Daily Press Briefing - May 23, 2014

Index for Today's Briefing:

    • Statement / Concern for U.S.-Iranian Citizen Saeed Abedini Sentenced in Iran
    • Letter to House Oversight Government Reform Committee / Issue of the Select Committee
    • Coup Declared / Review of U.S. Assistance Ongoing / Current Suspensions within FMF and IMET Funding
    • In Contact with Thai Military Leaders / Defense Department
    • U.S.-EU Joint Statement / Political Process / Parliamentary Elections / Facilitation of Dialogue
    • Drafting of Constitution / U.S. Working with International Partners
    • U.S. Condemnation of Attack on Indian Consulate / Afghanistan's Continued Work on Security
    • President Putin / Recognition of Ukraine Election / Russia's Influence with Separatist Groups
    • Alternative Solutions for Elections / U.S. Supports the Process
    • Detained Journalists
    • Putin's Comments
    • Sanctions / Russian Economy
    • Support for Nigeria
    • U.S. Assistance to Various Countries
    • Investigation into Shooting Incident
    • Counterterrorism
    • Engagement with Leaders in Lebanon
    • Parties Should Come Back to Table / Protests / Encourage All Sides to Exercise Restraint / NATO Ally
    • Engagement with a Broad Section of India
    • U.S. Has No Role in Events Happening in Venezuela / Dialogue to Move Forward
    • Elections / Encourage a Fair and Transparent Election
    • Use of Chemical Weapons / OPCW
    • A Pattern of Unilateral Moves
  • IRAN
    • IAEA Report
    • Efforts to Build Trust / Would Like Negotiations to Resume
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 23, 2014


1:17 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF: Hello. Welcome to the daily press briefing --

QUESTION: Full house.

MS. HARF: -- on this Friday before Memorial Day. I have one quick statement at the top, and then happy to open it up for questions.

We remain concerned about the health and welfare of U.S.-Iranian citizen Saeed Abedini, sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs, especially given reports of mistreatment during his recent transfer from a private hospital back to Rajai Shahr prison. We repeat our request for Iran to permit Mr. Abedini to receive any necessary medical treatment and to grant Swiss officials, who serve as our protecting power, consular access to determine his wellbeing. We again call on Iran to release Mr. Abedini so that he may be reunited with his family.


QUESTION: That’s it?

MS. HARF: That’s it.

QUESTION: Okay. On that, do you know when the last time the Swiss met with him?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we – they’ve ever had access to him.

QUESTION: They’ve never?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And I presume that you also would repeat your calls for the release of --

MS. HARF: For Mr. Hekmati and Mr. Levinson to be reunited with their families as well, yes, as we always do.

QUESTION: Okay. And have you – and the last one on this, just have you been in touch with the Swiss so that – to ask them to ask the Iranians to --

MS. HARF: We talk to them about this frequently. We also raise this directly with the Iranians when we meet with them as well.

QUESTION: Okay. And the reason – sorry, that wasn’t the last one. This is the last one.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: The reason for this statement today is?

MS. HARF: The recent mistreatment.

QUESTION: The recent mistreatment? That’s not an anniversary of anything?

MS. HARF: No, it’s not. It is not an anniversary.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Can – I was going to start with Thailand, but I want to ask you, because this letter that has been sent to the Hill has just popped up. You – well, why don’t you explain what it is? The Secretary has agreed to appear before the committee, but he doesn’t – but he can’t do it on the 29th when the subpoena is for, so --

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: -- you’re asking for a different date.

MS. HARF: Yes. So today, we sent a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee saying the Secretary is prepared to appear before the committee on June 12th or June 20th. We have been clear that we’re willing to work with the committee, despite the fact that the Benghazi oversight has been consolidated under the select committee. We believe the Secretary’s appearance before HOGR will eliminate any need for the Secretary to appear a second time before the select committee. He will not be appearing on the day they subpoenaed him for, which, again, they issued when he was overseas traveling, doing the work of diplomacy. He has critical diplomatic work that will be going on that day. We’ve offered two other days as well.

We were also surprised, quite frankly, by the second subpoena when we had been engaged with the committee to try and find a date. Still believe there are more appropriate witnesses, but in an effort to be cooperative, have offered some dates.

QUESTION: So you’ve offered four dates or two dates?

MS. HARF: Two dates.

QUESTION: Okay. So when you just said two, the 12th and the 20th are the days --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. The 12 – June 12th or June 20th.

QUESTION: -- that he can appear. Okay. Now, if you still believe that there are more appropriate witnesses to talk about the document production aspect of this, which apparently is what Congressman Issa wants to talk about, why not just ask HOGR to drop the subpoena entirely and agree to have him testify before the select committee, which is going to be looking at the much broader scenario?

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, we don’t believe he should testify twice.


MS. HARF: We said this should not – we don’t think he should have to appear before the Select Committee. In the interests of accommodation, to sort of resolve once and for all any outstanding relevant questions, we are prepared for the Secretary to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. We’ve said there are more appropriate witnesses, but in the interests of being accommodating, we’ve offered several dates for the Secretary to appear.

QUESTION: Okay. Understood. But is this an either/or proposition?

MS. HARF: Either HOGR or the select committee?

QUESTION: I mean either HOGR or the select committee?

MS. HARF: Well, we, as I said, believe that if he appears before HOGR, it will eliminate any need for him to appear a second time before the select committee.

QUESTION: Okay. So essentially this is a challenge to Congressman Issa: Get a – ask for, get a more appropriate witness in your – from your point of view, or the Secretary will not appear before the select committee.

MS. HARF: No, I wouldn’t read it that way. We are working to accommodate the House Oversight Committee’s request. That’s what we’re doing here. But we don’t think it’s appropriate for him to have to testify twice on the same topic. So we’ve gotten a subpoena, which we’ve now in our letter back to them also asked them to drop, because we’ve offered two separate – two other dates, alternative dates. And that will be where he appears.

QUESTION: But I – but the whole point of you thinking that there was – there are more appropriate witnesses to appear before HOGR suggests --

MS. HARF: We still believe that.

QUESTION: -- because it’s document production – right, but I don’t see how that’s appearing before two committees on the same thing. You – if HOGR is limited only to document production, and the select committee is looking at the entire before, during, and after of the actual attack, why is it --

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t know if HOGR has made that clear that that’s what they’ll be limited to when he comes up there. I would --

QUESTION: But I thought that was the whole point of why it was --

MS. HARF: I would let Congressman Issa speak for the point of why he issued the subpoena. I would venture to guess that there will be questions about Benghazi that are not related to document production.

QUESTION: Okay. But am I not correct in thinking that the reason that you opposed the subpoena or him appearing before HOGR was because there are more appropriate witnesses because it related to document production, which is not something that the Secretary of State is normally involved in? Is that not right?

MS. HARF: Right, there were two – really, a couple of reasons. One was what you just said, that he’s not involved in the document production, and we did believe there were more appropriate witnesses. It was also the way in which it was done – the first one withdrawn, the second one – when we were working with the committee to find an accommodation forward, the second one, as you saw from my statement at the time released, and then there was a tweet about the State Department with it – it was the manner in which it was done that we also did not find was appropriate.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. But let me just --

MS. HARF: So we’ll see if they’d like him to testify on the 12th or the 20th.

QUESTION: Okay. But would you prefer if they decided not to have him appear at all and then he would appear before the select committee?

MS. HARF: Well --

QUESTION: I’m not --

MS. HARF: -- we certainly believe there were more appropriate witnesses to appear before HOGR, particularly on that topic.


MS. HARF: But again, we said he will appear on the 12th or the 20th and think that takes away any need for him to appear before the select committee.

QUESTION: Okay. I don’t want to belabor this or beat a dead horse, but on --

MS. HARF: But you’re going to?

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Well --

MS. HARF: Just a little more. I don’t want to venture to guess --

QUESTION: The horse is not dead yet. So --

MS. HARF: I don’t want to venture to guess what will happen if – in that scenario you laid out.

QUESTION: But you – do you – if it’s – if there are more appropriate witnesses to appear before HOGR, do you think that there are more appropriate witnesses to appear before the select committee? I mean, it --

MS. HARF: I don’t – they’re in – I don’t want to compare the two --


MS. HARF: -- or get into who might appear before the select committee. That’s just a process that’s starting. What we’re doing here is responding to a specific subpoena from a different committee.


MS. HARF: I don’t want to get into who will appear before the select committee and who won’t. We’re just not even there yet.

QUESTION: Well, I understand. But you’re – but the letter does get into who will appear --

MS. HARF: Well, that he – that it --

QUESTION: -- and who won’t appear in terms of the Secretary.

MS. HARF: Right. He will appear once on Benghazi.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. So it’s either/or.

MS. HARF: We believe – yes. We believe if he appears before HOGR, it takes away the need for him to appear before the select committee.

QUESTION: Okay. So I don’t understand why it’s wrong to present this as a – as the Secretary – Secretary or State Department challenge to Congressman Issa to either, look, drop this, don’t insist on the Secretary appearing before your committee, because if you do then the select committee is not going to be able to hear from him. I --

MS. HARF: Well, as we’ve said, Benghazi oversight has now been consolidated under the select committee.


MS. HARF: And they can work out within their caucus how they want to deal with this issue going forward. All we are doing here is responding to a subpoena. If they want to decide to withdraw the subpoena or ask him instead to go before the select committee, we would look at that request then.

QUESTION: Okay. So --

MS. HARF: But that’s not where we are.

QUESTION: All right. But you do agree that it – that Secretary Kerry would be an appropriate witness for the select committee which is covering the whole thing, or no? I mean, I’m just --

MS. HARF: I’m just not going to say whether he is or is not. All we’re saying is if he appears before HOGR it would take away any need for him to appear before the select committee.


MS. HARF: I just don’t want to get that far down the road.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: I mean, has he asked to drop Issa’s subpoena because he was offended by it?

MS. HARF: Well, we asked in a letter today – and I have it here in front of me – that we have asked the committee to withdraw its subpoena for May 29th. Subpoenas are for a specific date because the Secretary won’t be able to make it on that day, which again, they didn’t ask us before they issued the subpoena commanding him to appear.

So we’ve asked them to drop the subpoena for the 29th because he can’t appear that day. We’ve offered two alternative dates instead.

QUESTION: Can you explain why, as the letter does, why he would not be able to appear on the 29th?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. There’s a couple reasons. Obviously, on May 25th there are presidential elections in Ukraine. There will be a lot of work in the aftermath of those, diplomatically. Also, we’ll be engaged in bilateral, multilateral meetings, preparing for overseas travel, including the NATO ministerial in Brussels in early June, a presidential visit to Poland, which is focused on regional security issues, and other travel in the region where we’re working on issues from Syria to Libya. So there’s just a lot on his plate.

We were, when the second subpoena was issued, working with the committee to find an appropriate date, which was part of the reason we were so surprised. And we’ve offered two other dates now.

QUESTION: But he will – the Secretary will be in Washington?

MS. HARF: He is scheduled to be in Washington, yes, but he has a lot on his plate that day. Again, we are – in the interest of accommodation, have offered two alternative dates to the House Oversight Committee.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) not related to this --

QUESTION: Wait. I just have one more. And I’m sorry that I’m belaboring this, but --

MS. HARF: (Laughter.) It’s okay.

QUESTION: -- which committee is it more – is the Secretary a more appropriate witness to appear before? The Oversight Committee or the select committee?

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s sort of a fair comparison to make – or a useful comparison to make, I guess. When the subpoena was issued for the Oversight Committee, particularly on the topic you mentioned which is document production, we thought there were more appropriate witnesses. The select committee’s work is just getting started.


MS. HARF: Obviously, we want to cooperate with them, but I don’t know what that will look like. So I don’t want to get into a comparison between the two. But I did note that oversight responsibilities had been consolidated under this select committee. So again, their caucus needs to figure who they want to handle this issue, and it appears they’ve done so by consolidating it under a select committee.

So we’ll see how that plays out, but they have to work out some of their internal issues as well. We’re just responding to an individual subpoena.

QUESTION: Okay, but if you don’t think – if you think that it’s not --

MS. HARF: It’s not about which committee’s more appropriate necessarily, it’s about appearing – if he appears once --


MS. HARF: -- testifies on Benghazi, he appears before Congress.

QUESTION: Right. But if you take Congressman Issa at his word, he wants to know about – he wants to ask the Secretary just about the Department’s response to the request. This is all post-incident --

MS. HARF: Post-incident, when --


MS. HARF: -- absolutely.

QUESTION: Wouldn’t it -- and the Secretary is not – and you say the Secretary is not the most appropriate witness to talk about that --

MS. HARF: Right. Recognizing that --

QUESTION: -- but he’s still willing to appear before it, it seems a little --

MS. HARF: He is. Because we are being accommodating and we are working with the committee.


MS. HARF: And yes, he will appear and talk about that if that’s what Chairman Issa would like to talk about.

QUESTION: But it sounds like it’s kind of a trick accommodation, no?

MS. HARF: It’s not.

QUESTION: Because if you say, all right, he’ll go, he’ll testify before that committee, and then he won’t testify before a committee that he is a more appropriate witness to be – appear before.

MS. HARF: Well, but it speaks to two points here, Matt, and I take your point. Two points: The first is that his time is very valuable --

QUESTION: No one suggested it’s not.

MS. HARF: -- and it’s very limited.


MS. HARF: And he has a whole world of pressing diplomatic issues on his plate.


MS. HARF: So the time and energy that it takes to prepare for these kind of hearings – obviously, they’re important and we want the Secretary to be able to talk about. That’s why we’ve offered two dates.


MS. HARF: But this can’t – this has to be a situation where it’s – doesn’t go on forever and ever and where he testifies once on it; doesn’t continually get asked the same questions over and over again.

The second point is the one I spoke to about. They need to figure out how they’re going to handle oversight of this issue and who will have – and where they want to use their resources and how they want to call witnesses, and whether Oversight does, whether the Select Committee does, that’s an issue that their caucus has to decide.


MS. HARF: We can only respond to requests.

QUESTION: Okay. And this will be my last one, then.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Why didn’t you then write to Representative Issa, to Congressman Issa and say: Listen, the Secretary is willing to appear before your committee. Please drop the subpoena. We offered two alternative dates. But we think that he is not the most appropriate witness for your committee. Why don’t you work with the caucus so that – work with the committee, drop any request for him to appear before Oversight, and suggest to the Select Committee, to Representative Gowdy that they ask him to appear? Why --

MS. HARF: Well, in the letter we sent, we actually made many of those points. We did say that we don’t believe he’s the most appropriate witness. We did say that he would not – and it’s not appropriate for him to testify before the Select Committee if he testifies here. We can’t tell them how to work their internal caucus politics. We have been working with the committee throughout weeks now to determine the best witness and when and who, so we’ve had those conversations, but ultimately they need to make decisions. We’ve said the Secretary is willing, happy to testify on this issue --

QUESTION: Happy? (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: -- on one of those dates – July 12th or 20th – because we believe oversight is important. But we can’t – this can’t be the Secretary gets called up by --


MS. HARF: -- continually by different committees on this issue.

QUESTION: Well, fair enough. But it just seems to me that you could then suggest to Congressman Issa that look, we’ll send you official X and the Secretary, we think, is a more appropriate witness for the Select Committee.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly said he wasn’t the most appropriate witness for this hearing.

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And they proceeded. They proceeded with their requests, and so we are responding.

QUESTION: All right, so – and I presume – have you gotten a reply yet? Do you know if the --

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge, but we just sent the letter about an hour ago.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks.


QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. HARF: Did you want to start with Thailand or --

QUESTION: Oh, I was just going to ask you – obviously, nothing has changed, it’s still a coup?

MS. HARF: Still a coup. Nothing’s changed.

QUESTION: Have you – has the review into the aid and what gets suspended and what doesn’t – is that complete or is it --

MS. HARF: It’s ongoing. I have a little bit more information from yesterday. So as Jen said, we give 10.5 million – we gave 10.5 million Fiscal Year 2013 from bilateral assistance, economic and international security assistance. As she also mentioned, there are these global and regional programs funding through things like ASEAN, APEC that goes to a number of different countries. One of the things we’re doing right now is going through all of those to call out what actually goes to Thailand, and that just is a process that takes some time.

So we’ve already suspended approximately 3.5 million in FMF and IMET funding currently. We are reviewing all programs to determine other assistance, which we may suspend. So that process is ongoing. But again – especially the things that are – that are multilateral, excuse me, just takes some time to cull through what actually ends up going to Thailand.

QUESTION: Okay. So just to be – put a fine point on this, the 3.5 million is out of the 10.5 million that you --

MS. HARF: That is correct.


MS. HARF: And that’s already been suspended.

QUESTION: Right, okay. And that --

MS. HARF: But we’re reviewing everything.

QUESTION: That’s foreign military financing --



MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: And do you know – do you have a breakdown between the two of those?

MS. HARF: I don’t have that in front of me. Let me see if I can get it.

QUESTION: Okay. And IMET is the International Military – that’s what – where the Thai army brings or you bring Thai military officers here for training. Do you know how many people that was, like last year?

MS. HARF: I – let me see if I can get some numbers.

QUESTION: I mean, is that --

MS. HARF: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Are any – are there any Thai – this is a State Department program, right --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- it’s not DOD? Do – are any --

MS. HARF: I think we work with DOD on it, obviously.

QUESTION: Right. I know, but --

MS. HARF: But I think the money comes from us.

QUESTION: Do you know if there are any Thai officers currently in the United States who are going to have to go home because of this?

MS. HARF: That is a very good question. I don’t know the answer. There probably are. Some of these programs are ongoing, I would venture to guess. So let me check and see.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my last one on Thailand is what – has there been any contact? Yesterday it was not clear – or yesterday you hadn’t been able to be in – you hadn’t gotten in touch, neither this building nor the Pentagon. I’m wondering if you have now managed to --

MS. HARF: There has been. We’ve consistently been in contact with military leaders throughout this period of political uncertainty. There has been contact. I’d refer you to the Defense Department for specifics on that.

QUESTION: So that’s where it’s been --

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.


MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.


QUESTION: And what kind of contact was there about (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Yeah, I – the Defense Department can speak to what the conduct – the contact, the specifics. But broadly speaking, it’s the same messages we’ve been sending from here, that we urge the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy, and obviously respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty.

QUESTION: Can we go to Libya?

MS. HARF: Anything else on Thailand?

QUESTION: Can I just ask about the – when you talk about the suspension, that’s financing that’s already been allocated for this year?

MS. HARF: For Fiscal Year 2013, mm-hmm.

Anything else on Thailand?

Yes, we can got to Libya, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. To begin with, the statement that you just issued in conjunction with the EU --

MS. HARF: The joint statement, uh-huh.

QUESTION: -- the joint statement and so on. You say in the statement that you support a political process. Are you supporting the elections that are designated for the 25th of June? Is that what you’re doing?

MS. HARF: Well, what we’ve said – and I have this. Let me just pull up the statement in front of me here – yes, is that we support a political process here; that there’s not anything else but a political solution moving forward. Obviously, what that looks like is a decision for the Libyans to make themselves, but that’s – and we don’t, obviously, support one party or another here.

QUESTION: Okay, I understand. But it doesn’t say this specific election. Are you – do you support the --

MS. HARF: Are you talking about the parliamentary elections?

QUESTION: Right, the parliamentary elections.

MS. HARF: Well, we do think that they need to hold inclusive parliamentary elections as soon as technically feasible. And there – note that there was an announcement from the commissioner of the high national electoral council that elections could be organized on June 25th. So obviously, we think this is important, if they can do these in a technically feasible way, that they happen as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Now, I know in the statement you also call on all sides to refrain from violence and so on.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: But is there some sort of an implicit support for former General Khelifa Hiftar?

MS. HARF: Not at all. Not implicit, not explicit, no.

QUESTION: Are you coordinating with other countries in the region, such as Egypt, who is apparently aiding his effort?

MS. HARF: As I said, we’re not supporting any one person here. We’re coordinating with countries in the region and, as you saw, with our partners in Europe on this as well. But I don’t have any specifics in terms of what you asked about there.

QUESTION: The statement also says that the U.S. and its European allies are prepared to facilitate dialogue.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Can you – any more information – is that – would mean upcoming talks between who?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Obviously, we think dialogue is what needs to happen here. And as you note from the statement, if we can help facilitate it in some way – any of us, right – I don’t have specifics on what that might look like. It was an offer that was put on the table to help. Sometimes it’s helpful to have other people facilitating.

QUESTION: And do you know how the statement came about? Was it – were there calls made?

MS. HARF: I do not know how the statement came about. The Secretary has spoken to a number of – he spoke again to the German foreign minister today, has made a number of calls, spoke to Foreign Minister Fabius on Wednesday. So obviously, he’s had a number of calls that touch on this in some way as well as other issues. So I can see if there are more tick-tock details for you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: But it is safe to expect that this statement came out of London and in Washington and in Rome all at the same time, correct?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding, yes. It is a joint statement. And Brussels as well, the EU. Don’t forget about the EU. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Yes. Anything else on Libya?

QUESTION: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Wait, let’s go to Libya, and then we’ll go to Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Yes. In the statement it was mentioned with the support of United Nations. Is the Arab League excluded in this process? Because the other day it was mentioned – Jen mentioned that the Secretary Kerry called Elaraby, one of the calls on Wednesday or Tuesday --

MS. HARF: On Wednesday. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Yes. And it was mentioned that there is a – it was mentioned from Cairo and other places in Arab media that there is a chance to have a Arab League envoy to go to Libya, and he canceled that trip today.

MS. HARF: Okay. Let me check with our folks and see what the status of the Arab League’s role is here. I don’t think there was a specific reason it wasn’t included, but let me check.

QUESTION: The other question related to this, General Hiftar, and the – whatever he was mentioning in the media. And it was not clear if you agree with him or not – it doesn’t matter if you have contact with him or not – that he has a role in confronting Islamic militants, in particular Ansar Sharia, who are in charge or they were accused of attacking the Benghazi consulate. Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. HARF: About what specifically there?

QUESTION: About specifically – do you agree that what he is doing is that? I’m not saying you agree what he --

MS. HARF: Well, we’re obviously watching the situation and determining all the facts on the ground. It’s a very fluid situation, as I know you all know from the past days and weeks now. And are – I’m not going to do any more analysis on what this gentleman is doing. We haven’t had contact with him recently. We’re not supporting any one group or one faction or one party. What we need to see is dialogue by all sides here, and again, if there’s a role any of us can play. You saw that offer being made today.

QUESTION: So when you say dialogue, I mean, are you in touch with all the people over there, or the people who are in charge?

MS. HARF: We – yes. We – Secretary Kerry has talked to a number of international partners – Ambassador Jones, a range of Department – Ambassador Deborah Jones – a range of Department officials have spoken to our Libyan interlocutors to discuss the issue, talk about how we can find a path forward with dialogue. Obviously, this is something that’s of great concern to us.

QUESTION: So what is the – your first – let’s say, what is you are expecting first to be done in the first step – as a first step?

MS. HARF: Well, first there needs to be no violence here. There needs to be a non-violent path forward with dialogue. Obviously, we’ve said this is tough. We knew that Libya was going to go through ups and down in the aftermath of their revolution. But this needs to get to a better place, for the people of Libya more than anyone else.

We obviously – I spoke to Said’s question about elections, holding parliamentary elections. The constitution drafting assembly, which is democratically elected, has already begun drafting a constitution that will really codify principles of democracy. So these are all steps – I don’t have an order for you, but all steps that need to happen.

QUESTION: The reason that I’m asking this is like, how do you describe the role of United States at this particular issue? As a mediator, facilitator?

MS. HARF: No, I – well, I mean, I would use --

QUESTION: I don’t want to put a word badly --

MS. HARF: Yeah, I know. I wouldn’t use either of those words. Obviously, we’re talking to folks on the ground to encourage dialogue. We’re working with our international partners, as you saw in the joint statement today, to help push Libya in a better direction, but we can’t make decisions for them. Obviously, we’re very deeply engaged because we believe it’s important for Libya to come back from the brink here and get back to the dialogue table and choose a better future. But again, we’ll see what that looks like going forward if there’s a role we can play.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) go back anytime soon?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Yeah, she’ll be back soon. She was on previously scheduled travel out of the country.


QUESTION: On Afghanistan.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Seeing the terrorist attack on the Indian consulate on Herat, what do you make of – do you suspect anyone on – behind this?

MS. HARF: Do we suspect anyone behind it? I don’t have anything in terms of who perpetrated this attack. Obviously, you probably saw the statement from the Embassy condemning the attack, noting that Indian and Afghan security forces performed courageously in stopping the attack. I believe that no one but the attackers was killed; there were some injured. And obviously, are concerned about these kind of situations, and we’ll keep working with folks there on the security situation.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Follow-up quickly.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: There were some reports in Afghanistan and Pakistan that those groups are sending a message to the – it will not – the new administration is not yet there – Mr. Modi, the prime minister, that their message is for him and for his administration, because he made some tough statements on the terrorism and terrorists, that when he comes he will be tough on terrorism and terrorists, and we don’t want anybody to attack us and we will not attack anybody else.

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to guess at what the motivations of terrorists like this are. I guess I’ll let them speak for themselves there. I don’t know what was behind the attack. Obviously, we’ve seen other horrific attacks like this in Afghanistan and believe that Afghanistan has a better path forward here, and we’ll keep working with them on security.

QUESTION: And finally, madam, this is the third time that you – Indian mission or even Embassy had been attacked in Afghanistan, and even the civilian workers. So there’s a fear now in the future for those who are there, either diplomats or even the civilian workers working there. So how they will be protected when U.S. has announced already to be out of Afghanistan?

MS. HARF: Well look, Afghanistan is still in many respects a dangerous place. We have people who serve there – both U.S. officials and also private citizens – who do so like Indian citizens do, at risk, because they believe it’s important. So one thing we’re focused on is, even as we transition to a different period with our efforts in Afghanistan, to keep working on security, to keep trying to build Afghanistan’s own capabilities to keep their own people and people working there secure. But it’s absolutely a tough place to work.

QUESTION: One more finally. In the past this question was asked that how the Indian Government will play a role in Afghanistan after U.S. withdraws and NATO. Now, since there will be a new administration of Mr. Narendra Modi, new government, you think there will be change in the --

MS. HARF: I think I would let Mr. Modi speak for what his own policies will be in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.


MS. HARF: Yeah. Let’s go to Ukraine.

QUESTION: On Ukraine, Russia – you probably saw President Putin’s comments today --

MS. HARF: I did see a number of them.

QUESTION: -- in which he said, “We will treat the choice of the Ukrainian people with respect.” Is that your reading that he’s going – what is your reading from that? He also says that he wants better ties with the West. (Laughter.) I mean, there were mixed messages in that speech, but overall did you --

MS. HARF: Mixed messages is a --

QUESTION: -- get a better sense?

MS. HARF: -- good way to put it. Well look, on the first question, we would welcome Russian acknowledgment and acceptance of the election results, which are – the election’s preparing to move forward on the 25th. In a vast majority of the country they’re ready to have them, and where it’s been challenging, the Ukrainian Government’s working to do the best they can to still allow people to vote.

But at the same time, we would encourage Russia to use its influence with separatists to urge them to cease their violent activities and lay down their arms. I mean, we’ve seen – particularly in a couple places in the east – these separatists trying purposefully to disrupt the elections with violence, taking over of government buildings, taking ballot boxes, taking voter registration lists. So if they will recognize the results of the election that’s a good thing, but they need to call on their – the separatists that they have influence with to not try to disrupt the election. You kind of can’t have it both ways.

QUESTION: So it wasn’t enough to satisfy you that he’s --

MS. HARF: Well, no. I mean, I did say that if they acknowledged and accept the results of the election that would be a good thing.

And your second question was --

QUESTION: Well actually, can I have another follow-up on this?

MS. HARF: You can.

QUESTION: One is regarding a pullback – Russia says it’s pulling back equipment from the border. Today the Russian military general staff said it would take about 20 days to move the military temporarily deployed near the border. Have you seen any signs? Are you more convinced that that is taking place?

MS. HARF: Well, we have seen some movement, but it’s too early to know where or how many of these forces are actually moving out for good. And regardless of, I think, what people would call sort of initial movement or initial stirrings, the force that remains on the border is very large and very capable, and remains in a very coercive position and posture.

So we’ve seen some signs. But again, this force amassed is just so great that they really need to take steps a little quicker.

QUESTION: Marie, you spoke about the separatists. Do you have any doubt that they are not completely under the control of the Russians, the Russian Government?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t think I ever said they were completely under the control of the Russian Government. I said that the Russian Government should use its influence with these separatist groups to encourage them to stop the violence, get out of the government buildings they’ve occupied. We know the Russian Government has influence and we believe that it should use it.


QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. HARF: On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Yes, please.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. You’re on Ukraine too?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

MS. HARF: Okay. Then I’ll go back to you.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: It’s about the – a follow-up to her question that Putin actually also said some comments on President Obama. Have you got any reaction to that?

MS. HARF: I didn’t hear those. What did he say about the President? I actually didn’t hear them. I didn’t hear the ones about President Obama.

QUESTION: He called her and – anyways, so --

MS. HARF: I’m sorry, I really didn’t see them.

QUESTION: I have one on --

MS. HARF: Wait. He had one on Ukraine too.

QUESTION: Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, also. You said that you are concerned about the possibility of disruption of the elections. What other concerns do you have about the process itself? I mean, it’s like the participation, the number of the participant or all these thing.

MS. HARF: Well, I would again note that in a vast majority of Ukraine preparations are on track. A vast majority of Ukraine is, quite frankly, calm. So this is a very small portion, and particularly in two cities in the east where separatists have kidnapped poll workers, they’ve threatened poll workers, they’ve stolen official documents. And the Ukrainian Government is working on alternative solutions to make sure people can vote in these areas.

So again, I would reiterate that it is a very, very small number. I actually have a number here. I think there are 213 district election commissions nationwide. It does not include Crimea. Obviously that’s a little bit different circumstance. And according to the Central Election Commission, only 18 of these commissions have been unable to complete much of their prep work because they’re in these two cities where the separatists have really tried to disrupt them. So that is a very small number; would reiterate how most of Ukraine, a vast majority of it, is really ready for these elections.

QUESTION: My second question is regard to the outcome of the election. First, do you have any concern about the outcome of the election?

MS. HARF: What do you mean about the outcome?

QUESTION: I mean who is coming up, who is coming down. I mean it’s with the outcome.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly will support who the Ukrainian people – working with who the Ukrainian people choose.

QUESTION: And the other question, related: Do you believe that this new election, the outcome of the election, is going to change any – the reality on the ground, or not?

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly hope that it does.

QUESTION: Or what it’s going to add to the reality on the ground?

MS. HARF: Well, look, I think the Ukrainian people standing up and choosing their leaders will show very clearly to Russia and to the rest of the world that they get to pick their future, that what Russia has tried to do goes against basic international norms, international law, and that there’s nothing more powerful than people standing up and choosing their leaders. And that’s why this is such an important election for the people of Ukraine. That’s why we need to get a government in there and keep moving forward to hopefully get in a better place.


MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: I’ve got a couple things on this.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: One, if you’re willing to support and work with whoever the people of Ukraine choose, and if it’s true that there’s nothing more powerful than the people of their own country – I mean, they did have an election and they elected a president who was then toppled.

MS. HARF: Well, he fled.

QUESTION: Well, he was ousted.

MS. HARF: He packed up and left in the middle of the night.

QUESTION: Whether he --

MS. HARF: He fled.

QUESTION: The circumstances of his departure are not really – I don’t know if they’re germane to this discussion. The point is that the people of Ukraine did vote and did elect him, and --

MS. HARF: And well, but there was also a process by which he was removed from power --


MS. HARF: -- that’s part of their own internal political process.


MS. HARF: So that was done through their political process.

QUESTION: Okay. So your – so again, you would reject the idea that President Putin again raised today that there was a coup?

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Are you so sure that this election is going to be free and fair and credible that you are prepared to say now that you’re going to respect the results, whatever they are?

MS. HARF: I said we’ll work with whoever the Ukrainian people decide.


MS. HARF: We’ll look at what happens. As I said though, preparations have taken place. There are an unprecedented number of monitors across the country here. So obviously, we know they’ve put a lot of effort into making these elections go forward.

QUESTION: Right. But you can’t predict now with 100 percent certainty --

MS. HARF: We can’t predict what will happen, no.

QUESTION: -- that this election is not going to be problematic?

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t have indications that it will be.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: So I don’t want to give the impression that I do.

QUESTION: Right. But --

MS. HARF: We know that there are separatists trying to disrupt the election.


MS. HARF: Particularly in parts of the east. That’s a huge concern for us. But one of the reasons I noted this vast majority of the country that’s calm, that people aren’t trying to disrupt it, where people are going to go the ballot box on the 25th and pick their next leader.

QUESTION: Right. But if you are – but if you can say with certainty that if they, meaning the Russians, acknowledge and accept the results of the elections, that would be a good thing --

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- that would seem to suggest that you already believe or already are pretty sure or already are 100 percent sure that everything is going to be hunky-dory and fine, no?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say hunky-dory and fine.

QUESTION: Well, but --

MS. HARF: Not when we’ve seen the kind of violence we’ve seen against poll workers. But that in – again, 100 percent certainty, that’s ridiculous to say.


MS. HARF: But what I have said is that, look, this – there – Ukraine is ready for this election. There are people trying to disrupt it. The Ukrainian Government is trying to take steps to make sure those people in those small areas can vote. But Ukraine is ready for this. There are going to be monitors there. They’ve set up polling stations. A vast majority of the country, they’re ready for it.


MS. HARF: That’s what I can say.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Is there anything that could happen that would dissuade you from recognizing this thing as a fair, free --

MS. HARF: I don’t even --

QUESTION: I mean, what do you expect --

MS. HARF: I don’t even want to venture to guess about that.

QUESTION: Right. But the supposition or the assumption that you seem to be making is that the Ukrainians are going to go the polls, they’re going to elect a – they’re going to vote for a candidate who is pro-Western, shall we say.

MS. HARF: I’m not making that assumption.


MS. HARF: I’m saying that what we’ve always said is we don’t support one person or one party or one candidate; we support the process and the Ukrainian people.


MS. HARF: Not us, not the Russians, no one else picking their leader.

QUESTION: And so, once again, I just want to make sure. And you reject the idea that the process that drove or that ousted or removed Yanukovych, that was a legitimate process --

MS. HARF: The process where members of his own party voted to remove him from power.

QUESTION: -- that was a legitimate – okay.

MS. HARF: I reject that notion, yes.

QUESTION: All right. Gotcha, okay. One more. This is a follow-up to this question about these journalists that are detained.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: This morning the State Department hosted a Google+ Hangout on the election, and this subject was raised. And one of the participants in it, who was a woman who is affiliated with a pro-democracy group in Kyiv, –

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- rejected the notion that these people are legitimate journalists, which is something that you guys have at least raised questions about. I don’t know if you’ve made a decision or not. But she called them information terrorists --

MS. HARF: All right.

QUESTION: -- and said that --

MS. HARF: Sorry, I didn’t see the Hangout.


MS. HARF: Sorry.

QUESTION: She called them information terrorists and suggested that they weren’t reporting news, that they were intentionally distorting and lying and giving a 100 percent wrong impression in the Russian media about what was going on. And I’m just wondering if you agree with that assessment.

MS. HARF: I don’t think I would use the term that she used --


MS. HARF: -- to be fair. But what we have said about these two journalists who are still detained is that they had fake journalist credentials and they had weapons in the trunk of their car.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: You’re now sure of that? Because before it was reports that --

MS. HARF: Well, it’s reports, yeah. I mean, I don’t have any evidence to the contrary. We’re still looking into all the details, to be clear.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know if the Ukrainian authorities have gotten back to you on your request? I’m operating under the assumption that, based on what Jen has said earlier, that you talked to the Ukrainians and said, look, if these guys are legitimate journalists --

MS. HARF: Yeah, you should let them go.

QUESTION: -- you should let them – is that correct?

MS. HARF: Yes, absolutely.

QUESTION: But do you know if --

MS. HARF: I think that we called on them to investigate it. I don’t know if we’ve gotten an update from them on this.


MS. HARF: But again, I don’t think when most of you work overseas, you carry MANPADs in your trunk. But separately, on the second part of your question, not specifically on these journalists, but we have seen an incredible amount of propaganda. We’ve talked about it a lot. The Secretary has mentioned it. We’ve talked about it here. I’m not talking about these two journalists because I don’t know the details there, but it has been a concern. Absolutely.

QUESTION: Right. Are you --

MS. HARF: But we don’t think people should be thrown in jail for it.

QUESTION: You don’t think people should be thrown in jail for --

MS. HARF: For propaganda. Now, again, we’ve asked them to look into this case; if they’re legitimate journalists, they should be let go.

QUESTION: But again, you mentioned just a little while ago that they were found with MANPAD – with weapons in their trunk. You’re 100 percent sure that’s the case?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say – you’re all about percentages today.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, are you --

MS. HARF: That’s the report we received. Again, we’re still looking for the Ukrainian Government to investigate it. I don’t think we have 100 percent on all the facts yet. If it turns out that they were legitimate journalists, we’ve said they should be released.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just the last one on this, this fake press pass idea or fake credentials. I mean, these were credentials that were issued by --

MS. HARF: The Donetsk People’s Republic, which --

QUESTION: Right, which you don’t --

MS. HARF: -- does not exist.

QUESTION: -- which you say doesn’t exist. But reporters in a lot of different warzone situations have to travel, have to get passes from various militia, various whoever, and I --

MS. HARF: That’s true.

QUESTION: Do you – that doesn’t necessarily mean the credential is fake. I mean, the Donetsk People’s Republic, whether you recognize it or not, believes that it’s – believes that these are legitimate credentials.

MS. HARF: Well, who is the Donetsk People’s Republic?

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know, but I mean --

MS. HARF: Right, but I mean that’s --

QUESTION: But look, in Beirut there were militias – there were neighborhood militias that you had to have a --

MS. HARF: I understand, but I don’t think those reporters in Beirut had MANPADs in their trunk either.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t --

MS. HARF: Maybe.

QUESTION: So there again, you just said that they had MANPADs in their trunk, but --

MS. HARF: No, I said I don’t think reporters in Beirut did.

QUESTION: Right, but that makes the – then you suggest that these ones did.

MS. HARF: There were reports that they did. Yes, we’ve said there were.

QUESTION: I don’t know if they did or not, but you’re saying that it’s a fact that they did.

MS. HARF: Matt, look, the point on this is, yes, they had credentials that appeared to be fake. And I understand how when journalists are operating in dangerous places, there are different credentials. I totally understand that. I’m not sure that’s what we’re talking about here. That’s why we’ve asked for more facts.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Okay. And as far as you know, you haven’t gotten them yet?

MS. HARF: That’s my understanding. I’ll see if there’s an update.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

QUESTION: Staying on Ukraine.

MS. HARF: Okay, staying on Ukraine. Yes.

QUESTION: So I didn’t want to use my memory.

MS. HARF: Oh, now you’re going to read.

QUESTION: In an interview with – in St. Petersburg, he was asked about that President Obama is saying that he is lying about Russian involvement in Ukraine, and he said, who is he to judge, and that if he wants to be a judge, why doesn’t he find a job in a court or something like that? So do you have any reaction to that?

MS. HARF: Well, first I would say that as the leader of the United States, he cares very deeply about international law and international norms. That’s a big part of his job as the leader of this country, as our Commander-in-Chief, as someone who goes to the UN General Assembly every fall and talks to the rest of the countries in the world about how we all live up to our obligations and how we all play by the same rules and how we uphold international norms.

So I think that that’s an exactly appropriate thing for him to comment on, and I would take notion with the fact that if there’s no Russian involvement in Ukraine, pull the rest of your troops back then. Put your money where your words are. Come on.

QUESTION: Yeah, but the troops are on the Russian side of the border, correct?

MS. HARF: There are a number of troops amassed on the Russian side of the border. They’ve also annexed Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, and the separatists, the pro-Russian separatists, wreaking such havoc right now in the east have a great deal of influence in – are influenced a great deal by President Putin and by the Russian Government. So I think it just defies logic. A lot of things he said in that article do.

QUESTION: And about your sanctions, he said that, like, why?

MS. HARF: Because you don’t get to break the rules and get away with it. That’s not how it works. In 2014, you don’t get to annex another country’s land, amass your troops on the border, create instability – which, by the way, he also said something about how Crimea is unstable today because of our actions. Well, Crimea was stable before Russia annexed it. Let’s remind people of that. It was calm. This all happened because of what the Russians did.

So I think that something that’s very important to us, again, is the notion that there are rules, there’s international norms, there’s international law, and if you break them, there will be consequences. And what you’ve seen with Russia is the rest of the world united in saying that’s not acceptable and that’s not okay. And to be fair, there will be further consequences if this action escalates or continues.

QUESTION: Are these sanctions going to affect the deal with China?

MS. HARF: The gas deal?


MS. HARF: Our sanctions? I don’t know how ours would. I mean, you heard the Secretary speak about this in his press avail in Mexico. This is something that’s been – they’ve been talking about for a decade, don’t really see it related to this. But I think what you have seen is Russia increasingly isolated from the rest of the international system by our sanctions, by EU sanctions. You really have seen them start to be cut off, and that’s not what the Russian people want. That’s not what’s best for the Russian economy. And we’ve said if there are further actions, we’re looking at other sanctions, including sectoral sanctions.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: Well, hold on. I just want to – we have seen them become more isolated? I mean, President Putin just had a huge international conference.

MS. HARF: Their economy has become much more isolated. Their credit ranking has gone down.


MS. HARF: They aren’t – their money is – their currency is falling. They aren’t able to do business in many places they wanted to be able to do before. Yes, and that will increasingly become the case. Businesses don’t want to do business there. They can bring people together for a conference; that doesn’t mean people will want to do business with Russia today.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, I mean, that may be the case.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I just don’t – is there anything that you have to back that up?

MS. HARF: Well, I think the statistics we’ve seen from their economic indicators have been increasingly negative since this started, so --

QUESTION: Well, I mean, I noticed that --

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen anything tangible to come out of the St. Petersburg event in terms of changing their economic outlook.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, they just signed an $800 billion gas deal with China, so --

MS. HARF: Right, which they’ve been talking about for 10 years, and again, doesn’t change our assessment of their economic situation.

QUESTION: No, I – right. Okay. But you’re not aware if there are new statistics that would show this isolation?

MS. HARF: I think we’ve seen it in the statistics for the last few months. I haven’t seen anything otherwise, no.

QUESTION: Right, but what I’m talking about is I haven’t heard from – at least from the U.S. Government, from you guys or Treasury or the White House, any new – I mean, after the China gas deal went through, I mean, at least Gazprom stock went up.

MS. HARF: I don’t think it has – I don’t think it’s changed our long – or medium-term projections about the Russian economy in any way. And I think one thing to keep in mind is in some ways, this is a medium-term and long-term game, right, that the Russian economy – the longer sanctions are in place, the more damage they do to your economy. We’ve seen that other places as well.

QUESTION: Well, you’re referring to Iran.

MS. HARF: In one instance, yeah. So the longer sanctions are in place, the more damage they do, the more isolated you become. We put more on; other countries put more on. And that’s not the direction that we think is best for the Russian economy, but that’s their choice to make.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

QUESTION: Are you concerned that this gas deal may actually bring the Russians and the Chinese much closer together, and they can actually ally themselves with countries like Iran and other places – and other --

MS. HARF: I think that’s a really simplistic read of it, Said. I think this is something they’ve been working on for 10 years. It’s a business deal, quite frankly. Russia needs some of these resources. So I don’t think in any way geopolitically or strategically it changes the question you asked right there.

Yes, change of subject.

QUESTION: What did the Secretary mean last night at the speech when he said only the U.S. is offering assistance to help Nigeria find the young women? He also said other countries – not only aren’t they invited, but they didn’t even offer. It’s a bit strange to say that when UK, France, Canada --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- and Israel are all there.

MS. HARF: And he wasn’t referring to – right. So he actually said this at Yale as well.

QUESTION: What does he mean by that?

MS. HARF: So he mentioned this in his Yale speech as well. He was really referring to the high-level engagement by the U.S. around the world. It was a broader context, right, that in many places we are the partner of first resort to help other countries, and that countries like Russia and China haven’t offered support to the Nigerians here. So he wasn’t explicit in naming the countries that hadn’t. Obviously, he very much values the work of countries like the UK, France, Canada and other partners. It was in no way intended to slight their contributions. It really was to say that the United States plays a leading role in all kinds of situations all around the world in close consultation with our partner, when other countries that claim to be powerful players in that respect don’t offer to help, like Russia and China.

QUESTION: Can we change topics?

QUESTION: This gas deal --

QUESTION: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: How much aid have you guys provided to the floods – to the flooding in the Balkans?

MS. HARF: In the Balkans? Actually, we’ve started doing some help in terms of with – particularly with the mines, because many of them have shifted, so USAID has been doing some work there. I think we’ll put out a fact sheet on that later today.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you --

MS. HARF: But if you look all around the world, if you look at the tsunami, if you look at Haiti, if you look --

QUESTION: I’m not saying that – I’m not trying to say that the U.S. does nothing. I’m just saying --

MS. HARF: Well, I think that was kind of what your question was getting at.

QUESTION: No, no, no. It’s just that different countries have different interests and are quicker to respond in --

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- certain instances.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: Anyway, that’s all.

MS. HARF: And I would say on the Balkans, in all three countries – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia – we are providing funding, coordinating with each of the governments and assisting in the volunteer efforts in addition to what I said earlier. So yes, even in a place like the Balkans, we are absolutely helping when we can provide resources to do so.


QUESTION: Marie, can you – when you give out the readout or the – can you break it down? Because what is – they are saying in Balkans that most of your aid is going to Bosnia, and Serbia is not getting any – much aid. So if you can break it down.

MS. HARF: So Serbia – let’s see. We released $150,000 in chief of mission funds to the Serbian Red Cross to purchase search-and-rescue boats and other items needed for immediate relief efforts. Keep in mind our assistance to the countries differs based on their respective needs. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we provided more in-kind assistance. We’ve, to date, provided $100,000 worth of search-and-rescue boats, some of which were delivered on May 17th, and approximately $700,000 of emergency relief supplies. They’re currently en route right now.

Let me see what else I have here. In Croatia, the crisis is just on a little bit of a smaller scale, appears that it’s within the capacity of the government to respond with its own resources. Obviously, we said if we can help in any way, we will. So I think we’ll put out a little more on this later today, but definitely – and I know there’s been an issue with --

QUESTION: Earlier is better on Memorial Day weekend.

MS. HARF: Guys, I’m with you. We share the same goal here, Matt. Yes, I’m just going to go around the room.

QUESTION: The gas deal. Don’t you see any political intention of Russia? Because I know this is a business deal for – last decades, but why now? Don’t you see any political intention of Russia or China?

MS. HARF: I really – the Secretary spoke to this and really said he didn’t think it was related in any way to what’s going on in Ukraine. I think his words speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Can we go to the Middle East for – quick?

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Today in an interview, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Abbas is no longer a partner for peace. Is that – do you see it that way?

MS. HARF: I didn’t see his comments, Said. Look, we’ve said we’ve worked with both leaders on this issue. You know where things stand right now.


MS. HARF: I just don’t have further comment.

QUESTION: Okay. So as things stand right now and in view of the apparent departure of Ambassador Martin Indyk, is anyone --

MS. HARF: I don’t know why you think he’s leaving. You guys are kicking him out the door before he’s gone.

QUESTION: Well, okay. All right.

MS. HARF: He’s here, he’s working.

QUESTION: Okay. In the event that he leaves --

MS. HARF: Someday all of us are going to leave.

QUESTION: -- is there anyone who will assume the role in his place in terms of direct contact with the Palestinians?

MS. HARF: Again, he’s here, he’s working. I don’t have any predictions to make for you about staffing going forward.

QUESTION: Okay. And just a quick follow-up to a question that was raised here yesterday on your follow-up on the investigation of the killing of Palestinian teenagers.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Have you gotten anything back on this from the Israelis?

MS. HARF: Nothing new. Obviously, we are looking to the Government of Israel to conduct a prompt and transparent investigation. We’re closely following the incident and will continue to be in touch with the Government of Israel.

QUESTION: And then just to follow up on the point that was raised, I believe by Matt yesterday, that in view of Israel’s record on – in terms of investigation and so on, are you sure that Israel will come through on its promise to investigate this thing thoroughly, and put the blame where it should lie?

MS. HARF: Well, again, we’ve – we’re looking to them to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, and we’ll keep talking to them about it.

Yes. I’m going to go – and then --

QUESTION: On Pakistan. The last few weeks Pakistan military had announced attacks against the terrorists in the tribal regions, including airstrikes. Reports say that around 60 terrorists have been killed. How do you see the move by the Pakistani army?

MS. HARF: Well, I think they’ve – I mean, obviously, I’d refer you to them for details of their actions. I think they’ve described these as retaliatory in nature. Again, would refer you to them. These actions are being conducted solely by Pakistani security forces, because we know the threat that terrorism has certainly been in Pakistan – for Pakistani citizens, and the government – I think, could probably address the more specifics.

QUESTION: Do you support their move to attack these terrorists?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly worked with them very closely on counterterrorism and on how they can increase their capacity to fight the threat that they face. Broadly speaking, I don’t have any more, I think, analysis of what they’ve been doing over the last year --

QUESTION: Yeah. At the same time, there was a hearing on the Hill this week where several former Administration officials told the lawmakers that some elements of Pakistani army still continue to support some of the terrorist groups. Do you agree with their propositions?

MS. HARF: I think former officials are free to say whatever they’d like and just don’t have further comment on – I actually didn’t see what they said, so I don’t want to comment on it further.

QUESTION: Can I just go back to Said’s question, the last question, for one second?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Have you heard back from the Israelis about your call to --

MS. HARF: I can check. I don’t know. Let me check. I don’t know.

QUESTION: On the investigation.

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: The investigation into the shooting incident.

MS. HARF: Yeah. I don’t know if we have. I mean, I know we’ve talked to them about it. I just don’t know what we’ve said.

QUESTION: Do you know if there’s been any additional conversation beyond what was the --

MS. HARF: I can check.

QUESTION: -- what was Jen – what Jen said the other day in the briefing which upset the foreign minister? You don’t know?

MS. HARF: I don’t know.


QUESTION: Lebanon. In two days, Lebanon will be without a president. What’s your assessment of the situation there?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve said consistently that we work with the Government of Lebanon – of Lebanon, excuse me – to help them with – I don’t want to use the word transition, but to help them with their political system and how this will move forward. We’ve talked a lot about how they were not able to agree on a new leader. Obviously, it’s something we’re following very closely, we’re in touch with them about all the time. I’ll see if there’s an update from our folks about what will happen after if we pass this date (inaudible).

QUESTION: And the U.S. ambassador to Beirut was – or has been working and meeting political leaders inside Lebanon and outside the – what did that achieve? Or what is he trying to do?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s certainly part of our engagement with the different parties and leaders to try and get to a political solution here. That’s in the best interest of the Lebanese people. That’s certainly been a key part of what the ambassador’s been doing there. Again, we’ve seen what’s been happening and I’ll see if there’s more information to share.

QUESTION: And there are talks about changing the system in Lebanon, the power system in Lebanon. Do you support such a --

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard anybody here talking about that. Let me check with our folks and see if there’s more to share.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Turkey? Just one question following up from yesterday. I ask about Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil to Turkey and (inaudible) to world market.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Today, the Baghdad government – Maliki government reacted this shipment. And Jen said yesterday that the U.S. will talk to officials in Turkey.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Do you have any follow-up on this?

MS. HARF: Well, as I think she said yesterday – but look, what needs to happen here is that the parties need to come back to the table and talk about getting an agreement in place and that no one should take any steps until there’s an agreement in place. So obviously we’ve seen some steps being taken separate from that, and we would not support that. We’ve been very clear about that for a long time.

I don’t have specifics in terms of who we’ve talked to about this issue, but I know we’ve raised it.

QUESTION: Okay. On Turkey, again, yesterday – first of all, since yesterday, there have been protests and two people already died in this protests. And they are going on tonight, as well. Do you have any comment on this? Have you seen?

MS. HARF: Well, yeah, we’re closely following the reports of what’s happening. Obviously, very saddened by the loss of life that we’ve seen and urge all sides to exercise restraint and avoid violence as they participate in these protests or in terms of the response.

QUESTION: So today, Amnesty International released a statement regarding these two killings, and according to reports – according to Amnesty International, one of them died with teargas canister in his right eye and the other one was with live ammunition. Yesterday, I asked this question whether U.S. is reassessing its policy selling riot control equipment, such as teargas, to Turkey. And Jen stated that there are certain standards that should be held.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. And that they’re a NATO ally as well, obviously, which plays into some of this. And to my knowledge, I don’t know if people are reassessing this. I am happy to check with our folks and see.

QUESTION: Okay. Another QUESTION: Just yesterday, an Istanbul prosecutor is now seeking 52 years prison for a journalist who published classified documents of the government. Do you think it’s enough, or --

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any comment on those reports.

QUESTION: You have not seen these reports?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any comment on those reports. I’ve seen them; I just don’t have any comment for you.


MS. HARF: Thank you.


MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I have a quick question on India. This is going on for some time in the – some minds of the people here in the Indian American community, also in India, that – you think in somewhere, sometime, maybe U.S. had made – the U.S. Embassy made some mistakes putting all the eggs in one basket, not reaching the BJP. I’m not talking about Narendra Modi, but BJP, the number two largest party in India after Congress. But that basket was now stolen by the BJP. So --

MS. HARF: Well, I think that what you’ve seen, even in the run-up to the election, was our ambassador on the ground engaging with all the parties. So I would just take notion with the fact – I would take exception with the notion that we somehow picked a party or picked someone to support. That’s just not the case. We engage with a broad section of Indian politics and Indian society.

QUESTION: Are we learning anything in the future?

MS. HARF: Are we learning anything in the future?

QUESTION: Not to put all the eggs in one basket?

MS. HARF: Well, I’m disagreeing with your notion that we did.

Yes, I think Scott has been waiting very patiently for a question.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma’am.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: On Venezuela.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Does the United States have any response to the Union of South American Nations considering a formal complaint about U.S. interference in Venezuelan domestic affairs?

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I haven’t seen the specifics. But obviously, we’ve been very clear that we are not in any way playing a role or interfering in what’s happening in Venezuelan. I know the Venezuelan Government likes to talk about us and try to make that the story to distract from what they’re doing. So having not seen the statement, I would wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that we are playing any kind of role there. All – what we have said consistently is the parties need to get together themselves, dialogue to find a way forward here, but the government hasn’t shown willingness to do so yet.

Yes. Just a couple more.


MS. HARF: Egypt, yes.

QUESTION: Yeah. In a few days, Egypt is going to see the – witness the presidential elections.

MS. HARF: There’s a lot of elections happening right now.

QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, that’s --

MS. HARF: There are.

QUESTION: -- why even my question.

MS. HARF: Put on your seatbelts, people. Democracy in action.

QUESTION: And my questions will be, like, even similar to what I ask about Ukrainian elections.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: First, what are the – your main concern regarding the process of the Egyptian elections?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Second, do you have any concern about what expectation from the outcome? And third, you think that the outcome or whatever is coming out of this election is going to change or will help to change the reality on the ground in Egypt?

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t know what the outcome will be, to be fair. And we don’t support, as I’ve said a number of times today, any one party or any one person or any one group. We’ve urged the government to make sure the elections are fair and transparent. We have noted over many months now the shrinking space for dialogue, for peaceful protest, for freedom of the press. So we’ve certainly noted that the environment right now hasn’t been as open as it should be. And what we’ve said consistently is that Egypt needs a different path forward, that they need to keep going down a path, that they need to embark on a path going forward that is more open, is more transparent, adheres to certain democratic principles, judicial principles, doesn’t lock people up just for expressing dissent.

So we certainly think there needs to be a different future, absolutely.


MS. HARF: And we’ll take a look at what happens in the election and make a statement after – on what happened.

QUESTION: So now you are in status of wait and see?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve certainly been engaged with the different parties in Egypt to encourage a fair and transparent election, and I think we’re going to have some monitors – observers there as well. So we’ll see what happens, and then make assessments about what happened. I don’t have any predictions.



MS. HARF: Yeah. I just have time for a few more, guys.


MS. HARF: Yeah, and then we’ll go to Syria.

QUESTION: Okay. Have you seen these reports of a Republican Party leader appearing at an event with the BJP leaders and lambasting the immigration bill and giving all the negative thing, that India is going to lose this many jobs?

MS. HARF: The American immigration bill?

QUESTION: Yes, and which was passed by the Senate last year.

MS. HARF: Yeah. And that the House is now --

QUESTION: And we don’t have an ambassador. So the first event that took place in Delhi was a complete negative image of U.S. --

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen. Do you know who the member of Congress was?

QUESTION: No, it’s not a member of Congress. It’s a Republican Party leader.

MS. HARF: Okay. I haven’t --

QUESTION: I can send you the --

MS. HARF: Send it to me and I’m happy to take a look at it.


MS. HARF: Thank you. Syria.

QUESTION: On Syria. Have you seen the opposition – well, opposition activists have posted a video of what they say is chlorine gas floating through the streets of a Syrian village.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Have you managed to see this, and is it – what’s the indications?

MS. HARF: I know some folks have seen it. I think, obviously, like other reports of possible chlorine use or other use of things like this, we take them seriously and look into them.


MS. HARF: No, I don’t have any assessment of it yet.

QUESTION: No assessment of it yet.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: And also, is there anything further as far as this so-called raw data that Secretary Kerry said he saw and --

MS. HARF: Well, no, nothing further than what we’ve said. Obviously, there are reasons we believe this could be credible and why the OPCW is looking at it right now.

QUESTION: South China Sea.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: One. Thanks.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: How do you describe the current situation of South Korea – South China Sea? Secretary Kerry urged China to stop unilateral --

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: -- introduction of oil with numerous amount of vessel. Do you think that China took some constructive movement, action after that?

MS. HARF: Well, we have seen what I would call at this point a pattern of unilateral moves by the Chinese Government in the region. We’ve talked about them with the oil rig; we’ve talked about them in other cases as well. And what we said is this is not the way we need to do business there, that we need to resolve disputes through diplomatic means. Again, going back to this notion of international norms, international rules of the road. There are ways we manage disputes, and it’s not by provocative actions, it’s not by escalatory actions. And unfortunately, we’ve seen China take a number of those steps recently.

We’re working with them, talking to them, and to our other partners in the region about how we can maybe get to a better place.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: And then Scott has one, and then Matt, you’re going to finish us up.

QUESTION: Scott can – Scott?

MS. HARF: Scott, and then Matt is bringing us home today.

QUESTION: Bahrain.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: The human rights activist Nabeel Rajab is nearing the end of his prison term. Has there been any communication between the United States and authorities in Bahrain about his ability to travel freely and resume his normal activities once he’s released?

MS. HARF: It’s a very good question that I don’t know the answer to. Let me check on it, and I’ll get back to you.

QUESTION: Extremely briefly, do you have any comment on the IAEA report on Iran?

MS. HARF: So it has not been released publicly yet, so I can’t speak --

QUESTION: It’s all over the place.

MS. HARF: I understand that. Again, there are rules of the road here, Matt.


MS. HARF: Let me see what I do have. Yeah, obviously can’t comment on the substance because it hasn’t been released publicly yet, have urged Iran repeatedly to cooperate fully with the IAEA to address issues. And there was an announcement, I think, on the 21st on next steps under their framework for cooperation, so --

QUESTION: All right. By “not released publicly,” you mean the IAEA hasn’t put it out?

MS. HARF: Uh-huh. There’s a process to this.

QUESTION: Because you – all you have to do is, like, type I-A into the Google search and it will pop up.

MS. HARF: I understand that, but as a member of the IAEA, I cannot comment publicly on the report.

QUESTION: All right. Secondly, do you have any reaction to this Egyptian no-fly list, or Egypt putting this prominent author on a no-fly list? No?

MS. HARF: Let me see what I have. Who – what’s the name, Matt? Let me see.

QUESTION: I don’t have it with me.

MS. HARF: Let me – I don’t think I do. Let me – I can get --

QUESTION: All right. And the last one – and I’m sorry if this was Said’s question. I had to answer an email during the – while he was asking the first part of his Mideast question --

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: -- which was about the Netanyahu interview. Did – was the question about unilateral actions?


QUESTION: And the response – your response was you are opposed to --

MS. HARF: No, his question --

QUESTION: My question --

MS. HARF: -- was about President Abbas being a partner for peace.

QUESTION: Yeah, all right, no.

QUESTION: If there was a final settlement.

QUESTION: In the interview, the prime minister said that there was an increasing move inside Israel, inside his government and among popular opinion, for Israel to take unilateral steps in the absence of there being an active peace process. Is it – what’s the U.S. position on this? Do you believe that that’s still a bad thing which – you had, for years and years and years, said unilateral steps by either side --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- are not good. So – and that they had to be decided by negotiation. Do you still think that that’s --

MS. HARF: We still think that, and look, without having seen the interview, obviously, we don’t think either side should do anything to complicate efforts right now to build the trust necessary to resume negotiations. So I think I’d probably leave it at that broad statement for you.

QUESTION: Okay. So – but just to put a fine point on it, you don’t think --

MS. HARF: Our position has not changed.

QUESTION: And you don’t think that in the absence of there being an active peace process, that it would be okay for --

MS. HARF: Well, we think – we would like to resume peace negotiations --

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. HARF: -- and we think that both sides should take steps to make that possible.

QUESTION: Right. But because this last effort – I won’t say “failed” because I know you’ll disagree with me – because this last effort did not result in success --

MS. HARF: Is in a pause at the moment, has not yet resulted in success.

QUESTION: -- has not yet resulted in success – until it resume – in the period between now and whenever it --

MS. HARF: No one should take any steps that undermine trust --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: -- including unilateral actions.

QUESTION: Great. Thank you.

MS. HARF: You are welcome.

QUESTION: Have a nice weekend.

MS. HARF: Everyone have a great holiday weekend, everyone.

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