U.S. Department of State
On-Camera Daily Press Briefing Index
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
1:21 p.m. EDT
Briefer: Jen Psaki, Spokesperson
-- Secretary Kerry Call with Egyptian Foreign Minister
-- U.S. Commitment to Democratic Process in Egypt
-- Concern about Violence
-- Opposition Demands
-- U.S. Aid to Egypt
-- Ambassador Patterson / Status and Safety of American Embassy
-- U.S.-India Relations
-- Kerry Meeting with Advisor to Prime Minister at ASEAN
-- Weekend Bombings
-- Asylum Requests
-- U.S. Conversations with Other Countries / U.S. Would Like Snowden Returned
-- In Continued Contact with Partners around the World
-- In General - Requests for Political Asylum
-- Secretary Kerry Meetings with Partners at ASEAN / Conversations will Continue
-- U.S. Position on North Korea Remains the Same
-- Video of Beheadings
-- Support for Opposition
-- Geneva II / Factors for Scheduling
-- Aid to SMC
-- Bradley Manning Trial
-- Working Conditions
-- S&ED Next Week
-- Secretary Kerry Meeting at ASEAN / Continuing Talks
-- Work Continues
-- Special Envoy for Middle East Peace Position
-- State Visits
-- Treasury Sanctions on Burmese General
-- Kurdish Parliament / Delay in Presidential Regional Polls
-- Preference is that Snowden Return to U.S.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
TUESDAY, JULY 2, 2013
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
1:21 p.m. EDT
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.
QUESTION: Welcome back.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you.
QUESTION: Welcome back.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you. I don’t have anything at the top, so let’s get to what’s on your minds.
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on what this building or the Secretary is doing in relation to developments in Egypt? I do realize that their Foreign Minister resigned, so he doesn’t really have a natural counterpart to get in touch with, but has he been making any calls from the plane?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me say first broadly – and I know Patrick talked about this yesterday – that our focus is, of course, on being in touch at the highest levels, both on the ground with our Ambassador and staff in the Embassy, but also at the highest levels of government here. And you all saw, I’m sure, that the President spoke with President Morsy yesterday and the White House put out an extensive readout of that. I do have an update for you that the Secretary did speak with the Foreign Minister. I understand what the public announcements recently have been, but he is the appropriate counterpart. He just spoke with him right before I came down to speak with all of you.
He conveyed the same message that the President conveyed to his counterpart, which is that it’s important to listen to the Egyptian people, that we are – he reiterated what he said – what the President and others have said publicly, that the U.S. is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group. He stressed as well that democracy is about more than just elections. It’s also about ensuring the voices of all Egyptians are heard. And he also reiterated what our goal is, which is a peaceful, stable and prosperous Egypt. That’s what we’re all focused on.
QUESTION: Can I just – I mean, in what capacity was the Foreign Minister speaking? Is he – do you consider him to be – even though he’s resigned, you consider him to be a representative of the --
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I would refer you to the Egyptian Government for his exact status, but I did want to just provide an update that the Secretary did speak with him.
QUESTION: Well, he is aware that the guy resigned, right?
MS. PSAKI: Yes, he has seen the public announcements, of course. But again, we’re in touch with --
MS. PSAKI: -- at all levels of government with counterparts there.
QUESTION: Including people who are not in the government anymore, apparently.
MS. PSAKI: Again, Matt, I would refer you to the Government of Egypt on that specifically.
QUESTION: Okay. Can you elaborate a little bit about what he meant by being important to listen to the Egyptian people?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he was reiterating what the President has said publicly and what was also in the readout, which is that this is – democracy is about more than just elections. It’s about ensuring that people can have their voices heard – peacefully, of course, is always the goal. And he – and you saw that the President urged President Morsy to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and the Secretary agrees that that is an important step for the government to take.
QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of what kinds of steps these might be, recognizing that you don’t dictate or you’re not trying to dictate, or maybe you are trying to dictate but you certainly don’t want to be seen as dictating? What kinds of things does the U.S. think that Morsy could do to be responsive to the Egyptian people’s concerns?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Matt, I think what we’ve seen there is people expressing their points of view, and allowing them to do that is an important step that’s just part of that process. We know that democracy takes time, of course, and what we’re seeing happen in Egypt is that transpiring over time. In terms of what specifically he can do, he can respect the views of the people. You also heard the President – or saw in the readout of the President’s call that there are concerns about violence, there are concerns about violence against women, and putting an end to that is certainly a part of a step that can be taken on the ground.
QUESTION: Well, does that – but I mean, the protestors want him, want Morsy, to leave. They want him to step down. They want him out. Is that the kind of step that the U.S. thinks would be good? Do you think that Morsy should step down?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think we’ve been very clear on the Secretary’s call to the Foreign Minister as well as the President’s call to the President that we’re not taking sides in this case and that it’s not up to us, the United States, to make choices here. Our commitment is to allowing the democratic process to take place. It’s never been about one individual. It’s been about hearing and allowing the voices of the Egyptian people to be heard.
QUESTION: Is one of those steps perhaps something that’s being reported, that President Obama has called, has asked or urged President Morsy to call early elections as one way of sort of appeasing the crowds?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I have seen that report. I can tell you that is inaccurate.
QUESTION: How so inaccurate? Could you tell us exactly, because it appears that the United States obviously is now trying to tell President Morsy what to do.
MS. PSAKI: That was me, not you. Sorry.
QUESTION: But they’re saying that he has to figure out a way to end this crisis and that one of them would be to call new elections. Isn’t that --
MS. PSAKI: Well, the reports that we have been urging early elections are inaccurate.
QUESTION: But --
MS. PSAKI: Certainly there have been calls for – again, as I had mentioned to Matt or as I stated a little bit earlier – for allowing people to peacefully communicate their concerns, allowing people to protest in that capacity, urging the respect for democracy. Those are things that have been called for both publicly and privately. But I was referring to that specific headline that Jo mentioned.
QUESTION: All right. And then you said also that one of the things that the U.S. is looking at is the concept of democracy is more than elections. What does that mean, exactly?
MS. PSAKI: It means that – respecting and hearing the voices of the people over the course of time, not just putting your ballot in at the – when that occasion presents itself, but also allowing for freedom of speech and encouraging that year round.
QUESTION: So on that point, Jen --
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just do one at a time. Go ahead, Said.
QUESTION: Yeah. On this point, you still consider Morsy to be the democratically-elected president, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, it --
QUESTION: There’s been no change?
MS. PSAKI: That is correct. It’s not about one individual. This is about the voices of the Egyptian people, and that’s what our focus is on.
QUESTION: In other words, rumors calling on – that suggested there was a call on Mr. Morsy to step down are not true up until now, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I think that the President – the readout of the President’s call and what I just read out of the Secretary’s call make very clear what has been communicated.
QUESTION: Forming a government, a coalition government of all the different political parties, like an emergency government, would that be a way forward, at least for now?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in the process. We are obviously in very close contact at all levels of government, and that’s where our focus is at this point in time.
QUESTION: And lastly, we know that the President warned against a military coup. Do you know that – if the SCAF, the Egyptian military, responded or promised that they will not conduct a coup?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update on that for you. You have to talk to the people on the ground.
QUESTION: Specifically on that, though, our understanding is that the Obama Administration is urging – is warning the Egyptian military that if they were to carry out a coup, they would be at risk of losing U.S. aid. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, that’s way ahead of where we are in the process. There are conditions on aid, of course, that I know you’re all familiar with. But our focus right now, our focus today, as you can see by the calls that I’ve read out of the last 24 hours, is on communicating what needs to happen and what our concerns are directly to the government.
QUESTION: But certainly right now the military are basically saying that this may be one of the only ways that they can restore some type of order to the process. They don’t necessarily want to have a coup per se, but they may be the only ones who can really go in there and bring about some order. What does the United States think about that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve certainly seen their comments and I know they’ve set deadlines. I’m just not going to speak to those or speculate on deadlines that they’ve set.
QUESTION: My questions is, I want you to make it more clear about on which side the United States on now because --
MS. PSAKI: Neither side.
QUESTION: Okay. Because yesterday the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt used Patrick’s statement as that the United States is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and supporting President Morsy. So I wanted you to make it more clear, and I want you to tell me what are those red lines, if it will be – if it’s crossed in Egypt, the United States will have to choose one side to support.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, you’re ahead of where we are in the process. We’re on neither side. We’re on the side of the Egyptian people. We have been in touch with all sides – the opposition, with the government, with the military – and we will continue to be. But to alleviate any concerns or assumptions, we are not – we have not taken sides. We are not on any side. The President communicated that. The Secretary communicated that. And I don’t think it could be any more clear.
QUESTION: But what are your biggest fears?
QUESTION: Jen, when you say that democracy is – what was it? – democracy is more than just elections, it suggests to me, or perhaps I’m getting it wrong, that you’re telling Morsy that he can’t stand on the fact that he’s the first democratically-elected President of Egypt, and that actually he needs to facilitate further democracy, and the way to do that presumably would be to call elections or to step down or to listen to the voices of the crowd.
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think I’ve been very clear, and so let me just reiterate here, that on these calls and also publicly we have communicated that there’s more work that needs to be done by President Morsy and others to create the conditions where everyone feels their voices are heard. And we’ve encouraged the government to reach out to opposition and work through – to the opposition and work through the political process. And that’s the stage that we’re at now. And certainly more work needs to be done, and that’s been clear in all of our public and private communications.
QUESTION: So President Morsy is currently meeting with the military leadership today, I believe, and the protesters have appointed Mohamed ElBaradei as a representative for them. Would you encourage talks between ElBaradei and President Morsy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve encouraged President Morsy and others to let democracy take place, to do this through verbal conversations. I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the process, and we’ll see how those conversations go.
QUESTION: And how worried is the United States that this could just degenerate into quite serious clashes and bloodshed on the streets of Egyptian cities?
MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we’re concerned any time we see incidents of violence against women, against really any citizen. That’s why we’re monitoring it so closely and why we’re in such close contact with counterparts at all levels.
QUESTION: Can I go back to this whole concept of the steps that the President encouraged President Morsy to take, and that the Secretary encouraged the former minister to take?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: When you say that it is not correct, or that a report that says that you’re calling for or you’re urging early elections or something – when you say that those are untrue, is it not the case that calling early elections is one thing, whether you’re promoting it or not is one thing that the opposition has been wanting, and that if President Morsy were to make a step in that – appear favorable to that, that that would be something that addresses at least some of the protesters’ concerns? Is that not the case?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, the larger point here is that it’s up to the Egyptian people --
QUESTION: I understand that.
MS. PSAKI: -- to determine what the next steps are.
QUESTION: But surely you’re not saying that --
MS. PSAKI: And there have been calls made from various sides here. My point is that it’s not up to the U.S. to make that decision or make that call, and that call has not been made.
QUESTION: What – I’m sorry, what call?
MS. PSAKI: The call for new elections, early elections.
QUESTION: So you – I mean, well, you say – I think technically you’re probably correct, but if the President of the United States calls the President of Egypt and says, “I’m encouraging you to take steps,” surely among the menu of steps that there is for him to take are the things, at least some of the things, that the opposition has been calling for, and this is one of them. Can you deny that an early election is one of the demands of the protesters?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I know that the protesters have made demands. I don’t speak on their behalf, as you know.
QUESTION: I know. But it’s a bit duplicitous for you to say that you have --
MS. PSAKI: And the White House gave – let me just finish. The White House gave a pretty extensive readout of what the President’s call was. I don’t have anything to add to that, other than to say that there are steps that, of course, President Morsy can take. I outlined some of them in response to Jo’s question. But --
QUESTION: I’m just trying to figure out if you’re saying – if you, the Administration, thinks that early elections are not among the menu of things that Morsy could do to address the concerns of the protesters.
MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to make a judgment about the right steps. Of course, there are a range of steps.
QUESTION: I’m not saying it’s the right step.
MS. PSAKI: Matt --
QUESTION: All right. Okay. And I just want you to concede that the protesters are calling for early elections and that calling early elections would be one of several things out there that he could do to address their concerns. Is that correct or no?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, the --
QUESTION: I mean, it seems to make a simple statement of fact.
MS. PSAKI: Let me – Matt, I’m trying to answer your question, I promise.
QUESTION: I don’t think you are.
MS. PSAKI: There’s a difference here between what the U.S. is calling for and what the U.S. is making a judgment on.
QUESTION: It has nothing to do with --
MS. PSAKI: But we’ve seen the same reports you have about what the opposition and others have called for. That’s not – that wasn’t the original question that was being asked.
QUESTION: No. Well, I’m trying to take it out of the realm of you telling him that this is a thing that you should do. I just want to know if the Administration, in that menu of things that could be done that the opposition is calling for, you will allow that calling early elections is one of those things, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it is a call the opposition is making. It is not a judgment the U.S. is making about what the steps are.
QUESTION: I’m not – but don’t – I don’t think anyone’s saying that you have made that judgment.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I just want to be absolutely clear --
QUESTION: Okay. All right.
MS. PSAKI: -- so that there isn’t any confusion.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Jill.
QUESTION: Not to belabor this too much, but there are some other steps as well that the U.S. apparently is urging him to take. One would be to appoint a new prime minister. Another one would be appoint a new cabinet, get rid of the prosecutor general. Those are three. What do you have specifically to say about those? Are those things that the U.S. does support?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more specific on steps.
QUESTION: Changing subject?
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish any other Egypt.
QUESTION: Yeah, okay. I mean, is there a point at which the United States would sanction the military intervention in Egypt, like if violence breaks out, if chaos becomes rampant in Egypt? Is there a point at which you will support the military intervention?
MS. PSAKI: Again, Said, I think you’re getting ahead of where we are. So I’m sure we’ll be talking about this tomorrow again, and we’ll see where we are.
QUESTION: Jen, could I ask, more broadly, is there any consideration about U.S. aid to the Morsy administration given the fact that there are specific legal requirements on U.S. giving aid to countries where there has been a coup. Is there any specific consideration going on at the moment about your aid?
MS. PSAKI: You are right. There are. But that’s not where we are in the process in terms of where things stand. And as you know, we work with Congress and others on any steps like that. But again, that’s a hypothetical at this point.
QUESTION: Because earlier this year, Secretary Kerry gave the authorization for the aid to continue.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: But there’s no consideration or debate at the moment within this department or within the Administration about cutting that aid?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re just – we’re not there in the process. There’s always a – broadly, so there’s two points here. I think you asked one about in any country, in any case where there’s a coup, right? There’s a case – we’re not there in Egypt, but there are ties to money. That’s correct. Broadly in terms of aid, these are decisions that are made in part by Congress, in part by others about what aid should go. But we talked about this a little bit a couple of weeks ago: A lot of aid does go both to strengthen the democracy in Egypt, both to help strengthen security – we have our own regional security needs. So there’s a broad range of aid, but we’re just not there at that point.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on Jo’s –
QUESTION: I have a technical question on just – where was the Secretary when he made this call? Was he on the plane? And if he was, was he – where was he in between?
MS. PSAKI: He was on the – he’s en route back. I would have to check the technicality of whether he was on the plane or at a refueling stop.
QUESTION: And then the other thing is: Where is – is Deputy Secretary Burns in Washington?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check. I believe he is, this afternoon, back.
QUESTION: Was he this morning?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on his travel plans.
QUESTION: Who represented the State Department at the deputies committee meeting on Egypt this morning at the White House?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t know that we’d get into a list of attendees at such things, but if there’s anything to share, I’m happy to share it – more specifically, any recent travel plans for the Deputy Secretary.
QUESTION: Are we changing subject?
QUESTION: No, I have a –
MS. PSAKI: Let’s just see if there’s any more on Egypt.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. (Inaudible) contacted different levels of the official, and as I – as much as I remember, Secretary Kerry mentioned in one of his press conferences that he talked to Amr Moussa and Baradei. What was the message to them?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, the message is across the board that democracy takes time. He’s encouraging all parties to work together. Beyond that, I just don’t have – I know that was several days ago. I don’t have much more of an update on it for you.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry in his appearance in Congress, whether it’s Senate or House, he was talking about two partners in Egypt when one is the Morsy government and the other is the military. And it seemed that in the last 24 hours, I mean, whether we like it or not, the big partner – or let’s say the main player, one of the main players – is the military, and then they make this ultimatum for 48 hours. I know you don’t want to comment on the assumption, what may happen, or what may not happen. What you are expecting? I mean, because at the end of the day, one of the President Morsy assistants, he said in an interview with Guardian and then with The New York Times, he mentioned the word – that this is a military coup d’etat or coup, and it will not be pass – it’s not going to approve – unless if it’s approved by the Americans. He mentioned that as a quote. Do you have anything to say about that?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think we’ve been very clear here today, but also through the White House’s readout of the President’s call and through what I mentioned about the Secretary’s call that our focus is on the Egyptian people and on ensuring their voices are heard. We’re not going to get ahead of where we are in the process. And what we’d like to see is, of course, a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Egypt.
QUESTION: I have a question related to what Patrick said yesterday regarding Ambassador Patterson and Egyptian reaction was that why criticizing this and not criticizing the involvement of other Americans or American factor into other issues. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think Patrick spoke to this yesterday just in terms of conveying that in the Ambassador’s complete comments, she made clear that we fully support Egypt’s democratic transition and that we want the Egyptian people to fulfill their vision for their country. And we’ve made clear time and time again, including today of course, that democracy requires compromise and concessions, and that’s what our focus is on.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Sorry. Excuse me.
QUESTION: Just a second. I mean, as much as I know it was announced that Sunday and Monday – I mean, yesterday and day before yesterday, American Embassy was closed. Is it closed still today or not?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to get an update for you on that in terms of the status. It hasn’t – I’m not aware of changes, but if there’s an update, we’ll get that around to everybody after the briefing.
QUESTION: Sorry. Just to follow up on Jo’s question, just for clarification, by law the United States can’t provide direct military aid – correct – to any question that has been taken over by a military coup?
MS. PSAKI: I believe that’s correct, but we’ll get you – I’m sure we have a legal breakdown we can get to everybody. And as you all know, I’m not a lawyer, so I will get that all around to all of you, and of course it’s premature at this stage to speculate on that.
QUESTION: Change of subject?
QUESTION: Hold on a second. I just – you don’t know – you don’t have an update on the Embassy status?
MS. PSAKI: Oh, just – I meant to convey that I’m not aware of any change to what was discussed yesterday, but I’m happy to check on that as well.
QUESTION: Okay. Because apparently they said they were going to be closed tomorrow.
QUESTION: They just posted it.
MS. PSAKI: Okay. I will – you may have more of an update –
QUESTION: But you weren’t aware of that?
MS. PSAKI: -- than I do.
QUESTION: Okay, and then just broadly, is it a sign – does the Administration believe it’s a sign of a healthy democracy that a military – that an army would deliver an ultimatum to an elected civilian government?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt –
QUESTION: Is that a good democratic thing, or is that a sign of a problem?
MS. PSAKI: I think we feel that democracy takes time. You know that history here, that we’ve been at this for several hundred years. Egypt is relatively new in this whole process, and again, we’re encouraging all sides to communicate and talk to each other and listen to the voices of the Egyptian people, but beyond that, I’m not going to make an evaluation.
QUESTION: But when a military – any military – threatens to intervene somehow, interrupt the rule of a legitimately democratically-elected government, is that healthy? Is that a good thing for democracy?
MS. PSAKI: I’ll let you all do the analysis.
QUESTION: So – okay, so you can’t say that threatening a coup is not – is a bad thing?
MS. PSAKI: Matt –
QUESTION: Or is it a case-by-case basis? I mean, maybe you prize stability in Egypt more than you prize democracy, and so this might not be so objectionable to you.
MS. PSAKI: We prize stability and democracy in fact. We’re focused on taking this day by day, of course, and we are focused on making sure the voices of the Egyptian people are heard.
QUESTION: Can I ask (inaudible) – I’m sorry, but on that very point, you’re saying that democracy takes time. Does that give a margin for the military to intervene in this case?
MS. PSAKI: Not at all what I was suggesting. I think we’ve been very clear on all sides that we’re in touch with and what our end goal is here.
QUESTION: But you have a very clear, principled position on – against interference by the military or a military takeover of the government, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more for you on that, Said.
QUESTION: Jen, sorry, one more thing just on the steps that the President encouraged. Are you saying that he’s – because your colleagues at the White House right now are giving the same pushback on stuff that is out there – but are you saying that there were no specifics addressed by either the President or the Secretary, or there – or is it that there were specifics and you just don’t want to get into them because they’re part of the private diplomatic conversation?
MS. PSAKI: Well, they’re certainly part – there are certainly discussions that are part of the private diplomatic process that we often talk about, but the specific case of a call for early elections --
QUESTION: No, no, no.
MS. PSAKI: -- I wanted to be clear on that point.
MS. PSAKI: But beyond that I don’t have anything to add about other specifics, other than to broadly say that it --
QUESTION: Well, could you say this? Does President Morsy, following the conversation that he had with President Obama, have an understanding of what the United States thinks might be helpful in this situation?
MS. PSAKI: I mean, you’d have to talk to President Morsy about that, Matt, but I think we’ve been clear --
QUESTION: Well, I mean, did the President --
MS. PSAKI: -- as was the President’s readout, as have our public comments been on where we stand and our view of what’s happening.
QUESTION: But you can assure us that President Morsy, if he listened carefully and understood everything that President Obama said, understands what the U.S. thinks would be best?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I can’t make a judgment for him, but I think we’ve been --
QUESTION: But he should. If he heard correctly and if he understood it all correctly, he has an idea of what the Administration thinks might help resolve this situation. Is that correct or not?
MS. PSAKI: Again, Matt, I appreciate the opportunity to make a guess on what he’s thinking, but we’ve been very clear on what we think needs to happen here, so --
QUESTION: Well, actually, you haven’t been very clear on what you think needs to happen. You’ve spent the entire 20 minutes so far refusing to be specific and making – refusing to be clear about what you think needs to happen. So --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Jo.
QUESTION: If the Embassy is closed on Wednesday, as it – according to the security measures it’s going to be – would it necessarily be closed on Thursday for 4th of July, as well? Are embassies closed?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that specifically. I’m happy to.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: Madam, regarding the previous – one of the previous questions, you mentioned this conversation – phone conversation, before you came here, with the Egyptian Foreign Minister. I’m still puzzled. I mean, if somebody resigned and his role is to report to the President, I mean, I may ask him what – why he was doing that, but why the – I mean, Secretary of State spent time to him to convey a message to somebody who’s – conveying to whom the message?
MS. PSAKI: Well, you should communicate with him, and we can talk about it again tomorrow.
QUESTION: The U.S. Ambassador in Cairo, is she still in Egypt? And I want to know if you have any worries about the safety of the U.S. Embassy and the American diplomats.
MS. PSAKI: I would have to check. I believe she is, as are a number of officials. And as you know, we monitor it very closely, the safety of our personnel, that’s one of our top, if not top priorities, and we always take steps as needed to make sure that they are safe.
QUESTION: New subject?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Oh, go ahead. One more on Egypt?
QUESTION: On the Embassy – about the Embassy being --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: Are there any personnel evacuated from the Embassy or the Ambassador --
MS. PSAKI: I know that they’ve made a series of announcements. I’d have to check on the status of things, and we’re happy to get that around to folks depending on what we find out.
QUESTION: South Asia region?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: I have a couple questions. First of all, welcome back from India.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, thank you. It was lovely there.
QUESTION: I hope you enjoyed it.
MS. PSAKI: I did.
QUESTION: How did Secretary enjoy the India trip, and if a new chapter has been written in the U.S.-India relations because this was his, of course, the first trip as Secretary of State, and what – where do we go from here?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Goyal, I appreciate your question. I know the Secretary did enjoy every aspect of his visit. He had some very productive meetings as part of the India Strategic Dialogue. As you know, he also gave a speech there about the importance of climate change and elevating that as a global issue. And he even had the opportunity to go to the Lodi Gardens while it was hot out. He really enjoyed how beautiful and historic that site was.
And as you know India has been and will continue to be an important strategic partner, and I know he is grateful he was able to spend a couple of days there and he’s looking forward to continuing the positive relationship.
QUESTION: Was Secretary carrying any special message from the President for the Prime Minister of India about his visit to Washington?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary when he gets back from his trip, which is early tomorrow morning, I’m sure will be passing along to the President and the Vice President and the White House all of – all about his discussions while he was there.
QUESTION: I may one more in the region?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Secretary also met with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan and there was bombing in Pakistan also continuing, if they discussed that and also if there was a discussion about Secretary’s visit to India about India-U.S. relations or India-Pakistan relations among other things?
MS. PSAKI: Well, he did meet – I think you’re referring to the Secretary’s meeting with the advisor to the Prime Minister, yes, at ASEAN?
QUESTION: That’s (inaudible).
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. So he did meet with him on the sidelines of the forum in Brunei. During the meeting, Secretary Kerry and Mr. Aziz highlighted the importance of the bilateral relationship and expressed the importance of continued close cooperation with Pakistan to facilitate an Afghan-led peace process. And they also discussed Pakistan’s plan for accelerated economic reforms, particularly in the energy sector.
QUESTION: And anything on the continued bombings in Pakistan still going on, about terrorism?
MS. PSAKI: Well, of course, we always condemn. We’ve seen reports of the numerous bombings this weekend resulting the loss of many Pakistani lives. The United States stands with the people of Pakistan in condemning such senseless and inhumane acts. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wish those injured a speedy recovery.
QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on what your understanding is about the situation with Mr. Snowden and Moscow, and also bring us up to date on any contacts that you, the Administration, may have had with governments in Europe about the weekend revelations.
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I don’t have much of a specific update here, which is no different than the last couple of days. You heard the President and the Secretary both say in the last 24 to 48 hours – I guess 24 – that they’re going to take a look – close look at the claims – I’m referring to your second question here. We work, as you all know, closely with our European counterparts on virtually every issue, and have a long history of strong partnership, shared values, and friendship. In this case, we will respond appropriately to our partners through diplomatic channels, and of course that is ongoing.
QUESTION: Do you have any response to Snowden’s claim in a statement last night that the U.S. has been bullying countries not to grant him asylum – specifically, he’s talking about Ecuador – despite the President saying he wouldn’t be engaging in diplomatic wheeling-dealing. Do you have any response to that statement?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we have, of course, seen the statement. As you know, Mr. Snowden has been lawfully charged in U.S. courts. He is, as a routine matter, and I know we’ve talked about this but it’s very relevant here - persons with felony arrest warrants are subject to having their passport revoked. He remains a U.S. citizen. We welcome him back to the United States to face the charges against him in accordance with due process and U.S. law, but beyond that --
QUESTION: You very helpfully answered the second question I was going to ask, which is the other bit of his statement, but on the first claim, which is that the U.S. has been twisting arms and, to use his words, bullying in contravention to what this president said he would do. Is there no reaction at all? Is it not something you would – you recognize as a characterization?
MS. PSAKI: I think I was just pretty clear on our reaction. I’m not sure what the basis for those particular claims would be.
QUESTION: Well, wait. The basis for the claim was clear. It was the call – Vice President’s call to President Correa.
MS. PSAKI: Well, every --
QUESTION: But I mean, is it – twisting – it all depends on where you’re coming from. It is correct that the issue of Mr. Snowden came up in conversations between U.S. officials and Ecuadorian officials. Isn’t that correct?
MS. PSAKI: I think they’ve both made that clear.
QUESTION: Right, exactly. So what one person might call arm-twisting, you might call – the Administration might call just the legitimate exercise of U.S. – of the government trying to protect American national interests. But you would not deny that there have been conversations and discussions about Mr. Snowden, his whereabouts, and the consequences of hosting him, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t think we’ve at all denied that we’ve been in contact through a range of diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: Okay. But you would – all right, so – but you would just object to the characterization that it’s bullying or arm-twisting. That is correct, yes?
MS. PSAKI: I think that’s clear.
QUESTION: Jen, there’s a list now that WikiLeaks has of 21 countries so far that he has been at least publicly saying he would be interested in asylum in. Can you set us straight? What – has the United States been or the State Department been in touch with all of those countries? If so, what is the message?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Jill, we – I’m not going to get into a list or specific country by country. We have been in touch, as we have been for several days now, with a broad range of countries that could serve as either transit spots or final destinations, and what we’ve been communicating is, of course, what we’ve been communicating publicly, that Mr. Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information. He is somebody that we would like to see returned to the United States, of course, and we are hopeful that that will happen.
QUESTION: Jill, can you --
QUESTION: Could I follow on that? Are you encouraged that asylum in Russia now is at least apparently off the table?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to speculate on different countries. Our focus here is on returning – or communicating the reasons why Mr. Snowden should be returned to the United States and face charges here.
QUESTION: What gives you cause to be hopeful? You said we’re hopeful that he will return to the United States. What gives you cause to be hopeful?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that, Jo, we have to be in terms of focusing on communicating the reasons why he should be returned, our efforts to communicate with countries along those lines, and conveying why we feel it’s important he’s here. I don’t have anything specific to report for you.
QUESTION: Nothing for the Russians on --?
MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t have anything specific for you on that.
QUESTION: And there’s been a suggestion – I mean, it might be a wild suggestion – that he could actually leave Russia on the plane of Venezuelan President Maduro. What would the United States response be to that if that happens?
MS. PSAKI: It’s again speculating on a hypothetical. Our focus is on returning him to the U.S.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to the Venezuelan Government? Have you spoken --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specific countries, just to say we’ve spoken with a range of countries, a broad range of countries that would either serve as a potential transit or final destination spot.
QUESTION: Both President Maduro and President Evo Morales of Bolivia said in Russia that they will entertain giving asylum to Mr. Snowden.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Your reaction to that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific for you. Our hope remains the same. We’ve been in touch, again, with a range of countries, and we would like to see him returned.
QUESTION: Could I just make – is it correct that – make sure I’m correct in thinking that you do not believe he has a case for political asylum in any country. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: I mean, I’m not going to make – we’re not going to make a judgment on behalf of other countries, but obviously --
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. You don’t believe that he fears persecution rather than prosecution here?
MS. PSAKI: No, he would be tried as any U.S. citizen would be, and he remains a U.S. citizen.
QUESTION: Right. In other words, you don’t think that he meets the standard for a person – and you’re telling countries that might offer him asylum or might grant him asylum that you don’t think that he would be eligible for it. Is that --
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into what we’re communicating to different countries. Every country has their own laws and I would refer you to any of them. I know many of them have been talked about publicly. But we have been very clear, and we feel the same way today, that he should be returned here. He would be tried as a U.S. citizen under the allegations he’s been accused of.
QUESTION: Can you ask to see if you – that if someone in his position were applying for asylum in the United States if he would meet the U.S. standard for granting asylum?
MS. PSAKI: It sounds like a lot of hypotheticals, but I will see if --
QUESTION: Someone in his position? Well, I’m trying to figure out --
MS. PSAKI: -- there’s anything we have to add on that.
QUESTION: I mean, look, if you make the – if the case you’re making to these other countries is simply that he should be returned to the U.S., that’s one thing. But if you’re making the case to them that he does not meet the standard for granting political asylum, then that’s quite another thing.
MS. PSAKI: I did not mean to convey what case we’re making to countries. The case we’re making publicly is what we’re also making privately, that he is somebody who has been accused of leaking classified information. He remains a U.S. citizen. His right place is to be returned to the U.S. to be tried here.
QUESTION: Yeah, but do you understand the distinction I’m trying to – I want to know if the U.S. believes that he does not meet the --
MS. PSAKI: I completely understand what you’re asking, Matt. I’m not sure what we’ll have to offer, but I’m happy to check into it for you.
QUESTION: Well, because – just because – I mean, there are plenty of people who are accused of serious crimes that come to the United States seeking asylum. Some of them are rejected, some of them are not. I just want to know if you think that it would be inappropriate for another country to grant him political asylum because you believe he doesn’t meet the criteria for a political asylee.
MS. PSAKI: I just – I understand what you’re asking. I’m just not sure we’re going to go down several hypotheticals.
QUESTION: And similarly, he’s --
QUESTION: It’s not a hypothetical.
QUESTION: I’ve seen a couple of statements where he said that he fears the death sentence, and what I’m not clear about is whether the charges against him actually would carry the death penalty.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware that they would, but you would have to talk to the Department of Justice.
QUESTION: Can you (inaudible)?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: India has rejected Snowden’s asylum request. Have they informed you about it and what do you think of it?
MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to get into specific countries. I know there’s a lot happening at one time, and again, we’ve just been communicating with a range of countries that could be both a stopover or a final destination.
QUESTION: But have the Indians informed you or communicated with you about their decision?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into specific private conversations.
QUESTION: Both President Maduro and President Morales, again, in Russia have said that Mr. Snowden should have – is a hero, should have international protection. Your reaction to those comments?
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve been pretty clear on the fact that we believe that Mr. Snowden should be returned to the United States. He’s been lawfully charged in U.S. courts. And I’ll just stick with what we’ve said about him at this point in time.
QUESTION: Another subject?
QUESTION: Well, could you --
MS. PSAKI: Oh, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- the NSA – I just want to get back. You said that there was – essentially there’s nothing new to report in your conversations with the Europeans about the --
MS. PSAKI: I meant to say there’s nothing new to read out, Matt. This is something where we’re --
QUESTION: So in other words, there could be quite a lot happening, but you’re just not prepared to talk about it.
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the President and the Secretary and many members of the Administration are in regular contact and will continue to be. But we work with our European partners on a range of issues very closely, and we’ll keep that – those conversations through the appropriate diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: All right. Well, do you still hold the view that Patrick espoused here yesterday, that you share values, including privacy and freedom of speech and that type of thing, with countries in Europe?
MS. PSAKI: We do.
QUESTION: You do? So their complaints, you think, are without foundation?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, we’re having private conversations with the appropriate partners, and I’m not going to get into the specifics of those.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: That question was in specific regard to European allies, but what about your other partners who were on that list, with Snowden’s leak on the NSA? Have you been in contact with any of your non-European allies on that list?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve been in touch with partners as appropriate around the world, and we’ll continue to be. I’m not going to get into specific countries, though.
QUESTION: On North Korea?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, Dana, did you have another one?
QUESTION: I just have a quick one --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- on Snowden. It’s just a general question --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- kind of speaking to what Matt was asking, which is how in general does the United States respond to human rights activists or other leaders who say that the case of Snowden asking for political asylum is really no different than anyone else that’s asking for political asylum who feels that they’ve been charged in their home country with crimes that are politically motivated?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would caution against making a sweeping statement. There are different circumstances. As you know, the U.S., just as other countries, considers requests. I would point you to other countries for their consideration. And we don’t even typically get into specific requests and talking about them from here.
QUESTION: North Korea.
MS. PSAKI: North Korea.
QUESTION: And does Secretary Kerry has any direct talk with the North Korea official or non-official at the ASEAN ministerial meeting?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, there were – there was a trilateral meeting to follow up, and there was also a meeting with an official from China to follow up on meetings that Glyn Davies had just a couple of weeks ago. Those conversations will continue, but our position on North Korea remains the same. We are committed to authentic and credible talks on denuclearization with our partners to implement the 2005 joint statement. North Korea knows what they need to do, which is to abide by their international obligations, and our position on that has not changed.
QUESTION: What do you think about the perspective of resumption of Six-Party Talks? Do you think North Korea will come back to the Six-Party table or they reject it?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to speculate on what they would or wouldn’t do. The ball is in their court to take the steps that are necessary. We’ve been meeting, as the Secretary just met with a couple of his counterparts in this that are members of the Six-Party Talks, and our position remains, again, the same.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There is a video on a Catholic website, quite gruesome, showing Syrian rebels beheading three people. Now, there was a report that one of them was a monk. Can you set us straight? Number one, do you have a response to that or a reaction to that video? Do you know who exactly they killed? And of course, the question is: How can the U.S. guarantee that money or any supply – I should say supplies, arms for the opposition, are not going to groups like this?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say I have not seen the video. I’m happy to take a close look at it and see if we can get all of you a response. I have not --
QUESTION: You’d be happy to take a close look at a video showing someone being beheaded?
MS. PSAKI: I’d be happy to get a response to everyone, Matt, so we can make sure you all can do the reporting to the American and global audiences you all report to.
However, we have taken a number of steps. One of the reasons why the Secretary felt it was so important for military aid to go through the SMC is to make sure that it’s going to moderate members of the coalition. That’s been a priority. That’s been something that’s he’s been working with Congress on and has been encouraging our other partners around the world to do the same.
Of course, any elements or any incidents – and we’ve been consistent on this – of this kind of violence we’ve condemned in Syria. But again, I’ll take a closer look at this and connect with some of our experts on the issue.
QUESTION: On Geneva 2, I note this morning that Secretary Kerry spoke in Brunei about looking more like sometime after August. And people I’ve been talking to sort of say it’s actually probably likely going to be September. Is that something that you can confirm?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any confirmation of the dates, but I would just go back to – and those aren’t, of course, set yet, otherwise you would know – that there are a number of factors that we’ve talked about that remain the case – so the situation on the ground, of course; the need for the opposition to elect leadership, which we’re hopeful about; and the importance of doing this at the right time, where the moment is right to bring all sides to the table. So it’s never been or it hasn’t been about meeting a deadline, but about doing it at the right time.
And the meeting he had yesterday with the Foreign Minister built on the meetings that Ambassador Ford and Under Secretary Sherman had just last week. And they do feel they’ve made some progress in the planning stages of a conference.
QUESTION: Is there a plan for them to meet again, Sherman and – Ambassador Sherman and --
MS. PSAKI: Not at this time, but again, the meeting yesterday was a follow up to that. They’re in close contact, we’re in close contact with counterparts, and as needed to move the ball forward, I’m sure we’ll continue those conversations.
QUESTION: And earlier this month, the White House took a decision that they were going to substantially step up their aid to the SMC, and it was going to be different from what we’d seen before and – has anything actually happened? Has there been any delivery of any such aid or --
MS. PSAKI: It’s just not something I can provide an update on.
QUESTION: That suggests that there has been, but you’re just not going to talk about it.
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any update on it for you, one way or the other.
QUESTION: Because again, I mean, from the region we’re hearing that they’re not seeing anything going through at all which has any kind of U.S. stamp on it in any – so was it just an empty promise that actually doesn’t have any teeth?
MS. PSAKI: Absolutely not. I can promise you the President and the Secretary don’t make empty promises. This is something they’re very committed to. And in addition to that aid that, again, expanded the size and scope, but we just haven’t been able to get into the details on any aspect of, there has been a significant amount of aid that has been flowing and that we’ve outlined from here.
We know the situation on the ground is grave, and we’ve been encouraging – that’s one of the reasons the Secretary and others have been encouraging our counterparts around the world to continue to provide aid of all kinds as well. But beyond that, I just don’t have a specific update for you.
QUESTION: Yesterday I’d asked Patrick two questions about some things – developments in the Bradley Manning trial, about the unclassified stipulation made by the State Department. Do you know, was there –were you – was he or you or anyone in the – in your shop able to prise an answer out as to whether the stipulation was intended to show that the cables, the 117 cables in it were representative of the damage, and has the release of these cables caused damage to the U.S. national security?
MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to have an update on it from here. You may have already been in touch with the officials over at the Army. I would encourage you to reach out to them or have your colleagues reach out to them, but I don’t have an update from here.
QUESTION: Is that – does that mean that you won’t – you think the appropriate place for my question to be answered is in the military court that’s trying him? Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Again, it means that it’s unlikely that the State Department will have a comment on this particular case.
QUESTION: Well, but it’s your official, it’s your – it’s the State Department’s stipulation.
MS. PSAKI: I understand, but it’s an --
QUESTION: So you can’t speak to the --
MS. PSAKI: -- ongoing case. There are lots of components of it. I won’t – I don’t expect we’re going to have an updated on it.
QUESTION: Okay. So let me just do a little quick recap from the most transparent Administration in history. You won’t tell us what you are asking for President Morsy to do or what you would like to see. The conversations that you have with countries involving Mr. Snowden are private and you can’t talk about them. Your conversations with European allies and others about the NSA spying allegations are also private. I don’t know. How would you respond to someone who might say that it appears that the only privacy that this Administration is interested in protecting is its own?
MS. PSAKI: Look, Matt, I don’t know that I have a substantive response for you here, other than to say that some diplomatic conversations need to remain private. I understand the frustration, but that’s how the process can work best at times.
MS. PSAKI: Bangladesh.
QUESTION: Yes, madam. Madam, since the Secretary was in the region and also meeting on the sidelines many foreign ministers, and among other things, was there any discussion about Bangladesh? Because thousands of families are on the streets and they are crying and asking the U.S. help because that was the only – their livelihood, those factories burned down, and they have no place to go but to the U.S. companies dealing with those factories, and also to the U.S. Government.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Goyal, I don’t have any updates for you from the last couple of days. As you know, we are in close contact on a regular basis with our counterparts and are, of course, concerned by both the working conditions, which we’ve been focused on working with the Bangladeshi Government on, and, of course, the Bangladeshi people.
QUESTION: U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh also in touch with the local – I mean, local governments or --
MS. PSAKI: As would be expected, but I don’t have any specific updates for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Let’s do just a few more here. Go ahead, in the back.
QUESTION: On China. I know you put out a media note this morning on the upcoming S&ED.
MS. PSAKI: Yep.
QUESTION: Do you have more information to share?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t. I’m sure as we get closer, we’ll have more details about the program and what will take place next week. But it is happening next week, as we’ve long said. I believe it’s Wednesday through Thursday – Wednesday and Thursday. And Secretary Kerry and Secretary Lew will, of course, be leading the delegation.
QUESTION: And you have --
QUESTION: In the most general sense what the – I mean, will it be split between here and Treasury?
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: Or is it all going to be here?
MS. PSAKI: It will be split, but we’ll have a more – or a more specific breakdown logistically for you in the coming days.
QUESTION: They mentioned in that statement just the opening – the stuff that will be open – is the opening and the closing. Do you know where those – I mean, are those planned to be here? Do they plan to be at Treasury? I’m just trying to figure it out because we have a long weekend coming up and then next week --
MS. PSAKI: I know you do, Matt. I’ll have to – we’ll have to – I’ll have to double check that. We’ll venture to get you guys something, if even for your planning on where things will be located in the next couple of days.
QUESTION: On S&ED, can you say whether some groundwork was laid for that between the Chinese and American counterparts at ASEAN?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the Secretary had a meeting there that I believe we did a readout of. And the groundwork has been building for these talks, and these are a continuation of talks between the Chinese officials and U.S. officials. As you know, they had some meetings in California. The President led that. The Secretary was there. The Secretary was in China just a few months ago, and so I expect these will be a continuation of talks and conversations about a range of issues, from our economic partnership to cybersecurity to a range of issues that both sides care deeply about.
QUESTION: And if I can ask a question on a totally different region.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: During the Secretary’s visit to Israel and talking with the Israelis and the Palestinians, how much of that was affected by what’s going on in Egypt?
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Secretary was there, as you know, for a couple of days, and he had intensive conversations with all parties. And you heard him say that we made – he made – we all made real progress on this trip and have more work, a little more work to do.
As you know, we have a couple officials he left who are on the ground there. Several staff members are staying in the region to continue to work through these tough issues. That’s Deputy Special Envoy Lowenstein and Jonathan Schwartz from the Office of the Legal Adviser. They’ve continued those meetings.
But the Secretary was able to monitor and has continued to monitor, of course, closely the events in Egypt, just as he has been focused on what has been happening in Syria and what has been happening in a variety of issues that we’re all facing globally around the world. He has regular phone conversations and receives regular briefings when he’s traveling, even when he’s in a different country.
QUESTION: On that, I think I’m correct in that David Hale’s last day as the Special Envoy, as George Mitchell’s replacement, was last week. Is that correct? Do you know --
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that, Matt.
QUESTION: So I’m just curious as to Frank Lowenstein’s title. Is he a deputy? Is he going to become the full-on envoy? Or --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any personnel updates for you.
QUESTION: No, I don’t think it’s really a personnel update. I think it’s just a question of title change. I’m just wondering if there’s going to be someone stepping --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any title change updates for you.
QUESTION: All right. And then the other thing is that – and I didn’t – wasn’t going to bring this up, but since you insist on repeating the Secretary’s line that he made real progress on this trip, can you point to one solid, tangible, public example that would back up that claim?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I know you and Patrick had quite a fruitful conversation yesterday.
QUESTION: Yes. Yeah, and I wasn’t going to bring it up again, but since you continue to insist that this – that real progress was made, and I continue to not see any sign of real progress being made, I bring it up again. So here’s your opportunity. Show me.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, this is another one of those cases where the Secretary believes, as many of the parties believe, that the best way to create the conditions for both parties going back to the table is for those talks and conversations to remain private. He also knows, as I’m sure all parties know, that this will be judged by the outcome. But I would, again, point you to what he said about how we can’t – we couldn’t risk not making an effort to put energy and put time and resources into this process. But I don’t have any more updates for you or any readouts of private conversations to tell you about.
QUESTION: Well, I’m not asking for private. I’m specifically saying public. So the answer to my question is no, you cannot point to a single tangible piece of evidence --
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are --
QUESTION: -- that would support your claim, the Secretary’s claim, that real progress was made.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, there are – he did leave several staff members on the ground. They’re having some technical conversations. Beyond that, stay tuned.
QUESTION: So that’s the sign? That’s what you’re pointing me to? The fact that Frank Lowenstein and some guy from the Legal Adviser’s Office stayed behind and – stayed behind? That is a sign of progress. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: He had long --
QUESTION: I just want to know. Is that what you’re pointing to?
MS. PSAKI: That is one that is – what is happening as we speak, Matt. But as you know --
QUESTION: That that is a sign of progress?
MS. PSAKI: -- and I know your colleague was there suffering in the vans as these meetings were happening, but these were lengthy meetings, they were intense meetings.
QUESTION: I’m sure they were. But having a lengthy meeting isn’t a sign of real progress. I just want to make clear – make sure I understand that you’re saying that Frank Lowenstein and this guy from the Legal Adviser’s Office staying behind to do – to follow up on his visit is a sign – that’s a sign of real progress?
MS. PSAKI: Well, my larger point, Matt, is about what the best path to creating the conditions to move to a path to peace would be. And the Secretary believes that should be through private discussions.
QUESTION: All right. I’m going to take that as a no, that you can’t point me to one piece of evidence that --
MS. PSAKI: Stay tuned, Matt. Stay tuned.
QUESTION: Jen, you might be keeping them private, but out in the region they’re not being quite so private. Has there been a decision to resume negotiations? Have the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any update for you on that.
QUESTION: And – well, I mean, they’re saying that Secretary Kerry presented a plan for negotiations to resume with a sort of six- to nine-month kind of period within which you could sort of see whether there can be some kind of agreement.
MS. PSAKI: There have been lots of reports out there, as we know, over the course of the last several months. I don’t have any update or confirmation or anything along those lines of the next step here, just that we remain focused on it.
QUESTION: Can I just go quick back to India, please? If Secretary has invited the Foreign Minister of India to Washington before the Prime Minister of India comes?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that invitation. I’m happy to check on it for you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Should we do one more here? Oh, go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: Well, I just had a – this is a Treasury thing, I think, but I just want to know if there’s a State component on it. The Treasury put sanctions on a – or put a Burmese general on a specially designated national list. Was there State Department involvement in that today?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I believe that is Treasury, but if there’s a State component, we’ll get that to you.
QUESTION: Jen, sorry, I have one more on --
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: -- the Iraqi Kurdish parliament and where, apparently, fights broke out over the weekend as they decided to delay the presidential regional polls, and for two years. I mean, not just 30 days or 60 days, but for two years, because they can’t really agree whether Massoud Barzani should be allowed to change the constitution and stand again. I just wondered if there was a U.S. position on that.
MS. PSAKI: I would just have to check with our Iraq folks on that for you and get you a response. I’m happy to do that.
QUESTION: Can I just do one last --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- quick Snowden follow-up?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Just given all the reports of various countries that he has applied for asylum from saying no, is it the Obama Administration’s position that Snowden is running out of options and that he is likely to be back on U.S. soil soon?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t want to make a prediction, just to restate that, of course, that is our preference.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:21 p.m.)