Tagged: Conflict

Press Releases: Remarks at a Press Availability

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good afternoon, everybody, and thank you. And I apologize for keeping you waiting for a few minutes.

A little while ago, as I think you know, I had the opportunity to address the UN Human Rights Council here in Geneva. And since the United States made the decision to re-engage on the council, we have worked hard to try to drive a number of significant steps to be able to bring new levels of international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights violations, and also to focus on some of the worst abusers – particularly, obviously, we have focused on North Korea and Syria.

We’ve also worked hard to try to create new mechanisms that explore and address serious human rights infringements on the freedom of assembly, expression, and religion, and the rights of LGBT people. And as many of you know, just the other day, I had the privilege of making the appointment for Randy Berry as the first special envoy for global LGBT rights for the State Department.

Because of the important progress that we have seen over the course of the past five years, the United States very much continues to believe in the potential of the Human Rights Council, and we’re dedicated to try to work for its success. At the same time, however, as I mentioned earlier, we recognize that there are places where it needs to improve, and most notably, as I cited earlier, has been the excessive bias, in our judgment, on one country, on Israel. So we wanted to make it clear today that we think that that is an impediment that stands in the way of the progress that should be achieved here when we look at the wide array of the world’s ills and the many challenges that we need to speak out on with respect to human rights.

I made it clear that the United States will oppose any effort by any group or any participant to abuse the UN system in order to delegitimize or isolate Israel. And we think it’s important that for the right – for the council to be able to achieve the breadth of goals that it is faced with – the breadth of the – to address the breadth of the challenges that it currently faces, it really needs to break out of an older mold and begin to put the time and energy and major focus on some of those most egregious situations. And that is really what has happened within the Council over the course of the last five years, particularly if you look at the commission of inquiry work that has been done with respect to the DPRK and other work it has done.

I also met this morning with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And we spent a fair amount of time discussing Syria, Ukraine, ISIS, and Iran. I reiterated the urgency of Russia’s leaders and the separatists that they back implementing the full measure of the commitments under the Minsk agreements and to implement them everywhere, including in Debaltseve, outside Mariupol, and in other key strategic areas. And I underscored this morning that if that does not happen, if there continue to be these broad swaths of noncompliance, or there continues to be a cherry-picking as to where heavy equipment will be moved back from without knowing where it’s been moved to, or if the OSCE is not able to adequately be able to gain the access necessary, then there would be inevitably further consequences that will place added strain on Russia’s already troubled economy. Now, obviously, Ukraine is just one of the issues, as I mentioned, that we focused on. And it’s only one of the issues, frankly, on which the United States and Russia together are focused.

This morning, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I also spoke at some length about Syria. The situation in Syria actually grows worse, if that’s possible for people to imagine. Almost three-quarters of the entire country is now displaced people – half of them refugees in mostly Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, but many of them displaced within the country and unable to move because of ISIL, Daesh, al-Nusrah, the regime, or some other extremist group.

So we spoke at length about steps that might be able to be taken in order to try to see if there is a potential of common ground. And we agreed that there is no military solution; we agreed there is a need for a political solution; and we agreed on the need of those countries who have been supporting people in this endeavor, in this conflict, to be able to search yet again to see whether or not there is a path either to Geneva 1 or to some hybrid or some means of ending the violence. And one of the things that drives that interest, that common interest, is the reality of Daesh, the reality of what is happening to Syria as a result of the presence of Daesh there and its use of Syria as a base for spreading its evil to other places.

We also talked about the Iran nuclear negotiations, where we are, together with the other P5+1 members – where we are all focused simultaneously on the need to elicit from Iran answers to questions about their nuclear program – not just answers for today, but answers that are capable of lasting well into the future in order to be able to provide people with a confidence that the program is, indeed, a peaceful nuclear program.

We continue to believe, all the members of the P5+1, that the best way to deal with the questions surrounding this nuclear program is to find a comprehensive deal, but not a deal that comes at any cost, not a deal just for the purpose of a deal; a deal that meets the test of providing the answers and the guarantees that are needed in order to know that the four pathways to a nuclear bomb have been closed off. And that is the task. And we hope it is possible to get there, but there is no guarantee.

Sanctions alone are not going to provide that solution. What needs to happen is that Iran needs to provide a verifiable set of commitments that its program is in fact peaceful. And that average people and experts alike looking at that verifiable set of commitments have confidence that they are sustainable, that they are real, and that they will provide the answers and guarantees well into the future.

Any deal must close every potential pathway that Iran has towards fissile material, whether it’s uranium, plutonium, or a covert path. The fact is only a good, comprehensive deal in the end can actually check off all of those boxes.

Now, I want to be clear about two things. Right now, no deal exists, no partial deal exists. And unless Iran is able to make the difficult decisions that will be required, there won’t be a deal. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That is the standard by which this negotiation is taking place, and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply misinformed.

Now, we are concerned by reports that suggest selective details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publicly in the coming days. I want to say clearly that doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal. Israel’s security is absolutely at the forefront of all of our minds, but frankly, so is the security of all the other countries in the region, so is our security in the United States. And we are very clear that as we negotiate with Iran, if we are able to reach the kind of deal that we’re hoping for, then it would have to be considered in its entirety and measured against alternatives.

Second – I cannot emphasize this enough. I have said this from the first moment that I become engaged in this negotiating process, President Obama has said this repeatedly: We will not accept a bad deal. We have said no deal is better than a bad deal, because a bad deal could actually make things less secure and more dangerous. Any deal that we would possibly agree to would make the international community, and especially Israel, safer than it is today. That’s our standard. So our team is working very hard to close remaining gaps, to reach a deal that ensures Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively and verifiably peaceful, and we have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go and the clock is ticking.

That’s why I will leave here momentarily to head to Montreux to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif and continue the negotiations. And in the days and weeks ahead, we’re going to answer a very simple question. We’re going to find out whether or not Iran is willing to make the hard choices that are necessary to get where we need to be. I’m happy to take a few of your questions.

MS. PSAKI: Michael Gordon, New York Times. Right over here.

QUESTION: Sir, Minister Lavrov asserted in his address that the ceasefire in Ukraine was being consolidated, but you made clear that Russia cannot expect to consolidate its gains in Debaltseve and avoid economic sanctions. Did Minister Lavrov offer you any assurances that Russia would arrange for the separatists to pull back from Debaltseve? And how long is the Obama Administration prepared to wait before imposing those additional sanctions you’ve been talking about? And did he have any response to your assertion to Congress last week that Russians have lied to your face?

And lastly, you’re meeting shortly with Foreign Minister Zarif on the Iran issues. You told Congress last week that you hoped to know soon, “whether or not Iran is willing to put together an acceptable and verifiable plan.” What do you need to hear from Mr. Zarif today, and what do you need to get done over the next three days to stay on track for the framework accord? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Michael, first of all regarding Russia, it’s clear from the conversations that I’ve had with President Poroshenko as well as with Foreign Minister Lavrov, and the conversations that we’ve had in Washington in the aftermath of the Minsk negotiations, that there was not a clarity with respect to Debaltseve, which we obviously saw play out in the drama of the soldiers who were left there and who were fighting and who eventually fought their way out, with many being killed. What is critical here is that the maps that were agreed to show several different areas of drawback on both sides from the line of contact and according to the size of the weapon, the gauge of a particular weapon, they have to pull back different amounts.

Right now, the OSCE has complained to us, at least, that they have not been granted full access to be able to make those judgments, and particularly the end zones as to where items that have been withdrawn have actually been placed, whether they’ve been placed there or not.

So there’s been a kind of cherry picking, a piecemeal selectivity to the application of the Minsk agreements. And as we all know, shooting, shelling has still been going on and people have still been killed over the course of these last days. So there is not yet a full ceasefire, and it’s extremely difficult for the full measure of the Minsk agreement, which includes a political component, to begin to be implemented until you actually have the full measure of security that comes with OSCE monitoring and an actual ceasefire. So our hope is that in the next hours, certainly not more than days, this will be fully implemented. I might add, a convoy that came through from Russia passed across the border into the eastern part of Ukraine without being properly inspected also.

So these are the issues I raised with the foreign minister. He assured me that they are intent on seeing to it that the accord – that the agreements are, in fact, implemented. He said he would get back to me with respect to a number of the issues that I raised. And our hope is, indeed, that this will prove to be a road to further de-escalation rather than a road to disappointment, potential deception, and further violence. But that’s going to have to play out, obviously, over the course of the next few days. So I’m very hopeful that it will, in fact, be the start of a change which would be an improvement for everybody.

With respect to Iran, I really just articulated – I just said it – France doesn’t have to answer questions here, Germany doesn’t have to answer questions here, Great Britain doesn’t have to, China doesn’t, Russia doesn’t, the United States doesn’t. We’re not the ones who have been pursuing a program outside of international norms. Iran has posed the questions over the course of time sufficient to invite United Nations sanctions, United Nations Security Council resolution, and IAEA outstanding questions. Iran needs to answer those questions and Iran needs to give confidence to the world that its many articulations of a peaceful program can have the confidence of verification. Every arms agreement in history has been subject to verification to clear levels of access and knowledge and insight, transparency, that allow people to be able to measure that program.

And one of the reasons I make it clear to people that we’re not going to accept a bad deal is because we know that whatever agreement is reached here doesn’t suddenly get stuffed in a drawer and put away and disappear to be implemented; it is going to be scrutinized by people all over the world – leaders of countries, scientists, nuclear experts, every NGO involved in nonproliferation – not to mention, obviously, all the countries in the region most affected by the choices we are making, and all of the members of the United States Congress House and Senate.

This is going to be highly judged and we’re aware of that, and frankly, we would be either – well, I’m not going to – we just – we’re not about to jump into something that we don’t believe can get the job done. Now, there may be disagreements; if somebody believes that any kind of program is wrong, then we have a fundamental disagreement. And clearly, sanctions are not going to eliminate just any kind of program. You can’t bomb knowledge into oblivion unless you kill everybody. You can’t bomb it away. People have a knowledge here. The question is: Can you provide an adequate level of the management of intrusive inspections; structured, tough requirements; limitations; all the insights necessary to be able to know to a certainty that the program is, in fact, peaceful?

That’s what the IAEA was set up to be there for, that’s what the NPT is, that’s what the additional protocol – the NPT is. There are all kinds of tested components of this. This isn’t happening at first blush. This has been in effect for a long time with a lot of countries, and there are ways to be able to make certain that a program is peaceful and the test – what we’re looking for in the next days, Michael, is adequate satisfaction that this program is, in fact, going to be complying with its own promises, that it is a purely peaceful nuclear program.

MS. PSAKI: Frédéric Koller from Le Temps.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. You just said on Iran that sanctions cannot eliminate problems. And I would like to know – with the Ukrainian situation, it seems the conflict in Ukraine becomes more and more conflict between Russia and Western countries – Russia and United States. And I would like to know how to deal with these problems, knowing that United States threatens now Russia with more sanctions if the Minsk agreement is not implemented. And a few years ago, you were here in the – at the hotel – Intercontinental Hotel, and you started – well, it was Hillary Clinton at the time who started with this reset policy with Russia. What went wrong with Russia? And how to deal now with Russia? Comprehensive agreement somehow is needed between Russia and United States, I guess to deal with —

SECRETARY KERRY: How what? I’m sorry. I missed the last part. How to?

QUESTION: How to deal with Russia. We understand that Russia needs something more to build a new confidence with the United States and Western countries. When we hear Mr. Lavrov this morning at the Human Rights Council, he has very strong statement against United States and its values – it’s kind of clash of values. How to deal with today’s Russia?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it may be a clash of realities. I don’t see it as a clash of values. It seems to me that on sanctions, there’s a real distinction between sanctions that are calculated to have an impact on a nuclear program which is one set of choices for a particular country, and sanctions which are broadly adopted by many nations because of a violation of a norm of international law and which particularly have an impact on the – particularly have an impact on Russia’s choices at this particular moment, given a lot of other variables like oil prices, other exigencies that Russia faces.

So sanctions have obviously had a significant impact on Russia, and you try to use them in order to make a point about the choices that are available. And in the case of Russia, the ruble has gone down 50 percent, there’s been about $151 billion of capital flight, the bonds of Russia are now judged to be junk bonds, and the economic predictions are that Russia will be going into recession this year. So it’s obviously had a profound impact, but not sufficient that President Putin has decided that he isn’t going to pursue his particular strategy. It may change at some point in the future, but those are the things you have to weigh in deciding what alternative policies you may pursue or what alternative choices may be available.

I suspect that President Putin, as the months go on, is going to have to really weigh those things. And we’ve tried to make it clear to him and particularly to the Russian people we’re not doing this to hurt the people of Russia, we’re not doing this to make life difficult for all Russians. We’re doing this to try to affect the choices that their leaders are making in order to uphold the norms of international law. We’re here in a UN facility, and the United Nations is critical to the upholding of international standards of behavior. And the world has worked hard since World War II to try to adhere to a set of global norms of behavior, particularly with respect to respect for territorial integrity.

One of the cries that came out of the World War II experience was we can’t allow nations to make land grabs running over the territorial integrity of external borders, as we saw in the period leading up to and then during World War II. So we’ve really ingrained in international behavior this notion of the value of international borders and of upholding the sovereignty and integrity of nation states. That sovereignty and integrity has been violated over the course of the last months, and that’s the purpose of the sanctions that we put in place.

But our hope is, obviously, that we can get back to a better place of cooperation with Russia. I personally – I think President Putin misinterprets a great deal of what the United States has been doing and has tried to do. We are not involved in multiple color revolutions, as he asserts, nor are we involved in a particularly personal way here. We are trying to uphold the international law with respect to the sovereignty and integrity of another nation. And others have joined us. The fact is that Europe has the same sense of commitment to this. And our hope is that we can persuade President Putin and Russia that we’re prepared to cooperate with them as soon as they are genuinely prepared to uphold the agreements that they signed and to live by these international standards.

We have happily been able to find cooperation continue on other issues. Russia has been helpful in the context of the P5+1 talks. Russia was extremely engaged and essential in our success in getting chemical weapons out of Syria in the arrangement that we reached right here in Geneva. And we were able to work together to do that. Russia is sitting with us even now, as I discussed with you, and talking about ways we might – might, I underscore – be able to try to make some progress with respect to Syria and with respect to Daesh.

So even in the midst of this major disagreement over Ukraine, we are still finding ways to cooperate together, and I hope that if we can work through Ukraine, we will get back to a place where we are finding more to be able to cooperate on and less to disagree on. And I’m not going to get into resets or non-resets, but I think that sometimes events get in the way of the best-laid policies. But both countries have indicated, I think, a maturity with respect to the willingness to try to find ways to cooperate notwithstanding this fundamental disagreement over Ukraine.

MS. PSAKI: Unfortunately, we need to get on the road for our next meeting, so this will conclude this press availability. Thank you, everyone.

New Data on Food Waste

A new study shows that reducing consumer food waste could save the global economy up to $300 billion annually by 2030.  “Globally, the food wasted by consumers is worth $400 billion a year, and this could jump to $600 billion in the next decade, as the profligate middle class expands in developing countries, the group said. Cutting the amount of food consumers discard by between 20 and 50 percent could save between $120 and $300 billion yearly by 2030, said the report for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an international group chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.”  (TRF http://yhoo.it/17BwGaW)

ISIS Gets Worse…”In their latest onslaught, Islamic State militants have carried out a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria this week against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.  The latest to face the militants’ onslaught are the Assyrians of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some of whom speak a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.” (Dallas Morning News http://bit.ly/1ETPkpx)

Africa

Eighteen people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded bus station in northeast Nigeria on Thursday, while a second bomber was shot dead before he could detonate his explosives, witnesses told AFP. http://yhoo.it/1BBNXhR

Fearful villagers have been fleeing their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as the army pursues Rwandan Hutu rebels in a new offensive, a resident said on Thursday  (AFP http://yhoo.it/1FyWQpN)

Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday promised decisive action to fix the country’s worsening electricity crisis, which has wreaked havoc in the once bourgeoning economy. (AFP http://yhoo.it/17BwGI1)

The head of the Nigerian Army has visited soldiers in the northeastern town of Baga, telling troops that the conflict against Boko Haram will soon be over. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKrRI)

The World Bank is working with other development finance institutions to raise some $500 million to modernize weather and flood forecasting services in Africa. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1BBN217)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrives in Paris Friday, his spokeswoman said, but for a UN meeting and is not expected to meet French officials while in the country, which he accuses of complicity in the 1994 genocide. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKtt5)

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor travelled to Uganda on Thursday following the arrest of a top commander of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BBNSe3)

Any further delays to Nigeria’s election would be unacceptable and the opposition will take the government to court if the election commission chief is forced out, presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FyX0gS)

MENA

The Obama administration’s commitment to take in potentially thousands of Syrian refugees is raising national security concerns among law enforcement officials and some congressional Republicans who fear clandestine radicals could slip into the country among the displaced. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLFzx)

How much is a vote worth? In Egypt’s Sadat City – a sprawling, industrial center filled with the young and unemployed – it costs the same as it did under Hosni Mubarak: blankets, sacks of fertilizer and affordable healthcare. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LKJ2uy)

The number of Christians abducted by the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria has risen to 220 in the past three days, as militants round up more hostages from a chain of villages along a strategic river, activists said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKKoFG)

Yemen’s Shiite rebel leader lashed out at Saudi Arabia on Thursday, accusing it of seeking to split the country following his group’s power grab, as a U.N. envoy met the embattled Yemeni president who has fled the capital, Sanaa. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BvMeC)

The head of UNESCO says she is “deeply shocked” at footage showing Islamic State group militants using sledgehammers to destroy Iraqi artifacts, and she has asked the U.N. Security Council president for an emergency meeting on the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BwIPW)

Asia

Thailand’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favor of a bill that restricts political demonstrations, something critics fear will be used to smother dissent after martial law is lifted. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1BBLELK)

North Korea has told rival South Korea that it plans to unilaterally raise the minimum wage for North Koreans employed by southern companies at a jointly run industrial park starting in March, officials said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLN1Y)

Almost every Pakistani citizen has a cellphone, but from now on, Big Brother is checking to make sure their name, number and fingerprints are on record. The measures are meant to tighten control of cellphones and avert their use for militant attacks after the Taliban massacre two months ago at a school in Peshawar. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLIv3)

The Americas

Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan arrives in Cuba on Thursday to help prod negotiators from the Colombian government and leftist guerrillas to clinch a peace agreement. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1AwUtUH)

Chinese state-owned banks loaned $22.1 billion to Latin American countries last year, helping to keep afloat struggling economies that have been hit hard by a fall in prices for oil, minerals and other commodities that they export, according to new numbers released Thursday by the U.S. think tank the Inter-American Dialogue. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBN7Sv)

About 10,000 people marched in Haiti’s capital Wednesday to protest what they say is chronic mistreatment of their countrymen in the neighboring Dominican Republic, where many Haitians have long lived in the shadows. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKIK73)

Just two days ahead of a second round of talks on restoring diplomatic ties frozen for five decades, Cuba and the United States staked out competing demands to ensure progress. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1BBLy6Z)

The jubilation that greeted the announcement of U.S.-Cuban detente two months ago has faded to resignation for many Cubans who are realizing they’re at the start of a long process unlikely to ease their daily struggles anytime soon. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLAMf)

The full-page ad in Mexico’s national newspapers was unusual, if not unprecedented: 20 powerful business groups and think tanks publicly scolding the government for not doing its job. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBLC6O)

Spain says it plans to deport 34 top members of violent Latin American street gangs operating in the Spanish capital. (AP http://yhoo.it/1BBMW9M)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is backing efforts by South American nations to re-launch a dialogue between Venezuela’s government and opposition following new reports of violence. (AP http://yhoo.it/17BwGrt)

Argentina

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed allegations that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez tried to cover-up the involvement of Iranian officials in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, easing a crisis for her government fed by the death of the prosecutor who brought the case. (AP http://yhoo.it/1FyWY8G)

Argentina’s congress passed a law Thursday creating a new intelligence service after the mysterious death of a prosecutor who had accused the president of a cover-up in his probe of a 1994 bombing targeting Jews. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1LKKCfX)

Argentina named the president’s chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez, as the new Cabinet chief on Thursday in a reshuffle that comes as the government faces a political crisis. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1FyWUpv)

…and the rest

Despite stern talk and solemn pledges from NATO, a British-based think tank says some alliance member nations are cutting their spending on defense. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LKKygk)

Opinion/Blogs

Global Dispatches Podcast: What We Know About What We Don’t Know About Development (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/17BCvFf)

The complex story of India’s job-producing and environment-destroying coal mines (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1DvnWye)

Five myths about governance and development (World Bank http://bit.ly/1LNx7OD)

Roundup of Recent Writing on the Humanitarian Fallout from Boko Haram (Sahel Blog http://bit.ly/1BCbrUe)

Vulnerable families bear the brunt of Norway’s crackdown on asylum seekers (Guardian http://bit.ly/1BCbRKl)

My Friend Died Last Week – Tax Could Have Saved His Life (From Poverty to Powerhttp://bit.ly/1LNxMPP)

The poverty alert (Economist http://econ.st/1DvnLmM)

Discussion

comments…

Map of the Day: Suicide as a Global Health Priority

More than 800,000 people commit suicide each year. Compare that to the Syrian Civil War, which has killed almost 200,000 people in the past three years. Which topic has gotten more coverage in the media? Suicide rarely receives the attention that it deserves, and as a result, many suffer in silence, too afraid to reach out for help.

The topic may get more of the exposure that it needs due to the WHO’s new report, its first-ever global survey on suicide. The report includes some startling statistics. Globally, suicides account for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women. Among young people aged 15-29, suicide is the second leading cause of death globally, after traffic accidents. A person dies by suicide somewhere in the world every 40 seconds.

The WHO admits that its data isn’t perfect, but it does gives a general sense of the prevalence of suicide around the world. In terms of absolute numbers, India is the unfortunate leader. A quarter million Indians committed suicide in 2012. North Korea has the highest rates, experiencing approximately 39.5 suicides per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to a global average of 11.4. South Korea is not far behind, with 36.6 per 100,000. The former Soviet Union and East Africa are also particularly affected.

suicide map, WHO

Source: WHO

In high-income countries, men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women, while in lower-middle-income and low-income countries, they are only 1.7 times more likely.

Last year, the WHO launched a Mental Action Plan 2013-2020. As part of the plan, member states pledged to work toward a 10% reduction in suicides by the end of the decade. This goal actually might be achievable. The global number of suicides fell from 883,000 in 2000 to 804,000 in 2012, a 9% reduction, despite a large increase in world population. But this hides regional variation. China, for example, has reduced suicide rates by 60% in the past 12 years, but the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central Africa Republic both saw their suicide rates increase by more than 20%.

Much more can be done to actively decrease suicide rates. Only 28 countries have national suicide prevention strategies, and 25 countries still have laws on the books that punish individuals who attempt suicide. Although those laws are usually not carried out, they indicate a failure to classify suicide as a public health problem. A taboo and stigma still surrounds suicide in many places.

Ultimately, suicide is preventable. Individuals at risk can be targeted for help. Risk factors such as previous suicide attempts, mental disorders, harmful use of alcohol, chronic pain, and a family history of suicide can be monitored. Health systems can be changed to allow easier access to care. Media reports can avoid sensationalizing suicide and inspiring “copycat” attempts.

One of the most effective ways to prevent suicide is to simply restrict availability of the means of suicide. Suicides are not always planned out days ahead of time. According to the WHO, “many suicides occur impulsively in moments of crisis and, in these circumstances, ready access to the means of suicide – such as pesticides or firearms – can determine whether a person lives or dies.”

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. The findings in this report make its goal particularly urgent.

Secretary’s Remarks: Press Availability on the Attended Ministerial Meetings

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to thank President Thein Sein for his government’s warm welcome here during the course of this conference, for his leadership as chair of ASEAN, and for serving as the United States-ASEAN country coordinator.

Burma has made a significant amount of progress over the course of the last years, and when I was last here in 1999, I visited with Aung San Suu Kyi, who was then under house arrest. Today, she sits in parliament, and the people here are openly debating the future direction of this country. The Burmese people have made a very clear statement about their desire to build a democratic, peaceful, and economically vibrant country, and many have struggled and sacrificed in order to reach this stage.

But I do want to emphasize, despite the progress, there is still obviously a lot of work yet to be done, and the leaders that I met with acknowledged that and indicated a willingness and a readiness to continue to do that in order to ensure the full promise of human rights and of justice and of democracy in this country. So yes, there’s work to done – to be done, and we certainly are prepared to work hand in hand with the government in an effort to try to make sure we move continually in the direction that people want.

The government, among other things, still needs to complete the task – the difficult task – of ending the decades-long, multiple array of civil wars involving more than a dozen groups. And they need also to expand the space for civil society, protect the media, address land rights, prevent intercommunal violence, and enshrine into their laws basic freedoms. What is interesting is that some of the freedoms that people enjoy today, because the government has made a decision to permit it, are not exactly yet enshrined in the law themselves, and it is obviously vital that that occur.

The serious crisis in Rakhine State and elsewhere, profound development challenges to raise the country’s standard of living, ethnic and religious violence that still exists, fundamental questions regarding constitutional reform, and of course the role of the military – all of these remain significant challenges of the road ahead.

Next year’s election will absolutely be a benchmark moment for the whole world to be able to assess the direction that Burma is moving in. And it is important – in fact, beyond important – that that election be inclusive, accountable, open, free, fair, accessible to all, that it wind up being a credible election that leads to the peaceful transfer of power in 2016.

I discussed each of these issues directly with the president and the members of his cabinet and the chairmen of key committees and the speaker, and we had a long and – in fact, a long discussion that made us late for everything else the rest of the day. But it was – because it was important and because it was comprehensive that that occurred. Each of the leaders that I met with – the chairmen of committees, the speaker, the president, the members of his cabinet – they indicated that they recognized the job is not complete, they understand the difficulties, and they indicated a willingness to continue to move.

I invited the speaker and his key committee chairmen to come to Washington soon and to spend time with our legislators, with the members of the House and the Senate. And hopefully doing so, which is certainly the conviction that President Obama and I share, is that that kind of exchange can assist them and encourage them as they make decisions about their constitution and the reforms for the country.

One of the things that characterized by conversations with the president and his team was that we were both able to really talk very candidly and very directly about each of these issues. And we talked, I think and I hope, as friends about the full range of possibilities and the challenges facing Myanmar.

Myanmar’s potential is limitless, and it’s blessed by a rich diversity of people and by an abundant source of natural resources. But it’s ultimately up to the leaders to make the right choices in the days, months, and years ahead. If they do and if people in Myanmar can overcome the differences that exist between them, if they can join together in common purpose, then Myanmar can complete the transition to democracy. And the United States will absolutely remain a partner in the effort to help Myanmar be able to do that.

In the last two days, I participated also in five ministerial meetings – the ASEAN-U.S. ministerial, the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Lower Mekong Initiative, and the Friends of the Lower Mekong. All of these meetings underscored the depth and the intensity of the United States engagement with Asia, and they reinforced and strengthened the role of the institutions, which are at the heart of the problem and the heart of the efforts to solve the problems that exist in the Asia Pacific.

In the effort to solve those problems, ASEAN is really a central player. ASEAN is central to regional peace, to stability, to prosperity. And during my meetings with ASEAN foreign ministers, we affirmed our commitment to sustainable economic growth and to regional development. And American companies are already investing responsibility in order to develop jobs and help to create the economic base that could be really transformative for the people of Myanmar.

Ultimately, it is our hope that those investments will produce initiatives, companies, exciting enterprises that can become models for good corporate behavior and improve the standard of living throughout the region. I’m very proud of what our businesses are doing and I look forward to their continued partnership in the effort to help Myanmar develop.

We’re also focused on our shared interest in protecting the environment. We took practical steps to deepen our cooperation with ASEAN on climate change, on – which is a challenge, obviously, that demands elevated urgency and attention from all of us. At the end of the day, some of you may have been there when they rolled out a logo for the meeting that will take place, which China and Malaysia will host, with respect for preparedness for disasters. And as the disasters were listed – the tsunami and the typhoon and one type of disaster after another that comes from the changes of the climate – it became apparent to all that there’s literally trillions of dollars of cost being spent now with greater prospect of that expenditure in the future, where all of it could be impacted by good decisions about energy policy and good decisions to deal with climate change ahead of time.

We also addressed key security issues. There was an extensive discussion on multiple occasions about the South China Sea. I expressed the concerns of many, which are shared, about the rise in tensions that have occurred. But we all underscored the importance of negotiations on a binding code of conduct. And I stressed the importance of everybody clarifying claims under international law and proceeding under the legal process through the law, through arbitration, and also through bilateral relationships in order to try to resolve these issues. And our hope is that the claimants ultimately can agree among themselves and proceed forward.

We did discuss the concept of freezing in place the actions that people choose to take on a purely voluntary basis. And these – this is a way of actually locking into place the very promises that people have already made under the Declarations of Conduct that were made in 2002. And I’m very pleased that there is positive language that came out in the communique issued by ASEAN foreign ministers yesterday as a result of that discussion that embraces this idea of resolving these issues in a thoughtful and peaceful way.

We also discussed North Korea and North Korea’s actions with respect to its nuclear program. These are actions which present a very serious threat to international peace and stability. I reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. China joined in that, others. I think there is a unanimity within this meeting here – with one exception, needless to say, present this afternoon at the regional forum – about the need to adhere to the United Nations Security Council resolutions and to live up to the international standards with respect to nonproliferation.

So on behalf of President Obama and certainly from myself, I want to thank ASEAN for its committed partnership and very much look forward to continuing what has already been a very productive trip here to the region. I will be meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi later today. And I appreciate enormously the efforts of our hosts to have provided for a very constructive and comprehensive discussion over the course of these two days. And we certainly look forward to President Obama’s visit here in November, when the heads of state will meet to pick up where we left off today.

With that, I’d be delighted to open up to any questions.

MS. PSAKI: The first question will be from Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Two things quickly. On Myanmar, you’ve taken quite a lot of criticism from Congress, including from Democrats, that the Administration has moved too quickly and been too willing to take at face value the assurances from the Burmese leaders that they really were doing all of the things you’ve asked them to do and the things that I gather they’ve tried to show you today that they are doing. In your remarks a moment ago, you invited some Burmese leaders to come to Washington and I take it face its Congressional critics directly. What would you like to see come out of that kind of conversation? And what is your response to the sort of underlying criticism from Congress that you guys have been too eager to get this done quickly?

And then on the South China Sea, you said you were pleased by the language that was enshrined in the ASEAN document, but it doesn’t go quite as far as you all had hoped. China appears to still flatly disagree with the idea that binding international arbitration or the Law of the Sea ought to rule the day here. So where does this all leave you and what’s your next step? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me begin with this issue of whether we’re moving too quickly or not. We are not basing anything that we are doing in Myanmar on the basis of blind trust or some naive sense of what the challenges are. I just listed a long list of challenges, and I went through every single one of those challenges with our hosts in a very, very direct way. We talked about the need to end the civil war and the efforts that could be made to do it; we talked about the treatment of minorities; we talked about Rakhine State; we talked about the challenges of putting into law those things that people are allowed to do today but which might disappear in the future if they’re not put into law; we talked about constitutional reform.

The speaker particularly was enthusiastic about what America has done and the way America has done it and the kinds of things that our Constitution has enshrined and was very anxious to be able to come and interact with members of Congress in order to make some of the choices that they will be making as they go forward.

We talked about ethnic and religious violence, about the need to deal with these 12 or 15 or so groups that have been engaged in civil war. This is hard work, but you just don’t achieve results by the consequence of looking at somebody and ordering them to do it or telling them they either do it or else. This is country; these are the people with a history and with their own culture and with their own beliefs and aspirations and feelings and thoughts. And it is an amazing journey that has already been traveled to get to where we are today.

And there is no question about those things that have to happen to get to where we want to go. But I believe the Administration has acted very thoughtfully. Some of the sanctions have been reduced, not all. Sanctions are now very much focused on members of the junta and on key individuals who may still be representing a challenge to achieving some of these goals. But this is fundamentally a new government, in a new moment, with a possibility for an election next year.

Now is everything hunky-dory? No, not yet, absolutely not. And I think Aung San Suu Kyi, who I will visit with shortly, will be the first to say that, and I’ll be the second right behind her, saying that there are still things that need to be done. But the key is to have an effective manner of trying to achieve those things and to recognize where there may be a legitimate effort if, in fact, it is being exhibited.

And we will continue to work very, very carefully, without jumping ahead of anybody’s rights and without turning a blind eye to anything that violates our notion of fairness and accountability and human rights and the standards by which America always stands. And those will be forefront in all of our discussions, as they were throughout the last two days.

The other piece was on the —

QUESTION: South China Sea and whether this language goes far enough.

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I think the language does go far enough. I think we made the points that we came to make. We weren’t seeking to pass something, per se. We were trying to put something on the table that people could embrace. A number of countries have decided that’s what they’re going to do. It’s a voluntary process. We absolutely laid it out as a voluntary series of potential steps. And I think it has helped to be able to achieve the language that we do have. But by the same token, I think there’s a way to achieve some progress, and I think we’ll see some progress with respect to the South China Sea, based on the conversations that we’ve had here.

MS. PSAKI: The next question is from Aye Thu San of 7Day Daily.

QUESTION: Good evening, sir. So I would like to ask —

SECRETARY KERRY: Can you pull it very close so I can hear you? Thank you.

QUESTION: Yes. Good evening, sir. I would like to ask about the relation in United States foreign policy between Myanmar and United States. So in yesterday meeting with the President Thein Sein said to you United States will be – United States will (inaudible) the democratization process in Myanmar rather than talking about the criticisms. So Myanmar have many —

SECRETARY KERRY: I couldn’t hear that. I’m sorry. Rather than talking about what?

QUESTION: Rather than talking about the criticisms.

SECRETARY KERRY: Criticisms.

QUESTION: Yes, yes. Myanmar have many support from United States in the last three year. But Myanmar have to face conflict, human rights (inaudible) issue according to the Congress letter to you. So I will like to ask, how do you see on the democratization process in Myanmar in the last three year? And what is your comments and views on the United States foreign policy about Myanmar? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me make it clear to everybody – again, I will reiterate, I think I said this in my opening comments – we had a very frank discussion with the president and with his team. And we raised every single issue that exists with respect to this relationship. It was very comprehensive. We talked about human rights; we talked about the law; we talked about democracy and how you move to it; we talked about the election and the need for it to be open and free and fair; we talked about people’s full participation without penalty; we talked about journalists who recently have been arrested. We talked about all of these things and made it very clear that these are important changes that need to take place in the course of the evolution of Myanmar into a full democracy.

Now it doesn’t happen overnight anywhere. It didn’t happen overnight in the United States of America. We started out with a constitution that had slavery written into it before 100 years later it was finally written out of it. It sometimes takes time to manage change. Now that doesn’t allow you to turn a blind eye to things that are critical, and we’re not. You have to call them to account. And I believe we’ve been very clear about that.

Burma is undertaking very important changes right now, and it clearly faces significant challenges that take time to address. There are some people in the public life of Burma who don’t want to see those changes, and there are some people who are very passionate about them and do want to see them. And so that’s why there’s an election. But this relationship right now is not a relationship about Burma meeting U.S. demands every day. It’s about Burma meeting the potential of the country. And that’s what has to happen over the course of these next months, and particularly this next year leading into the election.

So during this visit, I made it very clear that the country needs to do more. Myanmar needs to do more, and we made that very, very clear. And it will not be able to reach its full potential, whether that’s foreign investment coming in or whether it’s the full participation of people in a democracy here in the country – it just won’t do it unless they address the issues that exist right here at home. And I think we made that very, very clear.

So we want to work with the government. We want to work with the people. And we will be very clear, as I have been here today and was in my conversations, about those things where greater progress needs to be made. But we also need to be realistic about what’s achievable at what pace and at what particular moment. We will never stop fighting for the human rights and basic rights of the people of Myanmar, Burma, whatever somebody chooses to call. That’s what we’re fighting for.

MS. PSAKI: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s it?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very much. Appreciate it.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing: August 4, 2014

2:28 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Thank you for your patience. I know we’re late today. A bit going on in the world.

Let me just start with a quick update for all of you or just an overview of what’s happening in the building. As you all know, we kicked off the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this morning. This is a historic opportunity to strengthen ties with our African partners and highlight America’s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa’s development and its people. The summit theme, “Investing in the Next Generation,” reflects the common ambition to leave our nations better for future generations by making concrete gains in peace and security, good governance, and economic development. There’s long been bipartisan support for U.S. engagement with Africa, and the summit will build on that record.

The summit opened this morning with a civil society forum to underscore our longstanding investment in strong democratic institutions and Africa’s next generation of leaders. We support the aspirations of Africans from our open and accountable governance and respect for human rights. And we are deepening our connection with Africa’s young leaders who are promoting positive change in their communities.

There are also signature events today on investing in women for peace and prosperity, there’s a working luncheon on that issue, and investing in health, investing in health, investing in Africa’s future, and sessions on resilience and food security in a changing climate, and combating wildlife trafficking.

The day opened with the 13th African Growth and Opportunity – AGOA ministerial. AGOA, as you know, is our most generous trade preference arrangement. And finally, tomorrow will be a landmark U.S.-Africa business forum, which will provide opportunities for increased investment and trade between America and the continent. Africa, home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, wants American investors who are looking to Africa like never before. In doing so, they’re creating new jobs and opportunities for Americans at home and abroad. Today’s challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded and spread to benefit of all of Africa’s people.

I have some readouts of the meetings. I can hold those for now and see if there’s interest, and those – with that, hello, welcome.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Matt —

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. PSAKI: — go ahead.

QUESTION: So this is my colleague, Desmond Butler. He has some —

QUESTION: May I pull up a chair?

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: — has some questions that I think he wants to ask you about USAID in Cuba.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So I’m going to defer to him before we get into the Middle East and Ukraine —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — and everything else.

QUESTION: Jen, is it – does the Administration think it’s okay to use HIV clinics, health clinics, as a front for political activity in other countries?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would refute your description. I did read your story. Congress, as you know, funds democracy program in Cuba to empower Cubans to access more information and strengthen civil society. This workshop I think you’re referring to enabled support for Cuban civil society while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention. And we do programs, as you know, around the world that promote democracy and promote access to this type of information.

QUESTION: What’s a health clinic doing in a political program in an unfriendly country?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think this is specifically a program that was promoting civil society engagement and allowing people to have access to information that they may not have otherwise had.

QUESTION: And did the participants know that this was a political program when they were invited to do an educational seminar on HIV/AIDS?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the program – I, of course, was not a participant – but I think the program provided information and training about HIV prevention. That was a secondary benefit.

QUESTION: But the contractor said in the documents that this – they called it the perfect excuse for recruiting activists for a political program. Is that okay?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think – again, I think it’s important to take a step back here about the kind of programs we do around the world, which again, as you may be aware but I think others aren’t, is – are programs that we inform Congress of. The Congress is aware of our efforts to promote everything from civil society engagement to engagement in countries where people don’t have the benefit of open society as is they – as in a place like Cuba. There was a secondary benefit here which was providing information about these programs.

QUESTION: So in sum, you think it’s okay? Because a lot of health organizations who have seen what happened with the CIA’s program in Pakistan that has set back vaccinations and probably led to deaths —

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would hardly group all of these issues together. I know it’s enticing to do so, but there are a range of programs that this contractor – it’s important to note – was supporting. The HIV prevention workshop was part of a broader attempt to work with people about things they care about, yet independent of the government. So this was a small example among many. There were community cleanups, cultural activities, tree plantings. There was one HIV workshop and information was provided, which was a secondary benefit on an issue that people were concerned about.

QUESTION: And the contractor called it a success story in a report for USAID. Is that how you view it? Is that a success story?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it’s important to note that we have civil society engagement programs around the world, including in Cuba, and this is a program or these types of programs are programs that Congress is certainly familiar with.

QUESTION: And what about sending young people into Cuba with very little training after Alan Gross? Is there any pause in doing that sort of thing? It seems very risky.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the grantee provided assurances that it had appropriate security protocols in place, would strictly enforce those protocols. As you know, there were steps that were taken at the time, but certainly the security and safety of individuals participating in programs is certainly something to be cognizant of.

QUESTION: The details that we discovered certainly didn’t suggest that the security of the young people who were sent in was really thought through very well.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I know you were looking at some publicly available information that wasn’t classified. I don’t know that I have much more to add on it.

QUESTION: It wasn’t classified, but also far from publicly available.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think others could have found it. But —

QUESTION: Really?

MS. PSAKI: Do you have other questions, or shall we move on to a new topic?

QUESTION: I have one just on this. Why shouldn’t the Cuban Government, which has accused you of trying to – accused you of promoting regime change activity in – on the island, why shouldn’t they see this as that, as such an effort?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the USAID, as many people know, including governments around the world, have a longstanding history of supporting democracy and human rights. There are places some of these programs, including programs in Cuba, are operated in a discreet manner to help ensure the safety of those involved. This was not a program – this was a program that made information available. It wasn’t engaged with – it was engaged with local issues independent of the Cuban Government. So that was the focus of it.

QUESTION: Right. But you understand, given the U.S. history in Latin America, particularly with —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — in terms of regime change in the past, why shouldn’t the Cubans be suspicious? Why shouldn’t they think that this is something that is aimed at not simply educating their people but in fact changing and overthrowing their government?

MS. PSAKI: Because I think the facts about what the program are focused on are inconsistent with that view.

QUESTION: Don’t programs such as this actually endanger the work of people who are engaged in health and education and other humanitarian work under the USAID flag?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, Roz, I think there are a range of programs that USAID oversees. Again, these programs are fully – Congress is fully briefed on these programs, and they promote a range of information sharing in countries around the world. And this was obviously a program and this contract was one that was approved through that process.

QUESTION: But doesn’t anyone in the U.S. Government understand that this is undermining the very credibility that is needed in order for these programs, which are run directly by USAID and through other contractors, namely NGOs, who are counting on the goodwill extended toward the U.S. Government in order to do their work effectively?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’re jumping a bit to a conclusion there, Roz. I think there are programs around the world that are oriented towards developing a more vibrant and capable civil society consistent with democracy promotion programs worldwide. And obviously, this contract was in line with that.

QUESTION: But I have heard from others who do this kind of work who say that when USAID deviates into an area that is better suited for another agency – and we’ll just leave it unmentioned here – that it makes it more dangerous for their employees to carry out the work that they are trying to do. Wouldn’t it be simpler to put up a firewall?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me just stop you there for a second, because I would hardly compare this to the work of other agencies. This was not a covert program. There are programs that are done discreetly in order to protect the safety of the people involved.

QUESTION: But the mission of the program undercuts the work which NGOs tell me that they are trying to conduct because the first thing that people will ask them is, “How do we know that you’re not CIA?”

MS. PSAKI: Well, strengthening a civil society and empowering a civil society to be more capable is something that that was the focus of this program. And that’s again, I think, what’s being communicated with any who have concerns.

QUESTION: Is the Secretary comfortable with this apparent mixing of missions?

MS. PSAKI: We would disagree with that characterization.

Did you have another on this, Nicole, or should we go on?

QUESTION: I want to go back to the idea of mixing of missions, because in the wake of the CIA’s activities in Pakistan we did see health workers killed and we have seen disease rates gone up, so it’s hard to refute the idea that using health missions as a cover for other activities, whether they be admirable ones like democracy promotion or not, has a really damaging effect on some U.S. priorities. Does – is that not recognized here in the building?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think, Nicole, broadly speaking of course, the safety and security of health workers is certainly something that we’re not only focused on, we do a great deal of work to ensure that with a range of other agencies across the federal government. But what I’m trying to convey here is that this program, which is through a contact through USAID, was done in a consistent manner of promoting information, making it available through civil society groups, separate from the government. And I would not compare the two.

QUESTION: So you don’t think —

QUESTION: But Jen, you said it yourself that this served a dual purpose, and one of those purposes was not disclosed to the people. So why shouldn’t people be suspicious all over the world when USAID does this programs? They didn’t even declare this was USAID for that matter.

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, there are programs around the world that are focused on supporting independent youth groups, promoting more information to civil society, strengthening civil society around the world. I just wouldn’t – our view is we wouldn’t categorize it in that way.

QUESTION: This was a – you’re saying that overall it was a democracy-promotion program, a program to promote democracy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean, I think there are a range – promoting a capable civil society is obviously – has a range of benefits.

QUESTION: Right. But promoting democracy is one of them? I mean, you guys do not regard Cuba as a democracy, do you?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think that there are —

QUESTION: So if you’re promoting something that is – that you say is antithetical to the Cuban Government’s way of ruling, governing, then clearly it’s aimed at regime change, no?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I stated it was separate from the Cuban Government, that the purpose was to provide a range of interests – information that was of interest to the Cuban people.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: But you’ve essentially said that a health workshop organized by USAID secretly in Cuba had a political purpose that was not declared.

MS. PSAKI: That’s not what I said.

QUESTION: Yeah, it —

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re ready to move on to the new topic.

QUESTION: Can we go to the Gaza —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Sure. One moment. Go ahead, Nicole. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I just would like confirmation on reports that Alan Gross has refused to see the new U.S. head of mission there and to ask if you’ve heard from his family about his decision. I think his spokesman put it that he’s just decided it is not worth living anymore. The U.S. Government has not gotten him out; I’m sure not for lack of trying. Do you feel like you could have done more?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Nicole, let me first say that Cuban authorities have unjustifiably kept Alan Gross in prison for more than four years merely for helping Cuban citizens gain access to the internet, a goal the Cuban Government now espouses. We keep his case at the forefront of discussions with the Cuban Government, make clear the importance the United States places on his welfare. And we engage also with a range of our foreign counterparts at the highest levels and urge them to advocate for his release. So we urgently reiterate our call for the Cuban Government to release him immediately.

Absent written authorization, there’s really not more information I can share about those specific reports. We’ve seen the same ones you have seen.

QUESTION: Can we go —

QUESTION: All right. Can we go to the Middle East, if we’re done with Cuba?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) that one, one more.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: In view of the Alan Gross case, was it wise to continue these type of programs in Cuba?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think as I stated previously, the security arrangements were – and I think I answered this a few minutes ago. The security arrangements are something that we receive assurances from by those we work with. That was the case here too.

Middle East.

QUESTION: Middle East, yeah. Just on your – well, first of all, on the broader situation, I’d like to get what the Administration thinks about what’s going on right now. But before that, I want to get into your statement from yesterday on the UNRWA school. It was a pretty tough statement. I don’t think anyone can deny that or would argue with that. You certainly wouldn’t, would you? I mean, I can’t recall there being this kind of harsh criticism of Israel coming from certainly this Administration, but I can’t remember going back many years. So you clearly felt very strongly about what happened here.

And what I’m wondering is whether or not after – in light of this statement, and in light of the disgraceful shelling, as you called it, of this, if the Administration is prepared to do anything to back up these strong words with some kind of an action, a demonstrable action against or towards Israel. In other words, this – you supply Israel with weapons and ammunition all the time. Is there any discussion about limiting that?

MS. PSAKI: No. I think I would just reiterate that the statement was specifically about our concerns about the shelling in the neighborhood of the school, as you know. It was the seventh such attack. As we know, we’ve seen hundreds of individuals displaced in Gaza. We’ve seen – more than that I should say, but related to the schools, dozens have died in these incidents, and this was a reflection of our view that there’s more that Israel can do to prevent civilian casualties. That was what it was speaking to.

It does not change the fact that Israel remains an important security and strategic partner of the United States. We believe they have the right to defend themselves. While in that – while they have the right to defend themselves, there is more they can do in that regard to prevent events like those that happened just yesterday.

QUESTION: Right. But this – people have criticized this statement for – or criticized the Administration for being hypocritical and putting out a statement this strongly yet, at the same time, supplying Israel with weapons and armaments – weapons and ammunition that it uses in these attacks that you’re condemning. You don’t see a problem – you don’t see an issue there?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think not just because of these events, but we still believe that our primary goal and objective here is to prevent the indiscriminate rocket attacks and terrorists coming up through tunnels into Israel. We haven’t – our concerns about that haven’t changed. It doesn’t mean that we can’t also call for a different type of approach or actions as Israel is defending itself.

QUESTION: All right. The – people on the pro-Israel – in Israel and on the pro-Israel side have also accused you all of hypocrisy, particularly for this line that says the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put the risk of so many – risk – put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians. Is the – the United States has been conducting drone strikes and other strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen for years in which innocent civilians have been killed and –

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think —

QUESTION: — collateral damage. Does this kind of statement from the State Department apply to – would you say the same thing to the Pentagon across the river?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly we have – and Afghanistan is a good example, and we have used that example of a place where the United States has had to take steps over time, of course, to prevent civilian casualties, and we have done exactly that.

QUESTION: Okay. So you don’t see any difference – any dissonance between telling Israel that just the suspicion of militants being nearby isn’t enough to put at risk the lives of innocent civilians and what you’re —

MS. PSAKI: I think —

QUESTION: — what this government does itself?

MS. PSAKI: In fact, we’re saying we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we’ve had to keep ourselves to a high standard over time, and Israel should do the same.

QUESTION: Jen, let me just ask you on the statement themselves, because you said you’re appalled, and then Samantha Power, the Ambassador at the UN, called it horrifying. You both called for Israel to do more to stop.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In the interim, in past 24 hours since this thing happened, have you seen that Israel has really scaled back these attacks and have become more careful as a result of your statement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, I just don’t have an analysis of that. I think we’re talking about how to approach things moving forward and not just in a couple of hours.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, let me ask you: Why don’t you have analysis? I mean when you say we want you to do this, how do you measure it? Do you have a gauge that you go by so you can look to see whether your statement –

MS. PSAKI: I think we can all measure it –

QUESTION: — has an effect –

MS. PSAKI: — publicly, and obviously we have our own means of gathering information. I just don’t have any more to share with you from here.

QUESTION: Okay. Now you keep repeating that Israel has a right to defend itself. Do you believe that doing such a strike, conducting such a strike, is part of Israel’s self-defense?

MS. PSAKI: I think our statement spoke to it yesterday, Said. That doesn’t change the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization that has been attacking, launching rocket attacks, coming through tunnels. That is still our primary concern here.

QUESTION: Okay. Now on the issue – on the efforts to conduct or to do a ceasefire there, a lot of talk now that maybe they’re on the verge of doing a ceasefire. Are you involved in this process at all, or is the Secretary of State completely now disengaged, after being so frustrated with his efforts?

MS. PSAKI: No, quite the contrary, Said. I think the Secretary has been engaged through the course of the weekend with the same counterparts and interlocutors he was prior to the weekend, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, including the Qataris, the Turks, the Egyptians, others who have been engaged in this effort. Our objective here hasn’t changed. There needs to be a prolonged ceasefire in order to have a negotiation about these key issues. Otherwise it’s difficult to see how there can be stability and peace in the region.

QUESTION: Will the Secretary forego his ideas that he introduced to add to the Egyptian proposal and go back to the Egyptian proposal, since both Qatar and Turkey have been completely nixed out of the process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, first I’d refute a couple of things you said. One is what we’re talking about here is a prolonged ceasefire where the difficult, key issues could be discussed. Obviously, there’s fighting that’s ongoing. There was a short ceasefire that happened today. The Egyptians have indicated an openness to hosting. Frank Lowenstein returned overnight. He’ll be back later this evening, but he’s prepared to return. But that doesn’t change the fact that that’s a – we feel is an important part of how to resolve the situation here. The Secretary will continue to be involved and engaged, because he wants to see an end to the violence on the ground.

QUESTION: And my last question. Early on in this conflict, I asked you at what point it becomes – Israel’s actions become – be termed as a genocide or a collective punishment and so on. Do you feel that by now that after maybe 11 – 10,000 injured and maybe 2,000 killed and so on, that it has gotten to that point?

MS. PSAKI: I think we’re going to —

QUESTION: Is there —

MS. PSAKI: We’re going to —

QUESTION: Is there a figure that at which point will you say enough is enough?

MS. PSAKI: I think, Said, even one civilian casualty is horrific. Obviously, there have been many more than that. I think the strength of our statement yesterday speaks to our concern, and they need to do more in this regard.

Nicole.

QUESTION: Is there any plan to replace Ambassador Indyk and have another senior negotiator?

MS. PSAKI: Frank Lowenstein has taken —

QUESTION: Sorry, what?

QUESTION: He has been replaced.

QUESTION: Oh.

MS. PSAKI: Frank Lowenstein has taken his place. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: And —

MS. PSAKI: We won’t show him that part of the transcript. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Yeah, thanks. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Refresh.

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: About this. Netanyahu have said during the last hours that there is a country that is helping all the situation, and he mentioned Qatar. He said there are some countries that are helping Hamas in taking all these weapons. Also he mentioned Iran. Is the U.S. talking with some of these countries to see what’s going on in their relation with Hamas?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have certainly been talking to the Qataris. We have not been talking to the Iranians about this, no. The Qataris have been an important interlocutor, and they were through the course of last week, not because they need to be in the middle of it, but because they have a relationship – an influential relationship with Hamas. And certainly we can sit there and talk with the countries that we all agree with, but that hardly creates a successful negotiation. So that’s why we’ve been engaged. The Secretary remains engaged with the Qataris and the Turks, and I expect that will continue.

QUESTION: But the U.S. agrees with the Israelis that the Qataris is helping Hamas in getting all these weapons that they are using to throw to Israel?

MS. PSAKI: I think that we – our view is that the Qataris can play a role here and that they have a relationship with Hamas in working towards a resolution.

QUESTION: I have just one more.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Qatar is providing Hamas with weapons?

MS. PSAKI: I did not state that.

Ali.

QUESTION: I have another one.

QUESTION: You’ve been pretty explicit in ascribing responsibility of this latest UN attack – school attack on the Israelis. Not to split hairs here, but the statement released over the weekend was a little less explicit, saying that the shelling was disgraceful, but it doesn’t actually directly ascribe responsibility to the Israelis. So from what you’re saying, can we understand that the State Department does ascribe blame or responsibility for this latest shelling to the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: No. I was saying, look, we can’t – we don’t have all of the independently verifiable information here. We do know that there were coordinates that were provided. We have seen the context of the history here, and we’ve seen, of course, the shellings of six other UNRWA schools. We want to see a thorough investigation of this incident as well as the other six that have happened.

QUESTION: But it seems that this was the most vocal and tough, as other people have pointed out, statement condemning – not ascribing causality to what happened to the UN school, but condemning the Israelis for what they have done. So —

MS. PSAKI: Well, there’s a range of information that’s out there that you’re familiar with, including that we’ve talked about, which is the fact that they had the coordinates. But again, that’s why there are investigations about these incidents, and we’ll – we certainly support that.

QUESTION: And one final on this. Has Secretary Kerry communicated these concerns to Prime Minister Netanyahu since this latest attack?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he spoke with him briefly yesterday morning, and their phone call was cut off. I think there was some communications issue. But he has raised the – our concern about civilian casualties in the past, and certainly that’s consistent but not this specific —

QUESTION: Did he raise the questions about Israeli spying, for lack of a better word, on his telephone calls?

MS. PSAKI: There’s just nothing more I have to read out from the call.

QUESTION: Jen.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What kind of communication error? Did Netanyahu hang up on him?

MS. PSAKI: Sometimes —

QUESTION: Was that the —

MS. PSAKI: Sometimes calls get cut off. You – it was a brief call, is what I’m trying to convey. Expect they’ll —

QUESTION: Well, was it – yeah, but your —

MS. PSAKI: There were —

QUESTION: — communication error —

MS. PSAKI: There was nothing —

QUESTION: — wasn’t one side slamming the phone down on the other, was it?

MS. PSAKI: There was nothing that interesting about it, no. That was not the case. That was not the case.

QUESTION: Okay. Did – in that brief phone call or in any conversations that other people in this building – Frank, I don’t know – or in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem since your statement – I mean, presumably, this conversation that you talked about that was interrupted was before the statement came out. Yes?

MS. PSAKI: I believe, yes.

QUESTION: Since the statement has come out and since Israelis and their supporters have reacted quite angrily to your rather harsh words, has there been any contact, conversations that you’re aware of between people in this building, including the Secretary, and the Israeli Government?

MS. PSAKI: Not the Secretary. And Frank’s been on plane. I’m certain we’ve probably been in touch on the ground, but I just don’t have any other readouts.

QUESTION: So in other words, you – you don’t know or there haven’t?

MS. PSAKI: Honestly, we’re – as you know, Ambassador Shapiro and others are in very close contact. I haven’t heard any readouts. We don’t typically get those.

QUESTION: Right. Okay.

MS. PSAKI: The Secretary has not been.

QUESTION: Have you – are you aware of the criticism of your statement that’s come – that is coming from Israel and the pro-Israel community?

MS. PSAKI: Of course, I’ve seen information out there —

QUESTION: You are?

MS. PSAKI: — in news reports, Matt, but —

QUESTION: Okay, so the former ambassador – former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Oren, was on one of those shows earlier today and said this is not just – not the way that friends and allies treat each other. They don’t – what do you say to criticism like that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our concern here is not a reflection of our strong relationship with Israel. It’s about these specific incidents and the fact that they can do more to hold themselves to a high standard, one that they have put up there.

QUESTION: One of the – he said – he also said that you – that he would expect and that Israel should be able to expect more from its main ally. Do you – you don’t share that sentiment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there’s no country in the world I think that supports Israel’s security more than the United States, and that is evidenced by the amount of funding we give to the Iron Dome, by a range of steps we take. That hasn’t changed. I think we still – the strength of a relationship is often shown by the ability to express concerns when you have them, and this is a case.

QUESTION: All right. And then just getting back to the provision – the provision of U.S. military equipment to Israel. Because – given this statement that you made yesterday, that as back drop, does the Administration have any concern that weapons that it has either sold or given or transferred some other how to Israel is being used in what you call a disgraceful shelling of a UN school or similar incidents?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I just don’t have that level of information. I mean, certainly we expressed concern about the incidents here because we think there’s more that can be done. But as you know, these requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and don’t expect that will change.

QUESTION: Right. But there are those who would say that the U.S. – that you have condemned something here that the U.S. is actually complicit in because it is providing so – the support that you just talked about in answer to my previous question – providing that to Israel. You – the Administration is not concerned that the stuff that’s it’s sending to the Israelis is being used in military operations that you condemn as appalling and disgraceful?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we made clear that having military targets in an area doesn’t justify it. So I think the statement speaks to some of the concerns we had about materials that were used wherever they came from.

QUESTION: On this issue, Jen, your ally, Great Britain – Mr. Cameron – is doing a review of the arms that they are supplying to Israel to make – just for that very purpose – to see whether the ammunition or the arms were actually used on these schools attack. Are you – will you be doing the same?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we —

QUESTION: Is that something that you are considering?

MS. PSAKI: — already review all requests for military assistance on a case-by-case basis.

QUESTION: No. I’m not talking about the requests. He’s reviewing the whole package whether – to see whether their – these arms have been actually used in this particular incident, as they were called by —

MS. PSAKI: There’s no other review I have to read out for you.

QUESTION: Now when you mentioned high standard, the terrorists are shooting from hotels, they are shooting from schools, they are shooting from houses, which is a high standard to fight against terrorism. What kind of – how can you explain that?

MS. PSAKI: The terrorists are shooting from – I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Yes, from hotels. Today I saw pictures today from the IDF showing that they are shooting from hotels, they are shooting from restaurants, they are shooting from many crazy places that are civilian places. Do you have an idea of what is a high standard to combat terrorism?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m going to leave it at the statement we issued yesterday.

Go ahead, Roz.

QUESTION: I want to go back to something that happened on Friday and then happened a couple of weeks before earlier in the conflict.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: When the first Israeli soldier was missing, the Israeli Government quickly said Hamas has captured him, we want him back. The U.S. echoed the message. Same thing happened on Friday and in both cases it turns out that both soldiers, sadly, were killed in action. What was the independent intelligence that the U.S. had in order to say, backing up Israel, Hamas, you have the soldier, give the soldier back? And then when it developed that the soldier was, in fact, killed in action and was buried on Sunday, there was nothing from this government. It brings to mind the Pat Tillman case.

MS. PSAKI: I would hardly make that comparison. We acted on information that was provided by not just Israel but also the UN. Obviously, there sometimes is information that isn’t yet verified from the ground, but if there was a risk of a – that an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, which was the information that we had available at the time, we certainly have no regrets about calling for their release.

QUESTION: Can you say what that information was? I mean, it’s very sensitive to say —

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think I’ll —

QUESTION: — or to accuse anyone of having captured a soldier.

MS. PSAKI: It was based on information we received from Israel as well as the UN.

QUESTION: But the important thing is it was basically the Israeli narrative. I mean, Hamas kept saying we don’t have the soldier, we did not capture a soldier. They kept yelling out since the very first moment, but you bought into the Israeli narrative and you acted on that premise, in essence giving Israel a green light —

MS. PSAKI: Said, it was based on information we received from both Israel and the UN.

QUESTION: Yes, please. Can I just ask a question that we’re hearing —

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: — about a possible ceasefire coming from the Islamic Jihad? Do you know anything about that? Palestinian Television has an interview with one of their top people.

MS. PSAKI: I have not seen those reports. I think we all saw there was a brief ceasefire today. Obviously, our view is there needs to be a prolonged one so there can be an opportunity for negotiation. I can check and see if there’s more that we have on that.

QUESTION: There’s also word that the Israelis may be considering what had been discussed in Cairo, this proposal from IJ and from Hamas.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, if all sides agree to a ceasefire and a prolonged ceasefire and there’s an opportunity to have a negotiation about the key issues, we’d certainly support that. There’s been a range of conflicting reports over the last several days and weeks, so let’s see what the facts are and we can look into those.

QUESTION: Yes, please. There are reports —

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: — in the region that possibility of DAS – the Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns be – play a role in this process. Is there any confirmation or denying (inaudible)?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there were original – we were originally considering having him go out to Cairo. Obviously, after the events of the last couple days, I think it’s safe to say that’s currently on hold. I have mentioned Frank Lowenstein returned – is returning. He should be back later this evening. He is prepared to go back. And of course, we’ll assess if there are more individuals we should send should things resume on the ground.

QUESTION: So the Bill Burns issue is completely out of picture now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I think, obviously, we’re assessing day to day what’s happening on the ground and what the needs are. And just like any senior diplomat, he’s prepared, as any – as Frank Lowenstein is prepared, if the situation on the ground warrants. But that’s not where we are at this particular moment.

QUESTION: Jen, on North —

MS. PSAKI: More on this particular issue?

QUESTION: Yeah, it’s a (inaudible) topic.

QUESTION: On North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: New topic?

QUESTION: No, not on North Korea.

QUESTION: Same topic.

QUESTION: Still the same thing.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll go to North Korea next (inaudible).

QUESTION: One, are you aware of the senior – a senior Iranian official saying that Iran helped Hamas improve the – its missile or rocket capability? And even if you’re not, I presume that you think that or your intelligence assessment is that Iran has supplied Hamas and others with this kind of thing. Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we have long known that Iran provides weapons training and funding to Hamas. I don’t really have any more, and that remains a concern of ours. Obviously, as you know, our focus remains with Iran on the nuclear program and the nuclear negotiations. It doesn’t mean we don’t have existing concerns outside of that.

QUESTION: All right. And then just back on the one question – I think, was it Nicole who said – that you have zero to say at all about this report, this Spiegel report about the Israel spying or eavesdropping on the Secretary’s calls? Is that —

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to comment on intelligence reports. Some have asked sort of what precautions we take —

QUESTION: Well, how about commenting on a German magazine report? Do you want —

MS. PSAKI: A German magazine report on an intelligence report. Just so you are all aware, and I think many of you are, but the Secretary and his senior staff and everyone in the U.S. Government is aware of the threat posed by potential intercepts of publicly available and unencrypted communications. We have at our disposal tools such as secure phones and computers for highly classified communications, but there are also times we communicate less sensitive information via open lines to world leaders and others. We’re fully aware of the possible risks. We will continue to utilize open communications channels when appropriate and secure communications channels when necessary.

QUESTION: Are you aware of that being a particular risk or a similar risk to other countries in Israel? Does that apply – what – your statement that you just read there, does that apply to every country in the world?

MS. PSAKI: Applies to a range of countries.

QUESTION: Does —

MS. PSAKI: Certainly not going to list them.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not asking you to list them all, but should – does it apply to all countries in the world?

MS. PSAKI: That was not a country – that was not a how-we-handle-things answer broadly – specific to – I’m sorry. It wasn’t specific to Israel. It’s broadly our policy.

QUESTION: I know. Well, all right. Well, fair enough. But I mean, does it apply to every country in the world? I mean, does it apply the same way in Canada as it would in Russia?

MS. PSAKI: Depends on what you’re discussing, Matt.

QUESTION: Well, so that would seem to be a global – that would be a global policy that you’re talking about right there.

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s safe to say that we talk on classified lines sometimes —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. PSAKI: — and unclassified lines other times.

QUESTION: But the risk or the concern of eavesdropping exists everywhere in the world, including in Israel, including in Senegal, including in Australia. Yes or no?

MS. PSAKI: Obviously, I’m not going to get into that level of specificity.

QUESTION: One more on this very point.

QUESTION: Why then – can I just —

MS. PSAKI: Let’s go to Nicole, and then we’ll go to you, Said.

QUESTION: Why use unsecure lines at all, unless perhaps there may be a value to using them? Perhaps you don’t mind being overheard. But why not always use secure lines?

MS. PSAKI: Because there are places and times where that’s just not possible, and there are a range of conversations that we certainly feel comfortable having over unsecure lines.

QUESTION: So you’re not surprised that the Israelis were spying on unclassified phone calls?

MS. PSAKI: Again, Said, I have no confirmation of those reports. I’m just speaking broadly to the precautions we take.

QUESTION: Well – but were you surprised by the reports?

MS. PSAKI: I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Were you surprised by the reports? Since it was – he was conducting the peace talks at the time.

MS. PSAKI: I just – I’m not going to have more specifically on the reports, Said. I will say that the range of times that the Secretary was in the region and the number of meetings he had, regardless of the reports, it’s hard to see what wasn’t said during those meetings.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) question. Avigdor Lieberman suggested today that perhaps making Gaza a ward of the UN, as it were, having it under international control similar to Bosnia or the earlier British mandate in Palestine, might be the way to resolve the conflict long term. Is that a realistic proposal from the U.S.’s view?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen those comments. I’d point you do the UN. I’m happy to check and see if that’s something we’re advocating or supporting or have views on.

QUESTION: If you could, that would be great.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

Do we have any more on this topic, or should we go to a new topic?

QUESTION: Yeah, it’s – yeah. It does follow up.

MS. PSAKI: More on this topic. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Somehow related, because it’s – the other day it was —

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: — in the part of the comparison, diplomacy, as we said, it was mentioned the issue of Egypt and if it’s compatible to the supplying Egypt to the – with arms is the same like Israel. And it was – it seems that this is reflecting back at the Egypt. And over there the – your counterpart in foreign ministry of Egypt is describing different words about unacceptable, ignorance, and all these thing. Do you have any comment about that?

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first say that, obviously, we were in Egypt just two weeks ago. For about a week we lived there as they were hosting the Secretary for – as we tried to work through a ceasefire. We have a long and enduring strategic partnership with Egypt that will continue. But there are comments that we have made over the course of the last several months or longer, as Egypt has gone through this transition, when we’ve had concerns about issues, whether it’s freedom of media or arbitrary arrests, or our view that there’s more that they can do to continue to take steps on the path to democracy. And the comments made last week were completely consistent with that notion, so I would point you to that.

And I’d also say that we’ve long acknowledged that Egypt not only has a – faces a significant and growing threat from extremist groups, particularly in the Sinai, but that Egypt has an important strategic and security relationship with the United States. And one of the reasons we resumed, excuse me, an additional tranche of security funding just a few months ago was, one, that there were certifications that were met, but also because the security partnership and relationship is one that’s of vital importance to the United States.

QUESTION: So the issue is not how I understand it or accept it or realize it. It’s the issue of how the – your counterpart or the officials over there are understanding, especially when it was mentioned, according to them, it was mentioned that F-16 or Apache are not used against Egyptian people, as they said. Do you have anything to say about that? Because just Marie said that words. It’s like those weapons are not – are hold because Egypt using those weapons or Egyptian Government are using this weapon against their own people.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, again, I would just point you to the fact that there is certain funding that we have resumed with Egypt. There is additional funding that – there are additional steps as Egypt continues on its transition to democracy that Egypt needs to take. The comments made were completely consistent with concerns we’ve expressed.

But I just wanted to reiterate the importance of our strategic relationship and partnership. And we have continued throughout the past year to provide military equipment. So I think that speaks to how important we think that relationship is. I’d also note that the prime minister is in Washington this week, we certainly welcome here, for participation in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which will proceed over the next couple of days.

QUESTION: Do you – are you going to discuss this issue with him?

MS. PSAKI: I would defer to them if these are issues they want to discuss, but I think there are a great number of topics that we can spend our time with the Egyptians on, whether it’s our security partnership or our work with them on the pursuit of a ceasefire in Gaza.

QUESTION: I have something.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. North Korea? Oh, Elliot, did you want to go?

QUESTION: No, no, no. That’s fine. I had my questions answered already.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, all right.

QUESTION: On North Korea and on the —

MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we – let’s just finish the ceasefire. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. There were reports that Deputy Secretary William Burns was in Cairo over the weekend. Can you confirm it?

MS. PSAKI: He did not travel to Cairo over the weekend, no. Frank Lowenstein was there —

QUESTION: And is there any plans for him to travel there —

MS. PSAKI: We’re continuing to assess —

QUESTION: — for this —

MS. PSAKI: — based on what the situation is on the ground, but he has no plans to travel there today.

QUESTION: Oh, yeah. On North Korea, the possibility of the North Korea using biological weapons – does the State Department have any report on that? Because of last week reported by State Department on this. You have more detail on that?

MS. PSAKI: Can you repeat your question? Or what was your – I’m sorry.

QUESTION: Possibility of North Korea using biological weapons, more than that, nuclear weapons, but they’re more wanting to – North Korea using biological weapons.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve expressed and have continuously expressed our concern about not only the threats from North Korea, but the recent set of missile launches by North Korea. This is an issue we’ve referred to the UN and continue to be engaged with discussions with them. I’m not aware of a new concern that’s –

QUESTION: Can you take the question about these issues, they’re using biological weapons instead of nuclear weapons?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I’m not aware of that specifically, but I will see if there’s more to say.

QUESTION: Yeah, I have another question.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: North Korea is – continue threatening United States and South Korea with their missiles or nuclear weapons.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What is your – United States reaction on – to do right away?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we would, once again, urge North Korea to refrain from taking provocative actions, and instead fulfill its international obligations and commitments. We remain steadfast in our commitment to the defense of our allies, including – and we will continue to coordinate closely with South Korea. As you know, we’ve spoken out in the past about how such provocative actions continue to heighten tensions in the regions and our concern about that.

QUESTION: But UN remain the sanctions, it does not work North Korea. But do you have a new action to do?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I think these actions have been referred to the UN, and I would refer you to them if there’s more to say.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry will be traveling to Burma this weekend for ASEAN meetings.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Do you think the Secretary will be willing to meet with his North Korean counterpart if North Korea asks for such a meeting —

MS. PSAKI: No, there’s no –

QUESTION: — bilaterally?

MS. PSAKI: There’s no plan for that, nor do I anticipate that’s something that would take place.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. PSAKI: Let’s – can we finish Asia —

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. PSAKI: And then –

QUESTION: Can we move to Asia? Thanks.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So Japan has named five disputed islands, and the Chinese have denounced it. I wondered if you had any comments on whether you thought this was a provocative action by Japan.

MS. PSAKI: Is this – I’m sorry. I want to make sure I’m referring to the right thing. You said Japan has named – can you say this one more time?

QUESTION: Yeah. There were I think – what is it – 158 islands or so, and as you know, there’s some disputed islands.

MS. PSAKI: Of course.

QUESTION: Japan has named a handful of them, five of them on Friday I believe, and China has denounced it. And I wondered if you had any comments about that.

MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check with our team on that. We’re happy to get you a comment on it. My apologies.

QUESTION: Thanks, Jen.

MS. PSAKI: I didn’t have that with me here today.

Go ahead. Let’s finish Asia. An Asia issue? Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Republicans in the Senate are refusing to confirm Mark Lippert as new ambassador to South Korea, claiming he’s a political appointee – nominee. Do you have any comment on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’d say that Mark Lippert, who has been the chief of staff at the Defense Department, has been a close advisor to the President, has served proudly his country in the military. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on several occasions. I think his qualifications speak for themselves and he – South Korea and the United States would be well served having him there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: India.

MS. PSAKI: India, sure.

QUESTION: I hope you had all good time spending two days in India. What we would like to know, beyond joint statements that this was the historical visit by the Secretary under the new government of Prime Minister Modi, what do we get out of this year’s – this under the new government, strategic dialogue? Have we achieved anything, U.S.-India relations under this convention?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, it was the highest-level visit of a member of the Obama Administration to India since Prime Minister Modi was inaugurated. In addition to the strategic dialogue, he did have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister, and it was the Prime Minister’s first cabinet-level meeting with a U.S. official. And discussions during that meeting covered a wide range of topics with considerable focus, in large part, on Mr. Modi’s economic vision, how the United States can help to advance that vision, including through support to the energy sector and through clean energy initiatives.

There was also significant discussion of the WTO, with the Secretary reiterating our position that unraveling the Bali Accord was not in India’s interests and was not in keeping with Mr. Modi’s vision of opening the economy. They also discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as India’s Look East policy. So I would hardly see this visit as an ending or a conclusive visit as much as a beginning of an important relationship with a new government and one that has great strategic value to the United States.

QUESTION: You think the Secretary has melted the ice from the past between the two countries, what had been going on?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think it was certainly a warm visit and a warm meeting, so hopefully that will melt the ice.

QUESTION: Quickly one more on Afghanistan.

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) He set it up for me.

QUESTION: Afghanistan, quickly. (Laughter.) Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Almost 15 years ago, people of Afghanistan were very thankful to the U.S. for getting freedom from the Taliban and al-Qaida. Again today they are asking the international community or the U.S.’s support or UN help to have a relief because they are still in the limbo – I mean, as far as this presidential election and all those things, and al-Qaida is still coming back and all that. So what is the future they are asking now?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would – I’m not sure what I can speak to what they’re asking as much as where things stand now. The Secretary has been very engaged in this, as you know. He recently visited Afghanistan. We have senior officials who’ve been consistently on the ground. After a break for the Eid holiday, the election audit has resumed, and notably, both candidates are participating and sent candidate agents to observe the process. The IEC, along with the UN, has continued to improve the audit process so it will move forward more quickly and efficiently. We remain confident that the two candidates and their supporters will be able to work together effectively in the government of national unity. I think, of course, the people of Afghanistan want to see the conclusion of this process so that they can move forward. And the United States will, of course, continue to be an important – play an important supporting role of the Afghan – for the Afghan people.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Jen, could I ask a quick question on Lebanon?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Lebanon.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, can we go to Russia?

QUESTION: Sure, sure.

MS. PSAKI: Ladies first, and then we’ll go to Lebanon.

QUESTION: Of course. I’m sorry. (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead, Russia.

QUESTION: I did.

QUESTION: Oh, I didn’t hear it.

QUESTION: A couple of briefings ago, Marie said that you guys continue to see weapons shipments from Russia into Ukraine. I’m wondering what, if any, detail you can give us on what you’re seeing, where you’re seeing it going, when you saw it go.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: I will see, Nicole, if there’s any other details we had beyond what we have – we do continue, of course, to see evidence that Russia is supplying the separatists with arms, materiel, and training. I think Marie noted evidence last week that the Russians intend to deliver heavier, more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine. Since the shootdown of the MH17, multiple rocket launcher activity at – there has been multiple rocket launcher activity – sorry – at a Russian site in southwest Russi

Foreign Policy Update

3:00 P.M. EDT

THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.

MS. HARF: Thank you. Hello, everyone. It’s so good to be back here, I think for my fifth briefing they were saying, so looking forward to this one and, of course, to many more.

As you know, there’s a lot going on in the world. Secretary Kerry is currently in Cairo, working to see if we can make progress on getting a ceasefire with Gaza. I was in Vienna for the last few weeks working on the Iran negotiations on the nuclear program, lots going on there as well. Obviously, you’ve seen all of the news about Ukraine lately. I’ve spoken to it a number of times in the briefing over in the State Department, but I’m sure there are questions on that as well.

So with that, I think I’m going to go ahead and open it up to questions. I’m going to try and get to everyone, so go ahead. We’ll start here and I’ll work down the front and then move towards the back. And please say – I know most of you now, but please say your name and where you’re from as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Sonia Schott. I am today with RCA in Colombia. My question is on Latin America. There are some news that the Venezuelan general Hugo Carvajal has been arrested yesterday in Aruba under the request of the U.S. I was wondering if you have any comments on that.

MS. HARF: I hadn’t seen that. I’m happy to look into it. I’m sorry, the first question I don’t have an answer to, but I hadn’t seen that. It sounds a little dubious to me, but we can check afterwards and get you an answer.

QUESTION: I have a second one, just —

MS. HARF: Okay. Then ask a second. Hopefully I can answer this one.

QUESTION: Okay. The opposition leader in Venezuela is facing a trial and presently his wife was here denouncing a lack of transparency. I was wondering if you have any comments on that too. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve said throughout the crisis in Venezuela that this is a decision for the Venezuelan people to make. There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition. We cannot see arrest of – for political reasons. We have to see a process go forward that’s inclusive. We haven’t seen a lot of progress there, but this is certainly a key priority for us. It’s not about the United States, as much as sometimes the regime would like to point at us. It’s about what the Venezuelan people want and indeed deserve. So I don’t have any more updates for you than that, but obviously, we want to see an inclusive process going forward.

Yes. I’m just going to go across the front here.

QUESTION: Shi Larasteve (ph), Voice of America, Persian TV. Yesterday, a group of Republican lawmakers unveiled a legislation which forces – if passed, forces the Administration, President Obama, to seek approval from the Congress for any final deal with Iran. What is the Administration’s strategy against these maneuvers?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. We are aware there’s new proposed legislation regarding the Joint Plan of Action, any final comprehensive Joint Plan of Action we would get to. But I’d make a few key points here. The first is that Congress has played a key role throughout the years in our policy towards Iran, most importantly by imposing very serious and significant sanctions on Iran to put the economic pressure in place that indeed has, in part, led us to the diplomatic place we are today.

But there are not 535 commanders-in-chief; there’s just one. And our diplomatic negotiating team led by the President and the Secretary and our team on the ground – I was just there for three weeks – really needs the space to be able to negotiate with the Iranians and with our partners to get to a comprehensive agreement. We have been clear with Congress that our goal is to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, to ensure their program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. But indeed, we need space to be able to get the right combination of pieces to eventually get there.

So we don’t support attempts by Congress to try to insert themselves into outlining what a final deal might look like; indeed, there are a number of different combinations that could get to our goals here, and we need the space to be able to get there. So we will continue to talk to Congress, to hear from them. We’d like to hear their ideas, but we don’t support this type of legislation.

Yes. I like your tie. It’s very festive.

QUESTION: Thank you, thank you. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: I do. I like it.

QUESTION: I like it too. (Laughter.) This is my special tie to get questions at briefings, (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: There you go. It worked, clearly.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF: It worked.

QUESTION: My name’s Andrei Sitov. I’m with TASS, the Russian news agency. Thank you for doing the briefing. We do look forward to many more. Thanks for our friends at the FPC for hosting it.

MS. HARF: Absolutely.

QUESTION: A couple of things. On Ukraine, first off – and I quote – you said about 20 seconds ago, “There needs to be room for dissent. There needs to be room for opposition.” The Ukrainian parliament has just taken steps, so the Ukrainian Government supports those steps to dissolve their Communist Party. Isn’t it stifling the opposition, the criticism, political voices?

MS. HARF: Well, a few points. I think I do believe what you’re referring to is draft legislation that hasn’t been approved that would ban the Communist Party. The Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine today. We do believe that all peaceful voices should be heard anywhere. So obviously, that’s something we feel is important in Ukraine and elsewhere. We will continue looking at the draft legislation as it goes through the process, but again, as of today, the Communist Party is not banned in Ukraine.

QUESTION: But do you support a ban? Do you support a ban?

MS. HARF: As I said, we’re not taking a position on the legislation other than to say that all peaceful voices should be heard in Ukraine.

QUESTION: And secondly, and more importantly, obviously, with the tragic loss of the Malaysian airplane, the Russian defense ministry have released their own tracking data and have called on others, specifically on the United States, to release yours.

MS. HARF: To release what?

QUESTION: So – the tracking data from – I understand it’s from the satellites, from what they saw from the satellites on that particular day. And they claim that there was a U.S. satellite directly above that spot on that particular day – maybe a coincidence, maybe not. They – again, have you seen their data? What do you think about their information?

And secondly, can we expect you to release yours?

MS. HARF: Well, we have released up to this point our assessment about what happened and we’ve released as much information as we can at this point, that we’ve been able to declassify that underlies that assessment. So we are continuing to work through releasing more. But I’d just make a few points, and then if you have follow-ups, we can – you wore the tie today; we can keep talking. So that’s okay.

So first, we, based on a variety of information, assess, believe that this was an SA-11 fired from an area controlled by Russian separatists inside Ukraine. We have released a photo which has the trajectory of that missile based on classified information. We can’t get into how we know that. We have released that. We have also released additional information about why the two alternative theories put forward by the Russians are not plausible – the first being that it was a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter that shot down the aircraft.

Very briefly, the reasons we do not believe that this is plausible is because the only missiles it carries are short-range infrared guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with expected damage from a surface-to-air missile of the kind the separatists have indeed used and bragged about having, does not correspond to the kind of – what we would expect to see from an air-to-air missile such as the Su-25 has.

So we have put forward our assessment, based on a variety of information about why we believe that it indeed was an SA-11 fired from Russian-controlled separatist area. We believe an investigation needs to go forward to determine exactly who had their finger on the trigger. We still don’t know that, don’t know the intentions behind why they did this. So we think an investigation should continue, but we will continue to put out more information as we are able to do so.

QUESTION: And —

MS. HARF: Do you want the microphone? Should we wait?

QUESTION: — about their own data, have you seen the data released by the Russians?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of the information put out by the Russians. Again, we feel very strongly in our assessment of what happened.

Yes, I am just going to go across the front here. So – and then I will get to the rest of the room. I promise.

QUESTION: Sungchul Rhee with SBS Seoul Broadcasting System from Seoul, Korea. I have two questions on Russia.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: First is that this morning, Russian Government expressed concern over United States plan to introduce missile defense system in Korea – U.S. camps. It was the – it was called THAAD – the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. What is your reaction to the – Russia’s statement here?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see that specific statement, but in terms of missile defense, we have very clearly said we are committed to missile defense but also to missile defense cooperation with Russia, which would enhance the security of both NATO and of Russia. I understand there are strong opinions here in Russia about missile defense, but we have been very clear that it is not aimed at them, that we are looking at a variety of other threats, and that we will continue talking to them and being transparent with them about why we’re doing what we’re doing.

I haven’t seen this —

QUESTION: You mean the North Korean threat?

MS. HARF: Well, we are looking at a variety of threats when we talk about NATO and now we’re often looking at Iran when we talk about other places, we do look at a threat from North Korea, but – a variety of threats we’re looking at, but they are not designed to deter anything from Russia. Indeed, we’ve said we will cooperate with Russia on missile defense.

QUESTION: My second question is: You are dealing with really a lot of global issues at the same time which really you’re juggling. And – but not a few critics are criticizing the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, questioning on – if President Obama is adequately dealing with all the issues at the same time effectively. Even General Jim Jones, a former national security advisor to President Obama, appeared on TV this morning and he was citing a seismic shift in the relations between the United States and Russia. What is your reaction to those issues?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a couple questions there and let me try to address all of them. I think in terms of our relationship with Russia over the time we’ve been in office in this Administration, we have always said we will work together when we can. If you look at – I mean, again, going back to Vienna where I was for the Iran talks, we and the Russians are in lockstep on the exact same side about how we deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. We work very closely together on that issue. That doesn’t take away from the fact that much of what I have talked about this week at the briefings and that we deal with right now in the Administration is very serious concerns about Russian activity in Ukraine. And I’ve been very – I think we’ve all been very outspoken about that in our serious concerns there.

So it’s complicated. We work together when we can and we very strongly disagree when we do. And all of those things happen at the same time because the world is a big place, and we have places where we do have overlapping interests like when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program. But very many places where we have very divergent interests as well, as you’ve seen with Ukraine.

But on the broader question of foreign policy, you’re right; the world is a complicated, dangerous place at times. We are dealing with very serious crises, whether you look at Gaza, whether you look at Ukraine, whether you look at the host of other issues we’re dealing with right now.

And what we’ve always said is that we will do a few things, right. We have, since the beginning of this Administration, rebuilt partnerships and alliances if you look all over the world. Because in these crises, you need friends and you need partners and you need allies. And so while you can never make the world a perfect place, you can help address these when you have people on your side helping you. So that’s one thing we’ve done in terms of these challenges.

And I think you’ve seen Secretary Kerry not hesitate to get on a plane and try and make progress here. We have been very actively engaged in diplomacy and diplomatic efforts on all of these crises. We believe that diplomacy in many of these instances is the best way to handle it. That’s why you see him flying all over the world, to try and make progress here, because we are deeply and personally present and engaged in trying to deal with these crises. But they’re difficult and the world is complicated, and there are no easy answers, and people who tell you there are either just not paying attention or aren’t telling you the truth – one of the two.

So I think we will keep working on all of them. We take each one individually. There’s a different way we deal with all of them, but we have a really great team who is working very hard to do so.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Yeah, we can go back. Yes, yes.

MS. HARF: But you need a microphone, Andrei.

QUESTION: And just what is your biggest success story in terms of winning new friends? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, look, when we took office – I think you can look at when we took office in 2009, which feels like an eternity ago probably to all of us, a lot of our relationships had waned in Asia, in Europe, all around the world. There had been eight years of neglect, and in some cases outright disagreement. So we have worked very, very hard over the past, I think, now six years – is that how long it’s been? – to rebuild these alliances. If you look, again, at the P5+1 in Europe and how we’re working on Iran together, we built an international coalition on Iran – not just at the negotiating table through the P5+1, but with all of the countries that buy oil from Iran, with all of the countries who have put sanctions in place, whether it’s Japan, South Korea, the UAE, India, China, all of the countries we’ve brought together to put pressure on Iran. That was done with really painstaking diplomatic work, with people going all over the world and saying, “This is why you should join us,” even though it’s really tough for many of these countries economically.

So I think that’s just one way we’ve done it. But again, look, these are tough challenges that we face.

I’m actually going to go to New York for a question, if they can hear me.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. With regard to the recent development in the Gaza Strip and the bombardment of the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun and the increasing number of innocent civilian casualties, what does the Secretary Kerry have to say about the recent development, and would that be categorized as a war crime from the U.S. Department of State perspective and precedents? And with regard to Iraq, and excuse me, I’m going to bundle my questions together —

MS. HARF: Let me do Gaza first. You stay there and I’ll come back to you for Iraq, okay? So I don’t forget. So just stay there. On the UNRWA school, we are deeply saddened, very concerned about the tragic incident at the UN facility today. We’re still trying to determine the facts. But I think the reason the Secretary is on the ground in Cairo, has been shuttling back and forth trying to get a ceasefire here is because this – everything that we see happening needs to stop. We are increasingly concerned about civilian casualties on the Palestinian side. We’ve seen many, many rockets being fired from Hamas into Israel.

So the Secretary is very committed to seeing if he can get a ceasefire here. Obviously, it’s very complicated and it takes a lot of work on all sides to get that done. So we will continue working on it and we are very concerned by the rising civilian casualties. We think the Israelis need to do more to prevent them, and we’ll keep talking to them about it.

Now your second question on Iraq.

QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on Gaza before we move to Iraq?

MS. HARF: Sure, you can. Yes.

QUESTION: For Gaza, there is an apparent war crime committed today. How does the United States justify this to its people, to the international community, within the principles and manners that the United States try to be a mediator in this conflict?

MS. HARF: Well, we’re still trying to get all the facts about what happened today, so I don’t want to jump to conclusions or put labels before we know all of the facts. What we do know is that Hamas has repeatedly kept rockets in civilian areas – in schools, in hospitals. But at the same time, we have told the Israelis and we have said publicly that they need to take more steps to protect civilian casualties, that they’re not doing enough. So we’ll get all the facts about this before we make a determination there.

But again, this just underscores why we believe a ceasefire is so critical to try to get in place. There are gaps between the two sides that remain. I don’t know if we’ll be able to, but we’re certainly working towards it for exactly this reason.

QUESTION: Moving along to Iraq, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is persecuting Christians, Shiites, Yazidis, people from the Shabak, just for their religious faith and affiliation. To add to the crisis, there is some reports speaking about that the ISIL government, or whatever we can call it, is now requiring all females to go through female genital mutilation surgeries. Would there be within the UN Charter – would the United States consider pushing into the Security Council, applying Chapter 7 for military action against the ISIL militias at this point?

MS. HARF: Well, just a few points in what you asked. We are aware there are conflicting reports about ISIL issuing a decree ordering female genital mutilation. We’re aware there are some conflicting reports here. We are gathering more information. We can’t confirm the details at this point. But that goes without saying that we clearly condemn strongly this abhorrent practice no matter where it is. We know it can lead to very serious health consequences. We know it’s affected approximately 130 million women and girls worldwide, which is an extraordinary number and which is really unacceptable.

So we’ll get more details on this. But more broadly speaking, we have seen ISIL or ISIS, whatever name we want to use, go to extraordinary lengths to kill civilians, to attack them, oftentimes just for their religion, which is – has absolutely no place at all in Syria or Iraq. That’s why we’ve tried to help the Iraqis fight ISIL certainly by providing support, by providing assistance. We are providing advice to them and also, of course, weapons. When it comes on the Syrian side, we have increased our support to the moderate opposition, including through asking Congress for some funding so we can equip and train them. So those efforts are all ongoing, and we’re trying to help both of those folks fight ISIL now. I don’t have anything to preview in terms of UN Security Council action, but clearly we believe we, acting in partnership with our friends in the region, can try and help them fight this threat because they have really – I mean, you see some of the Christian communities, some of the things they’re doing there. It’s just disgusting, and we need to help put it to an end.

Yes, let’s go to the back here in the white jacket. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this briefing, Ms. Harf. My name is Maria Garcia. I’m with Notimex, the Mexican news agency. The U.S. Bishop Conference sent a letter today to Secretary Kerry, and they ask to change the trade and economic policies in Central America and also address issues of drugs here and the trafficking of armaments. I wonder if the Secretary has any knowledge of the document or – and if you have any thoughts about that.

MS. HARF: Well, I haven’t seen the letter yet. You said it was sent today? Yeah. I’m sorry. I haven’t seen it, and I’m not sure if the Secretary has yet. As you know, he’s traveling, and I’m sure it will get to him soon. Obviously – and I was actually with the Secretary during his last trip there to Mexico City – there are a whole range of issues we’re working on in the region, including the security issues and when it comes to drugs and trafficking and those issues. We’ve talked a lot about the unaccompanied minors and children issue that we’ve seen coming across the border in such huge numbers lately. So there’s a whole range of issues. Trade, you mentioned, is one of them as well. So we’ll take a look at the letter when we get it, and I’m sure we’ll have some thoughts on it then. But suffice it to say, I don’t have any specific thoughts, because I haven’t seen it yet. I’m sorry.

Yes, let’s go right here in the middle, and then I’ll go to you. Let’s do you first, and then you’re next.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Lauri Tankler with the Estonian Public Broadcasting. I got a couple questions on Ukraine —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — and Russia. So in your last briefing today, you already came out with the statement that you have evidence that Russia is shelling Ukraine from the —

MS. HARF: Firing artillery.

QUESTION: Yeah, firing from the Russian side of the border. What is that going to be – what does that mean in terms of that’s clearly an escalation? And what does that mean in the face of the threat of sectoral sanctions by the U.S.? Or what’s going to happen now?

MS. HARF: Well, it’s a good question. You’ve seen us continue to impose increasingly tough sanctions throughout this conflict, including very recently. And we have more ready to go if we think it’s appropriate to do so. So we’ll talk with – we’re particularly talking with our EU and European partners about how we can all impose more costs on Russia here. We know they’ve already had an impact. I don’t have anything new to announce today in terms of what might come next, but we have more steps ready to go, and we are willing to use them if we see more escalation of this kind.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So the European Union is under more and more criticism about not getting the decision done and pushing it forward to Tuesday and so on. Does the Administration still believe that it’s addressing the Russian question in lockstep with its European allies?

MS. HARF: Well, we do. We coordinate very closely on this, and we do think that the downing of MH17 should be a wakeup call for Europe. This happened in their backyard. There were many Europeans on this plane. This can’t go unpunished, so I think that’s a conversation we’re having. We do, at the same time, know that it is – Europe is much more economically intertwined with Russia than we are, for example, and we don’t want them to have to take steps that would adversely impact their economy while trying to impose costs on the Russians. So it is a balance, but we think there’s a way to strike it where they can impose more costs, and we’re encouraging them to do so.

QUESTION: But no criticism?

MS. HARF: I think I just encouraged them to do more, and I’ve said this should be a wakeup call, and we haven’t seen them do more yet, we saw them do a little bit coming out of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting this week. No criticism, but we will keep working with them. We know it’s hard, but we do think more costs need to be imposed.

Yes, I’m going to go to you, and then I’m going to go to New York next. So one more here, and then to New York.

QUESTION: Thank you. Inga Czerny for Polish Press Agency, PAP. Could you please tell us if it’s a good or bad thing that European Court of Justice in Strasbourg today found Poland guilty of helping the U.S. setting up the secret prison of CIA where people were tortured? And generally, how do you find the fact that Poland is being held accountable for this and in U.S. nobody was actually charged?

MS. HARF: Well, I saw those reports, and I think I, unfortunately, won’t be able to comment on them in any way. We obviously have a very close relationship with Poland today on a host of issues, but I just don’t have much more for you than that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) when can we expect the report – the Senate report of the interrogation program?

MS. HARF: I would refer you to the Senate Select Committee on that. I think they probably have the best information on timing. I don’t know the timing, quite frankly.

Let’s go to New York for a question.

QUESTION: Paolo Mastrolilli of the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Thank you very much for doing this. You say that there are still gaps to fill in the negotiation for a truce in Gaza. Could you please elaborate on that and what are the hopes to (inaudible)?

MS. HARF: Well, I wish I could, but we’re having these conversations privately and diplomatically to see if we can bridge those and aren’t going to detail the specifics in public. But this is complicated, and there’s a lot of issues that we need to deal with to get to a ceasefire, a lot of different partners we’re working with. The Secretary today has spoken with the Turkish foreign minister, the Egyptian foreign minister, the Qatari foreign minister, the Israeli prime minister, the French, the Brits, the Jordanians, a whole host of people, not all just on this topic, but to try and get everybody who has some influence with Hamas or with Israel to try and get us to a place where we can all agree on a ceasefire. Obviously we don’t talk to Hamas because we consider them a terrorist organization, but there are some of our partners who do. So we are trying to bridge the gaps through any means we can, but it’s hard and I don’t want to downplay how difficult it is.

Thanks. Let’s go to you in the back.

QUESTION: Thank you. Daniel Pacheco with Caracol Television from Colombia. Two questions. General Carvajal from Venezuela who was appointed in the consulate in Aruba was captured today. There are some reports that he sought for extradition. I don’t know if you maybe have something on that.

MS. HARF: I got – that was the first question I got asked.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: No, no, no, no. It’s okay. And I will say the same thing – that I hadn’t seen those reports and I don’t know the facts here. It sounds a little dubious to me, but I don’t know. So I will check and I will get you an answer, I promise.

QUESTION: This one is broader, so I’m sure you can say something.

MS. HARF: Let’s hope so.

QUESTION: President Putin was touring Latin America just before the Malaysian Airlines accident, the tragedy. He was welcomed in Argentina, in Brazil. He even met with President Santos, a big ally of the United States. Was this a very successful tour? Does this – what is your comment on this in times when you are constantly talking about isolating Russia economically and politically?

MS. HARF: Well, we do talk about isolating Russia, but as I also said a few minutes ago, we work with Russia. The Iran talks where I just was recently, we are on the same side of this issue, we are working together on the same side of the negotiating table. So we don’t believe these things are mutually exclusive, and we think other countries can and should have strong relationships with Russia, and we work with them on many issues.

So I’ve seen some of the reports from his trip there. I know a number of folks were in the region for the BRICS summit. And look, we believe countries should have relationships with other countries; doesn’t mean they shouldn’t make very clear when they disagree with them, which, of course, we do in this case.

Yes. Coming up to you.

QUESTION: Michael Ignatiou from Mega TV, Greece. Marie, you and other officials of the American Government, you are asking the Russians to withdraw from Ukraine, and you are doing this every day. But at the same time, you never ask your friend and ally, Turkey, for example, to withdraw from Cyprus. As you know, Turkey has occupied Cyprus for 40 years. What is the difference or differences between the two cases? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, I think there are many differences that I’m happy to talk about. In terms of Cyprus, we fully support the ongoing process under the auspices of the UN Good Offices mission; have urged both parties to seize the opportunity to make real and substantial progress toward a settlement that reunifies the island as a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation. We, as the United States, are willing to assist in any way we find useful.

I know that there are a lot of strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but there’s a process in place here to get a resolution here, and we fully support that process and can help in any way we can, but completely different situation.

Yes. I’m going to go to the gentleman in the middle back here with the blue shirt on. Yes, you.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. My name is Oliver Grimm for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse. I have a short follow-up, and then a question on public diplomacy.

MS. HARF: I just spent a lot of time in Austria. (Laughter.) It was lovely.

QUESTION: It was pretty nice, and I think I saw the pictures from the Secretary.

MS. HARF: It is.

QUESTION: The short follow-up on the European Court of Human Rights question on (inaudible): Can you just explain why the Administration wouldn’t comment on this court’s finding? I do recollect that you quite regularly comment on European legal findings by the European Court of Justice or the – so —

MS. HARF: Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.

QUESTION: So if you could explain that. And then the second question would be about the reform of Voice of America. What do you make of criticism that the – I think it’s called the United States International Communications Reform Act that is in Congress now would sort of impinge on the editorial independence and the journalistic freedom of reporters working for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and so forth by turning it into a public diplomacy tool as it is envisioned and planned in this legislation?

MS. HARF: Right, no. We support Voice of America remaining as it is, believe it’s a very important journalistic outlet. There may be some of you in the room from Voice of America or from other related outlets. And we, I don’t think, would support efforts to take away some of the independence like we’ve seen some people on the Hill want to do. So I don’t think that’s something we would support. We’ll keep talking to Congress about it, obviously.

On the first, we don’t always comment on those kinds of cases, particularly when they involve allegations about U.S. intelligence activities, so unfortunately I just don’t have more of a comment for you on that.

Yes, I’m going to go behind you to this woman whose hand is still up. Yes, in the black shirt.

QUESTION: Hi, Lisa Rizzolo from ARD German TV. And I know you were asked at your earlier briefing about the European Union putting out a statement about the execution in Arizona, and I just wanted to see if you’ve seen anything on that and if you have anything.

MS. HARF: I’m sorry. I literally ran over here right after the briefing and hadn’t seen it. I’ve seen some of the press reports about it. And if we can take a look and if there’s an additional comment to make, I’m happy to get it around to folks. Just running around a little bit today, sorry.

Let’s go right here on the left.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you. I’m Chuanjun Wang from China’s Guangming Daily. As we know, last year in Sunnylands summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the new model of major-countries relationship with the U.S. During that time, President Obama and later high officials from the U.S. all give a positive reaction on that proposal, but recently, especially in the past three months, I noticed that during the meetings with the Chinese officials, the U.S. officials said and used the major – a new model of a major-power relationship with China, even in the SED, in the (inaudible). President Obama only used the new model of (inaudible), so I just wonder if the U.S. has changed the position on this new model and how U.S. and China should move forward regarding that.

MS. HARF: Right. Well, no, we haven’t. And you’re right, President Obama and President Xi made clear at Sunnylands last year that they are committed to building a historic bilateral relationship based on really two critical elements, and both are important. One, practical cooperation on areas where we do cooperate; and then two, constructive management of differences when they arise. And I think that is – both of those have been the hallmarks of our relationship going forward. At the S&ED, there were a number of very productive conversations that came out of those meetings. Again, cooperation where we can and constructive management of differences when we have them – those both underpin our relationship, and nothing on that has changed.

Yes. Let’s go in the middle here, and then I’ll come up front to you.

QUESTION: Michael Hernandez, Anadolu Agency. Today at the State Department, I believe you said that something like three times the Secretary has been in contact with Foreign Minister Davutoglu.

MS. HARF: He has. Today he’s spoken to him three times.

QUESTION: Okay. That’s among the most or the most that you outlined during the earlier briefing. I was wondering, what is behind this close consultation between the Secretary and foreign minister? What’s motivating it?

MS. HARF: Yeah. Well, it’s not – so just to be clear, he’s made – the count as I have on here, 15 or so phone calls today, many of them related to Gaza. So it’s part of his broader engagement on Gaza. He’s spoken to the Qatari foreign minister twice today as well. So it’s, at least with the Turks and others, related to how we can push the parties to a ceasefire in Gaza.

The other consultation, much of it has been on Ukraine and MH17.

Yes. I will go back here. Yes.

QUESTION: I’m Anwar Iqbal. I work for Pakistan Dawn newspaper. There is a Pakistani delegation here, and they met Deputy Secretary Burns and Dan Feldman and others – officials at State and White House. And there was an AP report suggesting that they are asking the United States to reconsider their withdrawal plan from Afghanistan, and they also had a discussion on the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan. So would you please like to comment on those?

MS. HARF: I haven’t gotten a full readout from those meetings yet. I know they discussed a wide range of issues. I can check and see, but I haven’t gotten a readout from those meetings yet.

Would you have one up here? Yes.

QUESTION: This week, Iraqis’ ambassador to Washington criticized the Administration for lack of support – military support for his country, and claimed that this creates vacuum which they are going to – willing to give to anybody to fill it. And they said Iran has offered literally to replace the United States. So what is the position?

MS. HARF: Well, there’s a few points. No other country, I think, can do what the United States does in terms of support. We have been very supportive of the Iraqi Government. We have done that with assistance, with weapons, with advice, with training. There are some systems we’re still trying to get delivered, which the main holdup has been slowness on the Iraqi Government’s side throughout the years. But I think now they understand the severity of the situation, and we’re trying to get things delivered as quickly as possible. And we stand ready to assist in a number of ways.

But at the end of the day, this is not a problem we can fix for the Iraqis. It is a problem that needs to be fixed by them. We saw today a president being named. Next step is the prime minister, so we can hopefully soon have a new government in place that can put forward a strategy to deal with this terrorist threat as we go forward. And we’ll help them as they do it, but we can’t do it for them. So I think we are looking forward to working with the new government and seeing what else we could possibly do to help.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Well, we don’t work with Iran on Iraq. We have spoken on one occasion to Iran about it on the sidelines of another meeting, many weeks ago now. But look, we’re not going to coordinate with Iran on Iraq. What we’ve said is any country in the region, including Iran, should use its influence over different parties in Iraq to pull them together, to promote an inclusive government that – and that it’s the Iraqi army and security forces that need to fight this threat. It’s not militias; it’s not anything outside of the government. And so we’re encouraging all parties, including Iran, to do so.

Yes, and then I’ll go – actually, I’ll go to you. And then I’ll come back up to you, Andrei. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: You’re welcome.

QUESTION: My name is Jae Sun Chang, Yonhap News Agency from South Korea. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui has said today that the United States should lower the bar for resuming the Six-Party Talks, and he also accused the United States of trying to achieve its target before the talks even resume. What’s your response?

MS. HARF: Well, I didn’t see those specific comments, but we’ve worked very closely with the South Koreans and other partners on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are very committed to it. We’ve said that the North Koreans need to take certain steps before we can get back to the table, and we’ll continue to have those conversations.

QUESTION: Many critics say the United States is basically ignoring this problem of North Korean nuclear program and – while this communist nation is strengthening its nuclear capabilities day by day and – do you see any urgency in the problem?

MS. HARF: We do, and we’re certainly not ignoring it. We see quite a bit of urgency. And I think that’s why, speaking to your previous question, we do think there should be a high bar here, that it is a very dangerous threat. We’ve seen increasingly provocative rhetoric coming out of North Korea, including with recent missile launches that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. So it’s an issue we have a whole team very focused on, are working with our partners and the rest of the Six-Party as well, to see if we can get back to the table here.

QUESTION: My last question is, South Korea and China earlier this week signed an agreement to establish a hotline between the defense ministry of the two countries. I think China is the second country to have – after the United States – to have a hotline with South Korea’s defense ministry. This is yet another sign of deepening relations between the two countries, and what is your response?

MS. HARF: Right. Well – and we think the concept of hotlines in general, particularly if you’re talking about territorial disputes in either the South China Sea or the East China Sea, tend to be a good idea. The Japanese have talked about doing this as well. So anything that can reduce tensions and try to get these disputes resolved peacefully we do think is a good thing. So those – that’s just one of those steps that we tend to, sort of across the board, like.

Yes, Andrei.

QUESTION: Marie, when we were talking about this incident with MH17, you said that you are for a full investigation —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — full and fair investigation and getting to know whose finger was on that button or whatever it was that launched the missile. So basically, it’s an open question yet for you?

MS. HARF: No, that’s not what I said. We know a couple – here’s what we know based on a very wide-ranging assessment, that it was – let me just – and then you can ask follow-up. We know where the missile was fired from; we know that it was an SA-11; we know the area is controlled by Russian separatists. We know that there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the vicinity that could’ve been fired. We know the trajectory, we know where it hit, and we know where it came down. We know that Russia has been supplying the separatists with weapons and training them on these weapons.

Now who – which one of them actually had their finger on the button, you’re right, we don’t know that. We don’t. But we know where the missile was fired from. We know who fired it, who controls that – generally speaking – and who controls that territory, who’s been funding and arming and training these folks.

QUESTION: My original question was about prejudging, because on one of the other questions you said that – on the question about the Europeans and the sanctions against Russia, you said, yeah, it cannot go unpunished. So you already know whom to punish?

MS. HARF: We know who —

QUESTION: Which is prejudging.

MS. HARF: Well, no. We know who’s been supporting these separatists for months. We know that these separatists would not be in eastern Ukraine, able to do this, without the direct backing of President Putin and the Russian Government. They wouldn’t even be there without the Russian Government’s support. They wouldn’t have weaponry without the Russian Government’s support. Forgetting about this specific incident, they wouldn’t – they today, again, have been bragging about more Ukrainian fighter jets they’ve brought down.

So we will do a full investigation into MH17, but these separatists would not be there —

QUESTION: Marie —

MS. HARF: — without the support of the Russian Government.

QUESTION: — I don’t think you are right about that. I could tell you in response that without the government – Ukrainian Government planes flying over Ukrainian cities and bombing Ukrainian peaceful civilians —

MS. HARF: That’s not —

QUESTION: — there would be no need for the civilians to defend themselves.

MS. HARF: That’s not what’s happening here.

QUESTION: And it is what’s happening.

MS. HARF: It’s not.

QUESTION: And everybody knows that’s what’s happening.

MS. HARF: Well, we can agree to disagree —

QUESTION: But basically – yeah, I know.

MS. HARF: — on this.

QUESTION: I know.

MS. HARF: But we have a preponderance of evidence on our side here.

QUESTION: But the question that I wanted to ask about this was: Why is it that you are so adamant about not admitting even the possibility that the missile was launched mistakenly or deliberately by the Ukrainians? They had their own motives for that.

MS. HARF: They don’t, though. Let me just address that specific point. Russia did release a map with alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. We are confident that this information is incorrect. We have information that the nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of range from both the launch and the crash sites. So there were no Ukrainian SA-11s within the range. So again, we can’t make up our own facts here. We can’t go on hunches. We have pictures of where this was launched from. We can see the trajectory. And so what we need now, as President Putin himself has said, is a full investigation. We need to see that backed up with actions, and we need to see some accountability.

QUESTION: This is your information, not information coming from Twitter or from the Ukrainians or whatever?

MS. HARF: No, this is our information. We have eyes on this area and we’ve seen some of this. Yeah.

Yes, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Hello, Marie.

MS. HARF: Hi.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much for doing this. Atsushi Okudera from Asahi Shimbun, in Japan. The President Putin originally has a plan to visit Japan. And as you know, Japan is preparing for a peace treaty with Russia, and we have a territory issue – and a northern territory issues. So I’m just wondering that – are you supporting these – the Japanese efforts for resolving the – these – the country, territory —

MS. HARF: Well, we want Japan to have good relations with its neighbors and with other countries in the region. I don’t have more of a comment than that on what you asked about specifically. I think probably up to the Japanese to speak about that.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Again, we believe that Japan should have good relationships with its neighbors. Japan is one of our closest alliances in the world. We work together on a whole host of issues, one of our most important friends that we have, and so we’ll continue working together.

QUESTION: And the same time, on the – DPRK abduction issues, you know?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Probably it’s on July 6th that Secretary Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Kishida of Japan, and there is some report indicate United States is concerned about the lifting sanction or visiting. Prime Minister Abe is also – has also now – there is a possibility to visit North Korea. Do you – what is the position on that? Are you concerned about the visit to North Korea?

MS. HARF: Well, in terms of the abductions issue or whether the prime minister will go to North Korea, we support Japanese efforts to resolve the abductions issue in a transparent manner. I am aware of press reports indicating that Prime Minister Abe is actually not currently considering a visit to Pyongyang. I know there’s been some conflicting reporting out there, but I don’t think he is right now. I think the Japanese Government probably has the most up-to-date information on that.

Let’s do a few more. Yes, right here, and then I’ll go up to the lady in front of you.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. I’m from China, with China News Service. Just now, you mentioned if it’s necessary, United States will have more steps to sanctions U.S. – the Russia if the tension escalated. So how do you define that? And yesterday, reports say the United States officials told CNN that the more troops moving to the border of the Ukraine. Is that one of them?

MS. HARF: Well, that’s certainly – we would consider that escalation, yes. Look, there’s not one blanket definition here. We take a look at the steps across the board that we’ve seen. We make assessments on a day-by-day basis. People are very focused on this. We have more steps ready to go if we are – if we decide to take them. But it’s an ongoing process here. And there is a diplomatic path forward. We have consistently said that even as we increase pressure, there’s a different path that Russia can choose to take. And I think hopefully they will do so.

Let’s do a couple more. Yes, you.

QUESTION: (Off-mike) mentioned the difficulties of the Europeans and you understand the difficulties of the Europeans in proceeding with sanctions against Russians given – Russia given the energy dependence. Can – and the IMF just warned today, actually, of the rising tensions, geopolitical tensions actually having an effect on oil prices. And I can tell you from experience the oil prices in Europe are much higher than what they are in the United States, especially in some countries like my own, which are also coming out of a very difficult crisis. Now, what can the U.S. do to assist Europe in its effort towards more energy security and diversification? Are you working with them on specific projects?

MS. HARF: We’re working together very closely. It’s a conversation we have all the time, because we know it’s difficult and we know that as more costs are imposed on Russia it will get harder for the Europeans across the board on this issue. So we work together to talk about energy flows, how we can help, energy independence, all of these issues, alternative energy, clean energy, basically how we can help relieve the pressure, if we can, by working together.

But it’s really a long-term issue. There are things we can do now, but it really is more of a discussion about what we do over the long term, so if there are crises like this we don’t have the same pressure and we can help Europe with its energy situation so we don’t have the same kind of considerations. But it is much more of a long-term issue, but we are working together at a number of levels now on that.

Yes. Let’s go – go ahead, here. Let’s do just a couple more. And we’ll go back here to folks who haven’t had a question yet next.

QUESTION: Hi. China has been proposing the Asian infrastructure development bank, and earlier this month I read news from China media who quoting – which quoting the South Korean media saying that U.S. high officials request South Korea not to support China on this issue. I just want get your comment on that. And also, what’s the U.S. position on the China’s Asian infrastructure development bank?

MS. HARF: I’m not actually familiar with that issue. So I’m happy to check with our folks and see if we have a position and what that is, and we can make sure we get it to you.

Let’s go to the back here for two of you who haven’t had questions yet.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. My name is Xavier Vila, Catalunya Radio in Barcelona. Are you aware of these – administration planning to send anyone, any observers to Scotland for the referendum in September and the Catalan one in November, or this is something that’s going to be controlled by the consulates and embassies in those areas? Thank you.

MS. HARF: I’m not aware of us sending anyone. I can check, but I’m not aware of that.

QUESTION: You’re not sending anyone?

MS. HARF: Yeah, not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yep. Let’s go right behind you, and then I’ll come up to you.

QUESTION: Yeah. This is Jahanzaib Ali from ARY News, Pakistan. A couple of days ago the former president Mr. Zardari was in town and had meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. So could you tell us something about that meeting, because there are too many speculations in Pakistan about that meeting. And secondly, U.S. expressing its concerns over the Haqqani Network, about their safe havens in North Waziristan (inaudible). Despite knowing that, the Pakistani military is – right now is in military operations going on there. So what type of concerns you have now about the Haqqani Network? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, on the first question, I think that the Vice President’s office is probably better able to speak about their meeting. I don’t have more details to share on that.

But look, we’ve long been very focused on the Haqqani Network, on their intent to cause instability in Afghanistan, to attack and kill U.S. citizens, which we’ve seen, and military service members particularly. And it’s been one of our top priorities to bring to bear sort of all of the elements of our power to help fight this threat, to degrade its capability to carry out attacks, to prevent it from raising money, and to prevent it from moving people around. So this remains one of our top priorities. We know it’s a challenge. We’re working to help particularly in Afghanistan fight this threat.

Anyone else? Let’s do just two more here. We’ll do right here, and then you can wrap us up.

QUESTION: My name is Inoue from Kyodo News Japan. Thank you for doing this.

MS. HARF: Good to see you.

QUESTION: I have a question about the SA-11. The SA-11 was apparently used by the separatists in Ukraine, that it – they are not state – they are non-state actor.

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: So do you think this incident would have any implication when you’re considering – when you’re trying to ratchet up the assistance to Syrian opposite? Because they have asked you to provide like surface-to-air missiles, like MANPADS. So do you think this incident may have any impact to your – on your decision.

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve – sorry. Finish your question. Sorry. I jumped in there a little early. Look, when it comes to that issue, we have said for a very long time that we have concerns about providing those types of systems in Syria because of the risks. You just need to see the past few days to see that. And so our position on that hasn’t changed. Any assistance we’re providing to the opposition in Syria, it’s a judgment that you make. We want to make sure people are vetted properly, that you feel comfortable providing them with assistance, and that you calibrate that assistance so you don’t give them the types of assistance that could end up in the hands of some pretty bad people and that could do pretty bad things with them. So that’s why our position on that has remained consistent. We are – concerns about the risk of the system.

Last – we’ll do two more. Two more. In the back, and then you can wrap us up, up front.

QUESTION: Thank you. Short question on Ukraine. Do you still exclude delivering any military relief or assistance to Ukrainians to have them restore the sovereignty themselves?

MS. HARF: Right. So we’ve provided a great deal of assistance monetarily and with other kinds of support as well, material support to the Ukrainians. But they – look, there’s not a military solution here, right. We need to see de-escalation. Quite frankly, nothing we gave the Ukrainian military could put it on par with the Russian military, which is why there’s not a military solution here. The Ukrainians have a right to defend their people and their territory. We’ve seen them do that. We’ll continue supporting them, again with material and assistance and money. And we review all the requests that come in from them, because we do want to keep making decisions that will help them in the best way that we think is appropriate.

Last one. Yes. You have the honor of the last question.

QUESTION: Thank you. Voice of America, Persian TV. Last time when the truth was reached in Middle East conflict was during Morsy, friend of Hamas. How important is the role of Egypt now and how do you define the relationship between the United States and al-Sisi government?

MS. HARF: Well, Egypt is playing a crucial role. Obviously, the Secretary’s in Cairo. They have long played a role in these discussions. They have a peace treaty with Israel, for example. They also have a relationship with a Hamas. It’s different than it was under President Morsy, but they do have a relationship. But that’s why we’re also talking to countries like Qatar and Turkey and others who have other relationships they can use with Hamas to see if we can get to a ceasefire.

But our relationship with Egypt is much bigger than one administration there. It’s strategic. We have strategic interests, whether it’s security, particularly in the Sinai and on the Israeli border, whether it is economically helping Egypt undertake needed economic reforms to help their people, whether it’s pushing them on human rights and freedom of expression. When you have journalists in jail that have been subjected to these horrible sentences, we believe it’s important to have a relationship so we can raise concerns. It’s the best way to engage. So it’s a very broad, longstanding relationship, and the Secretary is there right now working very closely with them. They are committed to seeing if they can help with the ceasefire here, and we think there’s a critical role they have played and can play going forward.

MODERATOR: All right.

MS. HARF: With that?

MODERATOR: With that, thank you all for coming. Thank you, Marie.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

MODERATOR: This briefing is now concluded.

MS. HARF: Thank you all so much. We will see you soon.

# # #

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – July 23, 2014

1:48 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: Good afternoon.

MS. HARF: Hello and welcome to the daily briefing. I have just a couple things at the top, and then happy to go into questions, of course.

First, I’m sure many of you have seen that today is the Dutch day of mourning. Today, we join King Willem-Alexander, Prime Minister Rutte, and all of the people of the Netherlands in mourning the loss of the 193 Dutch residents who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine. No words can adequately express the sorrow the world feels over this loss. On behalf of the American people, we again extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

As the President said yesterday, we will work with the Netherlands to make sure that loved ones are recovered, that a proper investigation is conducted, and that those responsible for the downing of flight MH17 are brought to justice.

And second, a quick travel update for people. Excuse me. The Secretary, as you saw, is in Jerusalem and Ramallah having some meetings today. He’s met with President Abbas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who I think is ongoing as well, that meeting. So has traveled there to continue discussions on the ceasefire. As we said, he’s always happy to get on the plane and travel if he wants to and needs to. So, with that.

QUESTION: All right. I’m sure we’ll get to Ukraine in a second, but I want to start with the Mideast.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Two things. One, the FAA extension of the flight ban; and second, the vote at the UN Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: I’ll start with the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Why did you vote against forming a panel of inquiry? The statement that was given before the vote by the – your ambassador there said that whatever steps that the commission would take should be balanced and should not single out Israel. Was it your understanding that what was approved in the end is unfair to – would be unfair to Israel?

MS. HARF: And one-sided. So we do strongly oppose today’s special session at the Human Rights Council and the resulting resolution as the latest in a series of biased, anti-Israel actions at the Human Rights Council. We strongly oppose the creation of this kind of mechanism that you spoke about because it’s one-sided. No one’s looking here at Hamas rockets, no one proposed looking at anything else other than Israel in this case, and again, we oppose it as one-sided.

QUESTION: In her opening statement, the commissioner for human rights talked about the possibility or potential that war crimes had been committed, not just by Israel but also by Hamas. Was that not your understanding of what this commission would – your understanding of —

MS. HARF: Well, we were voting on a resolution that had certain language in it —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — and that was looking at certain things, and that was one-sided in nature.

QUESTION: Can – what was it precisely about the language, do you know, that was —

MS. HARF: That it was one-sided —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — in nature.

QUESTION: I mean, it talked – yeah, but what was that language? What was the offensive language?

MS. HARF: I can pull the specific language for you after the briefing, but —

QUESTION: The title of the resolution seemed to be respecting – or “A resolution on the respect for international law and norms in the Palestinian territories,” and then including East Jerusalem. Is that problematic?

MS. HARF: I haven’t seen the specific title. As I said, the resolution in general, we view as one-sided and biased, and therefore we voted against it.

QUESTION: So you were concerned that this might turn out to be Goldstone 2?

MS. HARF: Again, we were concerned about it for being one-sided and biased, and it’s something we’ve said, quite honestly, we’ve said in the past by actions this body has taken.

QUESTION: All right. Does it surprise you that you were the only country to vote against?

MS. HARF: There were a number of abstentions. That’s my understanding.

QUESTION: Yes, there were 17 – all of Europe. Do you —

MS. HARF: And other countries as well. I think there were some countries in there that weren’t in Europe, that aren’t in Europe.

QUESTION: Right. But —

MS. HARF: Look, we make clear – as we have said repeatedly, we will stand up for Israel in the international community, even if it means standing alone, and I think you saw that today.

QUESTION: Okay. But that doesn’t tell you anything, though, that you’re standing alone?

MS. HARF: I don’t have any more announcements to do on it, Matt.

QUESTION: All right. On the FAA decision —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — there’s still continually this line coming from some in Israel and some here that this is all a political decision, that it’s —

MS. HARF: Totally inaccurate.

QUESTION: — and it’s designed to push the Israeli Government into accepting a ceasefire that it otherwise would not want.

MS. HARF: It’s a totally inaccurate line, period. We – the FAA makes decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. That is the only thing they take into account. I don’t know how much more strongly I can say that. People can choose not to believe us —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — but those are the facts, and people aren’t entitled to their own facts but certainly they can have their own opinions.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know, has – were there any – aside from the call that Prime Minister Netanyahu made last night, I guess, and then his meetings today —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — I presume that he brought it up again in the meetings with the Secretary?

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout yet.

QUESTION: I’m not asking you to speak for that, but —

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: — you’re not there. But do you – are you aware of any other interactions between the Israelis and the State Department on this issue?

MS. HARF: On this? Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I mean, we have folks on the ground, obviously. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. HARF: And look, we do understand that the Israelis want to return to normal air travel in Israel. Obviously, they want to restore a calm and normal life. We want them to be able to do as well. That’s why we’re trying to help broker a ceasefire. That’s the purpose of everything the Secretary is doing.

QUESTION: So would you – I mean, how likely – and I know you can’t speak for the FAA, so let’s talk about just the – your – the State Department’s Travel Warning which preceded this. At least —

MS. HARF: And I’m – let me make a point on the Travel Warning, though, because you asked about this yesterday, because there were some conspiracy theories that you were bringing up as well about why the timing. It takes a while to get travel updates updated and done, and travel warnings updated, but we did issue security messages from our embassy and consulate on the 8th, 9th, and 11th re: rocket attacks. So it’s not like yesterday suddenly we thought there was a security issue, which you mentioned. It’s been a consistent conversation we’ve had with American citizens.

QUESTION: Right. But —

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on the timing issue a little bit.

QUESTION: Okay. I mean, it wasn’t me making the argument, I was —

MS. HARF: Well, it was you asking the question.

QUESTION: Well, I was asking you about the criticism that was —

MS. HARF: So I’m pushing back on that criticism.

QUESTION: Got you. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: Is it likely that either of these things, the Travel Warning or the FAA warning, are going to be lifted before a ceasefire is ordered?

MS. HARF: I have honestly no predictions to make. We constantly make decisions based on the situation on the ground. The Travel Warning obviously is under our purview. We’ll continue to look at the situation. The FAA can speak to their processes as well.

QUESTION: Right. But the —

MS. HARF: I have no way to make a judgment about likelihood on either.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. So I’ll leave that and then just go back to my UNRWA questions from the other day.

QUESTION: Well, the Secretary was – Matt —

QUESTION: Yeah.

QUESTION: Can we just – can I just go back to —

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: Because yesterday it was asked about Hamas’s capabilities of —

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you have anything further? And you said you would.

MS. HARF: I did. I got a little bit for you. Give me one second. So Hamas does have rockets that can reach Ben Gurion Airport. During current fighting, Hamas rockets have landed north of the airport, although the accuracy of their rockets does remain limited. Israel’s Iron Dome system, which, as you know, we worked very closely with them to develop and fund, has monitored and, with quite a high degree of success, destroyed many of the incoming rockets which could reach this area as well as other areas. Hamas’s anti-aircraft missile capabilities are still being determined. We don’t have confirmation that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile during the current conflict or that Hamas has access to the type of anti-aircraft missiles like those we saw – judge bring down Malaysian aircraft in Ukraine.

So I tried to get a little more about the capabilities for you.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you very much for that. I mean, it’s helpful to get perspective. Was that kind of thing taken into consideration, do you know?

MS. HARF: I’m guessing all of that was taken into consideration. The FAA worked very closely with the intelligence community, with people that do analysis on these kind of things before they make these determinations. So I’m assuming it was in this case.

QUESTION: So did you – when you said Hamas has not used heat-seeking —

MS. HARF: There’s no confirmation —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — that Hamas has launched heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles during the current conflict.

QUESTION: Is – do you – is it your assessment that they actually have these kinds of weapons.

MS. HARF: Not to my knowledge. I’m happy to check. I don’t know the answer to that, Matt.

QUESTION: Marie, on the FAA ruling, I mean considering that when this conflict began, Israel had, like, seven Iron Domes. Now they have 10. And the rocket firing has really been reduced dramatically. Why is this such a – why such a —

MS. HARF: Because a rocket landed very close to the airport, and I think if you were a passenger on an airliner taking off or landing at that airport, you’d be pretty nervous about that.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Iron Dome has been very successful, but security of America citizens is top priority, and that’s why the FAA made this decision.

QUESTION: Can I go back to the Human Rights Commission?

MS. HARF: Just one second. Let me say one more thing about the FAA.

QUESTION: Okay. Sure. Oh, sorry.

MS. HARF: I know you probably saw Jen’s email but – last night – that the FAA notice to airlines does not apply to military aircraft, which is why he could land.

QUESTION: Right. So, but on that —

MS. HARF: I just wanted to clarify that, that was a Taken Question —

QUESTION: But on that, you said that if you were a passenger you would be pretty nervous. Was the Secretary nervous flying into —

MS. HARF: Secretary —

QUESTION: He’s never nervous?

MS. HARF: Well, as you saw, we didn’t announce the trip until it was down.

QUESTION: No, no. I understand that.

MS. HARF: Yep.

QUESTION: But you said that if you were a passenger on a plane flying in —

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s not nervous, Matt.

QUESTION: He is not nervous.

MS. HARF: The Secretary’s very happy to be there meeting with people right now.

QUESTION: And can you speak for your other colleagues?

MS. HARF: I’m not —

QUESTION: Was anyone on the plane —

MS. HARF: This is a ridiculous line of questioning.

QUESTION: No, it’s not —

MS. HARF: Yes. Said. Wait. We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: — because if it’s a danger, it’s a danger. And if it’s not, if the Secretary thinks it’s not a danger that’s something else.

MS. HARF: We’re going back to Said.

QUESTION: I just wanted to follow-up on the Human Rights Commission.

MS. HARF: He was very – he and our whole team were very comfortable landing at Ben Gurion.

QUESTION: Okay. Which would seem to, I don’t know, belie the FAA’s concerns, no?

MS. HARF: Take that up with the FAA.

Yes.

QUESTION: I will.

QUESTION: Yeah. On the Human Rights Commission, are you opposed in principle to have any kind of commission to look into possible war crimes by either side, to go one —

MS. HARF: We’re opposed to one-sided and biased inquiries of any kind.

QUESTION: And that – if – you believe that this one —

MS. HARF: We believe this one today was.

QUESTION: — this one is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Would have been and that’s why we voted against it.

QUESTION: What would – okay. What in the language of this resolution that makes you say that it is one-sided?

MS. HARF: Well, I am happy to see if there’s specific language that we can point to. Again, it was what they were – that would be evaluated in the resolution and in this commission of inquiry, what they would be looking at was purely on one side, which by definition, I think, makes it one-sided.

QUESTION: So it’s not really a knee-jerk kind of reaction, as we have seen in the past? Every time there is an effort to look into Israel’s —

MS. HARF: Well, unfortunately the Human Rights Council has often put forward one-sided documents. The international community has often put forward one-sided documents – excuse me – and we have opposed those as well.

QUESTION: Okay. Now I asked you yesterday on the hospitals – the bombing of hospitals, and so on.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Both ABC News and NBC News, they followed – they accompanied medics and ambulances and so on and went to the hospitals and house and so on, and they saw no evidence of firing rockets from there. So what makes you think that these hospitals have been used to launch rockets or to hide rockets or to hide fighters and so on?

MS. HARF: Well, we have evidence —

QUESTION: Do you have solid evidence?

MS. HARF: Generally speaking – not speaking about any specific hospital, Said, or any specific target of Israeli activity, we have evidence throughout many years of Hamas using hospitals and schools, ambulances, other civilian places to hide rockets, to hide fighters. We’ve seen that throughout this conflict. Again, I’m not making a commentary on any one specific hospital or location, but we have seen that. We have seen Hamas do that in the past and have done that in this conflict.

QUESTION: Now I just want to go —

MS. HARF: And that’s not acceptable. I think if you are a Palestinian living in Gaza who just wants to go use a hospital or a school, you would not want Hamas using them to store rockets in.

QUESTION: Okay. Now let me ask you about the ceasefire points.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It seems that the Egyptians, at least for now, are not flexible or are unwilling to sort of introduce any new element.

MS. HARF: I have no idea how you could even make that assessment. Everybody who is in these negotiations is not talking about them publicly. We’re talking about them privately.

QUESTION: The Egyptians are talking about their proposal publicly.

MS. HARF: Well, you’re making one assessment, and I think that we are —

QUESTION: I am not making it. They are. They’re saying —

MS. HARF: You called them inflexible.

QUESTION: No, I said inflexible. They said that they —

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: — what they submitted or what they proposed last week stands, that they’re —

MS. HARF: Well, we’re in discussions about what a ceasefire might look like. That’s why the Secretary is shuttling back and forth between Cairo and Jerusalem and Ramallah so he can see if we can get a ceasefire here. What the eventual contours of that looks like are being discussed right now.

QUESTION: And my last question on this: Today the Palestinian Authority submitted to Secretary Kerry their own version of what a ceasefire agreement should look like. Do you have any reaction to that —

MS. HARF: I can’t confirm that. I can’t confirm that report, Said.

QUESTION: You cannot confirm that report.

MS. HARF: I cannot confirm that report. I’m not going to comment on any of the rumors out there about what these negotiations look like, a line that should be familiar to everyone in this room.

QUESTION: Although you won’t comment on the specifics —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — there was something that Tony Blinken said earlier today about demilitarization of Gaza. Are you more concerned with getting an immediate – just an end to the fighting right now, or is – and is demilitarization something that would be later on? In other words, that’s not necessarily a part of the negotiations going on now?

MS. HARF: So obviously, our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire. What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either.

QUESTION: Okay, so it’s – but it’s fair to say that some kind of demilitarization or some kind of dealing with the rocket fire in the future is not necessarily on the table right now. What you’re more —

MS. HARF: I’m not telling you what or what is not on the table right now. What I’m saying is we need a ceasefire. What that ceasefire looks like, I’m not going to detail. But longer term, we do need to deal with the rocket fire.

QUESTION: On my UNRWA question from yesterday, do you know if the – so there was this – they confirmed a second – finding a second batch – cache of rockets in a school. Do you know how those were handled? And more broadly, had your discussions with the UN, with UNRWA, with the PA and Israel come to a better option for dealing with things like this?

MS. HARF: We’re still having those discussions. I’d refer you to UNRWA to discuss the second batch. I don’t have all of the details on that. I think there’s been some confusing information out there. They could probably speak better to what happened to that other batch of rockets. But the conversations continue, and I think hopefully we’ll get to a better path forward.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not exactly sure what they did —

MS. HARF: I think it’s probably best for UNRWA to speak to this. They have the most up-to-date information.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, Nicole.

QUESTION: Is there any discussion about structuring this ceasefire through a UN Security Council resolution or working through the Security Council instead of trying to put together something on a bilateral or multilateral basis?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard of that. Obviously I’m not going to talk about specifics that are being discussed in the room, but what we’re focused on is working with Egypt and other regional partners – of course, with Israel and the Palestinians – to see if we can get something here.

QUESTION: One more on the flight cancellations.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: It’s not just Matt that’s been critical and conspiratorial. Senator Cruz – (laughter) –

QUESTION: I haven’t been critical or conspiratorial.

MS. HARF: You’re being put in a category with Senator Cruz, so let’s see where this one goes. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Senator —

MS. HARF: I can’t wait for this.

QUESTION: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Lucas. That’s not —

MS. HARF: You’re welcome, Matt. Thank Lucas later.

QUESTION: Senator Cruz just released a statement saying that the FAA’s flight suspension to Israel is economic blackmail and that the Obama Administration is —

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous.

QUESTION: — doing this to punish Israel.

MS. HARF: It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly. The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise, it’s just ridiculous, Lucas.

QUESTION: His argument is that tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel and that while these flights are cancelled and Israel is losing money, the aid to Hamas continues.

MS. HARF: Well, we certainly care about Israel’s tourism industry as well, but we care more about the rockets being stopped from coming into Israel to kill innocent civilians in Israel. We care more about getting a ceasefire, and we care more about protecting American citizens. So clearly, I think Senator Cruz is completely wrong on this. We make decisions about security based solely on what’s in the best interest of American citizens. And look, one of the reasons – the main reason, if not, that Secretary Kerry is investing so much energy into getting a ceasefire is so Israel can return to normalcy, so they can return flights, so we can move past the Travel Warning, so Israelis and visitors and anyone don’t have to run to bomb shelters because Hamas is firing rockets at them. So I’d urge him to take another look at his comments on this.

QUESTION: But you can still fly to Beirut, can’t you, and other hotspots around the country?

MS. HARF: The FAA has a full list of places that we don’t fly. Someone asked about North Korea the other day. You cannot fly, I think, places in North Korea as well. So I would take a look at that. But there are times – in parts of Ukraine, Crimea we have warnings out as well. And these are all designed to protect American citizens here. And again, this is a temporary notice. The 24-hour notice has been renewed for another 24 hours. Our goal is to get this ceasefire in place as soon as possible so we don’t have to take these steps.

QUESTION: Marie, if I may follow – just to follow up on Nicole’s question. The sort of – what format this ceasefire should take? Back in 2009, there was a resolution – a UN Security Council Resolution 1860, and then in 2012 or just an agreement. Is it your feeling or this Department’s feeling that if you frame it in a United Nations Security Council resolution, would be more robust and would have to be – have better chance of being sustainable?

MS. HARF: Well, we’ve talked about 2012 as sort of —

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. HARF: — one of the standards that we’re looking at here. I don’t have anything beyond that on what the discussions look like.

QUESTION: Same topic, real quick.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: The Secretary said he was going to Cairo, back to Cairo. Any confirmation or details of when?

MS. HARF: I’m sure he will. I don’t know when. I’m not sure we know when.

QUESTION: He said immediately after the – or not immediately, but after the (inaudible).

MS. HARF: I don’t have details on timing, but he will eventually return to Cairo and could possibly return to Jerusalem and Ramallah.

QUESTION: There have been some riots in Paris over the issue of Gaza. I’m wondering if you see that as indicative of any larger international feelings towards either side.

MS. HARF: Well, let me say first that we obviously have seen some of the horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments that have come up during some of these protests; not all of them, but some, which we would of course strongly condemn as we always do. But I’ve been asked about these for three days and I don’t think my line’s changed that people have a right to freely express themselves. That’s something that is important to us, but we do want people to remember that Israel has a right to defend itself and that its citizens are living under constant threat of rockets from Hamas that are the responsibility of Hamas to end. And I would just caution people to keep that in mind.

QUESTION: Last thing for me, and it sets a perfect segue of – because we’ve heard —

MS. HARF: Great.

QUESTION: — that phraseology any number of times from the White House, from this podium as well.

MS. HARF: We are remarkably consistent.

QUESTION: Yes, I know. How do we square that no country would tolerate rocket fire with things like Pakistan and Yemen and rocket fire that has killed civilians from the U.S.?

MS. HARF: Well, they’re wholly different, and I’ll tell you why.

QUESTION: Please.

MS. HARF: Hamas is a terrorist organization firing rockets indiscriminately with the purpose to kill civilians. Our counterterrorism operations, wherever they are, are taken with a great degree of care to protect civilian life. The President has spoken about this several times in speeches, and they are in fact designed to go after terrorists who are trying to kill more civilians. So any equivalency is just – I guess the word of the day – ridiculous and offensive.

QUESTION: And so when mistakes are made, it’s a mistake, it’s – you take every care –

MS. HARF: Right. The President has been very clear that we take extraordinary care to prevent civilian causalities, which is the exact opposite of what Hamas does, who tries to kill as many civilians as they can. We take extraordinary care when conducting counterterrorism operations.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Yes.

QUESTION: Can we go to Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Anything else on this?

QUESTION: On (inaudible).

MS. HARF: No. If your hand —

QUESTION: No.

MS. HARF: No? Then don’t keep your hand up if it’s not about Gaza. (Laughter.) You’re trying to play a trick here. Let’s go to Ukraine.

QUESTION: I was wondering if the Department has any comment on reports or Ukrainian Government claims that two more planes have been shot down from Russia.

MS. HARF: Yes, we have seen those reports. We are still looking into them. We have, of course, seen a history of the separatists shooting down planes in the past, I think about a dozen before MH17. And look, if true – and we hopefully will be able to confirm whether it’s true soon – it would only be further evidence that Russian-backed separatists are using advanced surface-to-air weaponry less than a week after shooting down a civilian airliner and killing 298 people. Again, it’s hard to imagine any of this happening without Russian support.

QUESTION: Dovetailing off that, I mean, you said to me yesterday that the fighting is by and large outside of the 25-mile radius of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Forty kilometer —

QUESTION: Yeah. Or whatever.

MS. HARF: — or whatever. But numbers matter.

QUESTION: At this point, I think it was three miles outside of the crash site. I mean —

MS. HARF: No. I think you have wrong information there. There hasn’t been – they have maintained – the Ukrainians have maintained a ceasefire. The 40-kilometer ceasefire they have declared around the crash site, the Ukrainians have maintained it.

QUESTION: Okay. Are you concerned that a break in ceasefire could impede the investigation?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously, we would be concerned about the separatists not upholding a ceasefire. The Ukrainians have repeatedly shown their willingness and ability to do so.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: No.

QUESTION: Wait. Can I continue on Ukraine?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: You’re kidding, right?

QUESTION: Well, yesterday – this is sort of related Ukraine, I guess, and Russia. Yesterday the intel community said they were going to lay out evidence sort of backing their assertions about who brought down Malaysia Airlines 17. They did lay out a bunch of different things, but they didn’t actually lay out the real documentation that supports those assertions. Why haven’t we seen —

MS. HARF: I’m not sure exactly what you’re looking for. Well, they did a couple things yesterday. They showed – they walked through an intelligence assessment case and they talked about some additional pieces of declassified information that I can walk through today that bolsters our case that we know what happened here. They also showed imagery of training facilities; they showed imageries of the site, including a trajectory based on classified information that they were able to provide that showed the trajectory of the SA-11. So those are important, and let’s get – let me finish —

QUESTION: Yeah, go ahead.

MS. HARF: — and then you can keep following up.

So a couple things they said yesterday, which I think are significant which we had not set before, that the audio data provided to the press – and we talked a lot about these open source reports, right, these audio messages that people have said are certain people or that prove things – they were provided to the press by the Ukrainians. It was evaluated by the intelligence community analysts, who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders.

And then another key point they talked about yesterday, and we can talk more about the rest of this, is the – this notion the Russians have put out there about a Ukrainian fighter jet. They’ve argued that an Su-25 fighter might have shot down the aircraft with an air-to-air missile. They have judged that engagement would be implausible for the following reasons: The Su-25 is a ground attack aircraft. The only missiles it carries are short-range – excuse me – are short-range, infrared-guided missiles. Ground photography from the crash site is consistent with the expected damage from a surface-to-air missile, but it is – does not correspond, in fact is inconsistent with what we would expect to see for an air-to-air missile, as Russia claims.

Third, Russia – this is a little separately here – has also released a map with the alleged locations of Ukrainian SA-11 units within range of the crash. This is another red herring they’ve put out there. We are confident that this information is incorrect. The nearest Ukrainian operational SA-11 unit is located well out of the range from both the launch and the crash site. So part of their case yesterday was not only giving more information about what we know, but giving our professional, technical assessment of some of the Russian claims that, I think, we have tried to increasingly knock down.

QUESTION: When you said – when they – when you said they showed evidence of this, what do you mean by that, “they showed”? They – I mean, did they have a presentation? I —

MS. HARF: Well, they – they did. They did. They showed some imagery, they showed a number of images; they showed some maps, they showed some graphics. I’m happy for you to get in touch with DNI Public Affairs, who can probably give you that packet that they showed. They showed some – one of the maps that we actually have posted on our Facebook page and our Kyiv Embassy that shows the trajectory of the SA-11 missile. That trajectory is based on classified information. I can’t detail all of what that information is, but that is based on the information we have.

QUESTION: And some of the evidence U.S. is relying on are social media postings and videos made public by the Ukrainian Government. Have those all been authenticated?

MS. HARF: Again, that’s why I said the audio data, which is part of the social media, has been authenticated by the intelligence community analysts. Social media is obviously only one part of the puzzle here. It’s something we look at, but obviously, we back everything up to the extent that we can when we can with other intelligence as well.

QUESTION: Marie.

MS. HARF: Matt.

QUESTION: On your three things that you say were new: one, on the audio data being analyzed and being authenticated. That was not new yesterday. That was actually in the statement that the Embassy in Kyiv put out on Sunday morning —

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: — before Secretary Kerry appeared on those —

MS. HARF: That the intelligence community had authenticated all of it? I – it’s my understanding that that was not all out there on Sunday, but I’m happy to check.

QUESTION: Well, I believe it was. But I mean, there’s no – it doesn’t —

MS. HARF: Okay. Well, I disagree with you, but I’m happy to check.

What’s the next thing?

QUESTION: Well, you can look at the statement. I mean, it says that they’ve been authenticated. So I would say that that wasn’t new.

MS. HARF: Okay. Happy to check.

QUESTION: Secondly, I’m not sure that – I know that there were some suggestions that the Ukrainian fighter plane shot down this – with a missile, but the —

MS. HARF: So the Russians have basically had a couple of alternative explanations.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: There was the Ukrainian fighter jet. I think we – the intelligence community went to great lengths yesterday to show why that’s not the case.

The other – one of the other things they said was that it was a Ukrainian SA-11 system that the Ukrainians had fired. Again, I think they made very clear why that’s not also the case.

QUESTION: But the theory that – or the – I don’t know what you would – the suggestion isn’t necessarily that the Ukrainian jet – I mean, you have – you’ve discovered that the Ukrainian jet was in the vicinity, but it was not capable of shooting (inaudible) down —

MS. HARF: No, I can’t confirm that there was even a Ukrainian – we have no confirmation that I have seen that there was a Ukrainian jet.

QUESTION: Oh, that there was even —

MS. HARF: I’m not saying there wasn’t. I just can’t confirm it.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But regardless, the notion that this kind of Ukrainian jet the Russians are talking about could have done this with the kind of missile and the kind of debris we’ve seen – it just doesn’t match up.

QUESTION: Because I think the suggestion is that whoever fired this missile may have been shooting for that plane, like what we saw today in terms of a shoot-down.

MS. HARF: Which in no way makes it better.

QUESTION: Well, I’m not saying it does. I’m not saying it does at all, but it’s not —

MS. HARF: And I don’t know what the intentions are of whoever was on the ground pushing the button. I don’t.

QUESTION: And the last thing about this —

MS. HARF: Clearly – well clearly, I know the intentions were to launch a sophisticated missile and to kill people. Whether those – they were trying to kill Ukrainian military officers or civilians, we’re still waiting to find out.

QUESTION: I – yeah, okay. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other.

MS. HARF: Okay. I know.

QUESTION: I’m not saying that.

MS. HARF: Just responding to your question.

QUESTION: I’m just saying – and then on the – this trajectory thing that you said was put out by the Embassy —

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that was new yesterday. We posted that a few days ago.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you just look at that – a lay person looking at it, it’s a line drawn on a satellite photo with no – nothing to back it up.

MS. HARF: Well, as I said, it’s based on a series of classified information —

QUESTION: Which we have to —

MS. HARF: — which we are —

QUESTION: — we have to take the leap of faith to believe that – right?

MS. HARF: Well, Matt, we are trying to put as much out of this out —

QUESTION: Yeah.

MS. HARF: — information out about this as possible. We are trying very hard to do so. It is a process that takes, I think, more time than any of us, certainly you or I, would like.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But I think I would make the point that it’s much more time-consuming to declassify real evidence than to make it up, which is what the Russians have been doing for days now.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, be that as it may, are you saying that at some point, the IC is hopeful to —

MS. HARF: We are working to —

QUESTION: — that they will be able to put —

MS. HARF: We’re working to get more information declassified and put out there as quickly as we can. It’s just a difficult process (inaudible).

QUESTION: Okay. But do you understand that given the conflicting claims, no matter how ridiculous you say the other side’s version is and no matter how implausible it might be – but saying that you’ve put together the imagery showing the root of this —

MS. HARF: Trajectory.

QUESTION: — trajectory showing imagery.

MS. HARF: Just one piece. It’s one piece of evidence.

QUESTION: Well, I know, but anyone can draw a line on a map. They can. I mean, I’m not saying that —

MS. HARF: That’s not what our intelligence community does. That’s not what the U.S. Government does when we go out there and present a case to the world. We have —

QUESTION: So —

QUESTION: Can I just —

MS. HARF: Wait. We have to protect sensitive sources and methods. We have to, because if we don’t, we won’t be able to get this kind of information in the future if they’re compromised because of a declassification. Believe me, I want to be able to declassify more.

QUESTION: Right, okay.

MS. HARF: They want to be able to declassify more. And it’s not about a leap of faith. We are laying out a very comprehensive argument based on a number of different pieces, right. So if you look at all of them in totality —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: — look at the entire picture, it presents a very compelling case about the kind of missile, where it was fired from. Those are the two key pieces, right. The kind of missile that took down this plane we are very confident is an SA-11, we are very confident it was fired from Russian-controlled territory. We are very confident that the two alternate stories the Russians put forward aren’t plausible.

Who put their finger on the trigger? We still need to find that out.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: But suffice to say, the Russian separatists we believe fired this, in general, could not be doing what they’re doing without the Russians. And responsibility lays at the feet of President Putin, not just for this but for every incident that we have seen throughout this conflict, period.

QUESTION: All right. So Putin is – it’s Putin whose fault this is; that’s what you’re saying?

MS. HARF: I think I was just pretty clear.

QUESTION: What you’re saying – okay. So you said that – you say it’s a very compelling case, but you – it is a circumstantial case, is it not?

MS. HARF: It is a case based on a number of different pieces of evidence, Matt – across the board, a number of different pieces. Whether you’re looking at what we talked about yesterday, whether you’re looking at what we’ve seen on social media, whether you’re looking at the kind of SA-11 which is a missile that essentially gets fired straight up does what it does, and that’s exactly what we saw in this case as well.

So we’ve laid out a very detailed case. We will continue to declassify as much as we can. But again, we’ve been very open about our assessments here. The Russians have repeatedly lied about what’s happening on the ground. They said there weren’t troops in Crimea when there were troops all over Crimea. So there’s just no credibility on their side. And I understand the need to put out more information, but look, the notion that they’ve shot down dozens – over a dozen planes now – and this is just the one that wasn’t them – also just doesn’t pass the common sense test.

QUESTION: Marie —

QUESTION: Okay. Hold on a second. So – but – and I understand the – your desire to protect sources and methods, but we have here an incredible tragedy where almost 300 people died.

MS. HARF: I agree.

QUESTION: Is that – protecting sources and methods are more important than getting —

MS. HARF: No.

QUESTION: — to the bottom of who —

MS. HARF: Well, those two things aren’t mutually exclusive here. A, if we think an investigation can go forward, then we’ll get to the bottom of what happened here. We believe we do have a good assessment about the things I’ve talked about. The investigation about who did it specifically to a person is ongoing. But look, part of the reason we protect sources and methods is because we want to be able to see these things in the future if they tragically – something like this were to happen again in the same area, the way we found out information this time. So —

QUESTION: So you’re saying that – but just to be clear, that the imagery, the trajectory imagery that you have that —

MS. HARF: In that one sheet, mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Right, right, right, exactly.

MS. HARF: I think it’s the green line.

QUESTION: That is – yes, that there are sources and methods for how you know that trajectory —

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: — that people are concerned are going to be somehow —

MS. HARF: Correct.

QUESTION: — tainted if —

MS. HARF: Correct. Not just tainted, but compromised.

QUESTION: That are going to be compromised if you —

MS. HARF: Yes, correct.

QUESTION: I mean —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: Okay. I guess —

MS. HARF: Having spent six years in the intelligence community —

QUESTION: I know. That’s what I – I know that’s what —

MS. HARF: — I know there are a variety of ways we can figure these things out, many of which are quite sensitive and many of which I think we don’t want to lose.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: So look, believe me, I’m pushing my colleagues at the DNI —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — as much as I love these —

QUESTION: Do you – but I —

MS. HARF: — conversations with you about this. We are pushing and they’re pushing, and we’ll see if we can get more.

QUESTION: Okay. But do you – I mean, would you expect —

MS. HARF: I have no prediction.

QUESTION: — or you don’t know? You don’t expect more or you —

MS. HARF: I have no idea.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. HARF: Look, I think there will be. I think we’re just working through it.

QUESTION: Okay. One other thing that’s unrelated to the intel.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports that several journalists have been detained or kidnapped – one a Ukrainian, the other one a Brit? Do you know anything about this?

MS. HARF: I saw some reports about some journalists. I think we’re still trying to track down the facts there. I’ll see if there’s more after I get off the podium.

QUESTION: Okay. Ambassador Pyatt had tweeted something about —

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: — one of the —

MS. HARF: Yeah. Obviously, we are concerned about these reports. Let me see if there’s more details.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: Yeah.

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you – you said the blame lays at Mr. Putin’s feet just now.

MS. HARF: Yes, yes.

QUESTION: Does that mean that they are involved in issuing the orders issued down there?

MS. HARF: I didn’t say that. I said that these Russian separatists who we strongly believe fired this missile would not be there operating without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not have been trained without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government, would not be armed without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. They would not be there doing what they’re doing, period, so they could fire an SA-11 without the support of President Putin and the Russian Government. Yes, direct responsibility lays there.

QUESTION: And also – okay. I wanted to ask you also on integrity of the crash site.

MS. HARF: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Who’s in control now? I mean —

MS. HARF: Let me see if I – the Dutch are leading – give me one second – the investigation.

Just a couple quick updates. The black boxes are now in the United Kingdom. The reason for doing so is that the British have a specific kind of aircraft forensics laboratory needed, and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch is a highly respected and capable investigation authority.

Let me answer a few more taken questions from yesterday, and then I’ll get to your question, Said.

QUESTION: Sure.

MS. HARF: Not all of the remains were, tragically, handed over yesterday. Potentially, the remains of some 100 people are still missing. We don’t have exact numbers. Obviously, it is critical that international investigators, led by the Dutch, receive immediate and full access to the crash site.

In terms of access to the site, we – they have on the ground in Ukraine begun the difficult work of piecing together exactly what happened here. Today, we understand that they do have better access than they’ve had in the past days. We are, though, troubled by reports of looting, evidence tampering, and the failure to transport, as I just said, all of the remains of all of the victims to Kharkiv and into Dutch custody. So that is the latest I have in terms of the situation and the investigation.

QUESTION: India?

QUESTION: On Ukraine itself?

MS. HARF: On Ukraine?

QUESTION: Hold on.

MS. HARF: Yeah, on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Based on the intelligence information that you released yesterday and what you have been saying today, it looks like it was a case of mistaken identity by the Ukraine separatists that hit the Malaysian plane.

MS. HARF: That’s not what they said at all.

QUESTION: That’s what you are concluding, right?

MS. HARF: No. That’s not what I said either. I said we don’t know yet the intentions of the people who fired the SA-11 from the pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory. We just don’t know what their intentions are.

QUESTION: So my question is —

MS. HARF: It may – they may have been targeting a civilian airliner; they may have been targeting a Ukrainian fighter jet, which they’ve done over a dozen times now. Either way, they’re clearly trying to kill people with an SA-11.

QUESTION: So when the Malaysian Airlines was passing through that part, there were some other passenger planes which was crossing that area, including one of Air India, which was under 25 miles away from the Malaysian planes. And then plane carrying Indian prime minister was passed around one hour before that.

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Do you know from intelligence information that any of these planes were – could have been a target or could have been hit by these missiles here?

MS. HARF: I haven’t heard – I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION: Can you check?

MS. HARF: I can check. I haven’t heard it, though.

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: Ukraine?

QUESTION: Staying on India?

QUESTION: One more?

MS. HARF: No, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: Ukraine, one more.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Madam, what message do you have for the grieving families from this terrible incident? What they are asking the United Nations and the United States and the global community: Are we safe to fly in the future, and what steps are you going to take in the future that such incident doesn’t happen? Because many families believe not only these terrorists here in this area, but many other terrorists may have access also to the similar weapons, including in Pakistan or Afghanistan, and anybody could be the next target.

MS. HARF: Well look, I think you heard the President speak about this. I spoke about it at the beginning of the briefing, that one of the reasons, if not the most important reason, that we are so committed to finding out what happened here is so we can hold the people who did it accountable, that people cannot get away with shooting civilian airliners out of the sky. That’s just wholly unacceptable, and that countries that support these kind of separatists, like we’ve seen Russia do, also need to be held accountable. And that’s why you’ve seen additional sanctions; that’s why we’ve said there could be further steps, because that’s just not something that we will allow, that we will stand by and watch, and we do need to get to the bottom of what happened here.

QUESTION: Do you believe, Madam, that other terrorists like al-Qaida in Pakistan or Abu Baghdadi in Iraq, who have challenged already India, U.S., and other countries – that they may have similar weapons?

MS. HARF: I can check and see who else we think has these weapons. I just don’t know that off the top of my head.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam

MS. HARF: Thank you.

QUESTION: Marie, Senator —

MS. HARF: Yes – no, let’s stay on Ukraine.

QUESTION: One more on Ukraine.

Senator Carl Levin called this an act of war. What is your response?

MS. HARF: Well, look, we’ve been very clear about what’s happening in eastern Ukraine. You have separatists backed by a foreign country who have invaded and been killing people with impunity, who’ve been shooting down Ukrainian military jets, who’ve been – who’ve now taken down a civilian airliner, who’ve been terrorizing populations in eastern Ukraine.

I would also note, just for balance here, that there have been some areas liberated by Ukrainian forces, where people are able to go about their lives without the fear of separatist violence. The Ukrainian Government is providing food and water and hope, I would say, to the residents in those liberated areas. And one of the main places they have restored electricity, water, and train service is to Slovyansk, which we’ve talked about. It was on July 9th, so it was a little while ago. But we have seen steady progress in terms of them regaining territory.

QUESTION: But is this alleged act by the separatists, or by Russia, an act of war?

MS. HARF: I don’t think I have any more terminology to put around it, Lucas. I’m happy to check and see.

QUESTION: An act of terror?

MS. HARF: I’m happy to check and see if there’s more terminology I’d like to put around it.

QUESTION: Your – when you say that the blame for this lies directly at President Putin’s feet, does that also mean that you think that his call – some – seemingly more conciliatory call yesterday for – to support a full and open investigation, do you think that’s duplicitous? Is that —

MS. HARF: Well, I just think that the words need to be backed up by actions, which, unfortunately, we haven’t seen very much of from the Russians lately.

QUESTION: Got you. I had one question semi-related to this.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: That is yesterday you talked about the French going ahead with their transfer of this Mistral ship to the Russians. It turns out today that the Brits have also been continuing to —

MS. HARF: I don’t think that’s actually —

QUESTION: Is that not correct?

MS. HARF: — accurate. No. And I’m not sure it’s in my book here. I have – they put out a statement very strongly denying this.

QUESTION: Denying it, okay.

MS. HARF: I will send it to you as soon as I get off the podium. I’m not sure I stuck it in my book here, but —

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: — they have gone on the record.

QUESTION: And denied the earlier reports. Okay.

MS. HARF: Yes, so —

QUESTION: So in other words —

MS. HARF: — I’m sorry I don’t have it.

QUESTION: No, no, it’s okay.

MS. HARF: Apologies to my British colleagues who may be watching.

QUESTION: You don’t need to – I’m not asking you to respond on behalf the British Government. But I’m just saying —

MS. HARF: No, no, no, but they – no, but I did have that and I wanted to – we’ll get it to you.

QUESTION: But you accept their denial and you don’t have any questions about their —

MS. HARF: We don’t have any questions about the British.

QUESTION: What about French?

MS. HARF: Period, sort of full stop. Well, we have big questions —

QUESTION: Ever?

MS. HARF: — about whether they would go through with something like that, yes.

QUESTION: So what is the latest? How long ago, how many days has it been that you raised it?

MS. HARF: Well, we raise it consistently with the French. The Secretary has spoken again today to French Foreign Minister Fabius. I don’t have a full readout of that call, but needless to say, I think it’s been raised recently.

QUESTION: And is it that the U.S. wants to just cancel that transaction, or just not to ship it until they start behaving properly?

MS. HARF: I don’t think we think it’s appropriate to provide that kind of material to the Russians at this time. I’m not sure what form that would look like, but we just don’t think they should do it. However they don’t do it, they shouldn’t do it.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: Ukraine. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: In your statement last night, Marie, at 9:58, you congratulated the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, and you said, quote, “Today the Council agreed to accelerate preparation of additional sanctions.”

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: But no new additional sanctions were taken. Was that really a disappointment to the West, to the United States?

MS. HARF: Well, they talked about a number of additional things they could do. No, I mean, I put out a statement saying quite positive things and I don’t have much more to add beyond that.

QUESTION: But wouldn’t you like to see

The Brussels G7 Summit Declaration

Brussels, Belgium – 5 June 2014

1. We, the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, met in Brussels on 4 and 5 June 2014. This Group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. We are profoundly committed to the values of freedom and democracy, and their universality and to fostering peace and security. We believe in open economies, open societies and open governments, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, as the basis for lasting growth and stability. For nearly forty years, we have shown through our actions that collective will can be a powerful catalyst for progress. Our efforts to address major global challenges have also been guided by a commitment to transparency, accountability and partnership with other concerned members of the international community. We remain bound together as a group by these values and this vision. Guided by these shared values and principles, we will continue to work together to meet the challenges of our times. We thank the European Union for hosting this Summit and welcome Germany’s Presidency.

Global Economy

2. Supporting growth and jobs remains our top priority. The global economy has strengthened since we met at Lough Erne, downside risks remain which will need to be managed carefully. Advanced economies are recovering, but continued and sustained growth is needed to bring down unemployment, particularly among young people and the long-term unemployed.

3. We will take further steps to support strong, sustainable and balanced growth, with a common goal of increasing the resilience of our economies. We will present ambitious and comprehensive growth strategies at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, to include action across a broad front including in the areas of investment, small and medium enterprises, employment and participation of women, and trade and innovation, in addition to macroeconomic policies. We will continue to implement our fiscal strategies flexibly to take into account near-term economic conditions, so as to support economic growth and job creation, while putting debt as a share of GDP on a sustainable path.

4. We agreed that 2014 will be the year in which we focus on substantially completing key aspects of the core financial reforms that we undertook in response to the global financial crisis: building resilient financial institutions; ending too-big-to-fail; addressing shadow banking risks; and making derivatives markets safer. We remain committed to the agreed G20 roadmap for work on relevant shadow banking activities with clear deadlines and actions to progress rapidly towards strengthened and comprehensive oversight and regulation appropriate to the systemic risks posed. We will remain vigilant in the face of global risk and vulnerabilities. And we remain committed to tackling tax avoidance including through the G20/Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan as set out in the agreed timetable, and tax evasion, where we look forward to the rapid implementation of the new single global standard for automatic exchange of tax information. We call on all jurisdictions to take similar action.

5. Trade and investment are key engines for jobs and growth. We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight all forms of protectionism including through standstill and rollback. We are committed to strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system. We will protect and promote investment and maintain a level playing field for all investors. International standards for public export finance are crucial for avoiding or reducing distortions in global trade. Since we met at Lough Erne, we have made substantial progress on major trade negotiations: Canada-EU; Japan-EU; Canada-Japan; EU-US; the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and the Trade in Services Agreement. We aim to finalise them as soon as possible. We are committed to liberalising trade in environmental goods and services, including through an Environmental Goods agreement. We will work to conclude an expanded Information Technology Agreement as soon as possible. These agreements and initiatives can help support and will be consistent with the multilateral trading system and act as building blocks for future multilateral deals. We welcome the successful outcomes of the 9th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference. We will prioritise full and swift implementation of the Bali Package, in particular the Trade Facilitation Agreement. We will continue to provide, within our current Aid for Trade commitments, substantial support and capacity building to help implement this agreement, in particular to the benefit of the Least Developed Countries. We fully support efforts in the WTO to secure swift agreement to a balanced work programme for completing the Doha Round.

Energy

6. The use of energy supplies as a means of political coercion or as a threat to security is unacceptable. The crisis in Ukraine makes plain that energy security must be at the centre of our collective agenda and requires a step change to our approach to diversifying energy supplies and modernising our energy infrastructure. Under the Rome G7 Energy Initiative, we will identify and implement concrete domestic policies by each of our governments separately and together, to build a more competitive, diversified, resilient and low-carbon energy system. This work will be based on the core principles agreed by our Ministers of Energy on May 5-6 2014, in Rome:

  • Development of flexible, transparent and competitive energy markets, including gas markets.
  • Diversification of energy fuels, sources and routes, and encouragement of indigenous sources of energy supply.
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy as a key contribution to sustainable energy security.
  • Enhancing energy efficiency in demand and supply, and demand response management.
  • Promoting deployment of clean and sustainable energy technologies and continued investment in research and innovation.
  • Improving energy systems resilience by promoting infrastructure modernization and supply and demand policies that help withstand systemic shocks.
  • Putting in place emergency response systems, including reserves and fuel substitution for importing countries, in case of major energy disruptions.

7. Based on these principles we will take the following immediate actions:

  • We will complement the efforts of the European Commission to develop emergency energy plans for winter 2014-2015 at a regional level.
  • Working with international organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the international financial institutions, we will supply technical assistance, including leveraging the private sector, and facilitate exchanges with Ukraine and other European countries seeking to develop indigenous hydrocarbon resources and renewable energies, as well as to improve energy efficiency.
  • We will conduct assessments of our energy security resilience and enhance our joint efforts, including on critical infrastructure, transit routes, supply chains and transport.
  • We will ask the IEA, in close cooperation with the European Commission, to present by the end of 2014 options for individual and collective actions of the G7 in the field of gas security.

8. We will also:

  • Promote the use of low carbon technologies (renewable energies, nuclear in the countries which opt to use it, and carbon capture and storage) including those which work as a base load energy source; and
  • Promote a more integrated Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market, including through new supplies, the development of transport infrastructures, storage capabilities, and LNG terminals, and further promotion of flexible gas markets, including relaxation of destination clauses and producer-consumer dialogue.

9. We ask our Energy Ministers to take forward this Rome G7 Energy Initiative and report back to us in 2015.

Climate Change

10. Urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change, as set out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report. We therefore remain committed to low-carbon economies with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. We affirm our strong determination to adopt in 2015 a global agreement – a new protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties – that is ambitious, inclusive and reflects changing global circumstances. We will communicate our intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so) and call on others to follow our lead. We welcome the Climate Summit of the United Nations Secretary General in September and his invitation to all Parties to prepare for ambitious contributions and to deliver concrete action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. We look forward to a successful Summit.

11. We reaffirm our support for the Copenhagen Accord commitments to mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, to address the climate mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries in the context of their meaningful and transparent mitigation actions. We welcome the adoption of the Green Climate Fund’s operating rules and the decision to commence its initial resource mobilisation in the coming months. We remain committed to the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and continued discussions in the OECD on how export credits can contribute to our common goal to address climate change. We will strengthen efforts to improve measurement, reporting, verification and accounting of emissions and improve the reporting of international climate finance flows, consistent with agreed decisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We will work together and with others to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) under the Montreal Protocol. We will also continue to take action to promote the rapid deployment of climate-friendly and safe alternatives in motor vehicle air-conditioning and we will promote public procurement of climate-friendly HFC alternatives.

Development

12. The pursuit of sustainable and inclusive development and greater prosperity in all countries remains a foundational commitment that unites our people and our countries. We continue to implement the commitments we have made at previous Summits. To be accountable we will provide a report in 2015 on progress toward their attainment.

13. We commit to work with all partners to agree an ambitious and universal post-2015 agenda, anchored in a single set of clear and measurable goals. That agenda should complete unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. It should be centred on people and focused both on the eradication of extreme poverty, promoting development and on balancing the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development, including climate change. It should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all. We are committed to build a global partnership with shared responsibility and mutual accountability to ensure its implementation. We await the synthesis report of the United Nations Secretary General in the second half of 2014. We welcome the African Union’s common position.

14. We will continue to promote inclusive and resilient growth in Africa, working with governments and citizens in Africa to enhance governance and transparency, improve infrastructure, notably in the energy sector, eliminate trade barriers, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the responsible and sustainable management of natural resources and the revenues they generate. We welcome the active role of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in the process of reforming the Africa Partnership Forum.

15. Security and development are the prerequisite of a lasting peace in regions affected by the scourge of war, terrorism, organized crime, corruption, instability and poverty, notably the Sahel region, Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Central African Republic. We welcome efforts by African partners and the African Union, supported by the international community, aimed at building their capacities to respond to crises and support stabilisation.

16. We confirm our strong commitment to the Deauville Partnership and our support to Arab countries in transition in their efforts to improve governance and stimulate inclusive growth and job creation, particularly for their youth and women. Our Foreign and Finance Ministers will meet in the margins of United Nations General Assembly, and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Annual Meetings, to take forward the Partnership.

17. We remain committed to work towards common global standards that raise extractives transparency, which ensure disclosure of companies’ payments to all governments. We welcome the progress made among G7 members to implement quickly such standards. These global standards should continue to move towards project-level reporting. Those governments that are signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard will voluntarily report their revenues. We confirm our commitment to implement fully the extractive partnerships launched in 2013.

18. We today announce a new initiative on Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations (CONNEX) to provide developing country partners with extended and concrete expertise for negotiating complex commercial contracts, focusing initially on the extractives sector, and working with existing fora and facilities to avoid duplication, to be launched in New York in June and to deliver improvements by our next meeting, including as a first step a central resource hub that brings together information and guidance.

19. We will continue to work to tackle tax evasion and illicit flows of finance, including by supporting developing countries to strengthen their tax base and help create stable and sustainable states. We renew our commitment to deny safe haven to the proceeds of corruption, and to the recovery and return of stolen assets. We remain committed to prevent the misuse of companies and other legal arrangements such as trusts to hide financial flows stemming from corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and other crimes, ensuring that beneficial ownership information is available in a timely fashion to financial intelligence units, tax collection and law enforcement agencies, for example through central registries or other appropriate mechanisms, leading by example in implementing the Financial Action Task Force and other relevant international standards and our national action plans in line with the principles we agreed at Lough Erne. Greater transparency in this area will help developing countries.

20. Recent events illustrate that corruption undermines trust in governments and limits economic growth. We will build on existing efforts, including in the G20, to take additional steps to prevent this. We continue our engagement to and support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. We welcome the outcomes of the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery and look forward to the third Arab Forum on Asset Recovery. The G7 remains committed to working with governments and global financial centres to follow up on asset recovery efforts.

21. We remain committed to the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health, and welcome the call made at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit in Toronto to accelerate progress on this global priority. In addition we are committed to ensuring sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and ending child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and other harmful practices. The health and well-being of women and children are improved through ensuring universal access to affordable, quality, essential health services, strengthening health, education and child protection systems and improving nutrition and access to immunisation. We recognise the impact of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and welcome its efforts to expand access to vaccines to an additional 300 million children during 2016-2020. We welcome Germany’s offer to host the second replenishment in early 2015, reaffirm our commitment, and call on other public and private donors to contribute to the replenishment of the GAVI Alliance. We reaffirm our commitment to an AIDS free generation and to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to reduce the burden of these three major infectious diseases on eligible countries and regions.

22. To address the threat posed by infectious diseases, we support the Global Health Security Agenda and commit to working with partner countries to strengthen compliance with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Health Regulations and enhance health security around the world. We commit to working across sectors to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or the result of a deliberate act by a state or non-state actor. That includes building global capacity so that we are better prepared for threats such as the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and working together, in close cooperation with WHO, to develop a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance.

23. We continue to strongly support comprehensive approaches to achieve global food security and nutrition. We look forward to the second International Conference on Nutrition in November 2014 and the Expo Milan 2015, which will provide a platform for the global post-2015 debate on sustainability and food and nutrition security. We continue to support the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition under strong African leadership and the successful completion of principles for responsible agricultural investment by the Committee on World Food Security. These will better enable smallholder farmers, especially women, to benefit from sustainable rural development. We continue to support the consistent implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, including by building on the land partnerships we launched in 2013 and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

Ukraine

24. We welcome the successful conduct under difficult circumstances of the election in Ukraine on 25 May. The strong voter turnout underlined the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country. We welcome Petro Poroshenko as the President-elect of Ukraine and commend him for reaching out to all the people of Ukraine.

25. In the face of unacceptable interference in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs by the Russian Federation, we stand by the Ukrainian government and people. We call upon the illegal armed groups to disarm. We encourage the Ukrainian authorities to maintain a measured approach in pursuing operations to restore law and order. We fully support the substantial contribution made by the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the de-escalation of the crisis through the Special Monitoring Mission and other OSCE instruments. We commend the willingness of the Ukrainian authorities to continue the national dialogue in an inclusive manner. We welcome the “Memorandum of Peace and Unity” adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 20 May and express the wish that it can be implemented rapidly. We also encourage the Ukrainian parliament and the Government of Ukraine to continue to pursue constitutional reform in order to provide a framework for deepening and strengthening democracy and accommodating the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine.

26. The G7 are committed to continuing to work with Ukraine to support its economic development, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We encourage the fulfilment of Ukraine’s commitment to pursue the difficult reforms that will be crucial to support economic stability and unlock private sector-led growth. We welcome the decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $17 billion programme for Ukraine, which will anchor other bilateral and multilateral assistance and loans, including around $18 billion foreseen to date from G7 partners. We welcome the swift disbursement of macro-economic support for Ukraine. We support an international donor coordination mechanism to ensure effective delivery of economic assistance and we welcome the EU’s intention to hold a high-level coordination meeting in Brussels. We welcome ongoing efforts to diversify Ukraine’s sources of gas, including through recent steps in the EU towards enabling reverse gas flow capacities and look forward to the successful conclusion of the talks, facilitated by the European Commission, on gas transit and supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine.

27. We are united in condemning the Russian Federation’s continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilise eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop. These actions violate fundamental principles of international law and should be a concern for all nations. We urge the Russian Federation to recognise the results of the election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence. We call on the Russian Federation to meet the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement and cooperate with the government of Ukraine as it implements its plans for promoting peace, unity and reform.

28. We confirm the decision by G7 countries to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and who are threatening the peace, security and stability of Ukraine. We are implementing a strict policy of non-recognition with respect to Crimea/Sevastopol, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require.

29. The projects funded by the donor community to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition have reached an advanced stage of completion. While recognizing the complexity of these first of a kind projects, we call upon all concerned parties to make an additional effort to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion and call upon project parties to keep costs under control. This remains a high priority for us.

Syria

30. We strongly condemn the Assad regime’s brutality which drives a conflict that has killed more than 160,000 people and left 9.3 million in need of humanitarian assistance. We denounce the 3 June sham presidential election: there is no future for Assad in Syria. We again endorse the Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers and agreed by mutual consent, based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria. We strongly condemn the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombardment by the Syrian regime. There is evidence that extremist groups have also perpetrated grave human rights abuses. All those responsible for such abuses must be held to account. We welcome the commitment of the National Coalition and Free Syrian Army to uphold international law. We deplore Russia and China’s decision to veto the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution draft authorising referral to the International Criminal Court and demanding accountability for the serious and ongoing crimes committed in Syria.

31. We are committed to supporting the neighbouring countries bearing the burden of Syrian refugee inflows and deplore the failure to implement UNSC Resolution 2139 on humanitarian assistance. We urge all parties to the conflict to allow access to aid for all those in need, by the most direct routes, including across borders and conflict lines, and support further urgent action by the UNSC to that end. In our funding we decide to give particular support to humanitarian actors that can reach those most in need, including across borders. We call for the international community to meet the enormous funding needs of the UN appeals for Syria and its neighbours. We resolve to intensify our efforts to address the threat arising from foreign fighters travelling to Syria. We are deeply concerned by allegations of repeated chemical agent use and call on all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission. We call on Syria to comply with its obligations under UNSC Resolution 2118, decisions of the Executive Council of the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention to ensure the swift removal of its remaining chemical stockpile for destruction, and to destroy its production facilities immediately and answer all questions regarding its declaration to the OPCW.

Libya

32. We reaffirm our support for a free, prosperous and democratic Libya which will play its role in promoting regional stability. We express serious concern at the recent violence and urge all Libyans to engage with the political process through peaceful and inclusive means, underpinned by respect for the rule of law. We urge continued and coordinated engagement by the international community to support the Libyan transition and efforts to promote political dialogue, in coordination with the UN and with the UN Support Mission in Libya fulfilling its mandate in that respect. We ask all in the international community to respect fully Libyan’s sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in its affairs. In this framework, we commend the proposal of the High National Electoral Commission, endorsed by the General National Congress, to convene the elections on June 25. We emphasise the importance of these elections in restarting the political process and appreciate the vital work of the Constitution Drafting Assembly.

Mali and Central African Republic

33. We welcome the ceasefire signed on May 23 by the Malian Government and armed groups in the North of Mali, thanks to efforts by the African Union, through its Presidency, and the UN. We reaffirm our strong commitment to a political solution and to an inclusive dialogue process that must start without delay, as prescribed by the Ouagadougou agreement and UNSC decisions. We fully support the United Nation’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali efforts in stabilising the country and, with the commitment of neighbouring countries, including Algeria, Mauritania and the Economic Community of West African States, in working for a durable settlement respectful of the unity, territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Mali.

34. We commend the role played on the ground in the Central African Republic by the AU-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, together with the forces sent by France and the European Union, to support the transition and encourage the Transitional Authorities to take urgent concrete steps toward holding free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections. We fully support the UN efforts in the areas of security, reconciliation, preparation of the elections, and humanitarian assistance.

Iran

35. We reaffirm our strong commitment to a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and welcome the efforts by the E3+3, led by High Representative Ashton, and Iran to negotiate a comprehensive solution that provides confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. We underline the importance of the continuing effective implementation by the E3+3 and Iran of the Joint Plan of Action. We call on Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency on verification of Iran’s nuclear activities and to resolve all outstanding issues, including, critically, those relating to possible military dimensions. We strongly urge Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations. We call on Iran to play a more constructive role in supporting regional security, in particular in Syria, and to reject all acts of terrorism and terrorist groups.

North Korea

36. We strongly condemn North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. We urge North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and to comply fully with its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions and commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. We call on the international community to implement fully UN sanctions. We reiterate our grave concerns over the ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in North Korea documented in the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry, and urge North Korea to take immediate steps to address these violations, including on the abductions issue, and cooperate fully with all relevant UN bodies. We continue to work to advance accountability for North Korea’s serious human rights violations.

Middle East Peace Process

37. We fully support the United States’ efforts to secure a negotiated two-state solution. We regret that greater progress has not been made by the parties and urge them to find the common ground and political strength needed to resume the process. A negotiated two-state solution remains the only way to resolve the conflict. We call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and affect the viability of a two-state solution.

Afghanistan

38. We renew our long-term commitment to a democratic, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan and our enduring partnership with the Government of Afghanistan based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual accountability. The first round of presidential elections and the provincial council elections marked a historic achievement, especially for the more than 2.5 million women who voted, and we look forward to the completion of the electoral process. We continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan to strengthen their institutions of governance, reduce corruption, combat terrorism, support economic growth, and counter narcotics. We continue to actively support an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.

Maritime Navigation and Aviation

39. We reaffirm the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally-agreed principles of international law. We remain committed to international cooperation to combat piracy and other maritime crime, consistent with international law and internationally recognised principles of jurisdiction in international waters. We are deeply concerned by tensions in the East and South China Sea. We oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force. We call on all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law. We support the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including through legal dispute settlement mechanisms. We also support confidence-building measures. We underscore the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and also the effective management of civil air traffic based on international law and International Civil Aviation Organization standards and practices.

Other issues

40. We reaffirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, for all persons. We recognise the need to show unprecedented resolve to promote gender equality, to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, to end child, early and forced marriage and to promote full participation and empowerment of all women and girls. We look forward to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict taking place in London later this month.

41. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to cooperate in all relevant fora to prevent and respond to terrorism effectively, and in a comprehensive manner, while respecting human rights and the rule of law. We condemn the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram as an unconscionable crime and intend do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

42. We confirm that non-proliferation/disarmament issues remain a top priority and welcome the G7 Non-proliferation Directors Group statement issued today.

The Brussels G-7 Summit Declaration

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

June 05, 2014

Brussels, Belgium
June 5, 2014

1.       We, the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, met in Brussels on 4 and 5 June 2014. This Group came together because of shared beliefs and shared responsibilities. We are profoundly committed to the values of freedom and democracy, and their universality and to fostering peace and security. We believe in open economies, open societies and open governments, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, as the basis for lasting growth and stability.  For nearly forty years, we have shown through our actions that collective will can be a powerful catalyst for progress. Our efforts to address major global challenges have also been guided by a commitment to transparency, accountability and partnership with other concerned members of the international community. We remain bound together as a group by these values and this vision. Guided by these shared values and principles, we will continue to work together to meet the challenges of our times. We thank the European Union for hosting this Summit and welcome Germany’s Presidency.

Global Economy

2.       Supporting growth and jobs remains our top priority. The global economy has strengthened since we met at Lough Erne, downside risks remain which will need to be managed carefully. Advanced economies are recovering, but continued and sustained growth is needed to bring down unemployment, particularly among young people and the long-term unemployed.

3.       We will take further steps to support strong, sustainable and balanced growth, with a common goal of increasing the resilience of our economies. We will present ambitious and comprehensive growth strategies at the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, to include action across a broad front including in the areas of investment, small and medium enterprises, employment and participation of women, and trade and innovation, in addition to macroeconomic policies. We will continue to implement our fiscal strategies flexibly to take into account near-term economic conditions, so as to support economic growth and job creation, while putting debt as a share of GDP on a sustainable path.

4.       We agreed that 2014 will be the year in which we focus on substantially completing key aspects of the core financial reforms that we undertook in response to the global financial crisis: building resilient financial institutions; ending too-big-to-fail; addressing shadow banking risks; and making derivatives markets safer. We remain committed to the agreed G-20 roadmap for work on relevant shadow banking activities with clear deadlines and actions to progress rapidly towards strengthened and comprehensive oversight and regulation appropriate to the systemic risks posed. We will remain vigilant in the face of global risk and vulnerabilities. And we remain committed to tackling tax avoidance including through the G-20/Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan as set out in the agreed timetable, and tax evasion, where we look forward to the rapid implementation of the new single global standard for automatic exchange of tax information. We call on all jurisdictions to take similar action.

5.       Trade and investment are key engines for jobs and growth. We reaffirm our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight all forms of protectionism including through standstill and rollback. We are committed to strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system. We will protect and promote investment and maintain a level playing field for all investors. International standards for public export finance are crucial for avoiding or reducing distortions in global trade. Since we met at Lough Erne, we have made substantial progress on major trade negotiations: Canada-EU; Japan-EU; Canada-Japan; EU-US; the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and the Trade in Services Agreement. We aim to finalise them as soon as possible. We are committed to liberalising trade in environmental goods and services, including through an Environmental Goods agreement. We will work to conclude an expanded Information Technology Agreement as soon as possible. These agreements and initiatives can help support and will be consistent with the multilateral trading system and act as building blocks for future multilateral deals. We welcome the successful outcomes of the 9th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference.  We will prioritise full and swift implementation of the Bali Package, in particular the Trade Facilitation Agreement. We will continue to provide, within our current Aid for Trade commitments, substantial support and capacity building to help implement this agreement, in particular to the benefit of the Least Developed Countries. We fully support efforts in the WTO to secure swift agreement to a balanced work programme for completing the Doha Round.

Energy

6.       The use of energy supplies as a means of political coercion or as a threat to security is unacceptable. The crisis in Ukraine makes plain that energy security must be at the centre of our collective agenda and requires a step change to our approach to diversifying energy supplies and modernising our energy infrastructure. Under the Rome G-7 Energy Initiative, we will identify and implement concrete domestic policies by each of our governments separately and together, to build a more competitive, diversified, resilient and low-carbon energy system.  This work will be based on the core principles agreed by our Ministers of Energy on May 5-6 2014, in Rome:

  • Development of flexible, transparent and competitive energy markets, including gas markets.
  • Diversification of energy fuels, sources and routes, and encouragement of indigenous sources of energy supply.
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy as a key contribution to sustainable energy security.
  • Enhancing energy efficiency in demand and supply, and demand response management.
  • Promoting deployment of clean and sustainable energy technologies and continued investment in research and innovation.
  • Improving energy systems resilience by promoting infrastructure modernization and supply and demand policies that help withstand systemic shocks.
  • Putting in place emergency response systems, including reserves and fuel substitution for importing countries, in case of major energy disruptions.

7.       Based on these principles we will take the following immediate actions:

  • We will complement the efforts of the European Commission to develop emergency energy plans for winter 2014-2015 at a regional level.
  • Working with international organisations such as the International Energy Agency  (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the international financial institutions, we will supply technical assistance, including leveraging the private sector, and facilitate exchanges with Ukraine and other European countries seeking to develop indigenous hydrocarbon resources and renewable energies, as well as to improve energy efficiency.
  • We will conduct assessments of our energy security resilience and enhance our joint efforts, including on critical infrastructure, transit routes, supply chains and transport.
  • We will ask the IEA, in close cooperation with the European Commission, to present by the end of 2014 options for individual and collective actions of the G-7 in the field of gas security.

8.       We will also:

  • Promote the use of low carbon technologies (renewable energies, nuclear in the countries which opt to use it, and carbon capture and storage) including those which work as a base load energy source; and
  • Promote a more integrated Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market, including through new supplies, the development of transport infrastructures, storage capabilities, and LNG terminals, and further promotion of flexible gas markets, including relaxation of destination clauses and producer-consumer dialogue.

9.       We ask our Energy Ministers to take forward this Rome G-7 Energy Initiative and report back to us in 2015.

Climate Change

10.      Urgent and concrete action is needed to address climate change, as set out in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report. We therefore remain committed to low-carbon economies with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. We affirm our strong determination to adopt in 2015 a global agreement – a new protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the convention applicable to all parties – that is ambitious, inclusive and reflects changing global circumstances. We will communicate our intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so) and call on others to follow our lead. We welcome the Climate Summit of the United Nations Secretary General in September and his invitation to all Parties to prepare for ambitious contributions and to deliver concrete action to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience. We look forward to a successful Summit.

11.      We reaffirm our support for the Copenhagen Accord commitments to mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, to address the climate mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries in the context of their meaningful and transparent mitigation actions. We welcome the adoption of the Green Climate Fund’s operating rules and the decision to commence its initial resource mobilisation in the coming months.  We remain committed to the elimination of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and continued discussions in the OECD on how export credits can contribute to our common goal to address climate change. We will strengthen efforts to improve measurement, reporting, verification and accounting of emissions and improve the reporting of international climate finance flows, consistent with agreed decisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  We will work together and with others to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) under the Montreal Protocol. We will also continue to take action to promote the rapid deployment of climate-friendly and safe alternatives in motor vehicle air-conditioning and we will promote public procurement of climate-friendly HFC alternatives.

Development

12.      The pursuit of sustainable and inclusive development and greater prosperity in all countries remains a foundational commitment that unites our people and our countries. We continue to implement the commitments we have made at previous Summits. To be accountable we will provide a report in 2015 on progress toward their attainment.

13.      We commit to work with all partners to agree an ambitious and universal post-2015 agenda, anchored in a single set of clear and measurable goals. That agenda should complete unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. It should be centred on people and focused both on the eradication of extreme poverty, promoting development and on balancing the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainable development, including climate change. It should also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all. We are committed to build a global partnership with shared responsibility and mutual accountability to ensure its implementation. We await the synthesis report of the United Nations Secretary General in the second half of 2014. We welcome the African Union’s common position.

14.      We will continue to promote inclusive and resilient growth in Africa, working with governments and citizens in Africa to enhance governance and transparency, improve infrastructure, notably in the energy sector, eliminate trade barriers, facilitate trade and investment, and strengthen the responsible and sustainable management of natural resources and the revenues they generate. We welcome the active role of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in the process of reforming the Africa Partnership Forum.

15.      Security and development are the prerequisite of a lasting peace in regions affected by the scourge of war, terrorism, organized crime, corruption, instability and poverty, notably the Sahel region, Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Central African Republic. We welcome efforts by African partners and the African Union, supported by the international community, aimed at building their capacities to respond to crises and support stabilisation.

16.      We confirm our strong commitment to the Deauville Partnership and our support to Arab countries in transition in their efforts to improve governance and stimulate inclusive growth and job creation, particularly for their youth and women. Our Foreign and Finance Ministers will meet in the margins of United Nations General Assembly, and the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Annual Meetings, to take forward the Partnership.

17.      We remain committed to work towards common global standards that raise extractives transparency, which ensure disclosure of companies’ payments to all governments.  We welcome the progress made among G-7 members to implement quickly such standards. These global standards should continue to move towards project-level reporting. Those governments that are signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative standard will voluntarily report their revenues. We confirm our commitment to implement fully the extractive partnerships launched in 2013.

18.      We today announce a new initiative on Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations (CONNEX) to provide developing country partners with extended and concrete expertise for negotiating complex commercial contracts, focusing initially on the extractives sector, and working with existing fora and facilities to avoid duplication, to be launched in New York in June and to deliver improvements by our next meeting, including as a first step a central resource hub that brings together information and guidance.

19.      We will continue to work to tackle tax evasion and illicit flows of finance, including by supporting developing countries to strengthen their tax base and help create stable and sustainable states. We renew our commitment to deny safe haven to the proceeds of corruption, and to the recovery and return of stolen assets. We remain committed to prevent the misuse of companies and other legal arrangements such as trusts to hide financial flows stemming from corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and other crimes, ensuring that beneficial ownership information is available in a timely fashion to financial intelligence units, tax collection and law enforcement agencies, for example through central registries or other appropriate mechanisms, leading by example in implementing the Financial Action Task Force and other relevant international standards and our national action plans in line with the principles we agreed at Lough Erne. Greater transparency in this area will help developing countries.

20.      Recent events illustrate that corruption undermines trust in governments and limits economic growth. We will build on existing efforts, including in the G-20, to take additional steps to prevent this. We continue our engagement to and support of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. We welcome the outcomes of the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery and look forward to the third Arab Forum on Asset Recovery. The G-7 remains committed to working with governments and global financial centres to follow up on asset recovery efforts.

21.      We remain committed to the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health, and welcome the call made at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit in Toronto to accelerate progress on this global priority. In addition we are committed to ensuring sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, and ending child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and other harmful practices. The health and well-being of women and children are improved through ensuring universal access to affordable, quality, essential health services, strengthening health, education and child protection systems and improving nutrition and access to immunisation. We recognise the impact of the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and welcome its efforts to expand access to vaccines to an additional 300 million children during 2016-2020. We welcome Germany’s offer to host the second replenishment in early 2015, reaffirm our commitment, and call on other public and private donors to contribute to the replenishment of the GAVI Alliance. We reaffirm our commitment to an AIDS free generation and to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to reduce the burden of these three major infectious diseases on eligible countries and regions.

22.      To address the threat posed by infectious diseases, we support the Global Health Security Agenda and commit to working with partner countries to strengthen compliance with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Health Regulations and enhance health security around the world.  We commit to working across sectors to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or the result of a deliberate act by a state or non-state actor. That includes building global capacity so that we are better prepared for threats such as the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa and working together, in close cooperation with WHO, to develop a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance.

23.      We continue to strongly support comprehensive approaches to achieve global food security and nutrition. We look forward to the second International Conference on Nutrition in November 2014 and the Expo Milan 2015, which will provide a platform for the global post-2015 debate on sustainability and food and nutrition security. We continue to support the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition under strong African leadership and the successful completion of principles for responsible agricultural investment by the Committee on World Food Security. These will better enable smallholder farmers, especially women, to benefit from sustainable rural development. We continue to support the consistent implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, including by building on the land partnerships we launched in 2013 and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

Ukraine

24.   We welcome the successful conduct under difficult circumstances of the election in Ukraine on 25 May. The strong voter turnout underlined the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country.  We welcome Petro Poroshenko as the President-elect of Ukraine and commend him for reaching out to all the people of Ukraine.

25.   In the face of unacceptable interference in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs by the Russian Federation, we stand by the Ukrainian government and people. We call upon the illegal armed groups to disarm. We encourage the Ukrainian authorities to maintain a measured approach in pursuing operations to restore law and order. We fully support the substantial contribution made by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the de-escalation of the crisis through the Special Monitoring Mission and other OSCE instruments. We commend the willingness of the Ukrainian authorities to continue the national dialogue in an inclusive manner. We welcome the “Memorandum of Peace and Unity” adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 20 May and express the wish that it can be implemented rapidly.  We also encourage the Ukrainian parliament and the Government of Ukraine to continue to pursue constitutional reform in order to provide a framework for deepening and strengthening democracy and accommodating the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine.

26.   The G-7 are committed to continuing to work with Ukraine to support its economic development, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We encourage the fulfilment of Ukraine’s commitment to pursue the difficult reforms that will be crucial to support economic stability and unlock private sector-led growth. We welcome the decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $17 billion programme for Ukraine, which will anchor other bilateral and multilateral assistance and loans, including around $18 billion foreseen to date from G-7 partners.  We welcome the swift disbursement of macro-economic support for Ukraine. We support an international donor coordination mechanism to ensure effective delivery of economic assistance and we welcome the EU’s intention to hold a high-level coordination meeting in Brussels. We welcome ongoing efforts to diversify Ukraine’s sources of gas, including through recent steps in the EU towards enabling reverse gas flow capacities and look forward to the successful conclusion of the talks, facilitated by the European Commission, on gas transit and supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine.

27.   We are united in condemning the Russian Federation’s continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilise eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop. These actions violate fundamental principles of international law and should be a concern for all nations.  We urge the Russian Federation to recognise the results of the election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence. We call on the Russian Federation to meet the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement and cooperate with the government of Ukraine as it implements its plans for promoting peace, unity and reform.

28.   We confirm the decision by G-7 countries to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and who are threatening the peace, security and stability of Ukraine. We are implementing a strict policy of non-recognition with respect to Crimea/Sevastopol, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require.

29.   The projects funded by the donor community to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition have reached an advanced stage of completion. While recognizing the complexity of these first of a kind projects, we call upon all concerned parties to make an additional effort to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion and call upon project parties to keep costs under control. This remains a high priority for us.

Syria

30.   We strongly condemn the Assad regime’s brutality which drives a conflict that has killed more than 160,000 people and left 9.3 million in need of humanitarian assistance. We denounce the 3 June sham presidential election: there is no future for Assad in Syria. We again endorse the Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers and agreed by mutual consent, based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.  We strongly condemn the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombardment by the Syrian regime. There is evidence that extremist groups have also perpetrated grave human rights abuses. All those responsible for such abuses must be held to account. We welcome the commitment of the National Coalition and Free Syrian Army to uphold international law.  We deplore Russia and China’s decision to veto the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution draft authorising referral to the International Criminal Court and demanding accountability for the serious and ongoing crimes committed in Syria.

31.   We are committed to supporting the neighbouring countries bearing the burden of Syrian refugee inflows and deplore the failure to implement UNSC Resolution 2139 on humanitarian assistance. We urge all parties to the conflict to allow access to aid for all those in need, by the most direct routes, including across borders and conflict lines, and support further urgent action by the UNSC to that end. In our funding we decide to give particular support to humanitarian actors that can reach those most in need, including across borders. We call for the international community to meet the enormous funding needs of the UN appeals for Syria and its neighbours. We resolve to intensify our efforts to address the threat arising from foreign fighters travelling to Syria. We are deeply concerned by allegations of repeated chemical agent use and call on all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission. We call on Syria to comply with its obligations under UNSC Resolution 2118, decisions of the Executive Council of the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention to ensure the swift removal of its remaining chemical stockpile for destruction, and to destroy its production facilities immediately and answer all questions regarding its declaration to the OPCW.

Libya

32.   We reaffirm our support for a free, prosperous and democratic Libya which will play its role in promoting regional stability.  We express serious concern at the recent violence and urge all Libyans to engage with the political process through peaceful and inclusive means, underpinned by respect for the rule of law.  We urge continued and coordinated engagement by the international community to support the Libyan transition and efforts to promote political dialogue, in coordination with the UN and with the UN Support Mission in Libya fulfilling its mandate in that respect.   We ask all in the international community to respect fully Libyan’s sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in its affairs. In this framework, we commend the proposal of the High National Electoral Commission, endorsed by the General National Congress, to convene the elections on June 25. We emphasise the importance of these elections in restarting the political process and appreciate the vital work of the Constitution Drafting Assembly.

Mali and Central African Republic

33.   We welcome the ceasefire signed on May 23 by the Malian Government and armed groups in the North of Mali, thanks to efforts by the African Union, through its Presidency, and the UN. We reaffirm our strong commitment to a political solution and to an inclusive dialogue process that must start without delay, as prescribed by the Ouagadougou agreement and UNSC decisions. We fully support the United Nation’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali efforts in stabilising the country and, with the commitment of neighbouring countries, including Algeria, Mauritania and the Economic Community of West African States, in working for a durable settlement respectful of the unity, territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Mali.

34.   We commend the role played on the ground in the Central African Republic by the AU-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, together with the forces sent by France and the European Union, to support the transition and encourage the Transitional Authorities to take urgent concrete steps toward holding free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections. We fully support the UN efforts in the areas of security, reconciliation, preparation of the elections, and humanitarian assistance.

Iran

35.   We reaffirm our strong commitment to a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and welcome the efforts by the E3+3, led by High Representative Ashton, and Iran to negotiate a comprehensive solution that provides confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. We underline the importance of the continuing effective implementation by the E3+3 and Iran of the Joint Plan of Action. We call on Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency on verification of Iran’s nuclear activities and to resolve all outstanding issues, including, critically, those relating to possible military dimensions.   We strongly urge Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations. We call on Iran to play a more constructive role in supporting regional security, in particular in Syria, and to reject all acts of terrorism and terrorist groups.

North Korea

36.   We strongly condemn North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  We urge North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and to comply fully with its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions and commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. We call on the international community to implement fully UN sanctions. We reiterate our grave concerns over the ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in North Korea documented in the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry, and urge North Korea to take immediate steps to address these violations, including on the abductions issue, and cooperate fully with all relevant UN bodies. We continue to work to advance accountability for North Korea’s serious human rights violations.

Middle East Peace Process

37.   We fully support the United States’ efforts to secure a negotiated two-state solution.  We regret that greater progress has not been made by the parties and urge them to find the common ground and political strength needed to resume the process. A negotiated two-state solution remains the only way to resolve the conflict. We call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and affect the viability of a two-state solution.

Afghanistan

38.   We renew our long-term commitment to a democratic, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan and our enduring partnership with the Government of Afghanistan based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual accountability. The first round of presidential elections and the provincial council elections marked a historic achievement, especially for the more than 2.5 million women who voted, and we look forward to the completion of the electoral process. We continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan to strengthen their institutions of governance, reduce corruption, combat terrorism, support economic growth, and counter narcotics.  We continue to actively support an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.

Maritime Navigation and Aviation

39. We reaffirm the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally-agreed principles of international law. We remain committed to international cooperation to combat piracy and other maritime crime, consistent with international law and internationally recognised principles of jurisdiction in international waters. We are deeply concerned by tensions in the East and South China Sea. We oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force. We call on all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law. We support the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including through legal dispute settlement mechanisms.  We also support confidence-building measures. We underscore the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and also the effective management of civil air traffic based on international law and International Civil Aviation Organization standards and practices.

Other Issues

40.   We reaffirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, for all persons. We recognise the need to show unprecedented resolve to promote gender equality, to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, to end child, early and forced marriage and to promote full participation and empowerment of all women and girls. We look forward to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict taking place in London later this month.

41.   We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to cooperate in all relevant fora to prevent and respond to terrorism effectively, and in a comprehensive manner, while respecting human rights and the rule of law. We condemn the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram as an unconscionable crime and intend do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

42.   We confirm that non-proliferation/disarmament issues remain a top priority and welcome the G-7 Non-proliferation Directors Group statement issued today.

Conclusion

43.    We look forward to meeting under the Presidency of Germany in 2015.

G-7 Leaders Statement – Foreign Policy

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

June 04, 2014

Brussels, Belgium
June 4, 2014

Ukraine

  • We welcome the successful conduct under difficult circumstances of the election in Ukraine on 25 May. The strong voter turnout underlined the determination of Ukraine’s citizens to determine the future of their country.  We welcome Petro Poroshenko as the President-elect of Ukraine and commend him for reaching out to all the people of Ukraine.
  • In the face of unacceptable interference in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs by the Russian Federation, we stand by the Ukrainian government and people. We call upon the illegal armed groups to disarm. We encourage the Ukrainian authorities to maintain a measured approach in pursuing operations to restore law and order. We fully support the substantial contribution made by the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to the de-escalation of the crisis through the Special Monitoring Mission and other OSCE instruments. We commend the willingness of the Ukrainian authorities to continue the national dialogue in an inclusive manner. We welcome the “Memorandum of Peace and Unity” adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 20 May and express the wish that it can be implemented rapidly.  We also encourage the Ukrainian parliament and the Government of Ukraine to continue to pursue constitutional reform in order to provide a framework for deepening and strengthening democracy and accommodating the rights and aspirations of all people in all regions of Ukraine.
  • The G-7 are committed to continuing to work with Ukraine to support its economic development, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We encourage the fulfilment of Ukraine’s commitment to pursue the difficult reforms that will be crucial to support economic stability and unlock private sector-led growth. We welcome the decision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $17 billion programme for Ukraine, which will anchor other bilateral and multilateral assistance and loans, including around $18 billion foreseen to date from G-7 partners.  We welcome the swift disbursement of macro-economic support for Ukraine. We support an international donor coordination mechanism to ensure effective delivery of economic assistance and we welcome the EU’s intention to hold a high-level coordination meeting in Brussels. We welcome ongoing efforts to diversify Ukraine’s sources of gas, including through recent steps in the EU towards enabling reverse gas flow capacities and look forward to the successful conclusion of the talks, facilitated by the European Commission, on gas transit and supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine.
  • We are united in condemning the Russian Federation’s continuing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilize eastern Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop. These actions violate fundamental principles of international law and should be a concern for all nations.  We urge the Russian Federation to recognize the results of the election, complete the withdrawal of its military forces on the border with Ukraine, stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and renounce violence. We call on the Russian Federation to meet the commitments it made in the Geneva Joint Statement and cooperate with the government of Ukraine as it implements its plans for promoting peace, unity and reform.
  • We confirm the decision by G-7 countries to impose sanctions on individuals and entities who have actively supported or implemented the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and who are threatening the peace, security and stability of Ukraine. We are implementing a strict policy of non-recognition with respect to Crimea/Sevastopol, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. We stand ready to intensify targeted sanctions and to implement significant additional restrictive measures to impose further costs on Russia should events so require.
  • The projects funded by the donor community to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition have reached an advanced stage of completion. While recognizing the complexity of these first of a kind projects, we call upon all concerned parties to make an additional effort to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion and call upon project parties to keep costs under control. This remains a high priority for us.

Syria

  • We strongly condemn the Assad regime’s brutality which drives a conflict that has killed more than 160,000 people and left 9.3 million in need of humanitarian assistance. We denounce the 3 June sham presidential election: there is no future for Assad in Syria. We again endorse the Geneva Communiqué, which calls for a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers and agreed by mutual consent, based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.  We strongly condemn the violations of international humanitarian law and human rights and indiscriminate artillery shelling and aerial bombardment by the Syrian regime. There is evidence that extremist groups have also perpetrated grave human rights abuses. All those responsible for such abuses must be held to account. We welcome the commitment of the National Coalition and Free Syrian Army to uphold international law.  We deplore Russia and China’s decision to veto the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution draft authorizing referral to the International Criminal Court and demanding accountability for the serious and ongoing crimes committed in Syria.
  • We are committed to supporting the neighboring countries bearing the burden of Syrian refugee inflows and deplore the failure to implement UNSC Resolution 2139 on humanitarian assistance. We urge all parties to the conflict to allow access to aid for all those in need, by the most direct routes, including across borders and conflict lines, and support further urgent action by the UNSC to that end. In our funding we decide to give particular support to humanitarian actors that can reach those most in need, including across borders. We call for the international community to meet the enormous funding needs of the UN appeals for Syria and its neighbours. We resolve to intensify our efforts to address the threat arising from foreign fighters travelling to Syria. We are deeply concerned by allegations of repeated chemical agent use and call on all parties in Syria to cooperate fully with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fact-finding mission. We call on Syria to comply with its obligations under UNSC Resolution 2118, decisions of the Executive Council of the OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention to ensure the swift removal of its remaining chemical stockpile for destruction, and to destroy its production facilities immediately and answer all questions regarding its declaration to the OPCW.

Libya

  • We reaffirm our support for a free, prosperous and democratic Libya which will play its role in promoting regional stability.  We express serious concern at the recent violence and urge all Libyans to engage with the political process through peaceful and inclusive means, underpinned by respect for the rule of law.  We urge continued and coordinated engagement by the international community to support the Libyan transition and efforts to promote political dialogue, in coordination with the UN and with the UN Support Mission in Libya fulfilling its mandate in that respect.   We ask all in the international community to respect fully Libyan’s sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in its affairs. In this framework, we commend the proposal of the High National Electoral Commission, endorsed by the General National Congress, to convene the elections on June 25. We emphasize the importance of these elections in restarting the political process and appreciate the vital work of the Constitution Drafting Assembly.

Mali and Central African Republic

  • We welcome the ceasefire signed on May 23 by the Malian Government and armed groups in the North of Mali, thanks to efforts by the African Union, through its Presidency, and the UN. We reaffirm our strong commitment to a political solution and to an inclusive dialogue process that must start without delay, as prescribed by the Ouagadougou agreement and UNSC decisions. We fully support the United Nation’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali efforts in stabilizing the country and, with the commitment of neighboring countries, including Algeria, Mauritania and the Economic Community of West African States, in working for a durable settlement respectful of the unity, territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Mali.
  • We commend the role played on the ground in the Central African Republic by the AU-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, together with the forces sent by France and the European Union, to support the transition and encourage the Transitional Authorities to take urgent concrete steps toward holding free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections. We fully support the UN efforts in the areas of security, reconciliation, preparation of the elections, and humanitarian assistance.

Iran

  • We reaffirm our strong commitment to a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and welcome the efforts by the E3+3, led by High Representative Ashton, and Iran to negotiate a comprehensive solution that provides confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. We underline the importance of the continuing effective implementation by the E3+3 and Iran of the Joint Plan of Action. We call on Iran to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency on verification of Iran’s nuclear activities and to resolve all outstanding issues, including, critically, those relating to possible military dimensions.   We strongly urge Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations. We call on Iran to play a more constructive role in supporting regional security, in particular in Syria, and to reject all acts of terrorism and terrorist groups.

North Korea

  • We strongly condemn North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  We urge North Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and to comply fully with its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions and commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. We call on the international community to implement fully UN sanctions. We reiterate our grave concerns over the ongoing systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations in North Korea documented in the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry, and urge North Korea to take immediate steps to address these violations, including on the abductions issue, and cooperate fully with all relevant UN bodies. We continue to work to advance accountability for North Korea’s serious human rights violations.

Middle East Peace Process

  • We fully support the United States’ efforts to secure a negotiated two-state solution.  We regret that greater progress has not been made by the parties and urge them to find the common ground and political strength needed to resume the process. A negotiated two-state solution remains the only way to resolve the conflict. We call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and affect the viability of a two-state solution.

Afghanistan

  • We renew our long-term commitment to a democratic, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan and our enduring partnership with the Government of Afghanistan based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual accountability. The first round of presidential elections and the provincial council elections marked a historic achievement, especially for the more than 2.5 million women who voted, and we look forward to the completion of the electoral process. We continue to assist the Government of Afghanistan to strengthen their institutions of governance, reduce corruption, combat terrorism, support economic growth, and counter narcotics.  We continue to actively support an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation.

Maritime Navigation and Aviation

  • We reaffirm the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally-agreed principles of international law. We remain committed to international cooperation to combat piracy and other maritime crime, consistent with international law and internationally recognized principles of jurisdiction in international waters. We are deeply concerned by tensions in the East and South China Sea. We oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force. We call on all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law. We support the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including through legal dispute settlement mechanisms.  We also support confidence-building measures. We underscore the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and also the effective management of civil air traffic based on international law and International Civil Aviation Organization standards and practices.

Other Issues

  • We reaffirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including religious freedom, for all persons. We recognise the need to show unprecedented resolve to promote gender equality, to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, to end child, early and forced marriage and to promote full participation and empowerment of all women and girls. We look forward to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict taking place in London later this month.
  • We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to cooperate in all relevant fora to prevent and respond to terrorism effectively, and in a comprehensive manner, while respecting human rights and the rule of law. We condemn the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram as an unconscionable crime and intend do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • We confirm that non-proliferation/disarmament issues remain a top priority and welcome the G-7 Non-proliferation Directors Group statement issued today.