Daily Press Briefing - September 13, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Condemnation of Attack at U.S. Consulate in Herat / Details
    • Reconciliation
    • Secretary's Ongoing Meetings in Geneva with SR Brahimi and FM Lavrov
    • UN Report
    • Potential UN Security Resolution
    • Geneva II
    • Domestic Politics / Visa Application
    • Bilateral Relations
    • Upcoming Elections
    • Freedom of the Press
  • D.P.R.K.
    • Compliance to International Commitments / Nuclear
    • Update Benghazi / Cooperation
    • Ibrahim Dawood
    • Sentencing of perpetrators
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 13, 2013


The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:41 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a few things at the top, and then I will be happy to open it up for questions. I think you saw our statement last night, but an update on the situation in Herat.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the attack on U.S. Consulate Herat that occurred at 5:30 a.m. on the morning of September 13th, local Afghanistan time. We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries among Afghan civilians and Afghans on contract to the Consulate. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families, and we hope for the speedy recovery of those injured. We are again reminded of the very real human toll exacted by this kind of terrorism.

While we are still gathering details, our understanding of the events at present is as follows: The attackers began by detonating a vehicle-borne IED in front of the U.S. Consulate, damaging the outer gate. Shortly thereafter, the attackers fired an RPG at the Consulate and detonated another VBIED in front of the Consulate compound. Consulate security neutralized several suicide bombers attempting to breach the compound. The Consulate’s front gate was damaged; however, the Consulate’s interior compound was not breached.

Our security measures here were effective. The attackers were neutralized, our internal perimeter was not breached, and no American lives were lost. We are grateful for the quick response of the Afghan and the ISAF security forces who secured the facility and kept our personnel safe. We thank the Governor of Herat and the Government of Afghanistan for their support and ongoing partnership. Diplomatic Security staff and contract security employees were equally a part of the response.

Secretary Kerry spoke today with Herat Consul General Jillian Burns to convey to all the CG staff that he was thinking of them, to see how everyone was doing, to ask whether there was anything they needed, and of course, to thank them for their courage in a difficult situation.

And I think this situation reminds us all – not that we need a reminder – that we are one big family here at the State Department, either here in Washington or around the world. And on that note, I also just wanted to take a moment to recognize Patrick Ventrell, who’s last day in this office is today. On Monday he starts a new job doing press at the National Security Council. So he will just be a few blocks away, but I wanted to say up front – I’m getting a little choked up here, I don’t know why – that Jen and I both – I speak for both of us when we say we could not have learned how to do this job without him. He’s been invaluable both as a friend and a colleague who’ll continue to be, of course, down the street from us and we will continue working with him. But I know I speak for all of us, I think, when we say that we will miss him. So let’s give him a little round before he goes. (Applause.) And I hope I sufficiently embarrassed him there. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Just remember to pick up your phone there when we call. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: But it is absolutely true that Jen and I both, as relative newcomers to the State Department, have relied on him for guidance and wisdom and friendship, and we’ll miss him dearly.

QUESTION: We applauded for him. I think people on TV – watching TV, they should see him now. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Give a little wave. Okay, now we will get –

QUESTION: Come on up.

MS. HARF: Yeah, Patrick.

MR. VENTRELL: No, I’m not going to --

MS. HARF: Okay, we’ll move on to real questions now, but I wanted to make that point at the top as well. We are one big State Department family that I know Jen and I are both very honored to be a part of in the good times and the bad. So let’s go ahead and start.

QUESTION: And he has been helpful to us all the time.

MS. HARF: Yes, he’s been helpful to all of us. Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: I have --

MS. HARF: Hold on. Let’s start up here and then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION: I have two quick questions on Herat, and then I’d like to go to Syria unless others have questions on Herat.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, absolutely.

QUESTION: One, were there any U.S. officials living at the Consulate compound? And two, was there any indication or threat reporting prior to the attack that something was imminent or something was about to happen?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, it is my understanding that U.S. officials do live on the compound. Our officials have been temporarily relocated to Kabul at the moment. I’m not aware of any specific threat reporting leading up to the attack in Herat. Obviously, our facilities in Afghanistan are always operating at the highest level of security. But we know that terrorists have the ability to conduct these kind of asymmetrical attacks, so we remain vigilant, as you know, and we’ll continue evaluating the threat picture there every day.

Anything else on Herat?

QUESTION: Has this attack led to any review of the security around the U.S. missions in Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Our security at all of our facilities in Afghanistan always operates at the highest level because it is an active war zone, so clearly, it’s something we constantly review and will continue to do so.

QUESTION: And this Consulate is now closed for the time being?

MS. HARF: It is closed. I don’t have a date on when it will reopen. It is closed for the time being, yes. And personnel – many of them have been – gone to Kabul at this point.

QUESTION: And do you have any information on who were behind this attack?

MS. HARF: We can’t confirm that yet. I know there have been some public rumors out there about who may have been responsible, but at this point don’t have confirmation.

QUESTION: And did you had any kind of --

MS. HARF: As soon as we finish this we’ll come back up here and go to Syria.

QUESTION: Did you had any kind of intelligence information that this kind of thing is going to happen, something like that?

MS. HARF: Well, I think I just – I just answered that. I’m not aware of any specific threat reporting on Herat leading up to this. But clearly, Afghanistan is an active war zone. We know that there are terrorists in Afghanistan who are trying to conduct these kind of attacks. That’s why we’re always on an incredibly heightened security level there at all of our posts, not just in Herat.

QUESTION: And finally, you praised the efforts made by the Afghan forces.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Does it any way reflect any kind of increase in capabilities of Afghan forces when they encounter this terrorist attack?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve said that as we’ve been training them and as they’ve gotten up on their feet increasingly that we have seen that they have increased capabilities. We’ve also said there’s more work to do there. It’s something we’re very committed to doing, to working with the Afghan security forces to continue building their capacity. And again, I would strongly note how we worked very closely and very well with them to secure this facility and to neutralize the attackers.

Is this still on Herat?

QUESTION: Herat, yes.

MS. HARF: Yes. Okay.

QUESTION: Forgive me, I missed the very top, so I’m not sure if you addressed this.

MS. HARF: I will forgive you because it’s Friday.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: The only reason.

QUESTION: Our reporter in Herat spoke to government officials who told him that the death toll had risen to 19, including 9 attackers. Had your heard anything as regards death toll – that would also include security personnel --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- contractors as well. I’m wondering if you can confirm those numbers, have any further information on the death toll.

MS. HARF: Yeah, no. Thank you for the question. It’s a good one. We are obviously still working to confirm details about casualties. And the numbers, as they do in these situations, will remain fluid. I don’t have a number of attackers killed for you. I can endeavor to get some details on that and get back to you.

At this time, we understand that one local International Development Solutions – IDS – interpreter was killed at the Consulate. The latest information on the local guard force is that there were three casualties also, three people killed, with two third-country national guards hospitalized. Again, I would stress very strongly that these numbers are fluid. We’re still getting reports in from the field. And if I have anything to share on the number of attackers, I will certainly do so.

QUESTION: So that’s four, the IDS interpreter and the three. I’m sorry, they were --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And the three, yes, the three from the local guard force. But again, I know there are some injuries. Some people are hospitalized. I would again remind everyone that there were no American casualties at this point, and that – just no American casualties period, I should say.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Anything else on Herat?

QUESTION: What message do you think they are sending, these terrorists? Is that something to look at the upcoming elections there, or the U.S. and the international community’s withdrawal coming up?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to venture a guess as to why, to try and get into the minds of why terrorists would do something like this. Clearly, we know that they have a capability and they have a desire to try asymmetrical attacks against our facilities, against Afghan forces. We’ve seen that repeatedly.

What we’re focused on right now is reiterating our call on the Taliban to come to the table to talk to the Afghan Government about peace and reconciliation. We know this is difficult. We are not naive; we’ve very clear-eyed about it. But you don’t have the luxury of negotiating with your friends. You have to negotiate peace with your enemies. And that’s what we’re focused on right now, even at the same time, as we’ve made clear, we will continue to fight international terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere. At the same time, we want people to come to the table to talk. We can definitely do both and are doing both at the same time.

QUESTION: Madam, since Taliban has an official office in Doha, and Pakistan also now has released some terrorists, I mean some Talibans, and they’re also discussing with them, what I’m asking: Is that office in – Taliban office – are they part of this negotiation or – there are different Talibans – different Taliban in Pakistan, different in this office, or different in Afghanistan, or they’re all one?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve said that our goal remains calling on the Taliban and working with the Taliban to get them to a place that they’ll talk to the Afghan Government. The goal is really Afghans talking to Afghans, right? We’ve talked a lot about the Doha office, some of the complications and complexities with that. But regardless of where that discussion would take place, regardless of the specifics on the Doha office, we believe that this is the important – a way for Afghans to move forward to eventually resolve this conflict.

So the specifics are obviously ongoing. They’re complicated, as we’ve talked about. But the process that we are committed to, of reconciliation, regardless of where it happens, is still certainly our goal.

QUESTION: And finally, if Secretary has spoken with anybody in Pakistan, because since Talibans are now part of – they are still in Pakistan and the Nawaz Sharif government has released them and they are going to talk to them. My question is that: one, if Secretary has spoken with anybody or anybody in Pakistan; and second, finally, are you favoring these Talibans, like you said, that come to the table to negotiate or on negotiation – are you favoring them to be part of the upcoming elections in Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Well, on the first question, I don’t have any updates. I don’t know of any calls Secretary Kerry has made to his Pakistani counterparts. If any do happen, I’m happy to let you know. On the elections question, it’s not for the U.S. to decide who’s a part of Afghanistan’s elections. That’s just not what we’re about here and what the goal is.

I would reiterate what the outcomes of any reconciliation process need to be, and we’ve said these a few times but I think they’re worth repeating in today’s context: that we’ve long said the Taliban must cease violence, must break its ties to al-Qaida and accept Afghanistan’s constitution as a part of any outcome of these negotiations. So I think that’s important context to keep in mind as we’re talking about the bigger picture here going forward in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Madam, don’t you think it could be the same as in Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood, if Taliban runs for election in Afghanistan it could be the same situation?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to compare in any way any two countries or the outcomes that might happen from elections that we’re not close to having happen yet.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Anything else on Herat, or can we go to Syria?

QUESTION: Thank you.


MS. HARF: Syria, okay. Do you want to start Syria? And then we’ll go around the room.

QUESTION: Sure, thanks.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I was wondering if you could help us with a little expectation management. And I see that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov have said that they’re going to be doing some homework and meeting again at the General Assembly --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in a couple of weeks, which would indicate, I would assume, that there’s been no major breakthrough in the last day and a half of negotiations there. So I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about what steps specifically --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are being taken to ensure that there’s some kind of progress, or at least some resolution, in a reasonable timeframe.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And by what point does the U.S. need to see some tangible actions being taken before it decides that this just may drag out forever and may be at an impasse?

MS. HARF: Well, a couple points on that. And certainly, I’ve said repeatedly, we’ve all said repeatedly, that this can’t be exactly that. It can’t be a stalling tactic that goes on indefinitely.

I think what’s happening on the ground in Geneva is that we’re having in-depth discussions, trying to get a better sense of the Russian proposals, and also having in-depth technical discussions in breakout sessions with our experts to talk through all of the very, very complicated logistical issues at play here. Those discussions are ongoing. This morning, Secretary Kerry, as you know, had a bilateral – or a trilateral, excuse me – meeting with Foreign Minister Lavrov and Mr. Brahimi. That was – I know they came out and made some comments, which you referenced, afterwards. That conversation focused mainly on the Geneva 2 political side of the process, I would note. There’s also ongoing meetings now.

So we’re in Geneva sitting down with the Russians talking about the best way forward. We have a healthy dose of skepticism, but we believe that there has been enough progress or enough put on the table in the past 72 hours that we had a responsibility to pursue a diplomatic solution to CW use in Syria, that if our goal is to deter CW use in the future, the best way to do that is to actually destroy the weapons so they can’t be used.

And I think I’d make – and I know this is kind of a long answer, but I would actually like to make one more point that I think is important: that if we take a step back and look even two or three weeks ago at where we were, the Syrian regime still was refusing to acknowledge they even had chemical weapons. They certainly were refusing to admit that they used them. And they were refusing to deal with the international community at all on this issue. And today, only after the threat of U.S. military action – direct U.S. military action – are we at a place where we’re having discussions, substantive technical discussions in Geneva. Are we naive about the fact that these may not go anywhere? No. But the progress we’ve seen just in 72 hours is so – is such a stark contrast to where we were just a week or two ago. So I think it’s important to take a step back and actually look at some of the steps that have been taken, because they are quite remarkable if you look at the overall context.

QUESTION: Do you think that both parties will leave the negotiations in Geneva with some kind of benchmark that they might want to reach after meeting at the General Assembly? I mean, you referenced Mr. Lavrov’s comments --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and he also said that he thought it was a shame – I’m paraphrasing here – that the Geneva communique had kind of fallen by the wayside. Not his exact words, but certainly his sentiment.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I would assume that means that there are questions being taken and discussed about how to make sure that this also doesn’t fall by the wayside.

MS. HARF: Absolutely, and I think what we’ve been focused on in this Geneva portion is the CW issue and how to determine whether there’s a verifiable and credible and enforceable way to actually get these weapons destroyed. But you’re right; they spoke this morning about the other Geneva process and the importance of it, and the fact that that is the only solution that we think is durable, that’s in the best interest of the Syrian people. And they both reaffirmed their commitment to it, and that’s exactly why they agreed to meet at UNGA to discuss exactly that, more the political solution, actually, than the CW issue.

So we’ve both agreed that we don’t want to have a conference just to have a conference, and if there are clearly some outstanding logistical issues with having one. But I think this latest – this last week, if it’s taught us anything, is that it only underscores the need for a political solution, and to work with the Russians where we can to move towards that process.

QUESTION: So no kind of specific timeline or expectations of – we get to the new year and nothing’s been done on the CW agreement?

MS. HARF: Well we’re certainly not putting a timeline on it for one big reason: that we’re really – it’s a balancing act here. Because as I said yesterday, verifying, accounting for, securing, and destroying a large stockpile of chemical weapons takes time. It’s very difficult to do, particularly in an active war zone. So if we see progress, if we see forward momentum, if we believe there’s a credible and verifiable plan on the table to do just that, we’ll keep moving forward with that process because resolving this issue diplomatically is certainly preferable to resolving it, or to dealing with it with military action.

But at the same time, we’ve said this can’t be a stalling tactic, and it can’t be used just to drag out the process without actually making forward momentum. So it’s a balancing act. There’s no checklist of things we need to see happen, but we’re going to keep working with the Russians on this. We’ll see what comes out of Geneva and determine next steps. And also continue, I would add, working with Congress and working with the Security Council in New York on a draft resolution to address exactly this issue.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on the --

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

QUESTION: On the technical team, I mean --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The American team is quite impressive. I assume --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that the Russian team is equally impressive and so on. Now they met, what are they going to do between now and the 28th? Are they not meeting, are they not discussing these technical issues, or – give us your analysis, or your knowledge, in fact --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- of what is likely to happen between now and the 28th.

MS. HARF: Well I don’t have more details for you on that, Said. I think one of the things that we’re doing at Geneva is talking through some of these issues and determining the path forward, and what that looks like in terms of additional meetings or consultations, we just don’t have those details firmed up yet. I would reiterate that the meeting at the UN that they talked about in this morning’s comments, is going to be – it’s my understanding mainly focused on Geneva 2 and the political part of it. Obviously, CW will be a part of the conversation. So as we come out of Geneva, we will determine the best path forward to work with the Russians on exactly this issue. We just don’t have anything to confirm or announce at this time.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Hold on one second.


QUESTION: Since you said that disarming Syria from chemical weapons is really a difficult task and complicated and so on.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Okay so --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: They’re not going to do anything between now and when they meet again to discuss Geneva 2 at the UN?

MS. HARF: Is that what I just said, Said?

QUESTION: I want you to explain to me because it seems like they’re taking some time off? Is that what’s happening?

MS. HARF: That is in no way what I said. I said what they’re doing – one of the things they’re doing in Geneva is determining the path forward. If we determine – both sides – that this is a credible, viable process forward – forward, excuse me – we’ll work out the modalities and the timing and the framework under which we will continue working with them. I don’t have anything to announce today because those discussions in Geneva are ongoing.

But needless to say, I think it should be clear that when we say this can’t be a stalling tactic, that we can’t just not work on the issue for three or four or five weeks while we all go back to our capitals and think about it. That certainly would not represent forward progress – the kind that we need to see to believe that this is credible.

QUESTION: And finally, is this in any way related to the UN inspectors report?

MS. HARF: Is what related in any way, what part of it?

QUESTION: It’s actually this theory about that – we don’t know what the activities are and so on.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Are they waiting to see what the report is all about or anything like this? Would it impact whatever negotiations take place?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously, the report hasn’t come out yet.


MS. HARF: I know there are rumors about it coming out possibly soon.


MS. HARF: I think that – I’m confident, actually – that the UN report will reaffirm what we’ve long said, right. It’s not going to assign blame, as we’ve also long said, but it will reaffirm that chemical weapons were used in Syria in large scale on August 21st. I think – we think that that only underscores the need for action to happen at the United Nations to address this issue. What that action looks like, that’s all being worked right now in New York.

But when the report comes out, obviously we can all talk about the specifics in it then, but we’re confident it will reaffirm what we’ve already said: that chemical weapons were, in fact, used

Yes. Go there, and then I’ll come up to you.

QUESTION: Sorry. Just to follow up specifically on the chemical weapons talks in Geneva.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You say they’re going on at the moment. I mean, it’s eight o’clock at night there now.

MS. HARF: Secretary Kerry works long hours.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MS. HARF: You’ve traveled with him. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I’m just – just on his itinerary – you’ve also said that he’s going to Israel on Sunday.

MS. HARF: He is, yes.

QUESTION: Are we to take from that that it’s quite likely that something will carry on through into tomorrow morning? I mean, if you were going to shut this down tonight, Friday, you’d have done so, right?

MS. HARF: I actually don’t want to make any assumptions that the talks are ongoing, and I just don’t want to get ahead of where we are in terms of the schedule for tomorrow. We certainly want to have some space and time to talk about these issues, but I just don’t have anything to update for you on the next part of the schedule in Geneva. But yes, the Secretary will be going to Jerusalem on Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Mm-hmm, yes. Syria still?


MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Do you know, yesterday or Monday, President Putin accused the Syrian opposition that they are the ones who used the chemical weapons in the attack

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you know if the Minister Lavrov and his team provide any intelligence evidence to prove that accusation?

MS. HARF: Well, as I said yesterday, the notion that the opposition used these chemical weapons is just preposterous, and we believe that our intelligence case is a very strong one. We have high confidence in it, that in fact the Assad regime did this. Part of what’s happening in Geneva is we have folks there who are sharing our assessment with the Russians, and that we hope that they’ll be doing the same thing. I don’t have specifics to read out for you on that, but part of what we’re doing is sitting down and saying: this is what we think, this is what you think, let’s look at the logistics and talk about how we can actually make this happen. But in terms of who was responsible for that attack on the 21st, we have high confidence in our assessment that it was the regime. It would be preposterous for anyone to indicate otherwise

Mm-hmm, yes.

QUESTION: The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today that the UN inspectors report will show that chemical weapons were used in Syria-

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but he didn’t specify by whom, obviously.

MS. HARF: Which isn’t part of their mandate.

QUESTION: Yes, exactly.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: What’s going to happen next during the negotiations? Are you going to move forward to the political solutions, or because --

MS. HARF: During the UN negotiations, or --

QUESTION: In Geneva and then after – during the GA assembly.

MS. HARF: Okay. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Will you focus as well at the second part that everyone in the international community said, that once this is proven, that chemical weapons have been used, the regime should be punished?

MS. HARF: We– I’ve never used the word “punished.”

QUESTION: Like how did – no, no, not you. But I mean, the international community, like even at the UN, even the Secretary General said it himself, that the regime and Assad should be handed accountability.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So will you focus on that too?

MS. HARF: Well, I’d make a couple points, first of all. Our folks up at the UN are working through a Security Council resolution potential language right now. We’ve said that we think that’s an important piece of this. While they negotiate in Geneva, we’re also on a parallel track negotiating at the UN in New York. And then as I mentioned yesterday, the third track of working with Congress on an authorization for the use of military force.

So we believe that the best thing we can do, the best way we can protect the Syrian people going forward, and indeed regional security and international security, is to destroy this stockpile, that yes, our ultimate goal was deterrence and degradation of their capabilities to do this. The best way to do that, as I’ve repeatedly said, is to actually destroy it through diplomatic means. We’re not naive about the difficulties here.

So what the Secretary’s doing right now is talking to the Russians about all the modalities that could go into this and to see if it’s actually credible. I don’t want to get ahead of that process. We’ll see where we are after they meet in Geneva. We’ll see where the UN process takes us as we play out a potential Security Council resolution.

Yes, go back to you, and then I’ll come up to you soon.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little about interagency composition of U.S. delegation and maybe Russian delegation in Geneva as well, if you can do that? That’s number one.

Secondly, I wanted to ask you: Is my understanding correct that they are talking about ideas, how to do this whole thing – I mean, finding chemical weapons stockpiles --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- eliminating them, the whole nine yards?

MS. HARF: The whole nine yards. Yes.

QUESTION: And thirdly, have the U.S. and Russian delegation exchanged their estimates on how much chemical weapons is there in Syria, and what kind of weapons those are?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Let me work backwards. The answer to your third question is I don’t know. I know that was the plan. I can check in again with the team on the ground to see if that’s actually happened. I know that was certainly the plan. We were certainly prepared to do so.

On the second – what was your second question? I remember your first but not your second. Do you remember your second?

QUESTION: The whole thing of – the whole – bits and pieces.

MS. HARF: Oh, yes, the whole nine yards. Yes, thank you. It’s a Friday. I’m sorry, thank you for indulging me. Yes.

So the discussions right now we’re talking about the whole range of technical issues – identifying the stockpiles, verifying them, securing them, and ultimately destroying them. Each component of that, as we all know, is very complicated, particularly in an active warzone.

So our technical experts on the ground right now are talking about the possibilities to address all of these different pieces of it. And you’re right. There are varying estimates out there about the stockpiles; we know it’s a very large stockpile. But in terms of the specifics, those are the discussions happening right now.

We put out a full list of our delegation, which I’m happy to send to you if you don’t have. It’s comprised of chemical weapons experts from the Department of Defense; from the State Department, of course, senior people from our Department, Secretary of State John Kerry, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman; also some folks from the National Security Council as well. So it’s a fairly extensive list. I’m happy to send it to you. I don’t have the Russian delegation lists, I would refer you to them to get that.

Yes, we’ll go to – still on Syria?


MS. HARF: I know you’re going to take it in a different direction. We’re going to finish Syria. I’ll come up to you next. Let’s go ahead here.

QUESTION: Yesterday, you didn’t want to characterize Syria’s declaration that they are joining the --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- prohibition convention of chemical weapons. Did you have time to review that, and would you like to say anything? Because I read an analysis today that they – the Syrians joining the convention is a big win for the U.S.

MS. HARF: Well, I would make a few comments on that. Thank you for the question. As Secretary Kerry has said in Geneva, that we’ve seen these reports that they suggested that they will sign on to it, that this is part of a standard process. And so I’d make a few points in response to the Syrians: That we believe that there’s actually nothing standard about this process at this moment, because of the way the regime has behaved. And not only because of the existence of these weapons, but because of the fact they’ve been used on such a large scale.

And I just want to underscore that this isn’t about signing a piece of paper; that they used chemical weapons indiscriminately, killing over 1,400 innocent civilians; that we’re kind of past the point of just being enough to sign a piece of paper. It’s not sufficient to make assertions like this, that we have to see verifiable actions taken. So I think that’s where we are on this. We’ll keep looking at this situation, but again, this is about more than signing a piece of paper at this point when you’ve used these weapons indiscriminately. This is about how to actually move forward to swiftly verify account for them and destroy them.

Syria still? Syria, Syria? Yeah, coming up to you.

QUESTION: On Syria, Marie, when you said this could be a stalling tactic --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- does it mean that you fear that the Syrians and the Russians could try to buy time in negotiating with the U.S.? Sorry.

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly a concern. I think the reason the Secretary is there is because in a period of just a few days, we saw more signs from the Russians that they were serious than we had in the last two years.

As I said yesterday, I think that we saw a diplomatic door open and felt it was our responsibility to walk through it and see what might lie on the other side. But this can’t be a stalling tactic; you’re exactly right. That’s why I think we’re focused on forward progress. We’ve seen the Russians and the Syrians try to use stalling tactics in the past as well. So it’s something we have skepticism about, but also at the same time believe we have to test this out to see if maybe there is a chance here to make real progress. Because the issue is so important and it would be such a big step forward to actually destroy these weapons, that we have an obligation to try to do so.

Syria? Syria, Syria, Syria? Okay, back to you. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: So I haven’t seen an email in a while on updates on the joint statement and countries that have signed on to that. But I was wondering if efforts to build that coalition are still ongoing.

MS. HARF: They are.


MS. HARF: They are. I don’t have an update for you. I will check right after the briefing. I know we’ve been sending those out. I do believe there are a few more countries that have signed on, so I promise you after the briefing we’ll check on the latest and we’ll send it around to everyone.

But that effort is ongoing. So there’s a lot of efforts ongoing, right? The congressional piece, the Geneva piece, the UN piece, and the same time, the piece about trying to get folks signed on. But they’re all related, right? The Secretary is in contact with a lot of these people on all parts of this puzzle, and I think that’s what you’ve seen him doing right now.

QUESTION: I wonder if you could maybe --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- go into a little bit more detail about how you’re approaching this issue with these countries, many of whom have expressed skepticism about the strength of the evidence against the Assad regime. I mean, it seems that the information that’s out there in the public domain is largely circumstantial, and it’s strong circumstantial evidence, but it is that. And so maybe you can talk a little bit more about your efforts.

MS. HARF: Well, I would disagree respectfully with your characterization that it’s circumstantial. I know that’s a word we use a lot, but I just don’t think that’s the case here. If you look at the intelligence case first that we’ve laid out, we – and we’ve declassified as much as possible as we can about what we know happened. We know what happened leading up to this attack. We know the Syrian regime involvement there. We know what happened in the attack, and we know afterwards, in fact, that they tried to cover up for it. So we’ve tried to lay out the intelligence in as much detail as possible.

On top of the intelligence – which we believe is a very strong case – on top of the – and which, in fact, we are also sharing, to the extent that we do with various partners around the world as well. So I would make that point too. And the more that our partners learn about the intelligence case, the more support we’re getting, which is why you see that number continue to grow in that letter. On top of that is, of course, the public case, all of the publicly available evidence out there, the videos – I know everyone tells me I shouldn’t just reference videos, but the videos, the survivor accounts, the pictures, all of this, and the fact that for a long time, we’ve said that the Syrian regime is the only one with the capability to do this on a large scale using these kinds of delivery capabilities. And now, what’s happened in the last 72 hours is for the first time, they’ve admitted that they have chemical weapons.

So every – there’s all these pieces to the puzzle. As more information comes in and fits into that puzzle, support for the case grows, and that’s what we’re doing exactly right now, not just with our international partners, but with the Hill.

QUESTION: And so as --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- countries have sort of asked you to provide maybe a little bit more to bolster your case so that they can in good faith --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- sign on to the statement, you have obliged them?

MS. HARF: I mean, not – I don’t want to speak about every single request everywhere around the world, because --


MS. HARF: -- I just don’t know the totality of them.

QUESTION: But to the extent that it’s reasonable to provide?

MS. HARF: Certainly, certainly. This is exactly what we’re doing. It’s not just making phone calls and saying, “Hey, you should believe us.” That’s not diplomacy in any means. That’s not good intel work. It’s having detailed conversations, walking through the evidence, walking through what we know. When we learn new things, as you saw Secretary Kerry go out on Sunday shows – I don’t even remember what Sunday it was, now the weeks are all coming together – but when we could announce that we had signatures of sarin. So as we get new information, we share that, and everyone will take a look at the UN report when it comes out. I think that will, again, reinforce what we’ve already said.

So I don’t hear a lot of doubters out there, quite frankly, anymore, and correct me if I’m wrong, say – doubting that the Assad regime actually did this. Why else would they be, after the threat of military action, finally agreeing or possibly agreeing to do some of these things?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Syria, anything else? Syria?


MS. HARF: Yeah, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you give a little bit more detail about the meetings today after the trilateral? So when Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov meet --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are the experts in the same room with them or are the experts meeting in separate breakout sessions? And if so, what are the different topics of the expert breakout sessions?

MS. HARF: Yeah, it’s a good question. There are certainly breakout sessions going on right now with technical experts. They cover the wide range of issues. Without getting into too many specifics about those topics, because obviously those are private negotiations, it covers the full range of modalities that might go into the technical aspect of verifying where these things are; securing them, which isn’t always easy in a war zone, or ever, quite frankly; and then destroying them. So the wide range of topics that fall under those categories are being discussed right now.

I don’t have a full readout for who’s in the room on some of these Kerry-Lavrov meetings. As the traveling team has details about that to share, I’m sure that they will. Some of the meetings I’m sure have been one on one. Some of them include a lot of other folks in the room as well. So as we have more details, I’m happy to share them.

Yes. Hold on, I’ll come – right --

QUESTION: North Korea (inaudible) --

MS. HARF: And Syria?


MS. HARF: Okay. Thank you. Yes.

QUESTION: Yes. That North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a birthday card to Assad, that – Assad’s birthday in Syria. Can you comment on that, why he sent the birthday card to Assad because of a – they – North Korean still involved with – use chemical weapons with Syria.

MS. HARF: I would not want to speak for why the North Korean Government’s doing anything. Clearly, President Assad isn’t getting anything like that from us for his birthday. All he’s seen in the past two weeks is the threat of military action. So that’s my comment on that.



MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Is the Geneva meeting still going on on Saturday? And what kind of document --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you expect at the end?

MS. HARF: So I don’t have anything to announce in terms of the schedule tomorrow. The Secretary is going to Jerusalem on Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. As we have a schedule for tomorrow, we’ll make it known.

The second question – a document, yes. I don’t want to get ahead of where we are here or prejudge what paper might come out of what’s going on in Geneva. That’s all being discussed right now, and when we have something to announce, we will.

Syria, Syria, Syria. Hands down if they’re not Syria. You’re like, “Oh, oh.” Go ahead right here. You’re trying to trick me to call on you and then it’s not Syria.

QUESTION: On Geneva 2.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Is the United States any closer to finally convincing Syrian opposition to attend the planning Geneva 2 conference?

MS. HARF: Well, clearly, we’ve been --

QUESTION: Because the fact remains the Assad government --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- might not be genuine about it, but at least they publicly said that they will do that, whereas the Syrian opposition said, “No, we won’t.”

MS. HARF: Well, I think you’re simplifying the discussions that have been happening around Geneva 2. We’ve been working for a long time on what the participation might look like from the opposition side, from the regime side, and from the side of the other countries that might attend. As I’ve noted repeatedly, one thing we were encouraged by over the past few months is that the opposition elected leaders. That was an important part of the process in leading up to Geneva, to identify leaders who could potentially represent them there. We don’t have anything to announce at this point about this, but clearly, moving towards Geneva 2 is important, and identifying the right participants for that to give us the best chance of success is a huge part of that.

Syria. Syria?

QUESTION: New topic.

MS. HARF: See, keep your hand – Syria? In the back?


MS. HARF: I will get to the new subjects as soon as we’re done with Syria, which we should be soon, I promise.


QUESTION: I wanted to ask about comments made by the commander of the Defense Intelligence Agency yesterday. Michael Flynn, said that he has, quote, “little confidence” that these initial negotiations are going to be able to arrive at anything, and that the whole process, as you did mention, is going to take a while, but that the logistics – he noted that the logistics of drawing down the U.S. stockpile took seven years, so that we shouldn’t be expecting anything to happen anytime soon. I know that you’ve said similar things about how this process --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- there’s no specific timeline, but those comments coming from someone in the Defense – in the Department of Defense, currently there, can’t be helpful, right? I mean, how do you view those comments coming from --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- a Defense official right now?

MS. HARF: Well, clearly, speaking for the State Department and for all of our folks in the interagency group that are on the ground in Geneva, including, I would mention, some of our DOD colleagues from that exact place – not from DIA, but from DOD – are there because we believe there’s a chance that this could work. Are we naive? No. Do we have great skepticism? Of course. The Secretary has said that repeatedly. But we have an obligation. If we have an opportunity to permanently destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons that were used by one of the world’s worst dictators today, we have an obligation to try, even though it’s hard – and in fact, because it’s hard. We should try and do the hard things because they’re so important. And no one’s naive about the logistical challenges. That’s why we’ve said there needs to be a verifiable and credible and enforceable mechanism to do this.

And look, we’ve always said at the same time, too, that the threat of military action remains on the table, that the U.S. military’s in the same posture it was a week ago. They are ready, if we make that decision, to take military action to deter and degrade the Assad regime’s capability. That hasn’t changed. So while we’re pursuing this diplomatically, we’re not naive, and we’re not going to let it go on forever.

QUESTION: Just a follow-up.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you talk about whether this new gesture by the Assad regime to sign on to the Chemical Weapons Convention and put their chemical weapons under international control, whether that’s caused you to moderate or reevaluate your position that he has to go in the end?

MS. HARF: Not at all.

QUESTION: Not at all?

MS. HARF: Our position on Assad has not changed one bit, period. I will underline it and bold it and highlight it and say it every day if I have to. It hasn’t changed.

QUESTION: Okay. But so, like, as the Geneva 2 process goes forward --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I mean, if you were to make some further – I mean, if – first, if this current process turns out to be fruitful and genuine, which is a big if, and if he continues --

MS. HARF: Big if.

QUESTION: -- to make certain other gestures, a inclusive, power-sharing arrangement, for instance, if it were to be arrived at, that involves Assad staying in power to some degree, you wouldn’t be amenable to that --

MS. HARF: Well, I’d actually turn the question around and go back to what we agreed to in Geneva 1, which was that a – which I would note the Russians agreed to as well – a transitional governing body to be created with the mutual consent – and I would underline that word as well – words – mutual consent – of the current regime in the opposition. That transitioning – transitional governing body will establish the rules of the road for the Syrian people to choose their new government. And again, the Russians agreed to this. There is no way possible that by mutual consent Assad is going to be part of that future. So I would take it back to what we all agreed on in Geneva 1, and that’s certainly our position going forward.

QUESTION: Sure. I mean, I understand that. But he has --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm

QUESTION: -- at the same time, he has shown a certain willingness to make compromises, for instance, in this --

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think he’s shown anything yet. I said, I think the Syrian regime has said some things, but what we want to see now is action. No more words.


MS. HARF: Syria? Have we exhausted Syria? Okay.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Oh, sorry, guys. One more.

QUESTION: Sorry, this is a very small one. But I mean, is it reasonable to expect there to be some kind of document or something coming out of this – these negotiations?

MS. HARF: I really just don’t want to guess, because I don’t – we don’t want to set expectations one way or the other, and then people will guess about what that might mean if there is or there isn’t. I just don’t want to guess.

QUESTION: Are there usually?

MS. HARF: I don’t think there’s anything usual or normal about what’s going on right now, honestly


MS. HARF: Yes. New subjects.

QUESTION: I have two questions, one on India and one on India and Pakistan, please. As far as India is concerned now, Mr. Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, is officially candidate for the prime ministership of India in the upcoming elections from the BJP party. My question is now: Anything change as far as the U.S. behavior, what the party’s asking and officials as far as visa and his visit to the U.S. is concerned? Or you are still, or U.S. is still denying visa to visit the United States?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to comment, as I don’t think we ever do, on domestic Indian politics. As to the specific case, there’s no change in our longstanding visa policy. With regard to the chief minister, that he is welcome to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant. That review will be, of course, grounded in U.S. law. And I just am not going to speculate about what the outcome of that review might be.

QUESTION: And as far as any comments on that he’s now the candidate for the second party, or one of the largest parties?

MS. HARF: Again, I’m not going to comment on domestic Indian politics. These are decisions for the Indian people to make, certainly not for me to make judgments on one way or the other.

QUESTION: But what party leaders are asking that many of the party leaders, including Mr. Rajnath, who is the president of the BJP party, was here in Washington. And many others on a regular basis, including from the BJP or from congress and other leaders from the Indian Government or party levels have been provided with and they registered here with no problems. Is there – what is the problem? Is there some kind of campaign going on against Mr. Modi, or some other internal problems are there as far as his visa is concerned? That’s what everybody’s asking in India.

MS. HARF: Again, we’re not involved in domestic Indian politics. If Mr. Modi would like to apply for a visa and await a review like any other applicant, he’s certainly free to do so.

QUESTION: And if I may have one question on India and Pakistan, please.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can we stay on Modi?

QUESTION: Oh, sorry.

MS. HARF: Oh, yeah. We’ll stay on Modi. I probably don’t have a lot more for you, but yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, no. U.S. always engages itself with opposition parties and leaders of other countries, and you have been doing --

MS. HARF: “Always” is a strong word.


MS. HARF: But continue.

QUESTION: Most of the time. As he is the prime minister candidate for the main opposition party of India, is the U.S. now willing to engage him in different kind of dialogues?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything more for you on this. Again, I’m not going to comment on domestic Indian politics. I would take a little issue with “always” engaging with folks. If we have anything new to update for you, we will.

Mm-hmm. And then India and Pakistan.


MS. HARF: Yes. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: India and Pakistan now ready to meet on various issues, problems, and all that. But there is still fighting going on on the border, and India is blaming the Pakistanis are still firing at Indian soldiers, and there were some causalities also. At the same time, Indian Government is calling on Pakistan before they talk – one, how can you even talk and meet when there is fighting going on? And also, they do not give Mr. – or this Ibrahim Dawood is sitting in Pakistan and it’s – there’s a most wanted in India. Indian Government is calling on Pakistan, also seeking U.S. help, as far as Indian Home Minister is concerned, calling on the U.S. to help India as far as bringing Dawood, because he’s the most wanted person. And also he is blamed for most of the terrorist activities against India, inside India. So where do we stand --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- because on one hand, they want to talk, and the Nawaz Sharif government wants to talk with India. On the other hand, they have kept this most wanted terrorist wanted by India, and also most of other terrorists by U.S. Abdul Saeed is also sitting there in Pakistan.

MS. HARF: Well, we would certainly encourage and we have encouraged further dialogue between India and Pakistan on a range of issues. We would welcome any and all high-level discussions particularly between Pakistan and India. I know our ambassadors in both countries have made this point, and we’ve made it publicly as well. I’m not going to get into the details of what those discussions might look like. That’s for India and Pakistan to talk about together.

QUESTION: But how about these two terrorist wanted by the U.S. and wanted by India?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything further for you on that. If we have anything, I’m happy to get it to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yeah. Did you have another question? No. Okay. Yes.

QUESTION: Hello. Thank you, Marie. This is Golam Arshad with Amar Desh newspaper.

MS. HARF: The other Arshad.

QUESTION: Yes. The other Arshad, yes. Thank you. Well, the people that I work for is Amar Desh Patrika, and my editor is now in jail for the last six months, languishing in jail. And it’s a matter of great concern, for internationally also the press is being persecuted now in Bangladesh under a democratic government and gagged. One of the television center has been shut off the air, and the chairman of that paper is now in jail. Having said that, for the safety of democracy in Bangladesh, I would really ask for international press freedom of speech and violation (inaudible) human rights is absolutely the case that we are in Bangladesh. We are facing an election coming up.

But having said that, if all these things take place, I think in Bangladesh there is a fear that Bangladesh may enter into an unconstitutional crisis, a constitutional crisis, which may lead the army to step in. Now, I say the word “may” as we personally – the United States – totally abhor any army intervention per se. But having said that, this is – isn’t it a matter of concern for you as well, Marie, if I may take the --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, we have repeatedly urged the leaders of the major parties in Bangladesh, as you know, to come together and agree on a way forward to ensure free, fair, and credible elections in the coming months. I think we’ve made that point crystal clear.

QUESTION: Yes, yes.

MS. HARF: What the way forward looks like is for the parties in Bangladesh to decide themself. But obviously, nonviolence is essential to any solution. As we noted earlier in the week, Secretary Kerry has written to the Prime Minister encouraging him to engage in constructive dialogue on a way forward.

In terms of press freedom, I don’t know the details exactly of the situation you mentioned, but as we do everywhere call on governments to ensure press freedom around the world, certainly detention of journalists is something that we strongly condemn. So we would encourage everywhere in Bangladesh and everywhere else freedom of the press, just like we have here in the United States, because it’s important to any free and open society and certainly any democratic society.

QUESTION: Yes, Marie. The thing is that the editor of the paper Mahmudur Rahman is now in jail. And this is – there is a fear that he may be sent into a condemned cell down the road, if he’s been proven guilty of high treason. It’s a treason I use with – very cautiously, treason. So it means that an editor has been persecuted. And if you could kindly take this question.

MS. HARF: I will. I’m not familiar with the details of this case.


MS. HARF: Clearly, we would oppose persecution of journalists for anything they’ve written or anything they’ve said. But I’ll get some details on this, and I will take it as a question.

QUESTION: Well, thank you very much, if you could kindly take this question.

MS. HARF: I will kindly take it as a question.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah. This can – on North Korea they started --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- five megawatt reactors. Russian authorities said today that North Korea restarted a reactor will be a nuclear disaster. Can you comment on this?

MS. HARF: I think you’re referring to the 38 North report that’s put out there publicly. Is that what you’re referring to?


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Well, as a general matter, I’m not going to comment one way or the other on confirming that report. We don’t comment on these kinds of intelligence matters. But if – and I stress if – this were to be true, it would be a clear violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and of course, contrary to North Korea’s commitments under the September 19th, 2005 joint statement. So our position, of course, has not changed on that. We continue to call on the DPRK to comply with its commitments and its international obligations.

QUESTION: But the North Korea violations of UN (inaudible) continue though, so United States have another strong (inaudible) punish the North Korea any act (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Well, we – again, we continue to call on them to comply with their international commitments. We’ve put a great deal of pressure on the North Koreans over this issue, including with some very, very strong sanctions. So we’ll continue working with the international community to try to get to North Korea to a place that it will, in fact, take irreversible steps to abandon its nuclear weapons and all existing programs in a complete and verifiable manner.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: On Benghazi, how would you characterize the level of cooperation you’re getting from the Libyan Government on the Benghazi suspects, on like trying to identify and apprehend the suspects?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Let me see if I have anything for you on that. I’m not sure that I do today, but I’m happy to take it as a question if I don’t and get back to you. Obviously, we’ve said we will work closely with the Libyan Government to identify these suspects. I’m not sure – let me see – I think all I have on this, and it’s not directly to your question, but I’ll make this point and then take it as a question as well – that we’re obviously committed to bringing those who perpetrated this attack to justice, to doing everything we can to best protect our people. On the criminal investigation side, obviously, the FBI has the lead on that. But if I have anything to share on our work with the Libyan Government, I will. I just don’t have anything in front of me.

QUESTION: Do you have any comment on why the Administration seems so committed to a criminal court case when you do have to gather evidence and do things like that, when, obviously, conditions are so hostile on the ground, I mean, to go there and be able to gather evidence or get witnesses?

MS. HARF: As opposed to what other kind of process would you suggest otherwise?

QUESTION: I mean, I think there are people on the Hill who are suggesting Gitmo and things like that.

MS. HARF: Well, I think our position on Gitmo is certainly clear that we are not sending anyone to Gitmo, that in fact, we are working to reduce the population at Gitmo ultimately with the goal of closing it. So that is crystal clear, has been for months, from the Administration.

We believe that the criminal investigation is important. Clearly, we continue to work with the FBI, with the Libyan Government, on doing just that. But I just don’t think I have anything further for you than that on this issue.

QUESTION: Somalia? Do you have an update on the reported death of the American jihadist Hammami?

MS. HARF: I do. Just give me one second.

So we have, of course, seen the reports that Omar Hammami was killed in Somalia. These reports appear to be credible, but are not in a position at this time to confirm those reports. If and when that changes, we will certainly update all of you.

QUESTION: Madam, quickly can I go back – my back – question back on India?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have officially U.S. received any request from the Home Minister of India or from the Government of India as far as Ibrahim Dawood in Pakistan wanted by India?

MS. HARF: I will take that question and get back to you. I don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. In the back, yes.

QUESTION: Related on India?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the four men who were sentenced to death in the gang rape case?

MS. HARF: I do. Thank you for the question. We are heartened to see that the Indian justice system has spoken and the perpetrators of these heinous attacks have been convicted and sentenced in a court of law. Like so many people in India and around the world, we were saddened by this horrific act of violence, yet moved by civil society’s response at the same time. Secretary Kerry has spoken about this this spring, cited this woman’s bravery and her fight for justice. In India, as in all countries around the world, gender-based violence continues to be a challenge that we are focused on countering, on working with people to counter all across the world.

Anything else? Thank you all very much. Have a good weekend, everyone. We can all mourn Patrick leaving together.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:36 p.m.)

DPB #153