Daily Press Briefing - November 26, 2013

Published: Wed 27 Nov 2013 02:37 PM
Daily Press Briefing - November 26, 2013
Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 26, 2013
1:39 p.m. EST
MS. PSAKI: Welcome back, Brad. We’ve not seen you since you became a dad, so congratulations. I don’t have anything at the top, so we can go to you first, and I’m going to bet what’s on your mind.
QUESTION: There's a few things on my mind --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- but we’ll start with Iran.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Just wanted to get your reaction first to efforts on the Hill to draft the new sanctions bill. Are you opposed to it even though they’re talking about some waiver authority or certification process in place that would allow the sanctions not to go into place in (inaudible)?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, let me say first, as I think many of you are aware, the Secretary will be very engaged in meeting with and speaking with his former colleagues about this issue. He spoke with Senator Menendez yesterday, but he’ll be doing a number of calls over the coming days with the respect for the fact that many people are spending time with their family – families for Thanksgiving.
Also, and I just didn’t want to forget to add this, we’re also going to send a video to all members of Congress this afternoon, which is the Secretary’s outlining for them in very basic terms what the Iran agreement does and what it doesn’t do. He certainly understands that this will be a vigorous debate, though he believes that everything doesn’t have to be a showdown. And the video is part of our effort to make sure that the debate is based on facts and not rumor or otherwise.
In terms of specific – and I know there’s a range of pieces of legislation including the one you mentioned – passing any new sanctions legislation during the course of the negotiations in our view would be unhelpful and can put the – could put the success of the outcome at risk. That is certainly a message the Secretary will be conveying, and I think you’ve heard that message coming from our colleagues over in the White House as well.
And as he portrays this, or conveys this, I should say, to his former colleagues, there are a couple of reasons. One is it could divide the P5+1, because other countries would think that the United States is not living up to our end of the bargain in terms of giving the negotiations a chance, and it could have the opposite impact of what is intended by driving the Iranians to take a harder line in these negotiations in response.
Second – and this is a very important one, especially for the supporters of sanctions, which the Secretary is a big proponent of sanctions and how effective they are, we already have the leverage of additional sanctions in place. If the Iranians violate the agreement during the six months, we’d move to – we’d support moving to additional sanctions. We’d be leading the charge. If the Iranians don’t get to a “yes” at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions. So the question here is what is in the spirit of the negotiations, and what would be most effective as we work towards a comprehensive agreement.
And third, the Iranians could also seek to exploit divisions in the international community to unravel the international sanctions regime. As you know, because we negotiated with the P5+1, this isn’t just about one country’s impact; it’s about all of the countries’ impact. It isn’t the U.S. trade embargo alone; it’s our – also our ability to get other countries to reduce their purchases of Iranian oil, to cut Iran off from the international financial system. So there are a range of very important and substantive issues he’ll be conveying as to why we should not put in new legislation.
QUESTION: Since you mentioned the six-month period --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- is it your understanding that that has already begun, or is that subject to a start time determined by some sort of implementing parameters?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s a good question. It has not – the next step here is a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement. So that would involve the P5+1 – a commission of the P5+1 experts working with the Iranians and the IAEA. Obviously, once that’s – those technical discussions are worked through, I guess the clock would start. Obviously, there’ll also be a reconvening of the political track with the P5+1, which Under Secretary Sherman will continue to be our lead negotiator on.
QUESTION: Just two things with that. How long do you expect that process to take until the clock starts? And secondly, is it your understanding that the Iranians are already implementing the agreement, or are they using this lull for whatever they prefer?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a specific timeline for you. I’m happy to check and see if there’s something more specific in terms of how quickly the technical pieces could be outlined or agreed to.
In terms of what the Iranians are or aren't doing, obviously our hope would be, given we are respecting the spirit of the agreement in pressing for sanctions not to be put in place and beginning the process of figuring out how to deliver on our end of the bargain, that the same would be coming from their end in the spirit of the agreement.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. I haven’t got – despite all this paper, I haven’t actually got the agreement in front of me.
MS. PSAKI: There’s a lot of paper. That’s true.
QUESTION: Yeah, there’s a lot of paper. There’s a lot of stories around at the moment.
QUESTION: There’s some language in the agreement that talks about that the – there will not be any new sanctions imposed during the six-month period. Is it your understanding that if there were to be new sanctions, would that violate the terms of the agreement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly that was part of the – part of what the United States – and we’ve been very upfront about this – that we think should be part of the agreement and is part of the agreement. In terms of whether it would violate, I mean, I think I just touched on our concern of putting new sanctions in place and how that would violate the spirit of and what our agreement is with the Iranians, while, at the same time – as you know, but it’s still worth repeating – the core sanctions regime wouldn’t be touched, and those would still be implemented and fully in place. And we’re talking about new ones and a small reversible component of others that were agreed to.
QUESTION: So it’s not entirely clear yet whether there would be a violation of the agreement were there to be any new sanctions, either from yourselves or your partners in the EU, for instance?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly that’s part of the spirit of the negotiation, so – in the spirit of what we committed to. So certainly that would be something that would be of concern.
QUESTION: And on the flip side --
QUESTION: But the Foreign Minister said that – sorry, Jo.
QUESTION: The Foreign Minister said in an interview yesterday --
MS. PSAKI: Zarif?
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Sorry. Did I say Foreign Minister? Yes, I did. That if new sanctions were imposed the deal was off.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve been very clear about – from the United States perspective, as I just outlined – the reasons why we shouldn’t put new sanctions in place now while still continuing to implement those that remain in place. So I don’t think there’s a disagreement about how unhelpful that would be.
QUESTION: Can I ask, then, on the flip side --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- the Europeans are now going to the EU as a whole to talk about how they’re going to try and do some of this --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- sanctions relief that was offered in the deal. When on the American side can we see some of that sanctions relief being implemented? And how will it come? In what form will it take?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, there’ll obviously be technical discussions, and that discussion will be ongoing. I don’t have an exact timeline in terms of when each piece. But it’s also not a all-at-one-time or a spigot that’s turned all the way on. So it would be a slow process that obviously we control, and some of those details are still being worked out.
QUESTION: But just in terms of logistics, we’re talking about executive orders? I would assume there’s no congressional approval that’s necessary. Would there be notification, things like that?
MS. PSAKI: That’s a really good question. In terms of the technical tick-tock of how it would work, I’d just have to check with our team and see what the specific next steps would be on that front.
QUESTION: And just before we move on --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- I just have a couple elements of the agreement that I wanted to ask you about.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There’s been some concern – one, about the heavy-water reactor at Arak --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- that there wouldn’t actually be live monitoring; there would only be – the cameras that would be installed would then take footage, and then the next day you would pick up yesterday’s footage. Why was that agreed to? Are you worried about what that might mean?
MS. PSAKI: I’d honestly have to check on that level of specificity for you, Brad. I mean, obviously, what we’re looking at here is these are the first meaningful limits, as you know, Iran has agreed to. And the level of monitoring is unprecedented in this case, so I’m happy to check and see the specifics of how that would actually take place.
QUESTION: And then just one more?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: The agreement talked about a joint monitoring commission, the EU3 – P5+1 and Iran.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Does having Iran in that joint monitoring commission create problems in terms of enforcement or really holding them up to the standards if they are, themselves, kind of in charge as well of enforcing their own commitments?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there are many parties in charge. Obviously, you need the cooperation of Iran in order to fully implement. They’ve agreed to this first step, which was announced this weekend. And as I’ve mentioned, if there’s a violation of that, we would reconsider what our commitments are as well. But remember, there are – there is a commission, there are a number of countries involved, and we’re going to be monitoring and watching very closely.
QUESTION: Right. But how realistic is it that this commission would announce violations if Iran is on the commission? Wouldn’t Iran say, “No, we’re not violating it”? Very few countries ever announce that they’re violating their own agreements.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of there being – but I’m happy to check – an individual veto by one country of whether there are violations. But there will be a commission, as you mentioned, that will be closely monitoring whether there are violations that take place. And every country who’s engaged in this – the P5+1 has a high stake in making sure that we’re monitoring closely what’s happening on the ground.
QUESTION: So you – just to close the knot, you have no concerns about the autonomy and the power of this commission to kind of put forth violations, should they occur?
MS. PSAKI: We feel that this is – these are the first meaningful limits Iran has committed to. These – this is a – the strongest monitoring capability we’ve ever had. And we’ll obviously be watching closely if there are violations that are raised.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask about Robert Levinson?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: We saw a statement from the White House today respectfully asking Iran to help us locate him and ensure his safety. And I just wanted to ask, was he – did he come up as part of the nuclear negotiations or any of these talks we’ve been having with Iran over the last year?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first reiterate – I know the White House put out a statement, but certainly this is an issue that many in this building are, of course, very committed to. As was noted in the statement, on March 9, 2007, Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip. Today, he becomes one of the longest-held Americans in history. As we approach the upcoming holiday season, we also want to reiterate the commitment of the State Department, the United States Government, to locating Mr. Levinson and bringing him home safely to his family, friends, and loved ones.
The P5+1 talks focused exclusively on nuclear issues, but we have raised – repeatedly raised – his case and the cases of other detained American citizens, including Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini in our bilateral discussions with Iran, including President Obama’s phone call with President Rouhani in September, so as recently as then, and we will continue to do so.
QUESTION: So it didn’t come up in Geneva?
MS. PSAKI: It was – the focus of that – of the meetings in Geneva were on the nuclear negotiations.
QUESTION: And just one more thing on that: What’s the latest that we know about his location, condition, anything? What’s the latest the U.S. Government knows about him?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specific update for you that I can provide. Obviously, this is an issue that we remain committed to. And having a moment like today, where we’re acknowledging that he has been detained now – or missing, I should say – for longer than any other U.S. citizen reminds us of how much his family has been thinking about it and reminds us of how much we’d like to see him returned home.
QUESTION: Still on Levinson.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Did you get any indication from the Iranians that, one, they knew where he was, and, two, they could have any impact on bringing him out from wherever he is?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any update I can provide on that front.
QUESTION: Syria --
MS. PSAKI: On Iran? Oh, sorry, let’s – we’ll go to you next, Lalit. Go ahead.
QUESTION: So since you made that statement welcoming the announcement of Geneva II, the Iranian Foreign Minister said they are – they will be happy to participate without any conditions. I know you don’t issue the invitations.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But would you think that Iran participation in Geneva II will be helpful?
MS. PSAKI: Our position on this has not changed. As you know, no decisions have yet been made about which countries will be participating in Geneva II. As I also noted, the P5+1 talks focused solely on the – on Iran’s nuclear program, which is, of course, a very separate issue, but our position hasn’t changed. The goal of Geneva II is the full implementation of the Geneva communique, so all participants must have accepted and endorsed it. That is not something that Iran has done. If they did take that step, we would evaluate, but that’s not a step that they have taken at this time.
QUESTION: Well, would you interpret his position that – without any conditions as basically lifting any veto on Assad being – representing the delegation?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t know what his – what – the intention or meaning of that. I’d point you to them to answer that question. But what we know is they have not endorsed the Geneva communique, which is, of course, the purpose of a Geneva II conference. So therefore, our position has not changed.
QUESTION: But the opposition hasn’t endorsed the Geneva communique and you plan on inviting them, so I don’t quite understand why that has to be --
MS. PSAKI: I’d hardly put Iran and the Syrian opposition in the same category.
QUESTION: Well, they’re both players in this conflict. Judgment asides on who is at fault or who you think’s better or worse, they both have a role to play in any agreement, right?
MS. PSAKI: Well, and I disagree with that. I know that there have been a range of comments made by the opposition over the last several months, though they have agreed to attend. We – their next step for them is, of course, working to put together a representative delegation to join the conference. I think there is agreement that the goal here is to create a transitional government through mutual consent. We have been clear that there can be no preconditions that they – and they have made statements on that, and that has been our clear response to that as well.
Do we have --
MS. PSAKI: Well, let’s just finish Iran first and then we can go – are there more on Iran?
MS. PSAKI: On Iran? Let’s go to Iran and then we’ll go to you next, Samir, if that – go ahead.
QUESTION: According to document with Iran, has your position on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline changed? You were opposed to it, because the sanctions – now you’re relaxing sanctions, so has your position on that changed?
MS. PSAKI: Has not changed. Just as a reminder, there is very limited reversible relief that’s a part of the first step. That does not impact the core sanctions regime, so our position on that has not changed.
Do we have any more on Iran?
QUESTION: Yes, please.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead in the back and we’ll go to you next, Jo.
QUESTION: Regarding this inspection and the nuclear program part – and in the same time there is this lifting of the sanctions – are these related to each other, or parallel to each other, or it’s done one after the other?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking.
QUESTION: I’m trying to explain again. When you say – it has two parts in the agreement. One of them is, let’s say, the inspection at the nuclear program, and as a reward or like --
MS. PSAKI: That’s not a one-time thing.
MS. PSAKI: We’re talking about daily access.
QUESTION: Yeah, I mean – yeah. I mean – but in relation to that, it was mentioned the lifting of the sanctions. Are there – this – time-wise, are they related to each other, when they are going to start?
MS. PSAKI: Well – and Brad asked a sort of similar question in that – what is the next step here. So there are going to be technical discussions at a working level to essentially tee up implementation. There are pieces agreed to by both sides. You referenced some reversible limited sanctions relief. There’s also, on the other side – and a commitment to daily access for inspections. So the timing of those I don’t have a prediction of yet, but obviously, that’s what we’re working towards.
QUESTION: So – but this is one side. At the other side was – I mean, the parallel side is the lifting of the sanctions. I mean, is – when it’s going to happen, lifting of the sanction? At the beginning or the end of this process?
MS. PSAKI: It’s not either one of those. It’s a process where there would be some – it would be a progression, so that’s what we’re working through as well.
QUESTION: And there was a number mentioned which is either between $4 to $7 billion. Is this over the six months or one month, or what is it?
MS. PSAKI: It’s not one month. It’s what – it’s the total, and it applies to all of the relief internationally. So there would be a progressive process over the course of the first set.
QUESTION: So the technical discussions, where are they likely to be held? In Geneva or Vienna?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that specifically for you. That’s just the next step into --
QUESTION: And that would involve Wendy Sherman? That’s at a – just at a technical level?
MS. PSAKI: That’s – right, exactly, exactly.
QUESTION: And then from this progression of the sanctions relief, is it more like an installment phase? Are they going to do it by installments? Is that the idea?
MS. PSAKI: That’s more accurate than saying it’s all at once, but in terms of how it would happen, I mean, obviously, that’s still being worked through. And we have a big controlling factor as it relates to our sanctions in terms of how it would work, and it would be more like a slow progression.
QUESTION: And you don’t know which bit would come first, whether it be the freezing of the capital or the gold and precious metals or the auto industry or the oil?
MS. PSAKI: Some of that is still being worked through, so I don’t have any update on it at this particular moment.
QUESTION: Is there any kind of timeline within – I mean, I understand you have to have your technical discussions first.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But if – I imagine that the Iranians are looking for something fairly swiftly to be coming from you. Otherwise, they’re going to start getting a bit cross and they’ll feel that the – they’re – the bargain’s not being kept up. So have you sort of told them, “We’re looking to do this sometime in December”? I know that’s what’s being projected by the EU side of things.
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly there’s an awareness of the technical piece of this that needs to happen, so we’re engaged in that closely, as are other countries, and as soon as that’s worked through then we’ll be able to start moving forward.
MS. PSAKI: Iran? Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Just one more quick question.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: On the country, Turkey, who hosted these talks in the past – P5+1 and Iran talks – is there any role that Turkey’s playing right now in terms of these talks or just waiting or are you – do you have any expectations from Turkey on this juncture?
MS. PSAKI: In terms of hosting talks, or --
QUESTION: Hosting talks or in general during these talks and negotiations.
MS. PSAKI: I’m sure that the Secretary and others will be in touch with Foreign Minister Davutoglu about how – about this process and where we landed. I don’t have any other prediction beyond that. Do you not like Geneva?
QUESTION: Let me just do a follow-up.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Just one quick again. Israel and Saudis are the two allies that been discussed --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- a lot in terms of this deal, your nuclear deal. I know there are discussions going on in Turkey. How do you think your ally Turkey being affected by this Iranian deal?
MS. PSAKI: I’d point you to Turkey on that to outline it. Obviously, this is something the P5+1 has committed to. There are other countries that may decide to follow suit, but I don’t have any prediction for you in terms of the specific impact on Turkey.
QUESTION: Just on Iran still. Can you share us – share with us any phone calls that the Secretary made to the Saudi Foreign Minister, anybody in the Gulf region?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. He spoke yesterday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayid. He also spoke with UAE Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayid, and he spoke with Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal yesterday as well. He’ll be speaking with a range of foreign ministers, of course, over the coming days to brief them on the outcome of the negotiations and the specifics, and of course, discuss where we go from here.
QUESTION: Just on the timing, do you know if they called him before they made an announcement to welcome the deal, or was it after?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have that exact tick-tock of timing for you.
QUESTION: Change of subject.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, let’s go here.
QUESTION: Can we move to Afghanistan?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s finish Iran.
QUESTION: Wait. Just a (inaudible) question.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: It’s about the Arak heavy-water reactor. The agreement didn’t say – doesn’t say that stop constructing. But he just say – that just say stop installing reactor or (inaudible) or something. That means the same things as stop constructing?
MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s – this is a first step. So just – that’s an important reminder here. So obviously, Iran’s ability to produce weapons-grade plutonium using the Arak reactor was what our bar was here, and there were a number of steps included in the agreement, which you can read online, of course, that do address that that were of vital importance to the United States. And beyond that, there obviously will be an ongoing discussion as we pursue the coming months and lead to a comprehensive – as we lead to a comprehensive agreement.
QUESTION: One more.
MS. PSAKI: Any more on Iran?
QUESTION: Yeah, just --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- the Secretary visit to Israel, is it decided or not yet?
MS. PSAKI: I think he said we’re still working through the final details of the schedule but that he’d like to go soon after Thanksgiving, so that remains our plan.
QUESTION: But it was reported from Israel that – I think it’s Prime Minister – National Security Advisor is going to visit the --
MS. PSAKI: Come to the United States in a delegation?
QUESTION: Yes. Yeah.
MS. PSAKI: Yes, that’s correct.
QUESTION: And it’s decided when?
MS. PSAKI: I believe it’s sometime early next month. I don’t know that there’s a date that’s been set yet. Not that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Any more on Iran?
QUESTION: (Off-mike.)
MS. PSAKI: One more on Iran. Okay.
QUESTION: The Boston Globe was reporting today that then-Senator Kerry was a part of the talks in Oman, so I wanted to know if you do have any general comment on that. And also, given the time in advance of the P5+1 talks that occurred, does that give any indication of how complicated and challenging this next round of talks is going to be, given that there was so much of a preamble before the P5+1 talks started?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, let me just give you – I know there have been a range of reports over the last couple of days, so let me just give you a quick overview, for those who are interested. So Secretary Kerry, when he was Senator and Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, did travel to Oman in coordination with the White House and with the Administration to meet with the Sultan and explore whether Oman could be a channel for engaging with the Iranians.
There – we have long had many channels to communicate bilaterally with the Iranians, including exchanges of high-level letters, bilateral discussions on the margins of the P5+1, passing messages through the Swiss protecting power in Tehran, passing messages through the UN missions in New York. And the Omanis, as many of you may remember, helped facilitate the release of hikers – of the hikers, as well, several years ago. So that was a trip he took when he was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
There also have been, through that same line of communication, meetings in Oman – I know they’ve been reported – that – with the Iranians to discuss whether there was a channel for moving forward. These have been closely coordinated or we’ve briefed our P5+1 partners on those. We’ve consistently told P5+1 partners and our Israeli friends that if things developed substantively we’d – of course, it would be fed into the overall process, which is exactly what happened. So that’s just a quick overview, but certainly I can confirm the Secretary’s trip there when he was – to Oman when he was a senator, and the importance of that as a channel leading up.
But one last thing and then I’ll go to you, Chris. Obviously, the election, as we predicted last spring – the election of President Rouhani, the new administration, the exchange of letters with the President, the openness to pursuing a channel moving forward was when things really picked up, and that’s really what led, through the P5+1 process, to the agreement this weekend.
QUESTION: What was the timeline for this when you said that the Secretary was in the Senate?
MS. PSAKI: He went to Oman in December of 2011.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: Just to clarify something.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I’d seen a report that while those talks were happening in Oman that we had not let Israel know. But we did tell and inform Israel we were meeting --
MS. PSAKI: They were briefed. We’ve always told our partners that if – that we would be open to bilateral discussions, and if anything developed or was serious, we would brief them on those. And the President briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu in September.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that the talks in Oman started as far back as March this year?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So before the election of Rouhani.
MS. PSAKI: Yes. And the determination at that point was – the goal at that point was determining if there was a channel to work through. But as I mentioned, really the things picked up with President Rouhani and President Obama exchanging letters.
QUESTION: Yes, change of subject.
QUESTION: No, I mean, before that.
MS. PSAKI: One more on Iran?
QUESTION: Can I check – yeah, yes.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: I am just checking something I read, if you confirm it or not.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: There was in August a meeting by Deputy Secretary Burns and Sullivan with Iranian officials before the UN meetings. Is this true?
MS. PSAKI: Yeah. There were some meetings, they were fed into the P5+1 process, and that resulted in the agreement this weekend.
QUESTION: All right. It sounds like National Security Advisor Susan Rice (inaudible) the best trip to Afghanistan. You’ve been saying that the end of this month was not – I guess you didn’t use the word deadline, but that was the timeframe that Karzai needed to sign this or not. Do we have a deadline there? What’s the latest we can wait for him to sign it before we start making plans to pull troops out?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the timeline which you’re referencing is when we signed the SPA last year, we agreed on a year timeframe, right, which is this month, November. So it was both sides agreeing, which is an important component of this. What is absolutely true is that in order to move forward and plan for the United States, for our NATO allies to plan, in order for Afghans to have the certainty they deserve regarding their future in the critical months preceding the elections, in order to prevent nations’ pledges of assistance made at the Chicago and Tokyo conferences, it’s important in our view to do this as quickly as possible. I’m not here to set new deadlines, but obviously, this is something that could not wait until after the election. It’s something we are prepared to sign and we’d like to sign and move forward on as quickly as possible. And that’s what we continue to convey.
QUESTION: Do you still want him to sign it before the end of the month?
MS. PSAKI: I – we’ve never set a specific deadline. That’s been the timeline that’s been agreed to. We want him to sign it as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: But how much time does the U.S. need to plan if it’s going to withdraw all of its forces?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one thing to be absolutely clear on that: I know that there was a readout that was given about Ambassador Rice’s trip to Afghanistan. In that readout, it made clear that it hasn’t – it isn’t that a decision has been made about the number of troops, but naturally, we’d have to plan. Planning is not the same as a decision, so planning for different options is obviously what is taking place. But I don’t have an exact day or week when things would change. It’s just clear with all those factors that it’s in the interests of both the United States and Afghanistan to have this signed as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: I’m a little confused as to what happened here. Didn’t Secretary Kerry work out this agreement with President Karzai? Why is he changing the conditions now?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you to President Karzai for that question. The content of the agreement was certainly agreed to when Secretary Kerry was there, and there were some final issues that were worked through, as you all recall, last week. The Loya Jirga strongly endorsed and supported the agreement in the process that was underway this weekend, which is even more reason to move forward as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: Was Secretary Kerry surprised by, first, Karzai refusing to sign it and then at the additional conditions that he gave to Susan Rice?
MS. PSAKI: I – he hasn’t characterized it to me in those terms. Obviously, this is an issue that he is committed to and feels as strongly as anyone else in the Administration that we need to move forward as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: Karzai has intimated that, essentially, he feels as if Afghan sovereignty has somehow been compromised by this entire negotiation, that somehow, his ability to lead his country without being perceived as being undercut in any way has been created. Did the National Security Advisor address any of those concerns, and did Karzai indicate to her any other reason why he feels it’s important to, for example, talk about bringing in the Pakistanis as part of trying to bring about peace in the country? Can you give us anything more on really what his concerns are?
MS. PSAKI: I can’t. I would point you to him for that, and point you to the White House for any more specifics on Ambassador Rice’s trip to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Was it anticipated that with the blessing of the Loya Jirga that Karzai would still have these objections, or was there a sense in this building, once we can get past the meeting of the Loya Jirga, that we should be able to get these documents signed so that we can go ahead and start looking for a 2015?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, Roz, if you look back to the Secretary’s trip there that Cami referenced like just a few weeks ago, there – they agreed on the – in principle and the text of the BSA. They worked out some final issues last week. Certainly, we respect and did – have respected the political process in Afghanistan. But of course, we anticipated we would be signing this soon after the conclusion of the Loya Jirga.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a really simple question?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Do you know what Karzai really wants at this point?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any – it is a simple question, but one I don’t have any insight to offer you on.
QUESTION: I’m not asking you if you could tell us what he really wants. I’m only asking: Does the State Department, does the Obama Administration writ large know what Karzai wants?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any analysis on that for you, Brad.
QUESTION: Jen, on Afghanistan? Yeah.
MS. PSAKI: Sure, on Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Okay. Why does the State Department need a signed bilateral security agreement now as opposed to now and April?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I talked about this a little bit, but for a couple of reasons. Deferring the signature of the agreement until next year – after next year’s election would not provide the United States and NATO allies with the ability to plan for a post-2014 presence. That’s of vital importance. It also puts at risk the pledges of NATO and other nations, financial pledges that were made in – at the Chicago and Tokyo conferences. And it also doesn’t give the Afghan people – and this is a very important component – the certainty that they need as well on their end, as they’re also going into an election season.
QUESTION: Would it --
QUESTION: Is it true that this Administration also believes that as of January 1st, 2015 the U.S. has no legal right to be inside of Afghanistan, and so any planning it would do, absent the signing of the BSA, is basically a waste of time and money?
MS. PSAKI: Well, that’s – my math is not great right now – 13 months away. But planning is an important component. We need as much time as possible. So beyond that, that’s why we’re focused on getting it done as quickly as possible now.
QUESTION: But the fact – but to kind of turn it around, let’s say things weren’t signed until April or May.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There’s – there are a lot of things that need to be done that simply take up a lot of time. You get to December 31st, not all of the planning has been done. But on January 1st, U.S. troops don’t have the legal authority to be in country.
MS. PSAKI: That’s a lot of hypotheticals. Obviously, we’ve been clear that waiting until after the election is not a practical or viable option. So that’s the message we’re conveying, and we are continuing to press to move forward on signing of the BSA.
QUESTION: When was the last time Secretary Kerry spoke with Karzai?
MS. PSAKI: I believe he spoke with him – he spoke with him on Friday before we departed for Geneva.
QUESTION: Any plans to call him today or tomorrow?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction of that. If he speaks with him, I’m sure we can let all of you know.
QUESTION: Is – perhaps in your opinion, is this just not a game of brinkmanship on the part of President Karzai? He knows you guys want a deal so that you can plan, and he also wants to try and get some things out of you, so he’s just holding off for the moment, but that he’ll eventually sign it. Is that the feeling?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to do political analysis on what his thinking is or what his motivation is. I think we’ve been very clear – and this is a message that Ambassador Rice sent when she was there – that we need to move forward as quickly as possible. There can’t be any more delays for the range of reasons that I outlined.
QUESTION: Some of the things that his office suggested last night that he’d been asking Ambassador Rice for included some assurances on Afghan prisoners in Guantanamo and the United States being involved in the organization of the April 5th elections. Can you tell us if that’s what your understanding is? He wants, actually, new things now that weren’t on the table before?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve obviously seen his public comments. We have no reason to dispute that that’s what he is looking for. But again, this is something that we’ve agreed to, we want to move forward on, and we want to sign as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: So are you not prepared to make any more concessions now?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to – this is a – the negotiations have concluded, so we are focused on moving the signing forward so that we can plan as quickly as possible. So --
QUESTION: So no more – nothing new from the American side? The deal is what it is, and they either sign it or you walk away? You’re not prepared to --
MS. PSAKI: Obviously, we’re working through how to get this done with the Afghans. But I don’t have any specific commentary on the range of reports out there of what President Karzai is doing.
QUESTION: Are you examining – have they been made to you? I’m assuming they must have been, because that must have been what was said in the meeting with Ambassador Rice yesterday. Are you examining the new requests from Karzai’s office?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything for you on that.
QUESTION: East China Sea?
QUESTION: Afghanistan?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Afghanistan.
MS. PSAKI: One more on Afghanistan? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. NSA Rice in an interview to Tolo TV--
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- again said about zero option, if there’s no BSA all the U.S. troops will pull out of Afghanistan. But do you think with the zero option, can you achieve your goal of keeping U.S. safe and your ultimate goal of three Ds – defeating the al-Qaida and Taliban – without any troops in Afghanistan?
MS. PSAKI: I think what she also said, if I remember correctly, is that that wasn’t our preference, that obviously we have to plan for different contingencies. It doesn’t mean that a decision has been made. But we’ve long said that a BSA would be needed in order to have a presence post-2014.
QUESTION: And the planning – you could plan a war within 24 hours or 48 hours. Why can’t you do it in – the planning of this – planning post-2014 in six months, after April?
MS. PSAKI: It’s not just the United States. It’s our NATO allies. There are several complicated components of this, and so we need as much time as possible.
QUESTION: Critics would say that you’re using Karzai’s not signing this Bilateral Security Agreement as an excuse to pull out, that Karzai is just a red herring. How would you respond?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve been very clear – and I just mentioned this – that’s not our preference, that there are interests for the United States, including preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida, including the importance of our security partnership. But we need these requirements. The BSA outlines them. It’s long been negotiated. It’s been a tough negotiation. And it’s – we’ve been very clear about our desire to sign it as quickly as possible.
QUESTION: Is the Administration serious about staying in Afghanistan post-2014, with or without a signed Bilateral Security Agreement?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you to what Ambassador Rice and the President have said about the need to have a BSA in order to have a presence. But obviously, we’re planning, given the BSA isn’t signed yet.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. also taking the help of any of its allies and friends to convince Karzai to sign the BSA ASAP?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specific readout of that. Of course, it’s important – it’s vitally important to our NATO allies for this to be signed. In terms of what case they’re making, I would point you to them for more specifics.
QUESTION: Can we go to China?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: So the two U.S. military aircraft have flown around these disputed islands in the East China Sea, defying China’s declaration that the region falls into a new airspace defense zone. What is all this about, please?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know that the Department of Defense have – has commented on that specifically, which happened, I believe, just earlier today. There was also reports, which this is all related so let me speak to these, about the November 23rd announcement that China has established an East China Sea air defense identification zone. This unilateral action appears to be an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, and thus will raise regional tensions and increase the risk of miscalculation, confrontation, and accidents.
We have made this case to China. Assistant Secretary Russel raised U.S. concerns with the Ambassador on November 23rd. Ambassador Locke also reiterated our concerns in Beijing. And we have urged the Chinese to exercise caution and restraint. We’re also consulting with Japan and other affected parties throughout the region in response to these – this announcement.
QUESTION: So the U.S. has always said that this needs to be resolved diplomatically.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But isn’t by flying – for the U.S. intervening this way, isn’t that inflammatory and increasing tensions?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are continuing to encourage our partners – one thing, actually, let me say on this is that we don’t – we – does not – we don’t support efforts by any state to apply its air defense identification zone procedures to foreign aircrafts not intending to enter its national airspace. We don’t apply – the United States does not apply that procedure to foreign aircraft, so it certainly is one we don’t think others should apply. We have long talked about concerns about increasing tensions or the raising of tensions and the impact that would have. At this point, our role is to continue to encourage both sides to move forward with dialogue, to express concerns when we disagree with steps that China has taken, which is a case we’ve obviously done here. But our position on the islands that this impacts, of course, has not changed.
QUESTION: Given that the U.S. recognizes that Japan, for all intents and purposes, does have control of the Senkakus or the Diaoyus, is the U.S. concerned that by declaring this zone over the weekend that China is trying to drag Washington into this, and Washington may have taken the bait?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that there’s been any bait taken. We’ve expressed our concerns, and obviously we have a wide-ranging relationship with China, but when there are concerns that need to be expressed, we are not shy about expressing them. I just conveyed our view that this attempt – that we view this as an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea. We’ve also expressed our concerns directly to the Chinese as needed.
So, you’re familiar with our position on the Senkakus. It’s longstanding. We don’t take a position on the question of sovereignty. That hasn’t changed. And we’ve long expressed concerns about efforts to raise tension, and this is evidence of our willingness to express that concern.
QUESTION: Can the U.S. draw --
QUESTION: These were – going back to Lesley’s question, these flights were absolutely necessary? They weren’t – they shouldn’t be viewed as a counter provocation?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t have any specific comment on them. The Department of Defense has commented on them, and obviously, we’ll look more closely at actions as they continue.
QUESTION: But you --
QUESTION: Does the U.S. consider this a similar type of action to what China has done in the past 18 months or so around the Scarborough Shoals?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to compare it to any past incident. I think I just expressed what we’ve done, and obviously we’ll continue to monitor day by day.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Jen, 20 countries in the world have ADIZ – why can’t China – including U.S. and Japan?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I’ve just conveyed that for the United States, we don’t apply the Air Defense Identification Zone procedures to foreign aircraft, so – I don’t know the procedures or policies of other countries. The concern here is what I just expressed, which is about unilateral action on the part of China that appears to be an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea.
QUESTION: I understand your concern. And actually, after Secretary Kerry released the statement --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese Defense Ministry both said China’s ADIZ is not aimed at any country and does not affect freedom of – over flight.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: So what is your response to this?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve expressed our concerns when they need to be expressed, and I’ve done those and our statement did those as well.
QUESTION: And when you’re talking about changing the status quo of the disputed island, months ago, Japan sent coastguard vessels to the island. Japan also released a video to claim the sovereignty of the Senkaku-Diaoyu Island. Why didn’t you express your concern back then?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any historical analysis for you today. I can just tell you what we’ve done in this specific case.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask – today, the Japanese airlines have actually said that they’re going to obey with these new rules set by Beijing, and they’re going to start notifying Beijing of their flight patterns. Is that a good move, or do you see – would the United States see it as a good move, or is it something that then – that becomes – make this a fait accompli at the end of the day?
MS. PSAKI: I hadn’t seen that before I came down here. I’m happy to speak with Assistant Secretary Russel and others and see what our thoughts as a U.S. Government are on that specific announcement.
QUESTION: Jen, whose decision was it to send the bombers?
MS. PSAKI: The what?
QUESTION: Whose decision was it to send those bombers over there?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’d point you to DOD for any specifics on that.
QUESTION: Jen, when it comes to ADIZ by Japan, which is overlapping the Chinese one, are you aware of who drew the Japanese ADIZ line?
MS. PSAKI: Who drew it?
QUESTION: Yes, and who maintained it, who operated it?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specifics on that.
QUESTION: Are you aware of – when you’re conveying message, that that line has been set by the United States and maintained by the United States and operated by the United States? I just wanted to clarify that.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you. Do you have a question?
QUESTION: No. I just wanted to clarify that.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: On Syria, just to follow up on --
QUESTION: On China as well?
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you have a readout of the Secretary’s phone call with Japanese Foreign Minister, and did they talk about this issue as well?
MS. PSAKI: They did. I didn’t get a lengthy readout. I will see if there’s more we can provide to you. It was a call they had this morning. They spoke about this issue as well as the recent agreement on Iran.
QUESTION: On Syria --
QUESTION: Jen, did you hear anything specifically from --
MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next, I promise.
QUESTION: -- yeah, sorry – from your Chinese counterparts through diplomatic channels, otherwise, in response to this U.S. mission?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve been in touch, as I mentioned. Assistant Secretary Russel has been in touch, Ambassador Locke has been in touch to convey our concerns. I don’t have any readout for you of what they conveyed in response.
QUESTION: If the Chinese do not rescind this zone, what options does the U.S. have?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into a hypothetical.
QUESTION: The Wall Street Journal published a report – I don’t know if you’re aware of it – but basically saying that the U.S. intelligence has already picked up signal that the attack on Ghouta, which is outside of Damascus – the chemical attacks – took place on the 18th of August, or they knew about it on the 18th of August, and the Obama Administration covered it up because they were worried that that will cross the President redline.
Can you respond to that? Do you see any base into this accusation? And were you – when were you aware that the Assad regime actually were moving chemical weapons before the date itself of the attack, which is (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on this for you. I can’t imagine I will, but I’m happy to circle back with our team and see if there’s anything we can provide.
QUESTION: Zimbabwe.
MS. PSAKI: Zimbabwe, okay. Can we – are there any more on Syria? Okay.
QUESTION: The chairperson of the Kimberley Process – the Kimberley Process’s meeting this week suggested that the U.S. should consider removing sanctions on diamonds in Zimbabwe. Do you have a response to that? Do you think it’s a good idea? Do you think that Zimbabwe’s moving closer to being acceptable in your eyes to remove sanctions? Is there any process in place in Washington that’s looking at this issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Zimbabwe’s adherence to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme’s minimum requirements remains a priority for the United States. We remain concerned about revenue transparency, treatment of artisanal miners, and the freedom of local communities and civil society organizations to operate peacefully in Zimbabwe’s diamond mining areas. In terms of – and so we wish to see increased transparency in revenue flows from diamonds.
In terms of specific sanctions, as I’m betting you already know, we have targeted sanctions on 113 individuals and 70 entities found to have been undermining democracy in Zimbabwe. And we of course review sanctions at all times, but I don’t have any prediction or update for you on anything or any expected change.
QUESTION: And – but there is some travel by, I think, is it a deputy assistant secretary, I think next week possibly? I don’t want to announce it here – (laughter) – but are there mechanisms in place whereby you’re looking at what’s going on in countries and make new assessments on that basis?
MS. PSAKI: Certainly, as a part of any trip or visit, we take a look at a range of programs and a range of concerns. I’m not aware of the trip. I’m happy to check with them and see if that’s something that is in process for next week.
QUESTION: Jen, I have a question.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Cuba. There’s been a – there’s a press release from the Cubans complaining about losing their bank account in the United States, and that because of the U.S. economic sanctions, their embassy – or, their consulates and interest – their UN mission and interests section in the United States cannot actually conduct any financial business with anyone in the United States.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: That, in their opinion, this is a violation of the Vienna Convention. Are you doing anything about this? Do you disagree with that? How might this be fixed?
MS. PSAKI: Let me check into the accuracy of the report and see what’s happening, and we can get an answer around to all of you.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Central – to Africa and to Central African Republic?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: The French have announced today that they’re going to send hundreds of extra troops to Central African Republic. And I know that some State Department officials last week were warning that you’re in a pre-genocidal situation in the country. Is it a good thing that France is sending in more troops? And can you just update on us where you are, where the U.S. is on their situation?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I actually discussed this issue with our team before I came down here, but there’s an internal discussion about it, so let me get back to all of you with an answer to some of your questions.
QUESTION: On Ukraine?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: When you were last here, just before you left for Geneva, you expressed disappointment that Ukraine had not signed the EU pacts.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: You also mentioned that Secretary Kerry was not going to the OSCE Summit.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But you didn’t really give a good explanation on why he wasn’t going. Can you now be a little bit more clearer on why he decided not to go? Is that to do with the detention of Tymoshenko or has it got to do with the specific EU issue?
MS. PSAKI: I cannot be any more clear than I was last Friday, unfortunately, Lesley.
QUESTION: Clear as mud. Okay. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But do you have a reaction to the protests that were on the streets of Kyiv this weekend, angry at the fact that their authorities have decided not to go ahead at the moment with this association agreement with the EU?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. We are more than – as you know, more than 100,000 people have taken to the streets in recent days to peacefully express their support for Ukraine’s European integration. We are, of course, monitoring large protests in cities across the country. We continue to encourage all Ukrainians to express their views on Ukraine’s future in a constructive manner. We support, of course, the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to achieve a prosperous European democracy. European integration is the surest course to economic growth and strengthening Ukraine’s democracy.
QUESTION: And the EU has actually said that the door still remains open to the – and that they will be still prepared to sign this association agreement with Ukraine if the Ukrainian authorities can be persuaded. What are you trying to do on your part to urge them to go forward with the signing?
MS. PSAKI: We – of course, you’re familiar with our longstanding position on this issue, which I semi-reiterated there. I don’t – I’d have to check and see if there are specific behind-the-scenes actions or steps we’re taking in the coming days to support that effort.
QUESTION: So Assistant Secretary Nuland is going to be going to Kyiv --
MS. PSAKI: She will be.
QUESTION: -- for the OSCE meetings.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is she actually going to have meetings with the Ukrainian leadership while she’s there as well?
MS. PSAKI: I’ll have to check with her and her team and see what her schedule looks like for her visit.
QUESTION: Because I’d imagine that would be a good opportunity for you to say: Hey, guys, come on – (laughter) – sign the agreement.
MS. PSAKI: I will pass that along. (Laughter.) Scott.
QUESTION: Any late reaction to the ongoing protests in Thailand?
MS. PSAKI: I can give you a reaction.
QUESTION: Is it late?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t know that it’s late.
QUESTION: We’ll take within the last five hours.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new. I’m sure you saw – or hopefully you saw the statement --
MS. PSAKI: -- we put out yesterday. I don't have any new reaction beyond that to update you on.
MS. PSAKI: Scott. Let’s go to Scott next, and then we can go back to you.
QUESTION: In Angola --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- there seem to be some conflicting reports about whether the government there has banned Islam.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Is that a situation that you are watching? And what is your understanding about what’s going on in Angola?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Scott, I’m also going to have to take that one and talk to our Africa team about our specific reaction on that front.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There seems to be a subject – closure of prep schools in Turkey. Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. PSAKI: I would point you to the Turkish Government for any specific reaction on that or details.
MS. PSAKI: Japan?
QUESTION: Yeah. Yes. As you know, a secrecy law has passed today by the lower house of parliament. Do you have some comment for this?
MS. PSAKI: I actually hadn’t seen those reports before I came down here, so I’ll check with our team and see if there’s more. Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But you know, what do you think – yeah, don’t you have some implication about what kind of impact it have toward the bilateral relationship between Japan and the U.S? Yeah.
MS. PSAKI: To which piece?
QUESTION: To secrecy law and the coming NSC – new NSC law (inaudible). Yeah.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any particular analysis on it for you at this point.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah. Last week, Pakistan charged Dr. Afridi with murder charges.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Has the U.S. spoken to Pakistanis on this issue?
MS. PSAKI: I – we’re obviously, of course, in close contact on the ground. I’d have to check and see if there’s anything recently in the past couple of days on this specifically. We are of course concerned about the new charge brought late last week against Dr. Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who aided in the intelligence-gathering effort that made possible the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Usama bin Ladin. His assistance in confirming the location of bin Ladin was a service to the entire world and to Pakistanis who had lost loved ones and suffered at the hands of al-Qaida. We called on proper authorities to ensure that Dr. Afridi receives a fair trial for this new charge.
QUESTION: For someone who played such a critical role in eliminating one of the top terrorist leaders of the world, why isn’t U.S. seen helping this guy to come out of prison?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve long expressed our belief that his treatment is both unjust and unwarranted. We regret, of course, that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence. We’ve expressed that in the past before as well, and we’ve conveyed that very clearly to the Pakistani Government.
QUESTION: What do you think about the charges leveled against Dr. Afridi? Alleged – reportedly, he’s facing murder charges because a patient died of appendicitis.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, again, we believe his treatment is unjust and unwarranted. That continues to apply. We have expressed that clearly to the Pakistani Government, and we’ve expressed our desire for him to receive a fair trial.
QUESTION: And do you dispute the notion that Pakistan believes that he has terror ties?
MS. PSAKI: I think we have expressed, again, our concerns about his treatment. So I don’t know that I have much more for you all on it.
QUESTION: Do you think those charges are baseless?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have much more for you on it.
QUESTION: But are you satisfied with the response you are receiving from Pakistan on this particular issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, we’ve continued to raise this issue at the highest levels. We’re concerned about his health and well-being. We’ve encouraged the Pakistani Government to protect him and his family. Obviously, he not only remains in jail, but he’s been charged with a new crime, so I will let you answer that question for yourself.
QUESTION: Has there been any talk about maybe withholding some of the money that was recently released based on the Prime Minister’s visit here?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any prediction of that for you, Lucas.
QUESTION: I have one more on Pakistan.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Pakistan today released three Taliban prisoners who will be talking with Afghanistan – part of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Taliban talks. Do you have anything to say on that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specifically on that.
Thanks, everyone.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:37 p.m.)

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