling for and peacefully protesting about. And that’s a message we’ve conveyed at all levels, to all sides.
QUESTION: Well, which side, the President’s side or the military’s side, do you think is listening to the concerns of the Egyptian people? And just as – I want to make sure I understand this. You felt that Morsy’s speech, President Morsy’s speech, was not responsive to either the Egyptian people’s concerns or to President Obama’s encouragement of him to take specific steps.
MS. PSAKI: That’s correct.
QUESTION: That is correct? Okay. So which side now – which side do you think is more – is being more responsive to the Egyptian people’s concerns and grievances, the President and the government or the military?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I appreciate the opportunity. I’m not going to rank the sides. We don’t take sides, as you know. But again, the President is the one who gave the speech, and so he had an opportunity to lay out some specific steps and he did not take the opportunity to do that.
QUESTION: Right. But you don’t have anything negative to say about the military response, which --
MS. PSAKI: Again, Matt, I think we’ve been very clear here --
QUESTION: -- says volumes.
MS. PSAKI: -- that we would like all sides to engage with each other. We think this – that a peaceful, political resolution of this is the preferred option and what’s best for the Egyptian people.
QUESTION: They just placed Morsy under house arrest. I don’t know if you’re aware.
MS. PSAKI: Well --
QUESTION: The military just placed President Morsy under house arrest. He’s not allowed to make calls, he’s not allowed to receive guests or whatever or meet with anyone. Do you have any comment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I know – as I mentioned at the beginning, this is a very fluid situation. We don’t have any independent confirmation of a variety of reports, including that one, so I don’t have any comment specifically on it.
QUESTION: So do you consider this to be a military coup? I know the President warned against a military coup. Do you consider this to be a military coup?
MS. PSAKI: Again, Said, because this is a very fluid situation, we’re monitoring it closely. But I don’t have any independent confirmation of many of these reports that have been out in the last hour or so.
QUESTION: But I want to understand you correctly. And, I mean, in the diplomatic parlance, whenever the military takes the president, the democratically elected president, and places him under house arrest, is that considered a coup d’etat?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to speak to reports that we don’t have confirmation of.
QUESTION: Has the – anyone from the Administration, perhaps Secretary Kerry and others, spoken to the military to sort of ask for clarification of the situation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, not specific to this report, which we don’t have independent confirmation of, but we have been in touch with all factions of the government, the military, the opposition in Egypt, over the last several days.
QUESTION: So to understand you correctly, the – sort of the control and command that the military currently exercises in Egypt is not considered a military rule or a coup?
MS. PSAKI: Again, you’re ahead of what we know to be confirmed information, so I think we’ve done what we can on this particular question. Do we have more on Egypt?
QUESTION: Are you likely to issue a statement on this particular incident, the placing of President Morsy under house arrest?
MS. PSAKI: Said, again, we’re monitoring it closely, and as situations warrant a statement, we certainly always consider that.
QUESTION: Specifically, have U.S. officials talked with – beyond the Secretary of Defense talking with General al-Sisi in the last 24 hours?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I read out yesterday a call that the Secretary did with the Foreign Minister yesterday, and you all are, of course, aware of the call the President did with President Morsy. Beyond that, of course, officials are in close contact on the ground, but I don’t have any other specific calls to read out to you.
QUESTION: Can you spell out specifically what Ambassador Patterson has been able to do? Has she been able to carry out her duties, given the millions of people who are now on the streets of Cairo?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean, there’s a couple – let me address this a couple of ways. Obviously, as you all know and we talked about yesterday but I can confirm a little further now, we closed the Embassy yesterday. It will be closed for the coming days. So of course, that impacts any embassy’s ability to some degree.
But of course, Ambassador Patterson has been on the ground, as you know, for some time there. We do still have a number of personnel on the ground. We are, of course, continuing to review our security posture closely in light of the demonstrations and unrest. And as you know, here and anywhere else, we would take appropriate steps.
Just a couple – and I think we’ve talked about these, but just so everybody’s up to --
QUESTION: Can you just clarify? The Embassy was going to be closed tomorrow anyway?
MS. PSAKI: Correct, it was, but it was closed today.
QUESTION: And Friday?
MS. PSAKI: That’s right.
QUESTION: And Saturday? I mean --
MS. PSAKI: That’s right. It is. But it’s closed today. I know somebody asked about this yesterday. It’s closed for the coming days. Beyond that, I don’t have an update.
QUESTION: But it’s not – it was – it doesn’t have anything to do with the situation that the Embassy’s going to be closed tomorrow or Friday or Saturday.
MS. PSAKI: But it was closed today.
QUESTION: It was – it’s a holiday tomorrow.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, yes, it is.
QUESTION: And it’s – Friday and Saturday are the weekend.
MS. PSAKI: Is the weekend there, you’re right, but it is – it was closed today, and because of that, it will be closed for the coming days.
QUESTION: You don’t know if it’s going to reopen on Sunday?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on the reopening date yet.
QUESTION: But with whom has Ambassador Patterson talked or emailed in --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any readouts for you specifically in her contacts, but she has been, as have our senior officials there, been in close contact as needed in this case. And let me just quickly go through to make sure everybody knows the steps we’ve taken at the Embassy.
Prior to the start of major demonstrations, the Under Secretary for Management approved authorized departure, allowing U.S. citizen employees and their family members to temporarily depart Egypt until the situation stabilizes. As you know, we also issued a Travel Warning on June 28th to inform U.S. citizens of our authorized departure status and to warn U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Egypt to defer nonessential travel to Egypt at this time due to the continuing possibility of political and social unrest.
And as I mentioned, but given – as a precautionary measure, given the size of anticipated and ongoing protests, we closed Embassy Cairo and Consulate General Alexandria for additional days, as we just discussed.
QUESTION: Can we follow on Ambassador Patterson?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Among the anti-Morsy protestors, we’ve seen some signs and banners directly mentioning the Ambassador. I know you guys have been careful to say you’re not taking sides, but at least some of the protestors seem to perceive that the Ambassador is on the President’s side, and – what do you make of that? And, I mean, does that – them directly criticizing the Ambassador – complicate the Administration’s efforts to sort of be impartial and help them come to a peaceful resolution?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I spoke to this yesterday, and Patrick also spoke to this in the days before that. So let me just reiterate the points that we’ve made, which is that in the Ambassador’s complete comments, which I believe is what you’re referring to or what some of the opposition folks are referring to, she made clear that we fully support Egypt’s democratic transition and that we want the Egyptian people to fulfill their vision for their country.
We continue to support the right of all people to peacefully assemble and express themselves. And we have been clear in not taking sides in this case and certainly supporting the efforts of the opposition, of others, to peacefully protest. That’s a position the Ambassador shares, the President shares, the Secretary shares, and we’ve been conveying that and communicating that as clearly as possible.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. regret that it has not been able to work out, up until now, some sort of productive relationship with the Morsy government when it comes to the presence of NGOs? Because the larger question about why these protests are taking part is that the people who staged the first revolution didn’t have enough outside support and political society-building skills that the U.S. NGOs in particular had been able to provide. Do you regret that that sort of training hasn’t been able to be carried out so that you wouldn’t have this political crisis today?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a couple of things raveled in there, and I don’t want to attribute the cause or the motivation for individuals who are peacefully protesting in Egypt and why they did or what caused them to. We’ve been very clear over the past several months and before that about our desire to have NGOs present and NGOs have access in Egypt. And we were very strong in our response to the court case just a couple of weeks ago and the findings that happened there.
So I don’t want to tie them all together as you did, but we have long believed that NGOs have a appropriate and a productive place and role to play in Egypt and have consistently felt that. But in terms of this specific – the specific events of the last couple of days, I don’t want to attribute that to any particular finding or any particular group not having access.
QUESTION: Are you going to take any steps to freeze military or economic aid to Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s general – we talked about this a little bit yesterday, but let me just repeat so everybody has the accurate information. There’s general legislation applicable to any country to which we provide assistance as a part of the appropriations bill that takes a close look at this. With respect to the ongoing situation in Egypt, it’s premature to suggest that we have taken steps, we’re thinking about taking steps. I’m not going to get ahead of, of course, events on the ground, but clearly assessments would be made based on the facts on the ground and choices made by all parties, if needed.
QUESTION: In preparation for this briefing, you probably pulled the relevant part of the legislation. Can you say what that says?
MS. PSAKI: I believe I provided that to a number of you yesterday after the briefing. I don’t have it in front of me, but if anyone did not receive it, I’m happy to provide that again to all of you.
QUESTION: Jen, can you --
QUESTION: Jen, yesterday President Morsy stressed very emphatically several dozen times through his speech that he was the legitimate leader of Egypt, he was democratically elected. What is the U.S. position on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that he was democratically elected. We are not taking sides in this case, as you know because we’ve talked about it quite a bit. And we have been very clear – the President has been, the Secretary has been; I think I was clear in my comments as well today – that there’s more that he needs to do. Democracy is not just about being elected through the ballot box. It’s also about allowing the voices of the people in your country to be heard, taking steps to work with all sides. And those are steps that we have not yet seen.
QUESTION: So does he have the right to stand behind that legitimacy if those steps are not taken?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think we’ve called for those steps. We are hopeful he’ll take those steps. And he was the democratically elected president, but we’ve clearly called for him to do more.
QUESTION: Sorry, is there a reason that you’re using the past tense? He “was” the democratically elected president?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he was elected. He was not – he’s not going – he was elected a year ago.
QUESTION: As far as you’re concerned, he still is --
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: -- the democratically elected president, yes?
QUESTION: But so if the steps are not met, is – does the military have the legitimacy to remove him?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we’re not taking sides in this. This is for the Egyptian people and all sides to work through together, and we’re hopeful that they can come to a political resolution.
QUESTION: At the same --
QUESTION: Just let me answer a couple of things.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: You say that you’re – you’ve said over and over and over again that you’re not taking sides. Yet, you believe that at least some of the grievances that the protesters have are legitimate and should be addressed, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: Okay. You also believe – or you also told President Morsy – not you personally, but this government has told, from the President and others, that he needs to take steps to address those legitimate grievances.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And in his speech last night, you said that there was an absence of any significant specific steps and that it was unfortunate that that was the case. So you’re disappointed in that?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: You have not taken or condemned the military’s ultimatum to the President, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: So how are you able to say that you’re not taking sides?
MS. PSAKI: Well, President --
QUESTION: It seems pretty clear that you are on the side of the military and the protesters here, and not on the side of the President.
MS. PSAKI: It’s never been, Matt – I know we talked about this yesterday – about any one individual. This is a case where all sides need to work together and work through the challenges, the issues they have with each other. It’s not our job to, or our role, or the proper role of the United States, to determine the next steps, and we’re not going to do that.
QUESTION: Jen, there are many --
QUESTION: Millions of --
MS. PSAKI: Said, one more. Let’s – I’ll come to you right after, okay?
QUESTION: Millions of Egyptians had demonstrated, like, years ago – I mean two years ago, when they wanted to – the previous regime to be toppled.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Right now, we’re seeing the same thing; the same scene is happening. Would you think that there are some similarities between what Morsy’s doing right now and the previous President Mubarak was doing and what the Syrian President is doing, disregarding what the people want?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to compare all different sides in different countries.
QUESTION: Is it the same thing?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve consistently supported the rights of the Egyptian people to peacefully protest. We did two years ago. We certainly do now. We know that democracy takes time and the processes take time, and we are – we have confidence in the Egyptian people in seeing that through. But beyond that, I’m not going to weigh in and compare the different sides. I’ll leave that to all of you. And I’ll read your piece.
QUESTION: The situation looks like --
QUESTION: Jen, on – you’re repeatedly --
QUESTION: Sorry. The situation looks like that there might be civil war. So are you in touch with anybody that you can stop if there’s a civil war? And also, what do you think the UN is doing, or any involvement?
MS. PSAKI: You’d have to talk to the UN about that. And we, again, have been in touch with all sides here, but I think you’re a little bit ahead of where the process is.
Go ahead, Jill.
QUESTION: Jen, I’m sorry, I had missed the very top, but –
MS. PSAKI: No, no.
QUESTION: Could you tell us what Secretary Kerry specifically is doing, unless you’ve already answered that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I did a little bit. I don’t have any real new updates for you. He’s, of course, monitoring this very closely. He was in touch with the Foreign Minister yesterday, as I mentioned. You all know about, of course, the President’s call. And he receives regular updates from his team here as well.
QUESTION: And then in terms of just the Administration and how they’re handling this, how frequently are they meeting? What level are these meetings taking place at?
MS. PSAKI: It’s clear from the fact that the President and the Secretary made calls that individuals at the highest levels are, of course, engaged and involved in monitoring this closely. Of course, there are – there’s ongoing coordination and calls and meetings between different factions of the government, as is appropriate, but I’m not going to get into the specifics or the numbers of those.
QUESTION: There are factions of the government?
MS. PSAKI: Different components of the government.
QUESTION: So, okay. Well, okay, so you don’t want to say who was over at the White House for the SVTC this morning?
MS. PSAKI: I, typically --
QUESTION: Or did you --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to start confirming --
QUESTION: Did you get into --
MS. PSAKI: -- agendas or attendees.
QUESTION: Did you ever answer who represented the State Department at yesterday’s DC meeting?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, I rely on your excellent reporting and sourcing to find out attendees at meetings.
QUESTION: On the – were – I mean, the concerns – I mean, what are the concerns of the United States regarding what’s happening, and if you can elaborate on that?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, we’re clearly concerned about the violence on the ground. We’re concerned about the fact that this is an extremely tense and fast-moving situation. And we’re concerned specifically about the violence against women and the incidents we’ve seen of that. That’s something you saw in the readout of the President’s call he expressed directly.
We also are concerned about the fact that the – all sides, including President Morsy, haven’t taken steps to engage and work with each other, and we feel that’s a really important step in this process.
QUESTION: One more quickly. A number of ministers have resigned already and now, as they said, and they said that President is under house arrest. Do you think now this is the end of President Morsy’s administration, and are you calling on him to – and when you said take more steps means are you calling on him to now let the people decide what they want?
MS. PSAKI: No, we are calling on him to take more steps.
QUESTION: Jen, two years ago – you said you don’t want to compare, but two years ago there were emphatic and repeated warning to – issued from this podium and many other podiums in this town to the Egyptian military not to intervene, not to take over – take power in Egypt. But it seems to be lacking this time around. Why is that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t want to compare now to two years ago. Obviously, we’re very concerned about the situation on the ground. And we were concerned, of course, naturally, two years ago, but we’re taking this day by day. We’re monitoring it closely. We are very focused at a high level and we’ll respond accordingly as needed.
QUESTION: So you remain – you remain principally opposed to the military takeover of power in Egypt, do you?
MS. PSAKI: I think I’ve been very clear to the point where you’re probably tired of me saying that we haven’t taken sides and don’t plan to take sides here.
QUESTION: But would the apparent lack of condemnation of the military’s statements today be considered the result of having watched SCAF run Egypt for about 18 months and not being overly displeased with how it ran the government, absent on-the-ground criticism of its policies at the time?
MS. PSAKI: I would not attribute that to be our analysis. This is a case where, again, it’s very fluid and we’re watching it every single day, monitoring it closely at the highest levels. But I would not – that may be your analysis, but that is not our analysis.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask – yesterday we had quite a long conversation with Matt about specific steps that --
QUESTION: Conversation? (Laughter.)
MS. PSAKI: Don’t make it sound so lovely. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Dispute then – about the steps that could be taken by President Morsy. You’ve repeated that again, that he could do more.
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: And he needs to take more steps.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Can you tell us, beyond what you said about the violence and the violence against women, which obviously is very important, but what specific steps do you feel that President Morsy could take to resolve this crisis?
MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to prescribe specific – oh, that was a mouthful. We’re not going to prescribe specific steps from the podium or from here. Obviously, there are private conversations that go on at several levels. But again, it’s not the role of the U.S. to determine the prescription from here. We have been clear – and I know I’ve said these already, but let me just repeat again – that there are broad, immediate steps that can be taken – to call for an end to the violence, I know obviously I mentioned specifically against women and the incidents of that, and also to engage with all parties. And those are the broad steps that we are calling on him and others to take.
QUESTION: The President – President Morsy called for the formation of unity government. Do you think this could be a good solution for this situation right now, and should the opposition answer that call? That’s the first question.
The second question, I know you don’t want to speculate, but what sort of steps would amount to a military coup from your point of view?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me take the first one first, as is natural in the order. This is something that President Morsy has called for in the past. In the past – it doesn’t take me stating this; you’ve seen from officials on the ground in the opposition and others – that that was not a satisfactory step. It is not for us to judge that, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a new step. And last night was an opportunity for him to propose steps or new steps, which he, as I mentioned near the beginning, did not.
And in terms of – I’m not going to get ahead. You are right; I’m not going to speculate, I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in the process or where things are on the ground.
QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speculate about what’s going to happen in Egypt. I’m assuming the Administration has certain definition for a military coup that probably can be applicable everywhere in the world. What’s your definition? What’s the Administration definition of a military coup?
MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to get you that, but I wouldn’t ascribe specific words. Each scenario is different, and if you need our specific formal government definition, we’ll get that around to everybody.
QUESTION: If the military forced Morsy to step down, would that amount to a military coup?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to speculate on events that have not yet happened.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Jen, so --
QUESTION: Have you talked with officials in Israel in regard to the situation along the border? Is there any concern about the integrity of the Israeli-Egyptian border?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are in regular contact. I’m not – as you know. I’m not aware of recent calls regarding that specifically, but I’m happy to check for you and see if there’s anything to report back.
QUESTION: So Jen, you’re obviously saying that the unity government idea is not sufficient. Is the U.S. making that point to President Morsy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, it’s not for us to make. But this is the same proposal that’s been proposed in the past and that others in Egypt have not supported or not felt was sufficient enough. So --
QUESTION: Is that U.S. message getting directly – or are you giving that message to President Morsy or his --
MS. PSAKI: It’s not – I am repeating what others --
QUESTION: I mean, you’re making the point here.
MS. PSAKI: -- have stated on the ground in the past when this has been proposed. So it seems a challenging path to lead to this proposal that’s been proposed in the past and rejected to being a proposal that’s accepted on the ground, but I leave that – we leave that for those on the ground to determine and speak to, as I’m sure they will.
QUESTION: Shouldn’t Morsy be given a second chance in your opinion, on the --
MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry. Can you say that one more time?
QUESTION: Shouldn’t President Morsy be given a second chance to put his house in order?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he has an opportunity now to take steps that we’ve outlined. And he didn’t do that in his speech last night, but we’ll see.
QUESTION: When was your last contact with the --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.
QUESTION: When was your last contact with the Egyptian Government?
MS. PSAKI: We’re – officials up and down the ranks here and in Egypt are in touch. So I don’t have a specific dateline of when the last contact, but just in regular contact in – over the course of the past couple of days.
QUESTION: But the last phone call of the Secretary of State – of Secretary Kerry, when was that, the last phone call?
MS. PSAKI: He spoke with the Foreign Minister yesterday.
QUESTION: That was – okay.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Not on Monday?
MS. PSAKI: I believe it was yesterday.
QUESTION: And do you know if the Foreign Minister resigned, or is he still in his position?
MS. PSAKI: Not that I have any independent confirmation of. I know there’s a variety of conflicting reports out there.
QUESTION: And one more question on --
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Did you mean to say that Ambassador Patterson cannot confirm if Morsy is under house arrest?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t have any – I didn’t have any independent confirmation of that. I know that it’s been stated, it’s been refuted in the press, so it’s not something for us to confirm or not from here.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Do you have one more on Egypt?
QUESTION: Egypt, please.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.
QUESTION: You mentioned more than one time that he can – President Morsy can do more.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And definitely he’s thinking that he’s doing enough. From your perspective, what’s missing? I mean, I know that you said you don’t want to give a prescription, you don’t want – it’s a fluid situation. But what is he can do more?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I’ve said this a couple of times, but what he can do is clearly call for an end to the violence, specifically violence against women, and we’ve seen several incidents of that. And you know there have been reports of deaths in Egypt as well. And he can take steps to engage with the opposition and the military and work through this in a political fashion.
QUESTION: Yes, another question related to Egypt again.
MS. PSAKI: I’ll go to you right now.
QUESTION: You mentioned in answer to – answering a question by one of my colleagues about the concerns over there. Definitely, there are political concern, which is the concern of Egyptian people, and their security concern, which is – it’s an issue for the Egyptians and others. Do you think which is – the stability is related to political stability or security issue?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to rank one better than the other. Of course, we’re focused on stability, we’re focused on security. Those are both issues. We’re focused on freedom of speech and human rights. And all of these issues are issues that we’re focused on when it pertains to Egypt, but I’m not going to rank one over the other.
QUESTION: And you mentioned maybe five or six time, and yesterday another five or six time you are not taking sides.
MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And when you’re answering this question, taking sides usually is talking about either President Morsy or SCAF.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: And – but the main issue is the Egyptian people.
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: I mean, Egyptian people are the ground, and majority of them, they are considering that it’s who – the American Government is supporting or Morsy or SCAF. So what’s your answer? I mean, I cannot say to the Egyptian people I’m not taking sides and they are having demands.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I said this yesterday, and that we’re on the side of the Egyptian people. We want their voices to be heard. We want all sides to engage with each other and work through a political solution, but it’s not the place of the U.S., the United States, to take a role or take a side between those particular sides.
QUESTION: Another point. Another point.
QUESTION: Did the U.S. have any role in the --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, sorry. One more and then, I’m sorry, I’ll go to you.
QUESTION: One of the languages or the lingos you used in this building and other parts of this city, it’s “green light,” or, let’s say, “redline.”
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: What is green line to say okay, that what was done is enough by Morsy as a green light, or what is the redline that we say okay, U.S. has to do something or talk about it publicly and in details?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to set redlines. I’ve been in this town long enough to know not to do that. But in terms of steps that can be taken --
QUESTION: Except in Syria.
MS. PSAKI: In terms of steps that can be taken, I’ve outlined those. Those are steps that can be taken by President Morsy. All sides can decide to engage with one another, to call for an end to the violence, and I would say those are the first green light steps. I don’t know if I’m following the same analogy as you, but I’m trying. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Did the --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, I was – he has been very patient. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Jen, (inaudible) follow up on his question, because you keep talking about the Egyptian people. I’m sorry, but you keep talking about the Egyptian people.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you think that the elected President, Morsy, has any popular support in Egypt, and does he represent part of the Egyptian people? Because it seems there’s, like, division within society. So when you keep – so when you say, repeating, “Egyptian people,” what about that part of the Egyptian people that supports President Morsy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I’m not going to make an evaluation on their behalf. That’s why we’ve been so supportive of their ability to speak freely and protest freely and express their views on a range of these issues. We know – and I said this before, but it’s worth restating in this case – that democracy takes time. And there’s a transition that Egypt is going through. Obviously, they participated in a democratic process, and right now we’re just hopeful their voices can be heard through all of the sides.
QUESTION: But the contrast, though – I mean, you believe that some of the Egyptian – that some of the people, the opposition, have legitimate grievances, and you think that those should be addressed. And you do not believe that Morsy and his supporters who say – who have offered these kind of half-measures or unsatisfactory measures, you don’t support them. You don’t think that they’re taking the right steps. So this idea that --
MS. PSAKI: I think that’s a little more black-and-white, Matt, than I have been here, but --
QUESTION: Well, it may be, but that’s the case, and your words – your comments and your response to the two speeches from – or the two statements from last night are pretty clear that the United States stands with the protesters who are opposing Morsy and wanting their grievances to be addressed, because you said over and over again that you believe that at least some of those grievances are legitimate. And at the same time, you said that the President’s response, his address to the nation, wasn’t satisfactory.
MS. PSAKI: I have said those things --
MS. PSAKI: -- but I was not taking the side --
QUESTION: Well, okay, so do you know what a syllogism is?
MS. PSAKI: -- of one side over the other. You can still ask one side to take more steps, and you can ask – encourage one side to be able to be heard. That doesn’t mean that you are taking one side over the other.
QUESTION: Question: Did the U.S. have any role in encouraging Western European countries to block the flight of the Bolivian President yesterday? Was there any communication between the U.S. and those countries in the affair?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know because we’ve talked about it quite a bit in here, the U.S. has been in touch – the United States, I should say, officials – have been in touch with a broad range of countries over the course of the last 10 days. And we haven’t – I haven’t listed those countries; I’m certainly not going to do that today.
Our position on Mr. Snowden has also been crystal clear in terms of what we want to happen, and that message has been communicated both publicly and privately in a range of these conversations we’ve had with countries. And let me just repeat: He’s been accused of leaking classified information. He’s been charged with three felony accounts and should be returned to the United States. I don’t know that any country doesn’t think that that is what the United States would like to happen.
The public – many – the public – but decisions made over the course of the last week or so, whether they’re public comments about whether or not they’ll accept asylum – his asylum request, or whether it’s closing airspace, are decisions made by individual countries. And I would point you to them to describe why they made decisions if they made decisions, and I know there have already been a range of public comments out there.
QUESTION: There’s been a great deal of criticism though from Latin American leaders about the decision, not least because Snowden doesn’t appear to have been on board. You don’t sound like you’re denying that there were conversations about this. I mean, they – a number of Latin American leaders today have specifically criticized the U.S. for intervening in a diplomatic flight. Are you – am I right in understanding you’re not denying there were conversations about that?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into diplomatic conversations that happened over the past 10 days and which countries they were with, but I would point you to the countries that you’re referring to and ask you to ask them about decisions that were made.
QUESTION: But Jen, were you in communication with those countries or alerted to the fact that they would be either – well, not allowing a certain plane to land – the President’s plane?
MS. PSAKI: We have been in contact with a range of countries across the world who had any chance of having Mr. Snowden land or even transit through their countries, but I’m not going to outline when those were or what those countries have been.
QUESTION: Jen --
QUESTION: Why isn’t it unseemly for any country to essentially deny a head of state safe passage through its airspace? Why – regardless of whether Snowden was on that plane, why isn’t that in and of itself patently offensive?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Roz, I would point you to those specific countries to answer that question.
QUESTION: But if the – if a similar situation were to happen involving Air Force One, it would be an international incident.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not getting into a hypothetical. That’s not something that is currently happening that we’re currently discussing.
QUESTION: Well, the approach to this question may be better this way – I still don’t think you’re going to answer it, but I think it’s going to put you on the spot more – (laughter) – than that question was because it’s not a hypothetical: Does the United States or would the United States condone breaches in protocols of diplomatic protocols of the Vienna conventions?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, this wasn’t a case where this was our airspace or this was --
QUESTION: I understand that. But when the British Embassy is attacked someplace, you come out and say this is horrible, this is bad. When any number of infringements of diplomatic immunities and other protocols specified in the Vienna Conventions, when those happen you have – this government has in the past condemned them. So would the United States --
MS. PSAKI: But Matt, some of these cases, the countries have said they didn’t shut down the airspace. So --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, I’m not even getting into – I’m not even – it’s not clear to me that shutting down an airspace or not allowing transit is a violation of the Vienna Convention. But I’m just wondering – I don’t know that. But I just want to know, in a general sense, would the United States condone breaches of the diplomatic – of international diplomatic protocols?
MS. PSAKI: Well, why don’t you – no, but why don’t you delve into where you’re getting at here, Matt? What are you trying to get at?
QUESTION: I’m trying to get an answer to Roz’s question.
MS. PSAKI: Okay, the hypothetical about Air Force One being denied --
QUESTION: So the answer – the answer – but this – no, no, no, no. Let me – because this is not a hypothetical. If you are – if you can stand up and say that you are willing – the government is willing to say that it would condemn any violations of diplomatic immunities or the protocols in the Vienna Conventions, then --
MS. PSAKI: Matt, I’m not going to get into a broad hypothetical with you.
QUESTION: It’s not a hypothetical. It’s not a hypothetical.
QUESTION: But this did happen. The President of Bolivia had to spend – I mean, sorry, Ecuador – had to spend --
QUESTION: No, Bolivia.
MS. PSAKI: Bolivia.
QUESTION: Bolivia – had to spend overnight in Vienna. And I’m sure it was fine, but --
MS. PSAKI: And Roz, I would point you to those specific countries. And I know that some of them have made public comments about the facts on the ground here, so I would point you to that and encourage you to look at those comments.
QUESTION: Can I – just one more on --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Can you say whether the United States or whether you are aware that the U.S. Government ever at some point had any information that Snowden might be on this plane?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of – I’m not aware of, but not something I would get into even if I did know.
QUESTION: Jen, asked last week --
QUESTION: Jen, Bolivian radio has actually taken this story somewhat further, and they’re saying – there’s reports on the radio that they’re saying that the United States has asked for the extradition of Snowden from Bolivia. What’s your comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve broadly asked for Mr. Snowden to be returned from any country where he may be, where he may land, where he may transit.
QUESTION: But has there been a specific demand made today?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of, and I wouldn’t get into specific countries either.
QUESTION: Madam, I asked last week Patrick – the beginning of last week whether there is an extradition treaty with Bolivia. And is there an extradition treaty with Bolivia, and what is that treaty? What does it cover? Criminal activity?
MS. PSAKI: Said, it’s all on the State Department website, so I would encourage you to look there in terms of which countries there are extradition treaties with.
QUESTION: But you don’t know right offhand whether --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t know, off the top of my head.
QUESTION: I just wanted to know --
QUESTION: At the airport, the Austrian authorities searched the plane of Morales. Did the U.S. ask for that?
MS. PSAKI: Again, we – I would point you to all of these individual countries to describe to you what happened and why any various decisions were made.
QUESTION: Did you consult with Austrian authorities when they let the plane touch down, when they let plane go on the ground?
MS. PSAKI: I think my last answer answered that question.
QUESTION: Jen, the father of Mr. Snowden has issued a couple of statements, most recently I think yesterday.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Has the State Department specifically been in touch with him to help facilitate some type of conversation?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that, Jill. As you know, there’s an interagency process here, which includes working with the Department of Justice, working with the White House and others, so I’m happy to check if there’s anything --
MS. PSAKI: -- we can offer you on that.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Minister from India for Power and Energy Mr. Scindia is in Washington and he was speaking yesterday at the Brookings, and what he – the topic was that Indian power or energy security. And of course, the Secretary was in India and they discussed all this and they had agreement also. My question is here: If Mr. Scindia is meeting anybody in the Department while in Washington? And of course, he was here on the invitation of Brookings only.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But I don’t understand, since the Secretary was there and they discussed all this --
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- and why still he’s in Washington on the invitation of Brookings. Is anything going on in the building with him?
MS. PSAKI: Goyal, it certainly is possible he has working-level meetings. I’m not aware of whether he does or doesn’t, but I think this just further confirms the importance of our strategic relationship with India, all the close contact.
QUESTION: And one more quickly on the same issue.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Energy is now most important for India because for a long time, as far as the U.S.-India security and nuclear agreement and all that. Is that agreement still on, or they are looking into different and alternative sources of energy for India?
MS. PSAKI: I know that energy and access to energy was a big topic of discussion when the Secretary was there, and certainly it sounds like when this other individual was in town, it has been. So I’m not aware of any new updates, but just a constant conversation about that issue.
QUESTION: What I wanted to clarify: Is the nuclear energy, civil nuclear energy is still on, or is it off the table?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know that they’ve been discussing the update on that agreement. I don’t – I’m not aware of any update to that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: On the same subject, staying in South Asia.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: A new Congressional Research Service report says that there is a decline in U.S. request for assistance for Pakistan in the next fiscal year. What does it mean for the relationship between the two countries?
MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen that report, and unfortunately I don’t have how – the list of how extensive our aid to Pakistan has been. As you know, it has been very extensive over the course of the last several years, and the Secretary, when he was in the Senate, was a very big advocate of aid to Pakistan. But I’d have to take a closer look at the report and see what the specifics are, obviously, in the budget, as the budget is rolled out by the White House in Congress and worked through, and the Secretary testified, as you know, on it. I would expect those details on funding would be the most accurate.
QUESTION: But doesn’t --
QUESTION: Does it – there were also some spin on that report saying that it does indicate the U.S. desire to lower its relationship with Pakistan. Is there any move to do that?
MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. The Secretary is looking forward to visiting Pakistan. He would like to be able to spend some time on the ground. He recognizes the important relationship we have with Pakistan. As you know, he also spoke with – has spoken with the Prime Minister when – several times, actually, since he was elected. And I think that further confirms the importance of the relationship.
QUESTION: Did you just say that a reduction in aid to Pakistan doesn’t mean that you’re reducing aid to Pakistan?
MS. PSAKI: He asked me about what it says about our relationship, and if we are trying to reduce our relationship or decline our relationship.
QUESTION: So you don’t have any travel plans you can announce on Pakistan?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t. Not today. Just that we’re eager to go.
QUESTION: Just a quick thing on Pakistan.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Has this building heard from Prime Minister Sharif’s government about an apparent drone strike that took out an extremist overnight?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have an ongoing dialogue, of course, with the Government of Pakistan. I don’t have any specific calls or readouts of that sort to tell you about.
QUESTION: On Pakistan.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Afghan army chief today said that Pakistan has a control of the Taliban and if Pakistan wants, they can close the war within a week. Do you agree with the assessment of the Afghan army chief, which he gave today? And there has been a strong reaction from the Pakistanis also on this.
MS. PSAKI: Lalit, I’d have to take a closer look at that and figure out and talk with our team about where we are. Let’s do two more.
QUESTION: One more quick on Pakistan.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, well, you’ve had a lot, Goyal, so let’s go right to the back. Right there. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Can I ask you on Korea?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you think the New York channel between the United States and North Korea remains open? I’m asking you this question because Clifford Hart his work on the New York channel, but there is no news on his successor. So who’s handling the New York channel in the U.S. Government at the State Department?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, you know we have means of talking with North Korea, but we don’t talk about those in specifics. Our focus right now is more on working with our partners in the region to put the necessary pressure on North Korea to take steps to denuclearize, and there were meetings just a couple of days ago that the Secretary was a part of that were focused on that. But we do have a full team here very focused on that issue and having a range of conversations.
QUESTION: May I ask just one more?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So would you say the New York channel is still open?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything for you on that.
QUESTION: This IG report of Facebook spending, the IG report that came out, I guess, last month of State spending some $600,000 on getting “Likes” and other kinds of optimization, is that appropriate in this time of budget austerity, sequestration?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just give you a few facts about this. This was spending over the course of two years, outreach to a broad range of international people living overseas – people living overseas, so living internationally, I guess I should say. We take the valuable feedback of the OIG seriously, and we’re committed to addressing the recommendations and the concerned outline – concerns outlined in this assessment.
I will – can tell you – give you a couple of updates on this. One is that spending on online advertising has significantly decreased. It’s now at $2,500 a month, and that still allows us to reach out and communicate with a wide range of individuals living overseas. And on June 27th, so just last week, IIP also submitted to OIG its strategy for implementing the report’s recommendations, and also provided an update on those that have already been met. And IIP will implement the majority of OIG’s recommendations on or before the start of Fiscal Year 2014.
QUESTION: So if I’m correct, if my pathetic math is correct, you were spending $315,000 a year on this and now you’re spending $36,000 a year?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s see, Matt. I think I can do the 36 – $2,500 times 12 --
MS. PSAKI: -- math a little easier.
QUESTION: Right, but it was 630 that was mentioned in the IG --
MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, we’ve --
QUESTION: -- and you said that was over two years.
MS. PSAKI: We’ve – yes, we’ve --
QUESTION: So that was – so 630 divided by 2 is 315; correct?
MS. PSAKI: I think that’s a clear indication we’ve taken the --
MS. PSAKI: -- recommendations seriously and put changes in place.
QUESTION: Okay. So that reduction in spending on this specific thing indicates that you agree with the IG and with some of the people who thought it was exorbitant?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it was a wide-ranging report with some positives in it, may I note.
QUESTION: No, I’m talking the IG --
MS. PSAKI: But yes, clearly, we have reduced the spending --
QUESTION: Clearly, you thought it was too much.
MS. PSAKI: -- and we have also taken steps to implement the other recommendations in the report, and that will be happening soon.
QUESTION: Following on the peace – Middle East peace process?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a strong endorsement that Secretary Kerry’s efforts will succeed. Could you tell us what has transpired between Sunday, when things looked so bleak and so bad, and yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: That sounds like a concrete example of making progress, doesn’t it?
QUESTION: Well, could you tell us what --
QUESTION: Well, no. I was just waiting for you to say that – (laughter) – because I thought at the beginning, when we were talking about President Morsy, that actions speak louder than words and only actions mean progress.
MS. PSAKI: I just had to – I had to get a little plug in there.
QUESTION: I got you, but they were just words, right?
MS. PSAKI: Look, I think this was – I would refer you to, of course, his office, but it is reflective of what the Secretary also said, that they had productive meetings, that they felt good about the conversations. There’s more work that needs to be done, but I think his words speak for themselves.
QUESTION: Are we likely to see the Secretary go back to the region anytime soon?
MS. PSAKI: We’ll see. I don’t have anything new to announce, but we’ll see.
QUESTION: Jen, could I just --
MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.
MS. PSAKI: I did. I did. Thanks for bringing that up. So we’ve, of course, seen the press reporting and we will be engaging with officials there to discuss the implications of this decision. The United States supports regular, free and democratic elections as fundamental to ensuring the will of the people. And we are looking forward to seeing successful parliamentary and provincial elections in September in the Kurdish region. And we are confident that the new Kurdish regional parliament will take up issues of concern to the Kurdish people such as finalizing a regional constitution and presidential elections.
QUESTION: So you’re comfortable with the fact that the decision on whether to hold presidential elections will be postponed until the new Kurdish parliament meets post the elections in September?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’re hopeful that this will all happen soon and that they will undertake to put in place elections soon.
QUESTION: And in general, a two-year delay on holding presidential elections, how would you characterize that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to characterize it other than to say that we’re hopeful that they’ll have these elections soon.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)
DPB # 112