Daily Press Briefing - September 18, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Secretary Kerry's Meetings in New York / 68th Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
    • Visa Application for President Omar al-Bashir / UNGA / International Criminal Court (ICC)
    • Election Commissioner Killed / U.S. Condemns Killing / Condolences
    • Chemical Weapons / Allegation Syrian Opposition Used Chemical Weapons / No
    • Credible Evidence / Intelligence Assessment
    • Timeline / Declaration / P5 Meetings / Readout of Secretary Kerry's Calls
    • Framework for Moving Forward / August 21 / Schedule at UNGA
    • Reports on the Movement of Chemical Weapon Stockpiles / Focused on Action / OPCW
    • Noncompliance Issue / Accounting of Chemical Weapons / Chapter 7 / Assessment
    • UN Security Council / P5 / Ambassador Power
    • Case of Khalil al Marzooq / U.S. Will Discuss Case with Bahraini Authorities / National Dialogue / Opposition Group's Suspension of Involvement
    • Welcome Conviction by Thai Court / Global Reach of Hezbollah
    • Continue to Hold D.P.R.K. to Commitments and International Obligations
    • Official Visit to Washington of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi / Readout of Secretary Kerry's Discussion with FM Wang Yi
  • IRAN
    • Release of Prisoners of Conscience
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 18, 2013


The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:24 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the daily briefing. I have a quick item at the top and then I’m happy to open it up for questions.

Secretary of State John Kerry will begin meetings in New York City, New York on Sunday, September 22nd in conjunction with the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. While in New York, Secretary Kerry will participate in a variety of meetings and side events highlighting U.S. leadership on multilateral issues, including Syria, the Middle East peace process, and economic diplomacy. On the margins of the UN General Assembly, Secretary Kerry will meet with a number of his counterparts to discuss a range of bilateral and global issues.

Again, he begins meetings on Sunday. As we have a more – I’m doing this for you, Matt – a more fulsome schedule of his meetings at the UN, we will be happy to provide that. With that, Matt --


MS. HARF: -- over to you.

QUESTION: So you don’t accept the correct definition of the word, huh?

MS. HARF: I’m just teasing you a little bit at the beginning of the briefing.


MS. HARF: It’s good to see you back.

QUESTION: Well, it’s great to be back. Thank you very much.

MS. HARF: (Laughter.) Go ahead and start us off.

QUESTION: I want to shake things up a little bit by not asking you about Syria first --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- but by not too much because I am going to ask you about a state sponsor of terrorism that begins with the letter S.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: That would be Sudan.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Is there any update to what you had said on Monday about the – President Bashir seeking a visa to come to the States to go to the General Assembly?

MS. HARF: No update. As I said on Monday, I think it was, we can confirm that we have received a visa application for President Bashir of Sudan to come here for the General Assembly. Again, I reminded everyone what he stands accused of, but I don’t have any update for you in terms of --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: -- that process.

QUESTION: Is this going to be one of these things where we’re – we’ll know whether he was issued or denied a visa by whether he actually shows up in New York, or is there some way that – is there some – recognizing the confidentiality of visa applications --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is there some way that – around it? I mean, is there some way --

MS. HARF: Around the confidentiality?

QUESTION: No, no, no. Is there some way that we are going to – that we will know prior to him either appearing in New York or not appearing in New York whether he has gotten a visa or not?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to get ahead of the process here. You did mention the confidentiality of visa requests. Obviously, we confirm that he’s put in a request. I am not just going to probably go any further today. As you know, as host nation of the United Nations, we are generally – I’m not speaking to this case specifically, but generally – obligated to admit foreign nations traveling to UN headquarters for official UN business.

QUESTION: Does your --

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything else to preview, though.

QUESTION: Does your lack of membership or lack of being a – no longer being a signatory to the Rome treaty, much less having it – not having ratified it once when the Clinton Administration did sign it – does that have any impact on this decision?

MS. HARF: On the visa decision?

QUESTION: On – yeah.

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, but again, I don’t want to get --

QUESTION: So it --

MS. HARF: -- into specifics here, but I – not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: So someone, anyone facing ICC charges, they’re – a visa application from them does or does not include consideration of that, since you, the United States, are not a state party to the --

MS. HARF: I’m not, I think, going to go any further into how these decisions about visa cases are made. I mentioned we have an obligation as host nation for the UN, but I’m just not going to speculate what action we may or may not take, other than to say we act consistent with our relevant international obligations, as I mentioned.

QUESTION: But you do not have any obligation to the ICC?

MS. HARF: Again, we’re looking at the visa application. I just don’t have anything more on that.

QUESTION: Do you – well, can – in general, forget about visa applications --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- do you have any – is there any reason that the United States is obligated to respect or to follow directives from or decisions from the ICC?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have anything further for you on this, Matt.

QUESTION: Can you --

MS. HARF: I’m happy to look into the specifics of this. I know there are a lot of legal international --

QUESTION: Right. I was under the impression that those --

MS. HARF: -- issues at play here. I just don’t want to get into those details right now.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, right.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I was under the impression that these questions had been asked on Monday and that you had said --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that you would take them. So you didn’t get an answer to that?

MS. HARF: I believe the question I took on Monday was about our obligations as host nation.


MS. HARF: There are a lot of complicated issues at play here, and I just don’t want to --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: -- misspeak without having all the facts in front of me.

QUESTION: Fair enough. And then last one on this.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you seen what the Government of Sudan said today about this, saying that you should grant him a visa and that you are in no – and I presume this refers back to your comments on Monday – you are in no position to give sermons or advice to other countries about human rights or anything having to do with the International Criminal Court, of which you are not a member?

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen those comments, to be honest, but I will remind everyone that President Bashir stands accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the ICC. I think those charges speak for themselves. I don’t want to get ahead of this process here. Again, we have obligations as a host nation with the United Nations, but I just don’t have anything further on this issue.

QUESTION: Can you spell out, yet again clearly, the obligations as host nation that you have?

MS. HARF: Right. Separate and apart from this case, because I don’t want to comment on this case specifically, we are generally obligated to admit foreign nationals traveling to UN headquarters in New York for official U.S. business. I’m not going to go --

QUESTION: UN business.

MS. HARF: UN business, yes, thank you. I’m sorry about that. I’m not going to go further into what that actually means in terms of specific visa cases, obviously.

QUESTION: No, I don’t – I can see that you’re not going to ask a specific case --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- but how does that jive with the – if you have – if there’s a warrant out from an --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- international court for the arrest of somebody, how are those – do they conflict with each other, those two obligations?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to go into more detail about how those different obligations play into visa application requests. I just don’t have more detail for you on that. But again, when we have anything more to announce, we certainly can do so.

QUESTION: I mean, in such cases where you have to give a visa to somebody, are you also obliged to guarantee that they will not be arrested on U.S. territory, either by yourself or any other enforcement agencies?

MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I’m just not going to speculate about any details of a decision of whether he’s not – he’s allowed to or not allowed to travel here on a visa. I’m just not going to even generally get into those kind of issues.

QUESTION: Marie, on --

MS. HARF: On this – on this same issue?

QUESTION: Yeah, on Bashir. Yeah.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you, is there such a thing as an extradition? I know that you’re not a member of the ICC. But there is such a thing an extradition that a member of the ICC, let’s say a European member, can say, “We want this person who has an outstanding warrant for his arrest extradited.” Is there such a thing?

MS. HARF: Said, I don’t know the answer. I’m happy to take it. And if there’s --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: I know there’s a lot of questions about this. There’s a lot of complicated issues here. I’m trying to get as much information as possible while understanding there is an ongoing process that we can’t get into. So I’m happy to take it as part of the broader set of questions on this issue.

QUESTION: On Syria, please.

MS. HARF: Wait, do we have anything else on this?


MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Could you also take if any person, not necessarily an official from different country coming for UN something --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- would normally – would the U.S. honor warrants from the ICC?

MS. HARF: I can take that question as well.


QUESTION: And also if this is a precedent or whether this is – something like this has occurred in the past, where, you know, other nationals –

QUESTION: I think he’s the first.

QUESTION: He’s the first?

QUESTION: Sitting head of state ever to be indicted.

QUESTION: Sitting head of state? Okay.

MS. HARF: Ever to be what?

QUESTION: To be indicted by --

MS. HARF: Oh, to be indicted.

QUESTION: Sitting head of state.

MS. HARF: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: No, but I mean there might have been other international arrest warrants out by other organizations, not just --

MS. HARF: I just don’t know the answer.

QUESTION: -- not just the ICC.

MS. HARF: Yep. So let me – I apologize for not – we don’t have all the details in front of me. I’ll take that as part of this question set, and we can talk more about it tomorrow as well, but I’ll endeavor to get answers tonight to some of these.

QUESTION: And if you --

MS. HARF: It is very complicated.

QUESTION: Right. I would hope you would endeavor this afternoon before everyone has gone home for the day, right?

MS. HARF: I will endeavor --

QUESTION: You’re not going to be tasking this at 10 p.m., are you?

MS. HARF: -- as quickly as possible.


MS. HARF: No, my press people will be angry if I task them at 10 p.m. on this.

Yes. Another question, any on – anything else on this?

QUESTION: On Sudan, on Sudan.

MS. HARF: On Sudan?


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did the U.S. envoy return from his trip to Sudan and South Sudan? And there were reports yesterday that the senior officials in Khartoum refused to meet with him.

MS. HARF: I believe he’s still there. Let me double check on his travel. I don’t have anything to announce at the moment on specific meetings. If I have a fuller readout of his meetings on the ground, I can endeavor to get it for you, but it is my understanding he’s still in the region.

QUESTION: One more on the visa.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When the process should be done, should be finished?

MS. HARF: I don’t have the --

QUESTION: Not this week, before, before --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any other details about a specific visa application because of confidentiality. I just can’t get into it.

QUESTION: And, where did you receive the application, actually? In Khartoum?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer. I’ll see if I can find out. I know – I’m taking lots of questions, this not a good way to start a briefing, but thank you. I just don’t know the answer. (Laughter.) I will endeavor to find out.

Anything else on Bashir? Okay.

QUESTION: Can I change subjects?

MS. HARF: You can, yes.

QUESTION: This one is regarding the killing of the – of the head of the Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan’s northern province.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I was wondering whether you think that this marks really early signs of a deterioration in security and that could affect the election, which is still a little way away.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But the fact that there’s the killing and that the Taliban has claimed responsibility?

MS. HARF: Thank you for the question. It’s an important one, and I’d like to make a few points on this. First, obviously, we strongly condemn the killing of Mr. Aman, who was the head of the election commission in Kunduz Province, as you mentioned. We extend our condolences to his family and friends. A peaceful and constitutional political transition is critical to Afghan stability, and this needs happen through a credible, transparent, and inclusive electoral process. Obviously, targeting those working to carry out these elections works against the aspirations of the Afghan people.

But I would take a step back and say that more broadly we actually have seen some positive signs recently as well. Candidate registration has begun. These are positive signs – steps forward. So obviously, this is a complicated process, and we, of course, express our strong condolences today to his family, but we want to keep seeing some of the positive steps we’ve seen. And as you mentioned, the election is a little ways away and we’re hoping we’ll see more of those positive steps going forward.

What else?

QUESTION: Different subject?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On Syria --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Russian Minister Lavrov is averring to some set of evidence regarding alleged chemical weapons use by the Syrian opposition forces that he says he is planning to share with the UN Security Council. Your thoughts about that?

MS. HARF: Well, we have seen no credible reporting, no credible evidence that the opposition has used chemical weapons in Syria, period. We’ve been joined by 36 other countries in declaring that the Assad regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons on August 21st. We’ve laid out our intelligence assessment, and it’s one in which we have high confidence.

QUESTION: You have seen --

MS. HARF: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: -- statements by Ms. Del Ponte, for example --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- also averring to chemical weapons use by the Syrian opposition forces prior to August 21. Do you find her statements not credible?

MS. HARF: Again, we have seen no credible reporting, no credible evidence that the opposition used chemical weapons in Syria, period.

QUESTION: And there’s been your – excuse me. Does that judgment by the United States Government preclude finding that the Syrian opposition forces have, at times, possessed chemical weapons or their precursor agents?

MS. HARF: Excuse me. It’s a good question. I know that we’ve been asked questions about that in here in the past. I’ll see what our latest assessment of that is. Obviously, we’ve seen these reports, and any possession of chemical weapons would be concerning. I’d note that the opposition has come out very strongly at numerous points throughout this process and said they’d give full access to inspectors to areas they controlled. They’ve pledged to be a constructive part of this process.

QUESTION: So you --

MS. HARF: If we have any new assessment on that, I’m happy to share it.

QUESTION: So you can’t, from the podium here, rule out that the opposition forces have at any time possessed chemical weapons?

MS. HARF: I just don’t have – honestly, James, I just don’t have our latest assessment on that in front of me. I’m happy to take it. What we can say is we have no credible evidence that anyone other than the regime has used chemical weapons in Syria.

QUESTION: And have you seen any preview of any – in any form or fashion of what the Foreign Minister in Russia is talking about?

MS. HARF: I haven’t, certainly. I’m not aware of one. Again, we’ve seen no credible evidence pointing to what he had to say, but we’re always happy to look at evidence and evaluate it going forward.

QUESTION: But you haven’t seen what he --

MS. HARF: Not to my – not to my knowledge. I don’t know about every single person in this building. I can double-check with folks, but not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Marie --

QUESTION: On the --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- declaration of --

MS. HARF: I’ll go to you next. You sat too far back today, Said. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I know. Sorry about that.

QUESTION: On the declaration --

MS. HARF: Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: -- that the Syrians were supposed to produce --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- on the – on their chemical weapons arsenal --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- the agreement between the U.S. and Russia states for a week – they should declare it within a week.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: When did that, kind of, week start?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And when are – when is the week over?

MS. HARF: Well, the agreement, I believe, was finalized on Saturday, if I have my dates right. So obviously, these are timelines. This is a framework for how we want to move forward. So, hopefully, we will see a declaration from the Syrian regime in the coming days. I don’t want to put a hard and fast deadline on it, but we are waiting – we’ll be awaiting that after the OPCW.

QUESTION: So what happens if they don’t declare it by the – by Saturday?

MS. HARF: Well, again, these are timelines, right? Our goal is to see forward momentum, and obviously we know it takes time as well. This is really the first step in assessing how serious the Syrian regime is at working towards this framework that us and the Russians have agreed to. Obviously, if they submitted a list that was less than complete or that we thought was less than complete, we’ll address that then.

QUESTION: I’m sorry – wait, wait. Why do you see it would take – it’s time-consuming? I mean, if you – if it is correct, as you guys claim, that the Syrian Government has complete control over this --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- knows exactly where the stuff is, then presumably they have a list that – of their own that they could just turn over if they wanted to. I’m not --

MS. HARF: I have no idea if there’s one central list sitting somewhere in the Assad regime’s bureaucracy.


MS. HARF: It’s a process, and we want to make sure it’s done in a thorough manner.

QUESTION: Right. But when you say it’s a timeline, and then you say there’s no hard and fast dates, what – I mean, I thought that the – first of all, the Secretary said in London that if he did it within a week --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- then he could avert a strike. Well, that week is gone. That week has passed and there hasn’t been a strike, so --

MS. HARF: When he raised the idea the first time.

QUESTION: Exactly.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: And then the U.S.-Russian agreement --

MS. HARF: But the framework outlined a timeline.

QUESTION: -- says within a week, or --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- one week from whatever day, a week from Saturday, and now you say that’s not a hard and fast deadline?

MS. HARF: We’ve never said it was a hard and fast deadline. I stood at this podium on Monday --

QUESTION: Well, what – okay, what is it, then?

MS. HARF: I stood at this podium on Monday and said these are timelines. Obviously, this is a process that is very complicated, and we want to see forward momentum. We have no reason to believe that we’re not going to get a declaration --

QUESTION: All right. So if it slips --

MS. HARF: -- within the timeframe.

QUESTION: So if it slips until Tuesday or Wednesday or something like that, that’s not that big an issue for you?

MS. HARF: Again, we need to see progress made. We need to take a look – what’s important to us is, a) that this moves as swiftly as possible --


MS. HARF: -- not setting arbitrary deadlines, but also that the declaration is comprehensive.

QUESTION: But you already --

MS. HARF: Right? It’s the substance.

QUESTION: But you already set an arbitrary deadline of a week.

MS. HARF: We never said it was a deadline, Matt. We always said this was a timeline. We’ve said it repeatedly, that we’d need to see forward momentum, understanding that it’s complicated and that these are targets on a calendar. These aren’t set in stone, because this is a complicated process.


MS. HARF: But you’re getting two steps ahead of where we are. We’re not even – today’s only --

QUESTION: I thought this was the first test.

MS. HARF: Today’s only Wednesday.

QUESTION: Right. I know, but if this is the first test --

MS. HARF: So we could have this conversation on next Monday if we still haven’t seen anything from the Syrians. How about that?

QUESTION: Okay. That’s fine.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: But I wanted – slightly different, though.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: If this is correct – correct me if I’m wrong; this is what you believe to be the first test of Syria’s willingness or --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Syria’s commitment to actually following through, correct?

MS. HARF: Their seriousness to be part of the process, but again, it’s going to be a complicated process with ups and downs. Nobody’s naive about that. We’ll keep working with the Russians. But let’s be clear that the onus here is on the Syrian regime to live up to their obligations.

QUESTION: All right. And then --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- I presume that all the action is pretty much in New York right now, right, on the resolution?

MS. HARF: A lot of the – yes, on the resolution, absolutely. The P-5, I believe, is meeting again today in a closed session. They met yesterday. We continue to work on potential UNSCR test – text, excuse me – and hope again for the strongest possible enforcement mechanism out of that.

QUESTION: All right. In terms of, though, here in Washington --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or what the Secretary is doing in phone calls or --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- meetings with his counterparts, what – is there anything happening on that end?

MS. HARF: I had a couple of phone calls from today, and I’ll start with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. I don’t have comprehensive readouts of their conversations for you, but I know that Syria obviously is the big topic of discussion with both of them. And next week at UNGA, I think this will be a big topic of discussion as well. He has a number of bilateral meetings, he’ll be part of a number of sessions there, and I think that’ll be a big topic as well.

QUESTION: Those conversations that you just said were yesterday?

MS. HARF: Wednesday. Today.

QUESTION: Today? Okay.

MS. HARF: Today, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But he just saw them in person two days ago in Paris.

MS. HARF: He likes talking to them, that they’re very important partners.


MS. HARF: Why are you dubious that he would talk to them after just seeing them?

QUESTION: No, I’m not dubious. I’m just curious as to why, since had just seen them --

MS. HARF: He talks – I mean, he talks to his counterparts from key countries very frequently, as you all know. This is not in any way unusual for the Secretary to pick up --

QUESTION: I think you’re dubious, Matt.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Thank you, James.

MS. HARF: I think you’re in a perpetual state of being dubious, Matt.

QUESTION: Can I ask you --

QUESTION: Dubiosity.

MS. HARF: Yes. I’m going to Said because he’s been patiently waiting. Then I’m going to come back up to you, and then we’ll go around.

QUESTION: On the week issue, I think --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it was the understanding in the whole world, definitely our understanding – we’ve been writing about it – that it is a deadline. It begins --

MS. HARF: Well, I never – we never used that word, Said. Ever.

QUESTION: It begins on the 14th, it ends on the 21st. I thought it was a deadline.

MS. HARF: That’s not actually what the framework says. It doesn’t have a date.


MS. HARF: It doesn’t have a day. And we always said that these weren’t deadlines; they’re timelines. It’s a framework for moving forward. But we don’t want anybody saying that if they’re at 12:01 on the day after people think the, quote, nonexistent “deadline” is, then suddenly the whole thing’s falling apart. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.

QUESTION: And if I may go back to the issue of the evidence that – on the opposition --

MS. HARF: Hold on. I couldn’t hear what you said, Said. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m sorry.

MS. HARF: It’s okay. You’re too far back today. I can’t deal with it.

QUESTION: Okay. I came late. I apologize.

MS. HARF: (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. On the issue of the evidence --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- the use of the opposition by the chemical weapons --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- now, you’re saying that you have not seen any evidence thus far. Does that preclude the existence of evidence as the Russians claim?

MS. HARF: We have seen no credible evidence, period.


MS. HARF: We’ll take a look at any evidence that comes in and evaluate it, but we’ve been looking at this issue for a long time. We have very good intelligence into the issue, and we haven’t seen any evidence of it. We really haven’t.

QUESTION: And lastly, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian representative, made quite an accusation. He said that if you listen to them on March – the incident from March near Aleppo, the incident on the 21st of August may not have happened. Do you concur?

MS. HARF: I think that the – it’s very clear who responsibility lies with for what happened on August 21st, and it’s the Assad regime, period.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie --

MS. HARF: Yeah. I’m coming up --

QUESTION: Marie --


MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: Apologies.

MS. HARF: Jen and I are good friends. It’s fine.

QUESTION: And also, if I missed the top – if you said at the beginning – the Secretary said that he was going to meet again at UNGA with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. I don’t have a specific date for that yet. All I announced at the beginning, for those who weren’t here, was that his meetings will begin on Sunday in New York and that we’ll provide a fuller readout of – or a fuller preview of that schedule when we have it.


MS. HARF: We don’t have a date for the Lavrov meeting.

QUESTION: Is it correct, however, that there are currently no bilats or any kind of meetings scheduled for Saturday the 28th, which had been kind of floated as the idea?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that. I know he had mentioned that date. I think we’re working around that date. But the schedule, as everyone knows, for UNGA is very complicated and always in flux until the last minute.

QUESTION: And can I ask also --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- yesterday there were some reports – forgive me, I can’t remember where it was – that Assad is now busily moving around some of his weapons – chemical weapons stocks to hide them from the international community. Does this jibe with what you guys are hearing from the ground?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve seen these reports, and clearly that would be concerning to us. We have ways of monitoring his chemical weapons stockpiles, and we will keep our eyes on them to ensure that he’s not doing that. Obviously, this is a key part of any assessment about the – how big and where the stockpile and the key parts of it exist. This is something we’ll be looking at going forward. It’s also – why it’s so important that inspectors get on the ground as soon as possible. This is what we and the Russians called for in the framework agreement in Geneva.

QUESTION: But as of today, you don’t know that those reports that came out yesterday are true or not?

MS. HARF: We’ve seen those reports at – actually, since the 21st, there have been a number of reports that he might be moving them around. So we’ll keep assessing that and come with an assessment about where we believe the sites are, and we’ll take a look at the list they provide and see how they match up.


QUESTION: Marie --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yep, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you have another --

QUESTION: No, it’s a different topic.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you were surprised at why the Russians keep repeating this over and over again during the day that they are not – that the Assad regime is not to blame for this. Have you seen anything that – has Russia presented anything to you as to why keep saying this?

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I know there were a lot of discussions, private discussions in Geneva about the range of issues on this issue. And we came to a framework agreement about how to move forward. I think one thing to keep in mind that’s important is that what we’re focused on now are actions. There are a lot of words out there from a lot of different people on this subject. We’re focused on what happens now. We know what our intelligence assessment says. We have very high confidence in it. We’re going to keep working with the UN, with the OPCW, with the Russians, not to focus on whatever words someone is saying on any given day, but actually on the actions that are taking place as part of the framework agreement.

QUESTION: Can I change the subject?

MS. HARF: I think we have a couple more on Syria. And then, Elise, you can be the next to change it.

QUESTION: Sorry, you just raised the OPCW.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I wondered if you could update us where we are with that, because the framework agreement has to go to the OPCW now for a resolution.

MS. HARF: Right. So we will be – and I can double-check on where that is. I don’t believe we’ve submitted formally, but let me double-check on this – our request to the OPCW, based on the framework agreement to expeditiously move forward in a more brisk fashion with this framework agreement, and in a quicker fashion than they normally do. Obviously, the OPCW will be making a decision on that, hopefully, in the coming days as well. I’ll check and see if we’ve formally submitted it. I don’t believe we have, but I – I just don’t have the latest.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: But that is the next step in the process of the OPCW, that’s absolutely right.

Yeah. Syria, still?


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’ve indicated from the podium here some flexibility on the part of the United States and its allies with respect to the timing of this declaration precisely because it’s such a complex --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and perhaps unprecedented process.

MS. HARF: I would call this an unprecedented, I think, timeline, certainly. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And also with respect to the fact that it’s an active war zone.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So there’s a number of reasons to regard --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- this as unprecedented and complex. And for those reasons, I think, you have indicated that the United States and its allies are prepared to be flexible within reason as to the timing of the submission of this declaration. That’s what occasions your statement, for example, that these are timelines and not deadlines.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to use the term “flexible.” I think we’re realistic about how complicated this is.


MS. HARF: But it’s obviously, as we’ve said repeatedly, can’t be a stalling tactic. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Will you display similar realism where the substance of the declaration is concerned? I think we could agree, for example, that a declaration that were to provide an accounting of only half of the 1,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents and their precursors that the Assad regime is estimated by the United States to have would be considered a gross violation of the framework and completely unacceptable. Similarly, an omission of perhaps 1 to 2 percent of the known items would be considered with less gravity. Can you, in your own words, give us --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- some kind of guidance on how U.S. policymakers will approach the declaration where the substance is concerned --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- with respect to potential omissions or evasions, some of which could be of greater seriousness than others?

MS. HARF: It’s a really good question, and I appreciate you asking it. If Syria, if the Assad regime, were to submit an incomplete inventory, incomplete accounting of its CW program, it would, of course, be in noncompliance with the agreement. Now, I’m not going to put a percentage on what would be worse or better or acceptable or unacceptable. They need to submit a full accounting, period. But this is a complicated process. We’re going to work with the Russians, with the UN, with the OPCW, to make sure we have a full accounting. So again, when they submit this accounting, we will see the first sign of their seriousness. But we think the process is so important that we need to keep engaging in it with all of our counterparts. And we can have the discussion if that eventually comes to pass. I don’t want to get ahead of it here; they may submit a full accounting. If they don’t, we can have a discussion about that, what that means for the process going forward, absolutely, at that time.

QUESTION: Marie, when you said that --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you didn’t put any deadline, did you mean that the Syrian regime can take its time to provide the list?

MS. HARF: Not at all. Again, this can’t be a stalling tactic. I’m not trying to provide flexibility for the Syrian regime; in fact, far from it. What we’re saying is we recognize this is a complicated process, and I don’t want a press story – again, at 12:01 the day after you think we should have had this – saying the whole process has fallen apart. Because I don’t think that’s the case. These are complicated issues, and these are ambitious deadlines – or, excuse me, timelines. Oh, I just did it. These are ambitious timelines, but we wouldn’t have set them out if we didn’t think they were in the realm of possibility.

QUESTION: Marie --

MS. HARF: I know.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MS. HARF: Deadlines, timelines, I know. Timelines, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. At the UN, are you still --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- seeking a Chapter 7 resolution?

MS. HARF: What we’ve said – I spoke to this on Monday, and I think Jen spoke about this yesterday – that we obviously want the strongest possible obligations and enforcement mechanisms included in the text. That’s all being discussed right now. I don’t want to get ahead of the ballgame here in terms of where we are. We’ll see how the process plays out at the UN. But we, of course, are calling for the strongest enforcement mechanism possible. And we’ve also said that we maintain the threat of military force independent of that process.

QUESTION: Marie, I don’t understand your – the question that – the answer that you gave to James a few seconds ago --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you said, I don’t want to say what’s going to be acceptable or unacceptable, but surely --

MS. HARF: He asked about percentages – would 50 percent be unacceptable, but 2 percent be acceptable? I’m not going to say what percentage --

QUESTION: Well, but surely --

MS. HARF: -- won’t be acceptable. If they don’t submit a full accounting, that would mean they’re in noncompliance.

QUESTION: Yeah, but --

MS. HARF: But what that --

QUESTION: How can you know whether it’s a full accounting?

QUESTION: -- surely – but surely anything less than 100 percent would be unacceptable (inaudible).

MS. HARF: It would mean they were not in compliance, correct.

QUESTION: So that would not be acceptable.

MS. HARF: What – well, I don’t want to use the terms “acceptable” or “unacceptable.” We will look at what they --

QUESTION: Well, why not, when it’s --

MS. HARF: Because I’m going to use my words and not yours.

QUESTION: Well, but --

MS. HARF: What we’re going to – we’re --

QUESTION: -- you were the ones – sorry.

MS. HARF: Can I --

QUESTION: Maybe I’m in some alternate universe.

MS. HARF: Let me finish this and then we’ll go on to the next question.

QUESTION: You were the one who used the words “acceptable” and “unacceptable,” not --

MS. HARF: He – I was answering his question about percentages.

QUESTION: I know, but you used the words.

MS. HARF: What we’re saying is we’re going to take a look at what the Syrians’ regime comes to us with. I’m not going to talk about if 1 percent is less bad than 50 percent off, right? That – I’m just not going to --

QUESTION: Well, but surely it doesn’t matter, because any --

MS. HARF: Well, but I was answering his question.

QUESTION: I know, but I’m trying to make sure that – if they do not submit a full and complete accounting --

MS. HARF: They would be in noncompliance.

QUESTION: -- that would be unacceptable, they would be in non – I mean, I don’t – there’s no difference between noncompliance and unacceptable.

MS. HARF: You can use whatever words you want; I’m going to use whatever words I want.


MS. HARF: Wait, can I finish this? Because I think this is important. It’s okay. They would be in noncompliance. What I was saying --

QUESTION: Yeah. Which is unacceptable.

MS. HARF: -- is we will – I don’t --

QUESTION: Why – so noncompliance is – could somehow be acceptable to you? I don’t get it.

MS. HARF: I’m not going to put a value judgment on it, Matt. What I’m going to say policy speaking --


MS. HARF: -- is that if they are determined to be in noncompliance because they don’t submit a full accounting, we will determine our next steps under the framework agreement on how we think it’s best to move forward. We --

QUESTION: How will you know that it’s a full – do you have 100 percent accounting of what you think the regime --

MS. HARF: We have an assessment of how big we believe the stockpile is. We agreed with the Russians on the size of it. We have a listing of where we believe the sites are, the various parts of the CW program – the precursor agents, the stockpiles, all of those issues.

So again, this is an assessment. We will keep refining it as we go forward. But that’s, again, why I think I would emphasize the importance of inspectors on the ground to verify our assessment and to, indeed, verify what the Syrians tell us.

Yes. I’m going to go here and then work my way back.

QUESTION: Just by way of clarifying the intent of my question, and not to load us down in hypotheticals, but for example, it would seem to me that the Syrians could declare 99 percent of what they have in their stockpiles and arsenals and related facilities and items and equipment, but if they are omitting the most important element, that would be a major omission.

MS. HARF: Absolutely. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I don’t want to pay too much attention to percentages; I only suggested that as one example of how an accounting --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- could be faulty.

MS. HARF: I think I knew where your question was going, actually. Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. So all I really wanted to obtain with my question was a sense from you, on behalf of the government, whether there will be attention paid to different kinds of potential problems with the declaration --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- and a realistic judgment made on the basis thereof, and including – which might even include sins of commission versus omission, or whether in fact an apparent problem with the declaration might be accidental or intentional and so forth. These are the kinds of range of things you’re going to be paying attention to?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. I think it’s completely fair to say that we will look at the submission, go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and determine what our response will be and how we’ll move forward with the OPCW, with the UN. And again, all of those things that you mentioned play into this assessment of their submission, absolutely.

QUESTION: So the response will be proportional to any problem detected with the submission?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to – I’m not going to use those words. What I’ll say is that how we move forward – I don’t want to use the word “response” – how we move forward with the OPCW, with our process that we’re engaged in there, with the UN process, the discussions that happen that we’ll have with our counterparts on this will, of course, be driven in part by what this declaration from the Syrian Government actually looks like.


MS. HARF: Said. Yes.

QUESTION: Do you expect the Russians to be on the up and up as far as this information’s concerned? Since they do have a very close relationship with the Syrians --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- they presumably know where all these sites are, and have they made that commitment? Did you demand from them in the agreement that they should give you whatever they know about these sites and the stockpiles?

MS. HARF: Well, one of the things we did in Geneva was sit down and look at our different intelligence assessments about where the stockpiles are. We agreed on the number. We are having further discussions about where the sites may lay.

I think I would defer to the Secretary’s comments when he said “Verify but verify,” when it comes to what the Russians are saying and doing in implementing this agreement.


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Because the issue of percentages is very important.

MS. HARF: Of course it is.

QUESTION: It harkens back to the Iraq issue. I remember the inspectors, or the deputy head inspector – the deputy for – Butler at the time – saying that Iraq was basically 95-96 percent free of all chemical weapons. Yet the war was waged.

MS. HARF: I am going to refrain from answering any questions. I think that – I don’t have a good historical comparison to the situation in Syria. I know it’s tempting to do. I absolutely know that, but this is a different situation.

We have here an agreement with the Russians on a framework to move forward. That’s what we’re focused on.

QUESTION: Can I change – sorry.

MS. HARF: Let’s finish up Syria, just with a few more. You’re on Syria. Okay, we’ll finish it up.

QUESTION: I mean, part of the issue --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in Geneva, though, was the Russians were not on board with the number of sites that the Americans say that exist in Syria, which was 45, according to the Americans.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I wanted to ask: And what was --

MS. HARF: It wasn’t actually a major focus of the discussion. It’s my understanding in Geneva that’s one of the ongoing topics of discussions with the Russians.

QUESTION: So I understand.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But my question is really what is – or how was your assessment of 45 sites pulled together, and what’s it based on? Is it – was it the most current information? Or is it information, given that we’re in a civil war --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or is the information that’s maybe old or --

MS. HARF: It’s the latest intelligence assessment as I know. And I think one thing that will be important to do over the coming days – so let’s engage in this discussion in here or elsewhere about our assessment of the program as we get closer to a declaration, indeed, by the Syrian regime. I think that’s an important discussion to have. Our counterparts in the intelligence community are constantly updating their assessment, and I want to make sure we have the most up-to-date information for you as we evaluate this here.

QUESTION: So that as you believe it, the information that is now currently on the table is the most up-to-date American assessment?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding. But again, this is constantly updated as we get new information, and which we do, quite frankly, a lot on this issue.


QUESTION: Thanks, Marie. Earlier this month there was a group of Syrian human rights activists and members of the Syrian community and doctors who got together to like – to present evidence from the August 21st attack. And one of the things they said was that the situation right now in Syria is partially a result of the failure of the UN mechanism, including the Security Council. And those concerns were echoed, actually, on the same day by your own Ambassador to the UN who said – I think her words were, “The Security Council we have today is not the Security Council we need to respond to this crisis.”

So now as, like, the resolution – Security Council resolution process heats up again, what would you say to allay those kinds of concerns?

MS. HARF: No, it’s a good question. We’ve been very clear about the problems we’ve had in the Security Council on the Syria issue writ large. We’re talked about some of the vetoes that we’ve seen – again, not on chemical weapons specifically, but on the issue writ large. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And a couple weeks ago, I think people would have said the Russians will never agree with you to a framework agreement to destroy these weapons. So diplomacy is all about taking advantage of opportunities that are at one point unforeseen, but then happen to come about, and seeing if those can come to fruition.

Nobody’s naive here, certainly, about the UN process. But we’re at the table with the P-5, including today, talking about a text. And I think there is some important language in the framework agreement that we and the Russians both agreed to about how to move forward on this issue, including at the UN. So nobody’s naive. Ambassador Power is doing very hard work up there trying to get a good text that everyone’s happy with.

QUESTION: Has she --

QUESTION: You used the word, twice, “naive.” So it is no longer the case that it is naive to think that Russia is on the verge of changing its position and allowing the UN Security Council to assume its rightful role as the enforcer of international peace and security?

MS. HARF: I think --

QUESTION: That was a quote from your Ambassador to the United Nations.

MS. HARF: I think --

QUESTION: It is no longer naive?

MS. HARF: We make quotes on a specific day, given the specific circumstances. And again, two weeks ago, nobody in this room would have said, “Oh, today, we have a situation where we’re negotiating an UNSCR, we have a framework agreement, and Syria has agreed to sign the CWC.” Two weeks ago those things would have seemed implausible to many people in this room. So we make statements --


MS. HARF: -- about the probability of certain actions --


MS. HARF: -- happening based on what’s going on that day. Again, diplomacy – I’m giving lots of definitions today, but diplomacy is about adjusting and changing, and again going with what’s happening on the ground --


MS. HARF: -- to see if there’s a different situation today as there was yesterday.

QUESTION: So – right. Okay. So given --

MS. HARF: It’s not being static.

QUESTION: So this – right. Okay. So given the changing circumstances, it is no longer naive to think --

MS. HARF: I’m not going to parse that quote and say --

QUESTION: -- that Russia is on the verge of --

MS. HARF: I think that I just made very clear --

QUESTION: Well, you said you’re not naive and you’re doing exactly --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- what she said would be naive.

MS. HARF: She said that at a specific time --

QUESTION: So on that day – right. Exactly. So you’re saying --

MS. HARF: -- given a specific situation. The situation’s different today.


MS. HARF: That’s it.

QUESTION: Okay. I have a couple that --

QUESTION: Well, one more, please. To what extent do you think that the Russians would be serious in pressing the Syrian regime? And they are saying today that they have evidence that the opposition has used the chemical weapons.

MS. HARF: Again, we’ve been very clear that we have seen no credible evidence that the opposition has used chemical weapons. And I will say it one more time, the Secretary said when it comes to the Russian intentions, we’re going to verify and verify, a good takeoff on Ronald Reagan’s famous line, of course.

But look, what we’re focused on is action. We got a good framework agreement we were happy with, but what we’re focused on now is hitting some of these markers, coming up on some of these timelines to see what people put on the table and how serious it is. But the international community will be looking to the Syrian regime to live up to their obligations. We’ll also be looking to Russia to live up to its obligations and what it said it would do in bringing the Syrian regime along with this plan.


QUESTION: I have a couple if you knock them off.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’d like to ask about the detention by the Bahraini Government --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- of Khalil Marzooq. He’s the – a senior official in the Al Wifaq --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Al Wifaq opposition --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- party. And apparently, he was arrested for incitement on a speech he gave. But he’s someone who is actually in the national dialogue --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and was just wondering if you have any comment on that.

MS. HARF: Yep, a couple of points on that. Obviously, we’re following the case closely. We’ll be raising it with the Bahraini authorities as part of our discussion of recent political developments in Bahrain. I think the bigger context is important here, that we are disappointed that opposition groups have suspended their involvement in the national dialogue that you just mentioned. We believe that the national dialogue is an important step in a longer process that leads to meaningful reforms and that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis. So we’ll continue to encourage everyone to participate in it.

QUESTION: Okay. But how can you be --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- disappointed that they don’t believe that the Bahrainis are operating in good faith if they’re arresting people that they’re having a dialogue with?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have anything further on this specific case, but we – look, we know this national dialogue process is difficult, and nobody’s naive about that. I’m going to keep using that word now because you like to focus on it. But we are disappointed that opposition groups have suspended their involvement. We think it’s an important forum. We would hope that everybody would be part of that process.

QUESTION: Well, are you disappointed that members of the – that the Bahraini regime is arresting people that they’re actually supposed to be having a political dialogue with?

MS. HARF: We’ll be raising this case with the Bahraini authorities, as I just said, and I just don’t have anything further on this specific case.

QUESTION: Just to make it clear, you used the word “naive” twice before it ever came out of my lips, and I just want to – and I want to make sure of one thing --

MS. HARF: You want to go on the record with that.

QUESTION: Right, (inaudible).

QUESTION: On this – no, no, on Bahrain.

MS. HARF: On Bahrain.

QUESTION: Just to put a fine point on this --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you think that the problems that are – or the lack of progress in the national dialogue is due to the opposition?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that.

QUESTION: Well, that’s what I --

MS. HARF: That’s a sweeping statement.

QUESTION: I’m trying to find out what --

MS. HARF: Is there a question?


MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you think that the reason that the dialogue to date has yet not produced anything is the fault of the opposition?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to put blame on one side here. We believe that it’s an important process. We’re disappointed that the opposition groups have suspended their involvement at this time.

QUESTION: And you --

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to put blame here on where fault lies.

QUESTION: Okay. But you think --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that they should go back?

MS. HARF: Yes.


MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Even though the Bahraini authorities have arrested this guy who’s the --

MS. HARF: We believe they should be a part of the process.

QUESTION: And do – you don’t --

QUESTION: How much do you --

QUESTION: Look, shouldn’t he be part of the process, not in jail?

MS. HARF: We don’t support any one person, obviously. I’m not going to speak further on his case. We believe that opposition groups should be part of the process.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, when --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you say you’re going to be discussing it with his case, you said you would – I think you said you would be discussing --

MS. HARF: I did, yes, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- his case with the Bahrainis. Well, what will you tell them?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any preview of what that message will look like.

QUESTION: Have they not been already – has there not already been contact about this case?

MS. HARF: I don’t know if we’ve contacted them on this case specifically. I know we will be raising it. I just don’t know if we have. And I don’t have a preview for what that conversation will look like.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, it’s important to know whether you’re going to call on the Bahrainis to release this guy, or whether you think that this arrest was justified.

MS. HARF: I understand the question.


MS. HARF: If I have anything further about the message that we’ll be giving to the Bahraini Government --


MS. HARF: -- as part of this discussion, I’m happy to share it with you if I can.

QUESTION: But I think it’s kind of – I think the reason that you’re getting kind of surprised looks here is because the Bahrainis have arrested this guy --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and you seem to be – you’re upset with the opposition --

MS. HARF: I said --

QUESTION: -- not with the government.

MS. HARF: I said we’re going to be raising the case with the government, but we also --

QUESTION: I know, but you don’t --

MS. HARF: I took it back a step --

QUESTION: But you can’t say what it is that you’re going to tell the government. I mean, you could say --

MS. HARF: I’m not going to preview that for you.

QUESTION: Based – right, but based on --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that answer and your not previewing it, you could go and say, “Hey, good job, well done, we think that was a really good move.”

MS. HARF: I would urge you not to make any assumptions --


MS. HARF: -- one way or the other about what we’re going to say.

QUESTION: Well, don’t let them --

QUESTION: But, I mean, why shouldn’t --

QUESTION: Don’t leave it to us to have an assumption.

MS. HARF: If I have --

QUESTION: Make it clear to the – to us --

MS. HARF: If I have anything further to share --

QUESTION: -- and also to the Bahraini Government --

MS. HARF: -- I will.

QUESTION: -- how you think this affects the process.

MS. HARF: If I have anything further --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: -- on that message, I will share it with you.

QUESTION: Marie, could you share with us the status of your engagement with the opposition and at what level? You --

MS. HARF: In Bahrain?


MS. HARF: I don’t have any update for you on that. Let me take the question, Said, and I’ll get you an answer. I just don’t know what it is.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So could I ask a – I mean, you’re disappointed with the opposition withdrawing from the dialogue --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- what do the Bahraini authorities have to do to keep the dialogue going?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m not going to lay out specific steps. Obviously, this is a dialogue that’s internal to Bahrain.

QUESTION: But you just said that the opposition has to return. That’s a specific step.

MS. HARF: We think that it’s an important process. I’m not going to lay out specific markers for the Bahraini Government to hit. We just think that people should be part of this process.

QUESTION: Well, just as a general rule, though, without --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- speaking to this particular case, do you think that political detentions in the middle of a national dialogue are helpful to the climate of a national dialogue?

MS. HARF: I don’t want to speak to this specific case in any way, shape, or form --

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to talk to this specific case.

MS. HARF: -- but it’s a case specifically about Bahrain and the national dialogue. Broadly speaking, I think we’ve made very clear our concerns with that issue around the world, but I don’t want to speak at all further to this specific case. I just don’t.

QUESTION: So you’re – basically, the Bahraini Government today, from this podium, gets a free pass?

MS. HARF: You can characterize it any way you want, Matt.


MS. HARF: I’m not characterizing it that way.

QUESTION: I don’t expect you to, but that’s unfortunately, or fortunately, whatever – I mean, that’s --

MS. HARF: We’re going to raise it with the government.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: That’s the impression that you have left on us and on the Bahraini Government and --

MS. HARF: We’re going to raise it with the Bahraini Government --


MS. HARF: -- and I’m going to leave it at that.

QUESTION: Marie --


MS. HARF: And we’re moving on. Yes.

QUESTION: One on North Korea?


MS. HARF: Wait, let me – I’ll go right to you in a second. I think Elise had one more follow-up. Let’s --

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you have anything on this --

MS. HARF: And then I’ll go to North Korea.

QUESTION: -- conviction in Thailand of this Lebanese citizen that is suspected of being --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- a Hezbollah militant --

MS. HARF: I do.

QUESTION: -- that might have launched an attack --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- against some Israeli interests? Thanks.

MS. HARF: So we welcome today’s conviction by a Thai court of Atris Hussein, a Hezbollah operative detained by Thai authorities in January 2012. We applaud the professional efforts of Thai law enforcement agencies to disrupt this potentially deadly plot which could have killed or injured innocent civilians. I have a little more information about their investigation if it’s helpful.

During the course of their investigation, Thai police uncovered a warehouse where Hezbollah was storing thousands of pounds of explosive material, potentially enough for multiple attacks. And today’s verdict, I think, illustrates yet again the global reach of Hezbollah’s terrorist arm and demonstrates why countries around the world need to remain vigilant about their activities.

QUESTION: But Marie, I’m sorry, I’m also really befuddled about this Bahrain thing because --


QUESTION: -- when you’re in the middle of a dialogue and your leader gets arrested, how can anybody assume that that dialogue can go back to where it was?

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything further for you on this case. I know there’s a lot of questions about it.


MS. HARF: I’ll see if I can get anything more for you --


MS. HARF: -- and we can talk about it tomorrow.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why you’re disappointed that the opposition suspended the dialogue when a leader of their opposition is unable to take part.

MS. HARF: Because we believe that the dialogue is important. We believe that it’s an important mechanism and it should go forward --


MS. HARF: -- even though it’s hard. I just don’t have anything else for you on this.

QUESTION: Yeah, but do you believe that the dialogue should be just conducted for the sake of dialogue? I mean, when there are other instances --

MS. HARF: No, absolutely not.

QUESTION: -- you just talk about that these can’t be talks for the sake of talks.

MS. HARF: Absolutely not.

QUESTION: So why should you – why should they think that they should just be continuing to have a dialogue if they don’t feel that the Iranians are in good faith?

MS. HARF: Because each case is different. Again, I think I’ve made clear what our position is on the national dialogue. If I have anything further to share with you on the case of this person who’s been detained, I’m – we can engage on it tomorrow as well.

QUESTION: Are you not disappointed that the Bahraini authorities arrested him?

MS. HARF: I’m not going to use that term. Nope, not on this one.

QUESTION: What is your reaction?


MS. HARF: I said we’ll be raising it with them. We know --

QUESTION: So you’re not going to give us publicly – like you do in many other cases, you’re not going to give us --

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything additionally --

QUESTION: -- publicly your reaction to this?

MS. HARF: -- anything today for you on this. If I have anything additional tomorrow, I’m happy to share it.

QUESTION: I’m sure the Bahraini Government appreciates the kid gloves approach that you’re taking to this. I --

MS. HARF: More than I appreciate your helpful commentary.


MS. HARF: I’m going to go to North Korea now.

QUESTION: -- I just think the point needs to be --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: The point needs to be made.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Let’s go to North Korea.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: On North Korea, North Korean Six-Party Talks delegation’s Kim Kye Gwan said today in Beijing North Korea want Six-Party Talks without any preconditions.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But United States has preconditions for the resumption of Six-Party Talks. What is the real position of the United States for the resumption of Six-Party Talks?

MS. HARF: Well, I would remind everyone that the D.P.R.K. committed on numerous occasions, including in the September 2005 joint statement of the Six-Party Talks, to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. We will continue to hold the D.P.R.K. to those commitments and its international obligations.


MS. HARF: I think I would say again that the onus is on North Korea here to take meaningful actions toward denuclearization and refrain from provocations.


MS. HARF: And I just don’t have anything further for you on what those steps might look like.

QUESTION: Yeah, but does the U.S. have any specific conditions for the resumption of Six-Party Talks? Do you have any specific conditions --

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more details for you on what we might be discussing in private diplomatic channels. If I do, I’m happy to share it. I just don’t.


MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang is visiting the – Washington this week.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you give us more details as to what he will do and who he will meet and the nature of the visit?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Is he just passing Washington to go to UNGA, or is he visiting because Secretary Kerry invited him for a formal visit?

MS. HARF: Yes, thank you for the question. Yes, at the invitation of Secretary Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will make an official visit to Washington September 19th through 21st. On Thursday, September 19th, Secretary Kerry will host Foreign Minister Wang for a bilateral meeting and working lunch as part of our regular consultations. So that’s tomorrow. The Secretary and Foreign Minister plan to discuss the full range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including the Iranian and D.P.R.K. nuclear issues, Syria, human rights, the South China Sea, and cyber security, in addition to, of course, our economic relationship. This meeting has been planned for some time following the Secretary’s April trip to Beijing.

QUESTION: And would they also be discussing any potential for momentum on the Six-Party Talks? I know it’s something that China has been publicly in favor of doing.

MS. HARF: Certainly, D.P.R.K. – the nuclear issues surrounding that – will be a key part of their discussion. If we have a fuller readout after it tomorrow, I’m happy to share that.

QUESTION: Only South China Sea, not East China Sea?

MS. HARF: I just have my list here. Again, if I have anything additional that they end up talking about tomorrow, I’ll be in that meeting tomorrow before the briefing, so hopefully, we can share a little more detail then.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: One more?


MS. HARF: One more on Iran, yes.

QUESTION: The Government of Iran released some activists in the – earlier today or maybe yesterday. Do you see this as another positive step towards something else?

MS. HARF: We do welcome the news that some prisoners of conscience have been released from prison today. I believe it was today. We hope that one day all prisoners of conscience in Iran will be released. So I think this is clearly news that we welcome.

QUESTION: Do you know, is the Secretary open to meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister in New York?

MS. HARF: I don’t know of any plans to do so. I just don’t have anything further for you on his UN schedule.

QUESTION: Has there been any outreach --

QUESTION: I understand, but I’m not asking if he’s going to. I’m asking if he is open to it.

MS. HARF: I don’t have anything further for you on the Secretary’s thinking about what his schedule will look like at UNGA.

QUESTION: Has there been any request from the Iranian side for such a meeting?

MS. HARF: I don’t know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Could you find out?

MS. HARF: I will try.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yep.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:13 p.m.)

DPB # 156