Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – February 4, 2015

12:53 p.m. EST
MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.
QUESTION: Hello.
MS. PSAKI: I just have one item for all of you at the top. We want to reiterate our serious concerns about reports that Nadiya Savchenko is gravely ill while she remains a hostage to Russian authorities. Nadiya has been on a hunger strike for 54 days to protest the terms of her illegal detention, and her life now hangs in the balance.
She was captured by Russian-backed separatists in June of 2014 and illegally moved across the border and handed over to Russian authorities, who have treated her in an appalling manner. While imprisoned, Nadiya has been forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation, solitary confinement, restricted access to a Ukrainian consular official, and isolation from her family. We call on Russia to release Nadiya Savchenko and all other Ukrainian hostages immediately, a commitment Russia made when it signed the Minsk agreements in September of last year.
With that, Matt.
QUESTION: I’m sure we’ll get back to Ukraine, but I just want to clear up something from yesterday.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: This will be very brief. I just want to know: Have you guys changed your mind on whether – on the Keystone issue, whether you’re going to tell us how many agencies of the eight that you asked actually turned in their reports on it?
MS. PSAKI: We have heard from all eight agencies listed in Executive Order 13337. With this step completed, we are proceeding with our review in accordance with the executive order. Once we have reviewed the agencies’ submissions, analyzed all the information needed for completion of the review, and prepared the final documents, a determination will be made.
QUESTION: Can I just ask why yesterday that that was a problem to say that?
MS. PSAKI: I think I followed up on your request, Matt, and was responsive to the questions from the briefing room.
QUESTION: Yes, you did, and I appreciate that. Now, just to take it one step further, and I know that this is probably going to be asked way too much —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: — but what do the reports actually say? Are there agencies that are in favor?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to characterize them because we treat them as internal reports. Obviously, when we put out a determination, their input will be factored into the decision made.
QUESTION: So we’re at kind of wax-paper transparency right now instead of pure cellophane?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, you’re aware that they were giving input. There’s a range of information that is public and obviously, the final determination will be public.
Go ahead, Arshad.
QUESTION: One thing. When you said “we have now heard from,” that means that you actually got substantive responses or submissions from the eight agencies, not – you didn’t hear from them saying, “Sorry, guys, we’re not going to give you anything”?
MS. PSAKI: It means – and I appreciate your question – it means that there – the eight agencies were not required to submit input. It means we have been in touch with all of the eight agencies and we have received the input that we will receive. So that part of the process is complete.
QUESTION: Can you say whether or not it is substantive input? I mean, you didn’t get a letter from one of the eight saying, “Sorry, guys, we’re not actually going to” —
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to go agency by agency, but in the collection, yes, we have received substantive input.
QUESTION: But you can’t say whether you got it – got substantive input from all eight?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into that level of detail.
QUESTION: Can we move to Ukraine?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: The President’s nominee for – to replace Secretary Hagel at the Pentagon was testifying this morning and said that he is inclined, or very much inclined, to support sending lethal defensive weaponry to the Ukrainians. Given the fact that Secretary Kerry is on his way to Kyiv later, and Vice President Biden is on – everyone seems to be flying to Europe today or in the next day or so.
MS. PSAKI: For the Munich Security Conference.
QUESTION: Exactly. Well, I don’t think – well, whatever. Anyway, I’m wondering is there anything new from the Administration’s point of view on where this discussion, this debate, this internal deliberation is going.
MS. PSAKI: No, there is not. Our policy hasn’t changed. Obviously, there are a range of views and opinions within the Administration. That’s why we have internal discussions.
QUESTION: President Poroshenko of Ukraine said today that he expects the U.S. will – and soon – provide this kind of equipment to Ukraine. Is he being overly optimistic?
MS. PSAKI: Well, those are requests, as you know, that President Poroshenko and the Ukrainians have made, and we’ve had an ongoing dialogue. But our policy hasn’t changed and a decision hasn’t been made to do that.
QUESTION: Okay. Would you expect that a decision on this issue would be made in the coming – like, before the weekend, either while Secretary Kerry is in Kyiv or while Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry are seeing European and other officials in Munich?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to put a public deadline; there isn’t an internal deadline either. So I would not —
QUESTION: Not – we – are you saying that we should not expect any kind of announcement on this end when the Secretary is in Kyiv?
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, we’ll let internal discussions play themselves out, but I would not anticipate that there is new information coming on that at this moment.
QUESTION: That – well, sorry, does that include the next couple of days (inaudible)?
MS. PSAKI: Well, a decision hasn’t been made. There are ongoing meetings. I don’t have anything further to add.
QUESTION: Can we go to Jordan?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Any more on Ukraine before we go on to Jordan? Okay. Go ahead, Arshad.
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Jordanian Government’s decision yesterday, the same day as the public disclosure of the killing of the pilot, to hang the two longstanding prisoners that they have had?
MS. PSAKI: Well, let me first reiterate, as the President and the Secretary and many officials have, that we stand behind the people of Jordan. The Government of Jordan is an important partner. This was a vile murder of a brave Jordanian that will only serve to steel the international community’s resolve to destroy ISIL.
In terms of the actions, we are aware of the death sentences, of course, being carried out. These individuals, I would remind everybody, were – had gone through a judicial process, were both convicted al-Qaida-connected terrorists who had been sentenced to death long before February 3rd. Beyond that, I don’t have any further comment.
QUESTION: You don’t have any thoughts about the – what appears to have been a – an immediate sort of retaliatory act by the Jordanian Government?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t. The comments are what I just offered. We support the Government of Jordan.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: In terms of the coalition, what other Arab countries – have other Arab countries besides the United Arab Emirates suspended airstrikes because of the Jordanian pilot capture in December?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one, I don’t have any confirmation of those reports. I’d certainly refer you to the UAE. Obviously, there’s an ongoing effort by many countries in the coalition to conduct ongoing airstrikes, but it’s not just a military campaign. There are a range of ways that countries, including the UAE, contribute to this effort. As you know, there are five lines of effort. We’ve consistently deferred to our partners in characterizing their current operations, and that remains the case for this as well.
QUESTION: But is this a big concern for Mr. Kerry and the Administration given that the participation of Sunni Arab states not only – especially in the air campaign, in the military side, is a key part of the legitimacy of this coalition?
MS. PSAKI: Of course it is, and you’ve seen that there have been ongoing efforts by a range of Sunni Arab countries to not only conduct military operations but take a range of steps to delegitimize ISIL, to crack down on foreign fighters, to do more to crack down on their financing. These are essential components of what we’re doing here, and they all fit together. Without all of them we won’t be able to degrade and defeat ISIL. But beyond that, there are no other reports that I’m – I’ve even seen, and so I would – and I’m not in a position to, obviously, speak to the military operations of another country.
QUESTION: Right. But just to clarify, is the Administration concerned about Arab states pulling out or being reluctant to participate given the example of the Jordanian pilot and the United Arab Emirates’ action?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think you’ve seen, one, that the country that was most impacted, a spokesperson from Jordan spoke to the fact that Jordan intends to intensify its efforts to defeat ISIL. The United States is not going to buckle in the face of demands or horrific actions of ISIL, and we don’t expect other countries will either.
QUESTION: Can I just ask: You referred us to the UAE for their participation, but CENTCOM and the Pentagon had no problem saying that the UAE was involved when it was involved, when it did conduct airstrikes. The Administration hasn’t had a problem providing a list of the countries who are in the anti-ISIL countries. Wouldn’t it make sense if someone drops out or suspends their participation in it that that would also be acknowledged or noted?
MS. PSAKI: Well, no report was suggesting they suspended their participation in the coalition, and I think that was the point I was trying to make to Barbara.
QUESTION: No, the point was the military side of it.
MS. PSAKI: I understand what the point is, but I think you’re all missing the point on what the coalition is about, and so that was the point I was trying to make to you, Barbara. But beyond that, no, we’re not going to confirm any reports about other countries and their military operations.
QUESTION: There was a specific element of the one story on this that the UAE foreign minister had made this point to the U.S. – new U.S. ambassador to the UAE. That ambassador works for this building. Are you aware of any complaints, concerns similar to the ones that were described in this story that were expressed to the ambassador?
MS. PSAKI: We’re just not going – I’m not – I don’t have any further comment on the reports.
Any more on this before we go on? Or Jordan, since we started that? Go ahead.
QUESTION: So Senator McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said this morning that Jordan – this is, I guess, a concern that the Jordanians expressed to him yesterday when he met and the committee members met with the king, that they’re not getting some of the advanced weaponry that they need and that the reason for this is a, quote, “huge bureaucratic bottleneck in the State Department.” Do you have any reaction to that?
MS. PSAKI: I would point anyone who expresses that to the fact that we just signed an MOU yesterday significantly increasing our assistance, that we have an ongoing not only dialogue but assistance efforts with the Government of Jordan and our other important partners, and obviously, military assistance often comes from the Department of Defense. But not aware of any time that we have been opposed to that.
QUESTION: So there’s no concern that sort of between these – when these order are given and when they are carried out by the Department of Defense, there’s no bottleneck here in the State Department?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t even have any information on what that’s a reference to.
QUESTION: Can I just ask you on this stuff that was – has it been decided precisely what all of this extra money, if you get it from Congress, is going to go to? And if it has, can you say what the military component of it is?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know – and I wasn’t necessarily referring to it as military assistance, but in general assistance.
QUESTION: I understand.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have a breakdown. I can check with our team and see if we can get that —
QUESTION: Do you know if it – has it gotten to the point where it even could be broken down?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure it has. I mean, that’s a good question and I can ask them if it’s reached that point. It’s an intention to provide, so sometimes it’s not quite at that point.
Jordan? Any more on Jordan? Go ahead.
QUESTION: And just for clarification, that means a more increase in military assistance that you would —
MS. PSAKI: Well, I was referring more – in terms of the MOU and the increase in assistance, we don’t have a breakdown of that. I was just making the point that over the course of the last several years, we’ve shown a desire and an effort to continue to increase our support for the needs of the Government of Jordan in the face of not only the threats from ISIL but other needs they have. A big need they have is humanitarian assistance given the influx of refugees. So I don’t see what the evidence is to back that up.
Any more on Jordan before we continue?
QUESTION: On Jordan.
MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. And we’ll go to you, Pam, next too.
QUESTION: Back in November, I believe President Obama made a review of how the U.S. handles hostage situations. Can you give us an update on that and what your role on that is or —
MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, it’s an interagency review. I don’t have any update, though. It’s ongoing.
Go ahead, Pam.
QUESTION: We touched on this yesterday, but do you have any new information concerning the timing of the release of the video of the Jordanian pilot? In particular, is there any indication that Secretary Kerry or other U.S. officials had knowledge of this video’s existence prior to yesterday’s meeting?
MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t have anything new on that, no.
Any more on Jordan? All right, new topic? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Turkey?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Yesterday, Turkey’s banking regulatory authorities took over the management of private bank which has been publicly targeted by President Erdogan in his political campaigns. According to —
MS. PSAKI: Can you say that one more time? Took over control of what was it?
QUESTION: Private bank.
MS. PSAKI: Private bank, okay.
QUESTION: Yeah. President – which targeted by President Erdogan in his political campaign. And according to Reuters, this could hurt Turkey’s reputation with international investors. Mr. Erdogan also made comments publicly challenging independence of Turkey’s central bank. Are you following those developments? Any concern about —
MS. PSAKI: Everything you’ve described sounds to me like an internal issue in Turkey. I’m happy to talk to our team and see if we have any comment or view on it.
QUESTION: Okay.
MS. PSAKI: New topic? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Saudi Arabia.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: In the sworn testimony given in October, Zacarias Moussaoui – I can’t pronounce his name correctly – has alleged that in the period prior to September 11, he was privy to the direct ties that purportedly existed between Usama bin Ladin and prominent members of the Saudi royal family and government. How do you regard his testimony?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is private litigation that’s ongoing, as you know, so we’re not in a position to comment specifically. We continue to maintain strong counterterrorism cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our mutual cooperation includes information-sharing about shared threats from al-Qaida and other violent extremist groups. We did file a brief earlier in the litigation when the case was before the Supreme Court in 2009. That brief is publicly available, which certainly reflects the views of the United States Government.
QUESTION: Has anyone in the State Department been in touch with anyone in the Saudi Government concerning the testimony?
MS. PSAKI: Again, this is a legal case, so it would happen through those channels.
QUESTION: Another on Saudi Arabia.
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you have anything new on Chris Cramer, the American that was – that died under suspicious circumstances?
MS. PSAKI: Let me see if I have anything new on that. I know we talked about that just a couple of days ago. I confirmed, I believe last week, of course, the – well, that he died outside of the Sahara Makarim Hotel on January 15th. Officials, of course, from the U.S. Consulate General are in contact with the family and are providing consular assistance.
We – did you have a specific question about it, or —
QUESTION: No, just if you had any update on that case.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any particular update. If you have anything more specific we can certainly follow up on that.
Any more on Saudi Arabia?
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that —
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: — have you been in touch with his family members who were saying that they received these text messages that they were in fear – or Cramer was —
MS. PSAKI: We are in touch with family members. We’re providing consular assistance. There’s obviously an ongoing investigation by the local police department on the ground. That’s ongoing. There hasn’t been an outcome of that, so we wouldn’t speak to the specifics.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Japan, please.
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: So Secretary Blinken will be going to Tokyo, and it says in the readout that he will be meeting regular citizens working to enact social changes in Japan. Do you have any —
MS. PSAKI: Assistant – I’m sorry, who?
QUESTION: Blinken.
MS. PSAKI: Blinken. Yes, yes, yes, of course.
QUESTION: So is —
MS. PSAKI: I thought you said Secretary Clinton. I was like, oh, that’s interesting. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Oh, no. Sorry about that.
MS. PSAKI: No, go ahead.
QUESTION: So this meeting with the regular citizens working to enact social changes, do you have any details about that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details. I think what that typically means is civil society groups, and that’s something that we do in most countries that we visit. So I’m sure as he goes on his trip and the schedule becomes more formalized, they’ll have more details on it.
QUESTION: And I have one other question, actually. It’s about the extension of the air patrol, the Japanese air patrol into South China Sea. And I was wondering: Japan isn’t a claimant, and you always talk about how it’s important for all countries to be careful not to raise tensions. Are you concerned? What is your opinion about this? I mean, China is very concerned and it’s saying that it’s going to raise tensions. How do you think this is going to affect the region?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the reality in this case is we know there’s been reports and different public comments made, but we’re not aware of any proposals for Japan to patrol the South China Sea. So I don’t know that the concern is about anything that’s actually ongoing. It doesn’t seem that it is.
QUESTION: Okay. So you’re saying that you’re not aware that the Japanese are going to do it?
MS. PSAKI: Correct, that there are plans or proposals. And I actually think that the defense minister may have spoken to that as well.
QUESTION: He – okay.
MS. PSAKI: Any more on Japan or Asia or another topic?
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Another topic.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: South Sudan. It’s not really in the news of the day, but thank you for your statement yesterday welcoming the ceasefire. More broadly, there was a very detailed report in Foreign Policy Magazine a few days ago accusing Susan Rice of blocking an arms embargo resolution at the UN, whereas Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Samantha Power were pushing for such a resolution. So could you confirm that Secretary Kerry is in favor of an arms embargo resolution to try to solve the conflict?
MS. PSAKI: I have not talked to him about this issue in some time, so I’d have to follow up with him. I don’t have any confirmation of the specific reports or details in there. Naturally, I refer you to the White House on anything about the national security advisor.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Cuba?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Today Assistant Secretary Jacobson said that normalization would take years. Could you unpack that at all for us? Was she referring to all of the claims that are existing, that – is that what’s going to take many years?
MS. PSAKI: No. She’s referring to the fact that our effort here, there – I would think of it in two phases. There is the efforts to reestablish diplomatic relations, which oftentimes people combine the two, and that’s reopening the embassy, working through some of these technical issues, the ability of our staff to travel, to receive – to receive things at the embassy, to receive Cubans at the embassy. So these are a number of technical steps we’re talking through, but normalizing relations is a very long process. And that’s something we’ve seen with other countries and we fully anticipate here as well.
QUESTION: Can we be clear on one thing? (Inaudible) opening the embassy, but it’s the same facility —
MS. PSAKI: You’re right. Correct.
QUESTION: — that now serves as U.S. Interests Section that will just be designated an embassy once you’ve exchanged the notes, right?
MS. PSAKI: That’s right. But there is some money in the budget that requested —
QUESTION: Right, to spruce —
MS. PSAKI: — some upgrades and things like that.
QUESTION: Right.
MS. PSAKI: But you’re right; it’s the same building. There’s some money to upgrade and provide necessary communications equipment at that appropriate point.
QUESTION: Jen, sorry, one last question going back. Would you welcome an extension of the air patrols in the South China Sea?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s not being discussed, nor is it being proposed by the Japanese, so I’m not going to speak to something that isn’t even being proposed at this point in time.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: All right. Go ahead.
QUESTION: There was another report this morning saying that the Libyan Government has expressed an interest in further aid from the United States for fighting Islamic fighters in Libya. Is there a concern in this building of ISIS spreading beyond Iraq and Syria, and is – are you considering any action outside of those two countries to fight them?
MS. PSAKI: Well, what we’ve seen in a number of countries is public claims by some groups that they support ISIL, that they embrace their ideas. Some have renamed their groups ISIL-related names. But what we look for is whether there are operational contacts or operational coordination. Libya, as you know, is a country that has had a challenging couple of years. We work very closely with a range of countries to see how we can best help return the country to stability. Obviously, they’re dealing with a range of terrorism threats, but this is still an issue that we look closely at in terms of what it exactly means, the public proclamations versus the operational connections.
QUESTION: The specific number that they give – 2,000 to 3,000, I guess, fighters have pledged allegiance to ISIS. That’s not necessarily a number that you in this building feel is an accurate representation of ISIS’s presence in Libya?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the – I don’t have any validation of those numbers. The point I’m trying to make, that public allegiance does not mean that they’re operationally working together in general. So I don’t have any more details on where we are with that, how we’re looking at that.
QUESTION: You mean to say “claim of public allegiance,” because it would seem —
MS. PSAKI: Claims of public allegiance, sure. That’s the same thing, I think.
QUESTION: Okay. And also, you said that Libya has had a challenging couple of years? Is that not a little bit of an understatement?
MS. PSAKI: Incredibly challenging? Would you like – would that be a better way of describing it?
QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. It’s gone from authoritarian dictatorship to basically chaos. You had to close your embassy there.
MS. PSAKI: You’re right.
QUESTION: So anyway, that’s —
QUESTION: One more on Libya?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: There are reports today that gunmen seized control of a Libyan oilfield today. Do you have any information as to who may have been – who those gunmen may have been, what allegiances they have, and whether they have any professed allegiance to the Islamic State?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t. I haven’t seen public claims in the reports that I’ve seen to date. We can certainly follow up and see if anything’s changed on that front.
QUESTION: Was there any discussion – you were saying it’s claims at this point rather than clear operational connection, but is there any discussion —
MS. PSAKI: Well, I mean that’s something we look at.
QUESTION: Right.
MS. PSAKI: So there’s a difference between the two, but go ahead.
QUESTION: Right, but are you – you’re saying that about Libya, though? At this stage, the view is these are not necessarily operational connections?
MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t making a conclusive – this is obviously something our counterintelligence – our CT community looks at, our intelligence community looks at. I don’t have any analysis for you from here, but there is a difference between them, and that’s how we view it.
QUESTION: And – but are you aware of whether there’s any discussion within the coalition about the possibility of extending the remit or the operations to include Libya? Because that’s what the Libyans are asking for; they’re saying that if you just focus on Syria and Iraq, it’s shortsighted since we’re having the same problem.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any discussion of that, and as you know, the efforts and the discussion about Libya, as much as it is very volatile on the ground, is more about working for – toward a political solution through the UN efforts. There are many countries in the coalition that are involved in that as well.
QUESTION: Can I move next door to the right?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up?
MS. PSAKI: On Libya or something else?
QUESTION: Well, on the Islamic State —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: — but in Afghanistan.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: There were reports that it was Islamic State militants operating in Afghanistan. Are you saying that those are not also Islamic State operatives?
MS. PSAKI: I was saying – I would say the same thing, and I’m not making a definitive claim or conclusion here. I’m just conveying that there are places where there are public claims of affiliation. Whether there’s operational connections is a different question, so I don’t have any conclusion on that at this point.
QUESTION: But do you have any details of Islamic State operatives working in Afghanistan?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen the public claims. We don’t have any conclusive – anything conclusive at this point on the operational connection.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: So I want to go west now.
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: East of Libya, west of Afghanistan – Egypt.
MS. PSAKI: Okay, okay.
QUESTION: The other day, it may have even been yesterday, or maybe it was two days ago, you were critical of the trial – of mass trials, and it does not appear that the Egyptians have taken – have heeded the Administration’s advice on this because there was another mass sentencing today. What do you have to say about that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we are deeply troubled by the mass life sentences handed down by an Egyptian court to 230 defendants, including April 6 activist Ahmed Duma. Mass trials and sentences run counter to the most basic democratic principles and due process under the law. It simply seems impossible that a fair review of evidence and testimony could be achieved under these circumstances. We understand the verdict can be appealed and we continue to call on the Government of Egypt to ensure due process for the accused on the merit of individual cases.
QUESTION: Okay. So given that you’re deeply troubled and that this runs counter to the ideas of democracy and rule of law and due process, when exactly are you going to sign off on the rest of the aid that used to require a human rights certification?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, the certification hasn’t been made. I don’t have any prediction of that, but we certainly take a look at and take into account everything happening on the ground.
QUESTION: Is there a deadline by which that money has to be disbursed or it —
MS. PSAKI: Or it’s not —
QUESTION: — turns into the – or it gets returned to Treasury?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. I can certainly take that and let you know the answer on that one.
Go ahead, Samir.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to – the Russian president will be visiting Cairo on Monday. Any reaction to this?
MS. PSAKI: We certainly understand that countries have different bilateral relationships with each other. I don’t have any more details on the purpose of the visit. And when we learn more, I’m sure we can speak to that as well.
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Philippines?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Today, the Philippine foreign ministry announced that last week, a Chinese coast guard vessel rammed some of their fishing boat – some Philippine fishing boats. Do you have any confirmation of those incidents or any comments on dialogue with the Philippines over that issue?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve unfortunately had to have dialogue about this in the past, given, as you know, there’s a history here. I don’t have any confirmation of these reports, but I can talk to our team and see if we can get you an update on it.
QUESTION: And what is the U.S. position on the sovereignty of the Scarborough Shoals?
MS. PSAKI: I’m sure we can get you our well-known position on that that was stated countless times and is likely on our website. Anything more before we conclude here?
Go ahead.
QUESTION: Did you confirm the meeting between the Secretary and the Iranian foreign minister in Munich?
MS. PSAKI: Not yet. We’re still working to finalize some of the details. I know we’re getting closer to Munich, but in the next 24 hours I hope to have more details on the schedule and what he’ll do in his bilateral meetings there.
QUESTION: The foreign minister – the Iranian foreign minister was quoted last week by an Iranian news agency that he is willing to discuss Syria and the other regional problems, while last year on the margin of that conference, he told the Secretary that he wasn’t qualified, authorized to discuss Syria.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more details on it. Our meetings are focused on the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
QUESTION: But you are open to discuss Syria and other issues?
MS. PSAKI: I expect our focus would continue to be on the Iran nuclear negotiations. As a meeting is confirmed, I’m sure we’ll talk more about what the meeting may be focused on.
QUESTION: Just in terms of scheduling, do you have – other than Foreign Minister Lavrov, do you have any confirmed bilateral meetings that you can tell us about now, either —
MS. PSAKI: There is also a meeting with the foreign minister of South Korea that is scheduled; there is a meeting of the GCC. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so as we finalize it, we will of course provide that rundown to the traveling reporters.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MS. PSAKI: Thank you. Thanks, everyone.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:21 p.m.)