Daily Press Briefing: April 10, 2014

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Welcome to Interns and Journalism Fellows
    • Parties Remain in Intensive Negotiations
    • Ambassador Indyk Travels
    • Range of Issues
    • Jonathon Pollard
    • Final Status Agreement
    • Move toward Joining UN Conventions / Technical Step
    • U.S. Position on 1915 Atrocities
    • Turkey and Armenia Relations / Normalization
  • IRAN
    • UN Representative Nomination
    • U/S Sherman Meeting with Iranians / Nuclear Negotiation / American Citizens
    • JPOA / Payments / OFAC
    • P5+1 Meeting / Comprehensive Agreement / Next Meeting
    • Upcoming Meeting
    • G-7 / Range of Issues
    • Loan Guarantee Package
    • Energy Security
    • Russian Action in Eastern Ukraine / U.S. Concerns
    • Ambassador Pyatt's Twitter Account / Satellite Images
    • Explosion in Athens
    • U/S Gottemoeller Travel to Japan and China / Nonproliferation
    • Deputy Secretary Burns' Meeting with South Korea Deputy National Security Chief
    • Immunity Granted to Blackwater Employees in Iraq in 2007 / DOJ
  • CUBA
    • "Cuba Twitter" / USAID / Administrator Shah
Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
April 10, 2014


1:21 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone, everyone in the back. I first want to welcome two groups we have visiting us today at the briefing. First we welcome several interns working in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Hello. And second we also welcome three journalism fellows from the Prague Freedom Foundation, an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic to promote and advance independent journalism and free media globally. Welcome to all of you as well.

With that, Matt.

QUESTION: European and Eurasian Affairs?

MS. PSAKI: And welcome to the reporters as well. (Laughter.) I know. Well --

QUESTION: Why? Do they have free time what with Ukraine and Crimea and all this stuff? You should put them to work. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Just they give them a little break within their 23-hour day.

QUESTION: Let me start with the Middle East because there are reports just coming out within the last hour – erroneous reports, I understand, but I just want to check to make sure – that the Israelis and Palestinians have come to some kind of an agreement to extend the talks. If – can you say whether that’s true or not, and also tell us if there – is there any kind of a readout from this meeting that Ambassador Indyk apparently had today?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, let me give you a couple of updates. Our teams on the ground, the negotiating – our negotiating team and both parties remain in intensive negotiations. They had another meeting today. The gaps are narrowing, but any speculation about an agreement are premature at this time.

A couple of other just quick updates on this particular topic. Ambassador Indyk will be returning to Washington in the coming days for consultations. He plans to return to the region again next week. As all of you know, there are a range of holidays, whether it’s Passover or upcoming Easter, so this is a natural time for him to return. And those are the updates I have for all of you.

QUESTION: Can I just ask you what you mean by speculation would be premature? Can you just say that these reports are wrong?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, the reports are inaccurate, so speculation that’s been out there and reports that there is a deal is inaccurate.

QUESTION: All right. So – but that is what you’re trying to do, right?

MS. PSAKI: Of course it is. And our teams remain in intensive negotiation --

QUESTION: So that’s the goal --

MS. PSAKI: -- and the gaps are narrowing.

QUESTION: That’s the goal, but you’re not there yet. Is that it?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. That’s right.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: That’s right.

QUESTION: Just a quick – go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION: What is it you’re actually trying to do? I mean, Matt said that is what you’re trying to do, but what is it you’re trying to do? When you say you’re narrowing the gaps, what gaps? What are you actually physically trying to do?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re working, Jo, as you know, to determine what the path forward is for these negotiations. And that is up to the parties. It’s always been up to the parties. It remains up to the parties to make that determination. There are issues that were, of course, raised last week, and we want to determine what the path forward is.

QUESTION: So do these include the prisoners, the prisoner issue?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of issues that are being discussed. Certainly, that’s one of them. There are other topics I’m not going to go into greater detail on that have been out there.

QUESTION: And is the release of Jonathan Pollard among those other topics?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of topics. I’m not going to detail it further.


MS. PSAKI: Said.

QUESTION: -- their sources or their reports insist that the deal includes the swap of prisoners, the 30 prisoners that were supposed to be released on the 23rd of – on the 29th of March, another 400 prisoners, but also they insist that Jonathan Pollard is part of the deal. Could you say or could you tell us or could you deny flatly that he is not part of the deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, nothing has changed. No decision has been made about Jonathan Pollard. That’s the same as it was last week. And I just made very clear that these reports are premature.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, would the Palestinians have to, let’s say, resend their applications or cancel their applications or call them back with the UN agencies for the talks to continue, or no?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into that level of detail, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. But would you say that the Israelis now are either reconciled to this fact that this is done and there is no backtracking by the Palestinians or backpedaling in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak on behalf of the Israelis of what they would or wouldn’t feel comfortable with. Obviously, there are a range of issues being discussed, including the Palestinians’ recent steps, including their desire for prisoners to be released, including a range of issues. But I’m not going to go into further detail.

QUESTION: Only if you would indulge me for a second. Now, what does that do to the framework agreement or the 29th of April deadline? I mean, if they decide to go on beyond, so we continue doing the same thing, or is there going to be some sort of an announcement on the 29th that we have covered this period now, the nine-month period and we’re going to another six months or another nine months?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict for you, Said. Obviously, if there’s a decision made because of steps by the parties that these talks will continue, then it would take longer than the next couple of weeks to come to a final status agreement. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re taking it one day at a time here.

QUESTION: Now, would any agreement that is brokered or – by the Americans, in this case by the American side, include also sort of the cessation of settlement activities, as we have seen the announcement? Just, in fact, yesterday they announced 300 dunams, which is about 100 acres of land is being confiscated from an agricultural --

MS. PSAKI: Well, you’re familiar with our view on settlements. I’m not going to address that question further.

Do we have more on Middle East peace, or should we move on?

QUESTION: I’ve got one very briefly.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: What’s your understanding of the status of the Palestinians’ decisions to go ahead and move toward joining these UN conventions? I understand the Swiss have said that they received --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So to be clear, this is simply a technical step that Matt is referring to, I would caution you against reading too much into the significance of what is essentially a ministerial step in the processing of the Palestinians’ letter. So the role – let me --

QUESTION: Yeah, but I just want to make sure – administerial?

MS. PSAKI: Administerial, administerial. The role of the depository, the UN or the Swiss, is simply to notify parties to the treaty what – which has – what has happened. And the depository does not determine the legal validity or effect of the communications. It actually remains in the hands of the treaty parties, states that are a party to each treaty, to decide for themselves questions of who they recognize and with whom they consider themselves in treaty relations. So this is a technical step in their process.

QUESTION: So you do not believe that that step which was taken --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- violates the terms of the agreement that they reached back last year?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Is that correct? Because it’s just an administrative thing and it --

MS. PSAKI: We strongly – continue to strongly oppose unilateral steps, which of course we consider this one, that seek to circumvent or prejudge outcomes that still need to be negotiated. So there’s no question this process of steps has been unhelpful. But again, we’re at a stage here --

QUESTION: Right. But nothing --

MS. PSAKI: -- where we’re determining what the path forward is. We’re not going to dwell on what was or was agreed to in previous months.

QUESTION: But in terms of the way the United States looks, this doesn’t change anything in terms of the Palestinians and their --

MS. PSAKI: Our funding or --

QUESTION: No, in terms of – not in terms of your funding. But you don’t think that this changes anything – this one step changes anything on the ground or something that needs to be negotiated, or does it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, this is a technical step that follows on the unhelpful step taken last week. So in that degree it’s a continuation, but again, it’s not a different step. So I don’t think it changes necessarily what we’re negotiating now, no.

QUESTION: And have you made that point to the Israelis, or do you know?

MS. PSAKI: Well, look, I mean, the focus we have that’s happening between the parties now is about what the path is forward. Yes, this is a technical step, but we’re determining what the path is forward.

QUESTION: But just because the Palestinians have – their whatever-it-is has been accepted by the Swiss does not mean that they are suddenly members of the Geneva Convention.

MS. PSAKI: That’s right. That’s right. It’s a technical step. It’s still – again, unilateral steps are still unhelpful, and we’ve made that clear to both parties.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Jen, just to clarify, when you say that gaps are narrowing, are we now at the point where we’re just talking about the length of time for an extension, or are we still on the substance of the ins and outs of negotiation?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into that level of detail, but it’s fair to say that there need to be more negotiations. Those will continue. And Ambassador Indyk will be returning to the region next week for that.

QUESTION: One thing on that.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I mean, the Secretary said the other day in his congressional testimony that the bitter irony – the irony, the bitter irony was that you were really just talking about process and how to keep the process going, not about the fundamental issues of a final settlement. Has that changed? Has anything changed since Tuesday?

MS. PSAKI: No. But again, without going into too much detail, there are also discussion of conditions that would create the best environment for a peace process, and that’s part of the discussions as well.

QUESTION: Got it. But the fundamental point which hasn’t changed then since his testimony is what you’re really just trying to do is keep the talks going now, rather than actually working on – though I get that the two are not entirely divorced from one another, but that the focus is just keeping them going, not on negotiating the final status issues.

MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re talking about, of course, the important difficult issues. I’m not going to go into further detail than I have.

QUESTION: Can I just have a follow-up very quickly? Does this narrowing of the gap --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- was it influenced by what the Secretary said on Capitol Hill, by the meeting in Cairo of the Arab ministerial meeting in Cairo, and by the meeting yesterday between the Israeli foreign minister and Secretary Kerry?

MS. PSAKI: Said, I would encourage you to pose those questions to the Israelis and the Palestinians. It’s their decisions and their choices that are being made, so I’m not going to do an analysis on that.

QUESTION: I promise, my last question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Are you hopeful that the talks will continue on past the 29th? Do you see that it is happening?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I don’t want to make a prediction, but certainly, our goal has always been to work with the parties in a role as a facilitator to achieve a final status agreement.

QUESTION: Just on Indyk’s travel, do you expect him to come back – are there any more meetings that you’re aware of that are going to happen before he returns? Do you know when exactly he’s going to return?

MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of. I’ll check and see if there’s more specificity. As I understand it, it’s in the coming day or so.


QUESTION: Could you give dates for his return here and --

MS. PSAKI: Next week. He’ll be returning back to the region next week, and he’ll be returning in the next day or so to Washington.

QUESTION: Okay. But you said about dates that, naturally, holidays that are coming up, but those holidays aren’t until next week.

MS. PSAKI: Oh well, some of them start next week, as you know. So maybe – I don’t have anything specific. When we have anything specific to let you know, we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Is this for him to – and I’m sorry, I may have missed a word or two at the start. I this for him to consult with the Secretary and give briefings, or is it at the White House or elsewhere, or is he just getting a break?

MS. PSAKI: Well, hopefully he’ll have a little bit of a break too. But certainly, it’s to have discussions and consult with the Secretary and the national security team here.

QUESTION: Jen, the holiday begins on the 14th and ends on the 22nd. Is it safe to assume that Ambassador Indyk will be here during that time?

MS. PSAKI: No. We’ll let you know as soon as we know when he’ll be returning, but it’s at some point next week.

QUESTION: Can I just --

MS. PSAKI: On Middle East peace or a different topic?

QUESTION: No, very quick on Turkey.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: About an hour, there will be a resolution at the Senate regarding Armenian genocide resolution. Do you have any position on that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our position has long been that we acknowledge – clearly acknowledge as historical fact and mourn the loss of 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire. These horrific events resulted in one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, and the United States recognizes that they remain a great source of pain for the people of Armenia and of Armenian descent, as they do for all of us who share basic universal values. Beyond that, I don’t have any other comment for you.

QUESTION: Okay. So this resolution wants Administration to recognize or the President to recognize 24th of April as the commemoration for the 1915 events, genocide events. Would you – do you have any position regarding this?

MS. PSAKI: I just provided what our United States position is.

QUESTION: Jen, you can’t address --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) or when you were working for candidate Obama what his position was on this issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I know that candidate Obama has his own personal views about this issue, which he – was actually in his statement that the White House sent out last year. I’m sure there’ll be more statements to come at the end of this month.

QUESTION: But you cannot specifically address the question of whether the U.S. Government regards the events that you just described near the end of the Ottoman Empire as genocide?

MS. PSAKI: I just stated what our position is. Do we have more on this? Turkey?

QUESTION: Jen, one single question more. There is a protocols between the Armenia and Turkey that your Administration helped in 2011 or ’10, I believe. Do you have any update on that, how those normalization process is going on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we continue to urge both countries to work together to achieve a full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts. We believe that by working together to address their shared history, Armenia and Turkey can promote stability and prosperity in the entire Caucasus region, so we continue to work with them on that.

While the protocols may not be moving forward at this time, we note that both sides remain committed to the process of normalizing relations and neither side has withdrawn. Our greatest interest on this issue is to see Armenia and Turkey heal the wounds of the past and move forward together in a shared future of security and prosperity in the region, and our policy is, of course, naturally guided by that goal.

QUESTION: Do you know why this process is not moving forward? It has been five years almost that --

MS. PSAKI: Sure, I understand that. I don’t have any more detailed analysis for you.

Shall we move on to a new topic?

QUESTION: Just to return to the issue of the Iranian nomination for representative at the UN, reports today, there are court papers that allege that he was implicated in the assassination of a dissident, an Iranian dissident in Italy in the 1990s. First of all, is the Administration aware of this?

MS. PSAKI: I’ve seen the reports. We’ve obviously expressed our concerns publicly to the Iranians and to the UN about the fact that this nomination is not viable, but I’m not going to detail the specifics of those concerns more.

QUESTION: But this new information, or at least new to us, does that factor into the discussion about whether or not to ban the visa at all?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to detail that further.

QUESTION: But you haven’t made a decision yet?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new to update you all on on this specific issue.

QUESTION: I just want to know if you have any reaction to the passage in the House of the bill.

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly share the concerns expressed by members of Congress and we have expressed those to the Iranians, but I don’t have anything particular on the congressional vote.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just – I just wonder if you can say – is it the case that by saying that his nomination is not viable and saying that publicly – not just you, but the White House and others as well – is that what you would like to do, what you would like to see, is for the Iranians to withdraw his nomination. Is that a fair assessment of the position that --

MS. PSAKI: Well, that would certainly be one option, but I’m not going to detail any further.

QUESTION: But is that not the preferred option for – would that not be a preferable option than to go – than having to deny a visa or having to approve the visa? Wouldn’t be easier if it just went away, if they just withdrew the nomination?

MS. PSAKI: Well, our preference certainly would have been that he wouldn’t have been nominated to begin with.

QUESTION: In the first place, right.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: But now that he has been, it’s fair to say that the Administration would like to see – that the easiest and quickest resolution to this problem is for his nomination to be withdrawn, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, as I’ve noted a few times, we’ve made our concerns clear and they’re going to make whatever choice they’ll make.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I asked if you could take the questions of whether there had been precedents for this. Are you able to – whether there are – not precedents to this – whether there are past instances of U.S. visa denials for foreign representatives to the United Nations, whether permrep or lower level. Can you address that?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into historical precedents from the podium. Certainly, I know everybody has lots of access to information out there, but I don’t have anything I can detail for you from there.

QUESTION: And is there a legal reason for that, or is it a policy decision?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to detail it further.

Do we have more on this issue?


MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Yesterday the American team in Vienna issued a statement that the Under Secretary Sherman had an hour and a half meeting, bilateral with the Iranians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And she raised the issue of the Americans detained and disappeared in Iran, which means they are talking more than the nuclear issue. Do you know if they discussed any regional issues beside this?

MS. PSAKI: My understanding from talking to our team, Samir, is that, yes, they did meet for an hour and a half. They talked about two things during that bilateral meeting. That is, of course, the nuclear negotiation as one of them. The other is the issue of American citizens and our concern about Mr. Hekmati, Pastor Abedini, and Robert Levinson, all of whom deserve to be home with their families. So those were the two topics of discussion.

QUESTION: No other regional issues?

MS. PSAKI: Those were the two topics.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Iran?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I think under the schedule that has been outlined for the payments under the JPOA to Iran, the fourth payment, which is for a total of $550 million, is supposed to happen today.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Has that happened?

MS. PSAKI: So as you noted, we – at the beginning of this process, we made a schedule of installments public. This one was worth the equivalent of 550 million, as you noted. This is actually – the process and the step that happens here is that OFAC would of course notify banks of this step each time it comes due. I would point you to them to confirm whether that’s happened or not.

QUESTION: So you can’t, but OFAC can let us know what --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. OFAC would be --

QUESTION: -- that the payment has gone through or that --

MS. PSAKI: OFAC – they would let you know if the banks have been notified. I don’t think they can confirm whether a payment has gone through, but they can let you know if a bank – if the banks have been notified, which would be the step they take.

QUESTION: That they could make such a payment?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I thought Marie had confirmed from the podium in the – or I thought either you or Marie had confirmed from the podium that such payments have gone through.

MS. PSAKI: I can look back. Obviously, if it’s happened in the past, maybe that’s a different circumstance. Obviously, since this is a due date today I would point you to OFAC and they can let you know if the step on our end has been taken.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

Iran? Or any more on Iran?


MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I referred to Foreign Minister Zarif yesterday – 50 to 60 percent already been agreed upon with respect to the agreement. But on – yesterday on the background, the senior officer said nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So it looks like – it is clear there is a disagreement on many thing. What are the major point that there is no full agreement with the Iranian about, or the remaining point to agree upon?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me walk you through a little bit about where we are. As you know, the last round of talks was completed yesterday. Our team continued our substantive discussions about all of the issues that will be – have to be part of a comprehensive agreement. These sessions have been in-depth and the conversations have given us important additional insights into the biggest and most challenging gaps that we’ll be required to address, we’ll all be required to address as we move forward.

At this point, as you know, we don’t know if we’ll be successful in bridging these gaps. And I think that was the point that was being made. We are certainly committed, as are all the parties, to doing so. And certainly from the beginning, Under Secretary Sherman and others who have been leading these negotiations have made clear that there are two principles that are important. One is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and the other is that nothing is agreed until everyone agrees to it, because the unity between the P5+1 on these issues is hugely important.

The next step in this process is to begin actually drafting text, which we have said would happen after this next round. I would caution anyone from thinking that a final agreement is imminent or that it will be easy. That’s just the next step in this. And the P5+1 will meet back in Vienna at the political director level again on May 13th. As has been the case consistently throughout, our experts will also be working in the interim together to address some of the technical issues.

QUESTION: But isn’t that the same thing? Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and nothing is agreed until everyone agrees to it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, not to --

QUESTION: Or is it – or is there a distinction?

MS. PSAKI: I actually – how I view that, Matt, is that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed refers to the content; nothing is agreed till everyone agrees to it means the partners. So that’s, I think, what is the meaning – not to put too fine of a point on it – of the saying.


QUESTION: May 13th, that’s with the Iranians, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. It’s the next round of negotiations.

QUESTION: Yeah, right, right. Right, right, right. Good.

MS. PSAKI: Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Move on?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I just want to – logistically, on Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Who is going to – whenever this meeting is set for next week – and I have a suggested name for the group, by the way.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, let’s hear it.


MS. PSAKI: You don’t like Quad or Quartet?

QUESTION: No. I think that --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- Tetrad would be good. (Laughter.)

MS. PSAKI: Okay.


MS. PSAKI: That doesn’t flow off the tongue.


MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll come back tomorrow and see if you have a better option. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: No. You mean you’re rejecting it out of hand? I’m going to try to get it to catch on.

Anyway, is there anything to announce on that? And even if you’re not in a position to say if there is, who is, like, in charge of this thing? Who would the announcement come from if not from you, on the meeting?

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, when we’re prepared to announce, we would announce in conjunction with the other participants. But we’re still in discussions with the Ukrainians, with the EU, with the Russians, and so I don’t have anything to announce for all of you today. We’re still, of course, planning on next week.

QUESTION: But what’s the holdup? I just know this has been in the works for a while now. Why is it so difficult to decide between a couple of European capitals and a couple of very close dates?

MS. PSAKI: Because you’re coordinating a lot of parties. I think everybody is working towards making a determination on the final details, and as soon as we do, we’ll make it available.

New topic? Okay.

QUESTION: Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine. Okay, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. The G20 meeting has already started, and my understanding, at the same time G7 meeting is also be held. And --

MS. PSAKI: The G7 meeting --


MS. PSAKI: The one that will be in June?

QUESTION: Here. No, no, no, today. Today or tomorrow here in Washington, D.C.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: And probably they are going to discuss IMF support or economic support to Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But do they also talk about the political issues, such as kind of the sanction – fresh sanction or something like this?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure which meeting you’re referring to, but broadly speaking, we have been discussing with our G7 partners and any partners in the international community a range of issues, including economic support for Ukraine, support for the IMF-backed package, individual packages that our countries may be supporting, as well as taking complementary steps, including sanctions. So I would expect that during any meeting where Ukraine is discussed with our international partners, these issues would be discussed.

QUESTION: The same time, the U.S. and Russia, in a bilateral meeting, is also – that it’s going to take place today or tomorrow?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

QUESTION: A ministry of finance.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, a meeting – is it of – a meeting with the Department of Treasury? Is it those officials?

QUESTION: Yes, yes, exactly. Yes, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay. I would point you to them on details for that. I don’t have any specifics on the content of their meeting.

QUESTION: Jen, can I just ask you, on the economic support, where exactly we are? This is a little bit on catch-up after being on the road last week. The 1 billion loan guarantee that was approved --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Yep.

QUESTION: -- has that actually been put forward? Is that – has a, like a button being pressed somewhere --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and you are now standing guarantor?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the --

QUESTION: And also bits of money that I believe Assistant Secretary Nuland was talking about in her testimony about – in the FY13 and FY14 --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- has that actually been spent --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- or is it still pending?

MS. PSAKI: It’s all a good question. The President signed into law, as you know, last week the loan guarantee package. In terms of where it sits right now, let me take that and just see if we can get an update for you and the other bits of money that Assistant Secretary Nuland referred to.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Jen, when the Secretary visited Kyiv, there were other things included in that package that was announced that day beyond money. It was also, like, technical advisors on things – not just to look at the books, but to claw back money that had been sort of looted.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Any update on where we are with that --

MS. PSAKI: Why don’t I check in the same round of questioning. Obviously, there are a lot of channels happening at the same time, including consultations on those issues, consultations on issues like natural gas and access to energy resources. We’ve been working closely with them, with the Ukrainians in recent days on that specifically. So I know there’s a lot of activities taking place; let me just see if we can get an update for you.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to President Putin’s letter this morning to the EU saying that they’re going to cut off supplies unless the EU stumps up the cash for the Ukrainian bills?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly seen that. Just to catch you all up, which you may all already be aware of, on a couple of actual steps they’ve taken. Also on April 1st, Russia raised the price of natural gas for Ukraine by more than 40 percent. Now they’ve raised the price – they also then after that raised the price again, and then we saw, of course, the letter you referred to this morning. And Russia reneged on an agreement signed with Ukraine that offered reduced gas prices in exchange for a 25-year lease of Black Sea Fleet facilities. We condemn Russia’s efforts to use energy as a tool of coercion against Ukraine. Ukraine is now paying $485, a price clearly not set by market forces and well above the average price paid by EU members.

As I just touched on, the U.S. is – the United States is taking immediate steps to assist Ukraine, including the provision of emergency finance and technical assistance in the areas of energy security, energy efficiency, and energy sector reform. In addition, we’re working with Ukraine and our allies on its western borders to encourage them to prepare to reverse natural gas flows in the pipeline so that Ukraine can access additional gas supplies if needed. And what that means is there are flows of gas, of natural gas I should say, that go through – from Western Europe through Ukraine to Russia, and we – or I’m sorry, the other way – from Russia through Ukraine to Western Europe. And we want some of that natural gas to be available to go back into Ukraine. It was a warmer winter, they have some excesses that makes that possible, so we’re working on that as well.

QUESTION: So who controls the pipeline, then? Do the Ukrainians control it?

MS. PSAKI: Depends on the pipeline. And we’re working with a range of partners in the region to see what’s possible.

QUESTION: Two things briefly, Jen. Why can’t – the gas that the Russians are selling is Russia’s to sell, is it not? Why can’t they charge whatever price they want for it?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are also – they had an agreement that I referenced about what they would provide in response to the 25-year lease.

QUESTION: Right. But clearly that agreement was abrogated when the Russians just moved in and took over Crimea and have no longer any need to lease the – correct?

MS. PSAKI: That may be the case. It doesn’t mean we don’t still have strong views about the steps they’ve taken, which clearly we do.


MS. PSAKI: And we’re taking steps to help Ukraine.

QUESTION: Fair enough. But you – so you think that the – you think that you should be able to tell the Russians what price to charge for the gas that it sells to Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I said that, but again --


MS. PSAKI: -- I think they’ve had a long agreement. They’ve – obviously, it’s relevant to point out that they are selling the gas at far above the market rate.


MS. PSAKI: And obviously, we’re taking steps to work with our partners in the region to help Ukraine during this time.

QUESTION: But you think that it’s some kind of violation of something other than just not being a nice seller to – I mean, why can’t they charge whatever they want?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I’m just speaking to our views --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- on their steps they’ve taken.

QUESTION: Okay. And then, secondly, there was a lot of talk yesterday and the day before – or last several days about these actions going on in eastern Ukraine that you guys say are being fomented by the Russians.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you seen anything since – anything in the past, say, 48 hours that would ease any of your concerns? Or have you seen anything that would make you increase – that would make your concerns grow on the agent provocateur front?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we still have the same concerns. Obviously, things have calmed a bit and there are still some buildings where there are remaining issues. We have seen reports that the separatists who seized a security building in Luhansk may have rigged the building with explosives. There are conflicting reports about some particular buildings. But it remains the case, as Assistant Secretary Nuland said yesterday, that these are not spontaneous – a spontaneous set of events. These incidents bear all the hallmarks of an orchestrated campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state, and those concerns remain.

QUESTION: Right. But in his conversation yesterday with Foreign Minister Lavrov and in all these public statements, including Toria’s which you just said --

MS. PSAKI: Yes. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- you’ve been telling the Russians to knock it off. Is there any sign that you’re aware of that they’re listening, that they’re actually doing that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously these events are from a couple of days ago. We’ll see what actions they take moving forward.

QUESTION: So the answer is no. You don’t know whether there has been any – I’d rather --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there haven’t been --

QUESTION: It’s not a trick question.

MS. PSAKI: -- there haven’t been new steps.

QUESTION: Okay, there hasn’t been anything yet.

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re monitoring as closely as we can. But we still remain concerned about the steps that have been taken.

QUESTION: Just going back to your condemnation of what you described as “the Russians have used energy as a tool of coercion” – was that meant to apply to the letter, which is what Jo had asked you about, or to the totality of circumstances that you described, including --

MS. PSAKI: The totality of circumstances in response --

QUESTION: -- including the letter?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.


MS. PSAKI: And in response to Jo’s question, what I thought was relevant here was specific actions more than the letter; also, that they have taken to increase the prices.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to what you mentioned? If I understood this right, you’re trying to work with experts to reverse the gas flow --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- so that Ukrainians get it back?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Isn’t Russia going to take that as some kind of act of sabotage on – or Gazprom on their gas pipeline?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not an expert on this, obviously. I’ve learned quite a bit about it in the last couple of days, but I can see if there’s more specifics, technical specifics on how it would exactly work. I think it would be gas flow that would be coming from Europe, so it wouldn’t – I don’t know that it would be owned by Russia.

QUESTION: It just seems to me that there would be other situations in other countries where if nation states started to try and reserve gas flows, there would be an outcry by other nation states about that.

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are a lot of circumstances happening on the ground and there are a lot of things under consideration to help the people of Ukraine.

QUESTION: But I mean, the Russians could take the position that you’re actually effectively pinching their gas. No?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure that that’s technically correct. It’s a good question, but I will see if there’s more our technical experts can tell.

QUESTION: More technical term than pinching – (laughter).

QUESTION: You don’t think that pinching – pinching is not a technical (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: It is not, but I understand what Jo’s getting at.

QUESTION: How about just theft? Let’s call it theft.

MS. PSAKI: I’m understanding her nuance of meaning --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: -- they could think we’re taking their gas supply. So I don’t think that is what the actual technical – technically what would happen, but I will check with our team on that.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: It’s called larceny, actually.

MS. PSAKI: All right. Any more on Ukraine?

QUESTION: Ukraine?

QUESTION: New topic?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

MS. PSAKI: Ukraine, okay.

QUESTION: Yes. Did you know (inaudible) Ukraine Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And he showed three satellite images on his Twitter yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry, he did what?

QUESTION: On his Twitter.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, satellite images. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. So I want to know – so what is the purpose of his – this – he shows these three satellite images?

MS. PSAKI: Well, one – let me be clear. These are publicly available images. These weren’t private images or images taken from a government stock, so to speak. (Laughter.) But --

QUESTION: They’re not spy satellite images. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: But he was – as we’ve been making the point clearly that we’ve been concerned about not just the troop presence gathering on the border but the fact that they’re staying, and this clearly illustrates that point.

QUESTION: Jennifer, there is an explosion today in Athens, Greece, outside of the Bank of Greece. First I wanted to know if you have a reaction to this, and second, do you help or participate in the investigation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we strongly condemn those who use violence to seek to achieve their goals. The United States and Greece are partners in combating terrorism in all its forms. For information about this particular incident, we would refer you to the Greek Government. We are certainly partners. I’m not aware of a United States role in this. I think it would be led by the Government of Greece.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes. Nonproliferation.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So earlier this morning, the State Department announced the travel plans of Under Secretary Gottemoeller to Japan and China. Can you outline her travel details for us?

MS. PSAKI: Sure, I’m happy to. Under Secretary Gottemoeller will travel to Japan and China from April 10th, today, to April 15th. From the 10th through the 11th she will meet with Japanese counterparts from the cabinet secretariat and the ministry of foreign affairs in Tokyo. She will discuss regional security issues, arms control, and nonproliferation policy, and missile defense cooperation. She will travel on the 12th to Hiroshima to attend the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative ministerial. She will also lead the U.S. delegation to the Japan-U.S. Commission on Disarmament and Nonproliferation, a bilateral dialogue covering weapons of mass destruction, nuclear energy, and conventional arms issues.

On the 14th and 15th, she will take part in the fifth P5 conference in Beijing, China. The conference is the latest in a series of meetings between the United States, China, France, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom, aimed at furthering the disarmament goals laid out in the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference action plan. And finally, on the 15th, she and her counterparts will participate in the P5 conference public event titled “Comprehensive Enhancement of the NPT.”

QUESTION: So as part of her trip, she’ll attend the annual NPDI ministerial meeting in Hiroshima.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What’ll be the main agenda of her participation in this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the organizers of the event. She’s participating, but the event is not organized by the United States.

QUESTION: And this is the first time that the U.S. is going to be participating in this particular meeting. What is the impetus for U.S. participation this round?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly nonproliferation and the importance of working with our partners and allies around the world. To further that agenda is important to the President, important to the Secretary. Obviously, Under Secretary Gottemoeller is an expert on these issues and I think all agreed it would be important to send a message about how important we think this issue is.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Follow-up question?

QUESTION: The reason that you’re being asked these questions is not – is the symbolism of the venue itself. Do you not have anything --

MS. PSAKI: I understand that, Matt. Thank you for --

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Well, do – but do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t. Obviously, it’s not our event. We’re participating in the event.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Okay, I have a follow-up question on that. Is her participation in the NDPI meeting somehow related to the negotiation for preparatory talks of NPT review conference in Beijing next week, which I’m assuming she’s also --

MS. PSAKI: She’s also attending that. I mentioned that in the list I just gave.



MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Deputy Secretary Burns met with South Korea Deputy National Security Chief Kim Kyou-hyun today. Can you tell us more detail about the purpose of this meeting?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I have more details. I believe it was part of kind of ongoing discussions and – with our important partners, and a follow-up to the range of meetings that the President had over the course of the last couple of weeks. I’ll check with Deputy Secretary Burns’s office and see if there’s more to share.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: Yeah, I wanted to return to the question of the immunity granted by the State Department to Blackwater employees in Iraq in 2007. Were you able to establish, one, whether you felt that the Department had the right to grant immunity at that time absent the authorization of the Justice Department or the concurrence of the Justice Department?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to comment on what people in 2007 thought about a right to grant immunity in Iraq. I will say to kind of expand a little bit on one of your questions yesterday about what we specifically did to address, we have worked to address immunity concerns that arose soon after Nisour Square, including by creating in conjunction with DOJ new warning forms for voluntary interviews and compelled interviews, and emphasizing procedures to follow when using the forms through improved training and notices to overseas posts. So certainly that was part of, among other, issues that we work to address in conjunction with the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: What does that mean? Does that mean – what do the forms actually do? Do they warn people that anything they say can and will be used against them? Do the forms say to the DS or other investigators you have no authority to grant immunity without checking with the Justice Department? I mean, I – it still doesn’t to me address --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’m not sure if these forms are publicly available forms. If they are, I will talk to our team and see if we can make one available, and perhaps we can get you a briefing with them on the specifics.

QUESTION: And why are you not able to address that question of --

MS. PSAKI: About 2007?

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, it’s not like you haven’t had enough time to think about it or figure out what happened. So why not address – get somebody who worked on this to address that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, thank you for your advice, Arshad, but I’m not going to speak to what happened seven years ago in a different administration, and clearly we’ve taken steps to address this since then, and I think that’s the important point we should all focus on.

Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: I had a question.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.

QUESTION: I’ve got more. Sorry –

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- but it’ll be brief I’m sure. Just to follow up to my --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- questions yesterday on that whole Cuba Twitter thing.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Have you – I know that Administrator Shah was on the Hill this morning and that he was asked some questions about this, and I know that Senate – the Foreign Relations Committee has asked for some kind of a – I guess not an investigation, but some kind of a look into all of AID’s internet – not just this one, but anything they might be doing. But I’m wondering if you were able to get an answer to the question about those texts that I was referring to yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- that did appear to have political content.

MS. PSAKI: Well, USAID is continuing to gather background information. I would point you to specifically what Administrator Shah said this morning I believe in response to a question. He’s asked his team to review all of the information related to the program, and certainly these reported texts will be a part of that process.

QUESTION: Okay. Bu you do not – yeah, that review is not finished; it just started, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Correct. Correct.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Thanks, everyone.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:01 p.m.)

DPB #63