Daily Press Briefing - March 10, 2014

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Secretary Kerry's Contact with Foreign Minister Lavrov / Statement on Secretary Kerry's Discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov
    • Communication through Diplomatic Processes
    • OSCE Monitors / International Observers
    • Mechanism and Format to Bring Ukrainians and Russians Together
    • De-escalation of Crisis / Steps Forward
    • Recognition of New Ukrainian Government
    • Option is Open to Travel
    • President Obama Engaged with Range of Partners / Coordination with International Community / Illegal Steps Taken by Russia
  • IRAQ
    • Iraq's Relations within the Region
    • Influx of Foreign Fighters from Syria / Levels of Violence / Security Situation
    • P5+1 Negotiations
    • Terrorist Activities / Transfer of Weapons / Human Rights Violations
    • Condemnation of Violation of UNSCR 1929
    • Final Status Agreement
    • Stolen Passports / Investigation
    • Lost and Stolen Information to INTERPOL
    • 3 American Citizens Onboard Missing Plane / U.S. Involvement in Search Efforts
    • Apologies Extended by Previous Prime Minister Murayama and Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono
    • Relations with Neighbors
    • Fukushima Power Plant / IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety / Interagency Engagement
    • Release of Nuns / Call for Immediate Release of Unjustly Detained Individuals
    • Acting Ambassador Larry Silverman
    • Special Operations Personnel to Participate in Military-to-Military Training with Jordan and Iraqi Counterterrorism Forces
    • Elections
    • Close Coordination with Japan on Defense Issues
    • Statement on Illicitly Obtained Oil from Libya / Violation of Libyan Law
    • U.S. Position on Israel as a Jewish State / Framework Agreement
    • Medea Benjamin / Standard Practices on Allegations of Mistreatment / Foreign Affairs Manual
Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 10, 2014


1:23 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. All right. I don’t have anything at the top, so Matt, let’s get to what’s on your mind.

QUESTION: You have nothing at the top?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything at the top.

QUESTION: All right. Well, let’s start with --

MS. PSAKI: I’m sure you all saw, we just put out a statement, though --


MS. PSAKI: -- which I’m happy to reiterate. But I just wanted to make sure you’d seen that as well.

QUESTION: Are there any plans – on Ukraine. Are there any plans for any kind of communication between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov, or anyone else for that matter, on Ukraine? And – well, I’ll let you answer that first before I ask the next one.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, as you know, Secretary Kerry has been in close contact with Foreign Minister Lavrov over the course of the last couple of weeks. He spoke with them as recently as Saturday and he – we put out a readout of that. I don’t have any calls to predict, but I expect they will be in close contact in the coming 24 to 48 hours.

QUESTION: Okay. One of the things in this rather extraordinary transcript of a – of the meeting between President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov that has appeared on Russian – the Russian websites, it talks about how – that Lavrov invited the Secretary to visit Russia – I don’t know if it was Moscow or Sochi – today, or as early as today, and that the Secretary was kind of ambivalent, but then on Saturday called – in the call – Lavrov called and said he basically couldn’t make it today. Is that still a possibility?

MS. PSAKI: That we will go to Russia today? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No. No, no. That there will be some kind of – that there will be a face-to-face meeting between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov before Sunday when the referendum is supposed to happen in Crimea.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there is always a possibility. We evaluate day to day. And this was in the statement but just let me reiterate because I know we just put it out. When Secretary Kerry spoke with Foreign Minister Lavrov this weekend, he made clear that he would welcome further discussions focused on how to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine if and when we see concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals.

You’ve traveled – all of you have traveled with the Secretary quite a bit. He never shies away from hopping on a plane or having an in-person meeting, but we want to ensure that that is undertaken with seriousness on the other end as well.

QUESTION: Fair enough. So your caveat there is if and when Russia is prepared to engage. Have you seen any willingness on the part of the Russians to engage on these ideas, either the initial ideas that were presented or any amended follow-up briefs?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been, as you know because there have been kind of a range of reports here – some from Foreign Minister Lavrov, some in the statement we put out – about there’s been an ongoing dialogue, whether that’s been on the phone or in person, through paper, not through paper, verbal ideas, about ideas. And they address all of the issues that we have been talking about, so: letting OSCE monitors in, international observers; the mechanism for a meeting through a contact group. So we’re having that discussion day by day. Obviously, the Russians continue to be engaged in that discussion, but we haven’t, of course, agreed on – we’re waiting for a response to the recent questions that we sent over.

QUESTION: Okay, so I’m going to take that as the answer to my question is no, you have not yet seen any movement from the Russians that they’re willing to engage on what – your proposals.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re engaging, but no, we have not decided – right.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I follow up with Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s – Ukraine, okay. And then we’ll go to Michael, Said.

QUESTION: Yeah, on the Ukraine. You said you have international monitors. To monitor what? To do what?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there has been an ongoing focus – we’ve called for it many times, as have many of our international partners --


MS. PSAKI: -- to let OSCE monitors in – because the Russians have conveyed concerns about how minorities are treated. If they feel very – as strongly about that as they say they do, they should let these monitors in. The monitors have attempted many times and haven’t had the ability to get in.

QUESTION: Okay, so lest then be any confusion, the monitor is just to see how the minorities are faring – not, let’s say, some sort of an endorsement for the referendum in any way, to look at the referendum or the possible referendum next week. Is it?

MS. PSAKI: No, I think we’ve spoken to the referendum pretty extensively. The OSCE monitors is specifically for the reasons I laid out.


QUESTION: Hi, Jen. The Russians announced today that Secretary Kerry had presented a one – a paper, a document of some kind, to their side last week in Europe. What are the main elements of the paper? Since they’ve deemed it to be insufficient, and they’ve said it’s not a basis for going forward, it’d be helpful to know what the main elements of your document are.

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I just mentioned, but let me --

QUESTION: Or just tell us what’s in the paper.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, I’m not going to provide all the details of the paper, but you are also --

QUESTION: Did the --

QUESTION: What are the elements of the paper?

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let me – I’m just going to answer Michael’s question. Obviously, the discussion, whether that’s the paper or whether it’s verbal discussions, whether it’s meetings we’re having, is all about what the mechanism can be for the Russians and the Ukrainians to meet to engage person to person. There are other issues as well as letting monitors in, as well as mechanisms for the meeting that we’re discussing. But I think it’s important to note here there is paper exchanged all the time, as you all know, through diplomatic processes. It doesn’t mean – this is not a treaty document that was given.

QUESTION: Jen, I didn’t say it was a treaty document.

MS. PSAKI: I know that. But some people --

QUESTION: The Russians are --

MS. PSAKI: -- are over-emphasizing the importance of the paper.

QUESTION: Excuse me. I’m trying to --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m giving you an opportunity --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- which you’re not taking --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- to explain what your document is, which the Russians have announced they’ve received a document. They’ve commented on this document. They’ve put down this document. And I didn’t say it was a treaty. What I’m asking you is: What is the main elements of the document, and also what are the Saturday questions that you felt compelled to ask following – after giving them this document?

MS. PSAKI: I understand what you’re asking. What I’m conveying is that I’m not going to outline every specific of what’s being discussed through diplomatic channels. You know what the issues are. The issues are: How can we come up – come to agreement on a mechanism for the Ukrainians and the Russians to talk? What’s the format? Is it through an international contact group?

Obviously, the Russians haven’t agreed to that; otherwise, that would be happening now. So that’s the big focus of any of these ideas that are being tossed back and forth between our sides. But I’m not going to outline every element of the document.

QUESTION: Jen, Jen –

MS. PSAKI: I understand.

QUESTION: -- just to be fair --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- I didn’t ask you to outline every element.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So it’s not really fair, I don’t think, to take my words and --

MS. PSAKI: That wasn’t my intention.

QUESTION: -- distort them.

MS. PSAKI: Wasn’t my intention.

QUESTION: I didn’t ask you for every element. What I asked you was if you could explain what the main elements or main thoughts in the paper and the questions were. You don’t want to do that. Okay, I accept that.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: But I didn’t ask you – I didn’t say it was a treaty and I didn’t ask you to present every element.

MS. PSAKI: I understand. I did not mean to distort your words in any way. I would not do that. I know people are asking a range of questions about it.


MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: I mean, it looks as if the Russians are putting the onus back on you. Instead of you kind of explaining what you’re trying to do with the Russians, the Russians are saying that Secretary Kerry is refusing to negotiate, they’re disparaging the proposal that you supposedly made to the Russians.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So I mean, they’re – basically, you’re allowing them to create the narrative by --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think – I think – let me just state where we stand. We want to see a cessation of Russian military activities in Ukraine, including in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. We want to see a halt in the drive for annexation of Crimea, an end of provocative steps to provide space, of course, as you all know. We’ve all been talking about – Secretary Kerry was there – many of you were with him – all of last week, talking about a mechanism and a format for bringing the Ukrainians and the Russians together to engage in a conversation. That’s a big – that is the focus of what we’re having discussions about, whether that was when he was talking to Foreign Minister Lavrov this weekend, if they engage in the next 24 to 48 hours. I don’t think there’s a secret about what we would like to see here, what we’re proposing --

QUESTION: So if there’s no secret, why can’t you tell us?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just telling you exactly what there’s a discussion about. And as I mentioned, obviously there have been a series of questions we have posed back addressing all of those issues. We’re waiting to hear a response back to those. But that’s exactly where we want to see things move.

QUESTION: What other questions could there be about these things – other will you do these things or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again --

QUESTION: I mean, what types of questions?

MS. PSAKI: Elise, I think a big part of the discussion is the mechanism for how we’re going to have a format for the two sides to get together. There’s a range of questions that can be posed about that, and also about the issue writ large. So that’s what we’re waiting to hear back on. The Secretary is always happy to have a diplomatic engagement, whether that’s in person or on the phone, and I expect he’ll be in touch in the coming 24 to 48 hours.

QUESTION: So can I just check --

QUESTION: Also on Ukraine --

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one at a time. Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: I think you addressed this as I was running from the bullpen to the --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- to here. But so Foreign Minister Lavrov did invite the Secretary to come to Moscow today, correct?

MS. PSAKI: I think there was a discussion about when he might visit. But again, as I said, we have clear steps we think the Russians need to take in order for that to take place.

QUESTION: So in other words, the reason for not going today, or tomorrow, was that you don’t feel that the Russians have taken the steps needed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as I – I think as I said earlier, we think there needs to be concrete evidence that Russia is prepared to engage on these proposals and in these discussions in a serious way.

QUESTION: And so what would constitute concrete evidence in your view?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know if I can define that for you too easily. Obviously, a big --

QUESTION: Well, yeah, but you are defining it.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Obviously, a big part of this is taking the process seriously in terms of a discussion about how the two sides can meet and about that diplomatic step, which I think the international community agrees is a really important part in terms of where we are in the process at this stage.

QUESTION: So are you saying that behind this there’s a problem with the contact group that you want to set up? Is that – when you say there’s a problem about how the two sides meet --

MS. PSAKI: There’s not --

QUESTION: -- you’re talking about Ukrainians and the Russians?

MS. PSAKI: -- a problem. There’s not a problem. But obviously, we need to determine when there is an appropriate seriousness on the Russian side about engaging on discussions about steps forward. That is not a scientifically easy thing to answer in terms of when we’ll know. We’ll know when we know that it’s the appropriate time to engage in person.

QUESTION: Sorry, just to close this out.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So you say the Russians are not prepared to meet with the Ukrainians?

MS. PSAKI: Right. The new government. Right.


MS. PSAKI: Ukraine. Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: It’s reported that Mr. Yarosh now has a position in this new government in a national security role. Is the United States concerned that the head of a fascist organization is representing in a government that we are supporting, in fact, that we have really kind of put together? Are there concerns about this and will this be taken up when President Yats comes here on Wednesday, meeting with the President?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the White House has pretty clearly outlined what the purpose of that meeting is. Obviously, it’s continued engagement, given the situation on the ground. The new government was – we certainly recognize the legitimacy of that, but it was put together with the support of the parliament on the ground. So I don’t think I have any further comment for you.

Go ahead, Elise.


QUESTION: Can you say on Secretary Lavrov – Foreign Minister Lavrov put forward a proposal that he wants an OSCE investigation of the people behind the shootings in the Maidan. There were a lot of reports. We know about the phone call with the Estonian foreign minister, that there were reports that the people – the groups on the Maidan had put this thing together. There were reported military – security – private security companies which were on the ground in the Maidan, perhaps even Blackwater has been mooted. Isn’t this worth an investigation to find out one of the decisive elements of this so-called revolt that led to this new government? Is the U.S. not interested in --

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think the OSCE monitors are not even being let into Crimea right now, so perhaps that can be a first step.


QUESTION: No, I just want to put a fine point on it.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead.

QUESTION: When you talk about that one of the reasons that the Secretary didn’t go was because you didn’t sense an appropriate seriousness by the Russians in terms of engaging. So basically, the fact that they’re not prepared to meet with the new government is your indicator of whether they’re serious or not?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s about their willingness to engage and how to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine. Obviously, they say that’s their focus. We want to see the evidence.

QUESTION: Have they given you any ideas on how they feel that you --

MS. PSAKI: There is an ongoing discussion about it, Elise. But we need – that is a key proponent. It’s not about requiring they meet with the – I’m not saying you’re saying this, but just to be clear – requiring they agree to meet with the new government. But it needs to be a discussion about the mechanisms for moving forward. It’s not that we are never going. We may go. It’s always possible. We evaluate day by day. But that is why we’re not there this moment.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I understand that you don’t agree with the premise, but the Russian Government does not recognize this new government. So that’s why they don’t want to meet with them; isn’t that right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Ukraine parliament recognizes the new government. The international community recognizes the new government. So the issue here is: How do we move forward and engage the Russians with the new government that is broadly supported across the country?


MS. PSAKI: Ukraine? Any more on Ukraine? Okay, Iraq. Okay. Did you – are you – okay.

QUESTION: Until now I just --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, in the back. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, yes, yes. I don’t understand yet what is your interpretation that the Secretary of State canceled his visit to Moscow regarding --

MS. PSAKI: There wasn’t a visit planned.

QUESTION: -- regarding --

MS. PSAKI: There wasn’t a visit planned, so nothing’s canceled. We travel all the time. Secretary Kerry saw Foreign Minister Lavrov just last week. We still keep the option open, of course, of traveling at any point in time.

QUESTION: To Moscow, not to the other places.

MS. PSAKI: It could be a range of locations. It hasn’t been determined because we don’t have a trip planned at this moment.

QUESTION: And what else you have in your diplomacy arsenal now to deal with the Ukraine crisis?

MS. PSAKI: What else do we have in our diplomat – what are the other options, or --

QUESTION: Yes, diplomacy options.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think as I said in the beginning, that I expect the Secretary will be in touch with Foreign Minister Lavrov in the coming 24 to 48 hours. As you’ve seen over the weekend, President Obama has been closely engaged with a range of partners around the world from a broad list of countries. And so we continue to have discussions. Our focus is on coordinating with the international community about everything from sanctions and steps we will take to put the appropriate pressure on, while also leaving the off-ramp opportunity for the Russians and laying out clearly what they could do at this point. So those conversations are ongoing on a daily basis.


MS. PSAKI: Do we have any more on Ukraine? Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah, very quickly --

MS. PSAKI: On Ukraine. Go ahead.

QUESTION: A follow up on the phone call – I know President Obama spoke with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’s your expectation from China on Ukraine? And given the close tie between China and Russia, are you concerned China may go further to support Russia?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our hope continues to be that many members of the international community, including China, are in coordination and cooperation about the illegal steps that Russia took in this case and the pressure that needs to be exerted from not just the United States, but countries around the world.

QUESTION: But where do you see China stands now?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just addressed it.


QUESTION: Does China – a follow up. Does China really accept that premise that this was an illegal operation, or is it simply concerned over the uncertainty that they would like to resolve that’s the basis of their cooperation? Have they really accepted the U.S. attitude towards --

MS. PSAKI: I will let China speak to that.


QUESTION: I wanted to ask very quickly on Iraq.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued a statement bluntly accusing two of your allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, of being behind the sectarian war that is taking place in Iraq. I wonder if you have any comments on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well – sorry, Said. Can you repeat your question one more time just to make sure I’m addressing the right one here?

QUESTION: My question was that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused overtly both the countries of the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar of being behind --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

QUESTION: -- the escalation of the sectarian violence that is taking place.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Iraq has made significant progress in improving relations with some countries in the region, such as Kuwait and Jordan, but progress with others has been limited. We continue to encourage improved ties between Iraq and its Arab neighbors, particularly the GCC. The situation in Syria has certainly fueled tensions in the region and foreign fighters are making their way into Iraq from Syria. We are particularly concerned, of course, about this. We share Iraq’s concern over the levels of violence, and we are working with the Iraqis to implement a holistic strategy. I would, of course, refer you otherwise to the Government of Iraq.

QUESTION: Do you agree – or, I mean – does your intelligence – I don’t know if – what they see, or the Embassy in Baghdad, that is a very large Embassy. Do they also see or do they detect activities by the Saudis and the Qataris that are actually exacerbating the sectarian violence there?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to that, Said. We, of course, broadly speaking – broadly speaking – we have been concerned, of course, about the influx of foreign fighters in Iraq in recent months. That has certainly exacerbated the security situation. That said, of course we continue to advise and assist Iraq in developing strategies with understanding – with the understanding of their own security operations and capabilities, and we’re in close touch with them about that.

QUESTION: Can we stay roughly in the region?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I know you were asked about this last week when it actually happened – this is the Israeli seizure of the Iranian weapons.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I just want to know if your position has evolved at all on the question of whether or not this is going to have any impact on the P5+1 talks with the Iranians on the nuclear issue, or if you see them as totally separate entities.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we do. As we’ve said in the past --

QUESTION: You do (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: -- we do see them separately. As we have said in the past, even while things were proceeding on the P5+1 negotiations we still have maintained our concerns about terrorist activities, about human rights violations. As you know, there are a range of UN Security Council resolutions – or – that remain in place. And so in this case, we of course strongly condemn the violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 even as we continue to resolve our efforts in this regard.

QUESTION: So, but Prime Minister Netanyahu does not seem to be too pleased with that position. He thinks that this is a – just another sign of the fact, he would say, that you can’t trust Iran, that they’re going to – so you disagree with him in – when he says – or you would disagree with him when he says that the negotiations clearly can’t achieve anything because the Iranians aren’t interested and the Iranians can’t be trusted?

MS. PSAKI: We would. We don’t think this about trust; same with the negotiations. We will continue to actively oppose and counter Iranian support of terrorism both in the region and internationally, as we will in this case. And obviously, there’s an entire process that will be underway in that regard that the Israelis will lead. We also retain the ability to target and sanction Iranian support for terrorism in the region, as we have many times before, and we’ve also expressly indicated this to Iranian officials. So in our view, we have – it’s in everyone’s interest to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. There are remaining concerns we have about their terrorist activities, about – or activities tied to terrorism, including the transfer, of course, of weapons, and as well as human rights abuses, and we’ll continue to hold them accountable.

QUESTION: But he --

QUESTION: Today published in Israel --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: The Secretary, in his speech, he said that, “We are working towards a zero option for Iran to have enriched uranium,” and so on. So is -- has that message conveyed to the Iranians? Is that what they are – what they believe in? Is that what they --

MS. PSAKI: In Netanyahu’s piece – speech?

QUESTION: Right – no, no, the Secretary’s speech before AIPAC. He said that, “We are working towards a goal where Iran would have zero ability to enrich uranium, not 20 percent, not 5 percent,” and so on, as if this position was clearly made to the Iranians. Do they also espouse the same thing, the Iranians?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, as you know, the comprehensive negotiations are going to kick off again next week. We’re not going to outline end state goals here as a matter of policy. Others may have their own thoughts and views and share those, and that certainly is their prerogative, but we’re not going to from here.

Go ahead – or, Elise, did you – we’ll go to you next.

QUESTION: Israel --

QUESTION: It’s about (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION: Excuse me. Today, published in Israel, there are the states going to supply and support Israel by another 12 Iron Dome systems. Do you really believe that by this step, you can facilitate the obstacles in the way to the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s an ongoing effort that’s been underway for months led by General Allen to ensure that, when there is a final status agreement, that Israel is stronger than they are today. So I think – I’m not sure if that’s what you’re referring to, but that’s an important part of this effort and is an important part of the discussion. There are obviously several components of what will be discussed – continue to be discussed as a part of the negotiation.


QUESTION: This is on the Malaysian Airlines.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: There are some – it seems as if – about these stolen passports that two of the travelers were using, that an Iranian national had purchased these particular – both of these passports, and was just wondering if that raises your concern about any potential Iranian hand in what went on here, and just what your consultation is with other allies in terms of involved in this incident revolving – involving the stolen passport?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, I don’t have any more information to offer on this. Obviously, as National Security – Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said yesterday, certainly these details – or the details of the fact the reports said there were two stolen passports raised concerns and questions, but I don’t have any other confirmation of what you just said from our end or any other details into the investigation. Obviously, it’s being looked into.

Any more on Malaysia?

QUESTION: Well, I just have one more on Malaysia.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead, Elise.

QUESTION: Is it – does the United States use – check – it seems as – part of the problem was that these passports were not checked by Interpol.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I’m wondering, like, what your arrangement is with other countries in terms of the use of Interpol. Do you check every passport through Interpol when you – when people are boarding U.S. flights?

MS. PSAKI: Well, here’s what I know, and I can venture to get you more details on that if we can answer it: We provide Interpol with electronic updates on lost and stolen U.S. passports. That information is posted as soon as we are aware of it. Obviously, it’s up to Interpol to access the information, but it’s accessible to member law enforcement authorities worldwide. We’re one of the top providers of lost and stolen information to Interpol, and we have provided passport records to Interpol’s stolen and lost documents database since 2004.

In terms of what we specifically do here, Elise, my bet is that is a DHS lead, but let me check on that and see. And is your question – just to clarify here, is your question what the United States airlines do or what we do at our airports, or --

QUESTION: Well, I was interested in your providing information to Interpol and --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- the access procedures on that. And then I was also interested on what your procedures are.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Let me check and see if that’s something we can provide, or I’ll get you the appropriate contact for that.

More on Malaysia?


MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Have you been in contact with the family of the two American children that were on board? Is it clear that – were their parents passengers? Have you been able to reach any family member?

MS. PSAKI: Let me see here. There were, as you noted, three U.S. citizens. We can confirm those U.S. citizens. I think the information is out there, but let me do that for all of you. Philip Wood, Nicole Meng, and Leo Meng were on board. We don’t have any further information to share regarding these individuals at this point. Obviously, this sometimes can be ongoing in processes like these, so let me see where we are at the end of the day, and if there’s more we can detail for all of you.

More on Malaysia? Go ahead, in the back.

QUESTION: Oh, no, not Malaysia.

MS. PSAKI: Not Malaysia. Malaysia?


MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen, could you give us the whole picture of what the role the U.S. is playing now? What assistance are you providing and are you going to provide?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, two United States-based representatives of the NTSB, joined by two FAA representatives, arrived in Kuala Lumpur on March 10th, so that is today, of course. Our Kuala Lumpur-based law enforcement officials are also cooperating closely with their counterparts. In addition – and I think this came out from DOD, but just so you have all the information – we also provided – P-3 surveillance aircraft and two destroyers are also involved in the search efforts as well. So – and we’re, of course, closely in contact, but those are the specific materials we’ve provided, and individuals.

QUESTION: Are you going to share the spy satellite image with those countries? Because that may indicate explosion or something like that.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more specifics for you on what information will be shared, but obviously, we’re doing everything we can to be helpful in this case.

New topic? Let’s go to the back, just because he hasn’t had any question, and then we’ll go to you next. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay. It’s about Japan’s comfort women. The Japanese Government is going to reexamine the process, how it was made by the previous government in early ’90s. It’s called about the Kono Statement on comfort women. And Japanese Government also said that it’s not going to change the statement per se.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So I was wondering if you have – can any comment or view on this process.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the apologies extended by previous Prime Minister Murayama and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono marked an important chapter in Japan improving relations with its neighbors. We note that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated to the press on March 3rd – so last week – that the position of the Abe government is to uphold the Kono statement. We encourage Japan’s leadership to approach this and other issues arising from the past in a manner that is conducive to building stronger relations with its neighbors, so we felt that was a positive step.

Let’s just go around to – and make sure everybody – go ahead.

QUESTION: Staying in Japan, tomorrow, and actually today, in Japan marks the third – three years since the earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku region, so I have a couple questions about that.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: One, does the State Department have any – a couple comments on the three year anniversary?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Two would be, in what significant ways does the State Department continue to cooperate with Japan to help the residents of the region recover?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And lastly, does the State Department have any lingering concerns about the efforts to clean up the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi plant?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, let me see if I can address all of your questions here. One, we’ll – the anniversary, I believe, is tomorrow.


MS. PSAKI: So we’ll have a statement out tomorrow, so look out for that. And we remain, of course, closely engaged with the Government of Japan regarding the situation at Fukushima nuclear power plant. Since the initial incident in 2011, we have had ongoing exchanges at various levels regarding the situation and remedial actions, reflecting our close alliance and relationship, and of course, shared expertise – and we’ve shared our expertise.

For example, the Department of State provides funding and other assistance to the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, developed in the wake of the Fukushima accident to strengthen nuclear security worldwide, including in Japan. We’ve also worked to assist the remediation and decommissioning effort in Japan, including helping to ensure that the experience and skill of U.S. firms can be available for that work.

Many other U.S. Government agencies and officials are also engaged on the issues related to Fukushima, and that has been ongoing over the course of the last couple of years, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and many others. So that is the broad range of our engagement, which I expect will continue.

QUESTION: Do you have anything specific for the residents there other than just – because I think mostly what you mentioned there was specific towards the nuclear disaster, but what about relief efforts for residents? Do you have programs to provide assistance?

MS. PSAKI: We have a range of programs. I’m sure we can get you a longer list of those, but it is interagency across many government agencies. So I just didn’t want to outline everything from here, but I’m sure we can get you more details if that’s helpful.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: Can I go to Syria, please?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I don’t know if you saw the news today that the group of nuns that were kidnapped in December have been released today in a prisoner swap. I wondered if you had a reaction to that.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, of course, we are relieved by the reports that the nuns have been released. We continued to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those who remain unjustly detained in Syria. I know there have been a range of details out there. I’m not in a position to confirm any of those details. I know the Government of Lebanon has been a resource in terms of specifics, so I would point you to them.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.


MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. Mokhtar Lamani, who’s Lakhdar Brahimi top aide, resigned, like, last week.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: There are talks or rumors that Brahimi himself is resigning. Update us, if you would, on what’s going on. He’s supposedly submitting a report before the Security Council this week sometime, on the 13th. What kind of diplomatic activity is ongoing under the leadership of Larry Silverman?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I think, one, there are a range of officials who work on issues related to Syria throughout the building, whether that is people who work on refugee issues or assistance or chemical weapons issues. And so that – all of those activities and tracks are ongoing on a daily basis. Larry Silverman has been – let me see if I have an update on his activities. I think I had something I could have – I think I had something in there. Let me just – give me a moment.

He is, as we confirmed a couple of weeks ago, has been in that acting role. He’s planning to meet – he was planning to meet late last week with some members of the opposition, so let me see if we can get an update for you on the details of that meeting.

QUESTION: Okay. On the – during the meeting between the Secretary of State and the King of Jordan --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- in the last couple days, there is talk about U.S. special forces who are training somebody – training Syrian opposition forces. Could you – I’m sure that topic may have come up during the discussion. Could you update us?

MS. PSAKI: I think you’re referring to the – and I think DOD confirmed this --


MS. PSAKI: -- but I’m happy to do that as well, that we recently sent a small contingent of Special Operations personnel to Jordan to participate in military-to-military training exchange – a military-to-military training exchange with Jordanian and Iraqi counterterrorism forces. The training will – was meant to – will – is meant to bolster skills in counterterrorism and special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures. But this is, again, a training exchange with Jordanian and Iraqi counterterrorism forces. So I would point you, though, to DOD for more specifics on that.

QUESTION: So is it --

QUESTION: Are there any Syrians involved?


MS. PSAKI: That – those are – that is what I have on this specific issue. This is a mil-to-mil on this specific case.

Iraq or a different – we can change topics. That’s fine.

QUESTION: Yeah, we can change topics.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I have on North Korea and one on Japan if that’s all right.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, okay.

QUESTION: One is, I was just wondering if you have any reaction to elections, using the term loosely, in North Korea, or the --

MS. PSAKI: I will simply say that is not a model for democracy around the world.


MS. PSAKI: Japan?

QUESTION: And then – yeah --

QUESTION: Wait a second. Are you suggesting that it’s necessarily wrong for one candidate to get 100 percent of the vote? (Laughter.) What if that’s an – what if it was actually free and fair and that happened?

MS. PSAKI: It would be a historic outcome, Matt. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: What if he’s the only one that wanted to run, though?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that I have much more analysis for all of you, as fun as this is. (Laughter.)

Go ahead. Japan?

QUESTION: Yeah. There was a recent report – I think it was today that it was released by the Center for Public Integrity – on a new nuclear power plant that’s set to open in Japan, which will produce uranium and plutonium that could be weapons – used for weapons. Is the U.S. concerned at all that there are security issues or that the site might become a target for terrorists?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have all the details on that. Let me talk to our team about it. You know how closely we coordinate and cooperate with Japan on a range of – on defense issues. We were just there last October for the 2+2 meeting, so let me check with our team and see if there’s concerns that we want to express on that front.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Just wondered if you have a chance to study or understand better the ongoing – I mean, the tension between GCC countries. I mean, or – because the last week you said you are following it, and I don’t know if you have a chance to – you have a point of view about it or you have something to say about it?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to offer from last week.

QUESTION: I mean, you prefer not to say something, you mean?

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. I prefer not to add to what I already said last week.

QUESTION: Okay. There is another question. You released yesterday a press release about the illicitly shipment of oil from Libya.

MS. PSAKI: From Libya, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yeah, and was just wondering, what is the significance or the importance of this issue regarding foreign policy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think what the – oftentimes, we release statements for a range of issues, and we are asked to comment on a range of issues around the world. So that was an expression of what was happening here. And this is a violation, as we understand it, of Libyan law, given the circumstances on the ground.

QUESTION: Yes. I was trying to figure out if it’s something new or it’s an ongoing something that then you discovered it now.

MS. PSAKI: In terms of the specific event that took place?

QUESTION: I mean – now – no, in general, this illicitly – shipment of oil from Libya was – it’s a phenomenon now or it’s an incident?

MS. PSAKI: I think we were commenting on the specific incident, so that was the purpose of the statement we put out yesterday.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Iran just for one second?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: This has to do with not Levinson, recognizing that there was a statement about him and the anniversary of his disappearance, but do you have anything new on the status of the other Americans who – recognizing that you’re not saying that – where Levinson actually is, but do you have anything new on the Americans who you know are being held in Iranian prisons now?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new details. It’s an understandable question. I mean, what I could provide probably is an update on when our protecting power has most recently reached out, so let me do that. Beyond that, I don’t have additional updates.


MS. PSAKI: Any more questions?

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: No, I’ve got --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: I got two real brief ones.

MS. PSAKI: Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: There seems to be some confusion over some comments that you made on Friday about the whole recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’m wondering if you can address those. Has the Administration changed its position on this?

MS. PSAKI: We have not. Our position has been for quite some time that Israel is a Jewish state.

QUESTION: Okay. And is it also your position that the Israeli demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is something to be determined in the negotiations?


QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: It’s not a precondition?

QUESTION: And that is not a precondition?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to negotiate, I’m not going to negotiate what should or should not be in a framework. Obviously, that’s going to happen between the parties. Our position has remained the same.

QUESTION: Okay. But your position that Israel is a Jewish state does not in any way preclude, let’s say, a different outcome by the two parties, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is our position. I’m not going to comment further.

QUESTION: All right. My last one is just a housekeeping thing from a subject that I wish was – well, whatever. Have you – are you aware that – if the State Department or the Embassy in Cairo has lodged a formal complaint with the Egyptians over the treatment of Medea Benjamin when she was detained at the airport?

MS. PSAKI: They have not. Let me give you a little more information on just how this typically works. We do not – we would not inquire about a – about treatment unless that was a question posed by the individual asking us to do that. That has not happened in this case.


MS. PSAKI: We have been in touch, as I said, about other issues, including our inability to reach her last week or the week before.

QUESTION: You’ve been in touch with her about that?

MS. PSAKI: We’ve reached out to Egyptian authorities about that, as I said on Friday.

QUESTION: You’ve reached out to Egyptian authorities as to why you were not able to see her before she was deported?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay. But she has not – and if I understand what you said correctly, she has not asked you to make a complaint to the Egyptians about her treatment. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. We have not received such a request from Ms. Benjamin at this time.

QUESTION: Is that a requirement for you to lodge a protest?

MS. PSAKI: It is standard practice for us to gain an individual’s permission before raising allegations of mistreatment, so that has not happened in this case.

QUESTION: Okay. But presumably, if the situation was dire enough, you don’t – I mean, it’s not a requirement for you to have permission or a request from the person who was allegedly mistreated, is it?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: You can do it without that?

MS. PSAKI: Not to get too technical here, but I’ll just go there. In the Foreign Affairs Manual --


MS. PSAKI: -- it says that we must “gain the permission to protest the abuse or mistreatment.” So that is outlined in the Foreign Affairs Manual in that capacity.

QUESTION: And absent that, you are not allowed to protest?

MS. PSAKI: I will have to check with more specific details about what we are and aren’t allowed to do, but that is standard operating procedure, so that’s why we’ve proceeded in this manner.


MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:02 p.m.)

DPB # 43