General Information

23rd Japan-EU Summit, Tokyo, 29 May 2015 Joint Press Statement

Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, met in Tokyo on 29 May 2015 for the 23rd Summit between Japan and the European Union (EU) and issued the following joint statement.

Developing our Strategic Partnership

1. As close partners, Japan and the European Union are working together to address issues of vital importance to our citizens and the world based on common values and shared principles. We are conducting joint efforts to build peace, security and stability around the globe, by reinforcing our bilateral partnership and shouldering greater responsibilities for regional and global security. We are also negotiating landmark Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) /Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will deepen our cooperation and enhance our common prosperity.

2. Regular and substantial high-level meetings at summit and ministerial level drive our relations. We concurred todayon an enhanced political dialogue on foreign and security policy at ministerial level. We will also intensify cooperation within the regional and inter-regional frameworks, such as the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Japan welcomes the EU’s continued interest in greater involvement in the East Asia Summit and acknowledges the EU’s effort to promote the rule of law in the region.

3. The SPA and EPA/ FTA hold the potential to lift our relations to a new strategic level. We welcome the progress made in both negotiations and task negotiators to further accelerate both processes in parallel. With the SPA, we are establishing a legally binding foundation for the coming decades. As strategic partners we want to consolidate, deepen and extend our cooperation to all areas of mutual interest, the bilateral issues but also the global challenges. Given our combined global economic weight and international standing, we have a common interest and responsibility to show joint leadership on these issues. To consolidate our solid and evolving trade and economic partnership and pave the way for the future, we reaffirm the importance of a highly comprehensive and ambitious EPA/ FTA to be concluded as soon as possible. Such agreement will address notably issues related to market access for goods, services and investment, procurement including railways, as well as those related to non-tariff measures and the protection of geographical indications as well as intellectualproperty rights. To this end we have entrusted our negotiators with the mandate to settle the outstanding differences with a view to reaching agreement encompassing all the key issues preferably by the end of 2015.

4. We endorsed a Joint Vision today to strengthen our Strategic Partnership in Research and Innovation, an engine for growth and job creation in our two economies. We also committed to cooperate on the research and development of the 5th generation mobile telecommunications networks together.

Acting together for global peace and security

5. 2015 marks the 70th year since the end of World War II and the 40th year since the conclusion of the Helsinki Final Act. In this context, we reflected on the importance of reconciliation and regional cooperation and recognised the contributions that both Japan and the EU have made to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community over the last 70 years. We reaffirmed our commitment to further enhancing cooperation and collaboration in this field at both global and regional levels, based on the common values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and shared principles such as open markets and rules-based international system.

6. We welcome the expanding Japan-EU cooperation and partnership in the field of peace and security, including crisis management cooperation.The EU welcomes and supports the efforts of Japan in promoting and sustaining global security as set out in the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. We reviewed the successful cooperation over the last year between Japan and the EU on missions aimed at improving the security in Niger and Mali as well as efforts regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo. We committed to explore further cooperation in Ukraine and Somalia as a next step.A joint seminar of military and government staff in 2015 in Tokyo took stock of this positive track record we are building together, helped deepen mutual understanding on our respective security policies and explored future cooperation possibilities.We will continue such consultations and welcome the upcoming consultation between Ministry of Defense of Japan and the EU this year. We also discussed the possibility of future participation of Japan in CSDP missions, bearing in mind necessary steps to this end and the specific expertise that Japan has to offer in this area.

7. We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and also condemn the recent attacks which have been carried out by terrorist groups, including ISIL/Da’esh, in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. We are working to support international cooperation to counter-terrorism, through the UN, the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, and the G7 and to implement fully the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. We will intensify Japan-EU counter-terrorism cooperation, seeking measures to mitigate risk and strengthen border security, while protecting human rights and personal data. We reaffirm the need to utilise all available tools to fight and prevent terrorism and to coordinate capacity building efforts with third states. We also stress the importance of preventing, detecting and prosecuting terrorism financing. We are determined to fight against the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, in accordance with resolution 2178 of the UN Security Council.

8. We emphasise the importance of ensuring the rule of law in global commons, namely cyber, outer space and the sea. In this context, we welcome the First Japan-EU Space Policy Dialogue and Cyber Dialogue held in October 2014 in Tokyo where stakeholders shared respective policies and identified potential ways forward. Building on this common ground, including the safety and stability of cyberspace based on free flow of information and open internet, we look forward to the next Dialogues in Brussels in 2015, whereby security aspects could be addressed. We are strongly committed to finalise negotiations on the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities by the end of 2015. We welcome continuing concrete cooperation in anti-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden within the relevant International Contact Group and through operational activities between the deployed units of Japan Self-Defense Forces and the EU’s Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR)-Operation ATALANTA. This includes joint exercises at sea as well as the support offered by Japan for the trial of suspected pirates currently held in the Seychelles

9. We reaffirm our determination to further cooperate on disarmament and non-proliferation in order to realise our shared goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Despite the absence of a consensus outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Japan and the EU remain committed to cooperate to maintain and strengthen the credibility of the NPT regime and sustain the trust for multilateralism. We also continue towork towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the early commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. We welcome the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and remain committed to promoting its effective implementation and universalisation. We are committed to ensuring strict export control of arms and dual-use items and technologies, especially with regard to areas of tension.

10. Mindful of the uncertainties in the regional security environment, we condemn all violations of international law and of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. We underline the need for all parties to seek peaceful, and cooperative solutions to maritime claims, including through internationally recognised legal dispute settlement mechanisms, and to maintain full freedom of navigation and overflight of the high seas under international law as enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. The safety of navigation is essential for peaceful and sustainable development. We urge all parties to clarify the basis of their claims based on international law, and to refrain from unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion. We continue to observe the situation in the East and South China Sea and are concerned by any unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions. We support the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the rapid conclusion of the negotiations to establish an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. We highlight the constructive role of practical confidence-building measures, such as the establishment of direct links of communication in cases of crisis and crisis management mechanisms in this regard.

11. We express our grave concern onthe North Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and urge the North Korea to comply with its obligations under all the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and its commitment under the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement, to return to full compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards, and to take immediate steps to end human rights violations, including the abductions issue. We urge North Korea to make constructive efforts to these ends.

12. We call on all sides to fully implement their commitment under the Minsk agreements to solve the conflict in Ukraine peacefully, respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We remain determined never to recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and will continue to support the government of Ukraine to advance its reforms, aimed at strengthening and modernising Ukraine for the benefit of its citizens. We will also continue to coordinate our policies and explore new opportunities for cooperation aimed at the modernisation of countries in the context of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, as well as in the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region.

13. We express grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Syria and reaffirm that only a Syrian-led inclusive political transition, based on the Geneva communiqué and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, can put an end to the conflict. We call on all Syrian parties to show commitment to a political process, which must be accompanied by confidence building measures. We commit to continue our support for Iraq to defeat ISIL/Da’esh. We also encourage all Iraqis to actively work for national reconciliation and to continue the path of reforms promoting more inclusive governance. In response to the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen, we call on all parties to commit to the restart of a comprehensive political transition process through the UN-led negotiations and without resorting to violence. We welcome the important progress in the intensive diplomatic efforts at reaching solutions on key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iranian nuclear issues. We reaffirm that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict; only a political settlement can provide a sustainable way forward. We call on the Libyan parties to do their utmost in order to find a common understanding based the proposal for a political agreement presented by UNSMIL on 27 April. We believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through negotiations, the outcome of which would see the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side peacefully and in mutual recognition. We would be ready to boost our respective relations with both parties, notably economically, to help them reap the full benefits of any peaceful settlement. Again this highlighted our shared conviction that international disputes and issues should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. We express our concern about the continuation of settlement policy, which threatens the two State solution. We call on both parties to take the measures in order to relaunch the negotiations.

Fostering growth, prosperity and sustainable development

14. We recognise the serious and urgent challenge posed by climate change. We are resolved to play our part in concluding this December in Paris a global Agreement applicable to all Parties that is ambitious, robust, inclusive and reflects changing global circumstances putting the world on track to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The Agreement must include adequate provisions on the transparency and accountability of all Parties towards their commitments. While delivering on the ultimate objective of the Convention, it must also address adaptation to climate change impacts and help mobilise climate finance on the required transformational scale including effective utilisation of Green Climate Funds. It should also spur international cooperation to help Parties deliver on their commitments. We for our part intend to strengthen our bilateral cooperation on climate and energy, notably through the SPA, and to work together ever closer in the relevant international fora.

15. We will deliver on our existing climate pledges and continue to look for further pre-2020 mitigation opportunities. Looking beyond 2020 and determined to show leadership in the global effort towards the below 2°C goal, the EU explained the timeliness and ambition of its intended nationally determined contribution to the new Agreement, and Japan affirmed that it intends to submit an ambitious contributionexpeditiously. We commend those Parties that have submitted their contributions, especially those Parties with the least responsibilities and capabilities. We call on all others, and particularly on major and emerging economies, to submit theirs expeditiously, to base them on fairness and the requirements of science and to present them in a way promoting transparency and accountability.

16. We recognise the importance of a secure, sustainable, affordable and safe supply of energy and are resolved to use various greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures to realise a low carbon and climate-friendly economy. As both Japan and the EU are critically dependent on external energy sources, we intend to strengthen our cooperation including through Japan-EU energy policy dialogue on issues that are important for securing sustainable energy supply. We welcome the joint statement of the G7 Energy Ministerial meeting in Hamburg (11-12 May 2015). We will strengthen our partnership in fusion energy research through the multilateral ITER Project and the bilateral Broader Approach Activities for the next step towards the realisation of fusion energy, as well as on fission research and development.

17. We reiterate the need for gender equality and the importance of women’s full participation in society and the economy. We will strengthen our cooperation to promote the empowerment of women and the advancement of women’s rights globally. We concur on fostering cooperation towards a society with equal opportunities for women, including through World Assembly for Women in Tokyo. The EU welcomes Japan’s focus on empowerment of women and is ready to share examples of good practice in this area. We also emphasise the importance of promoting women’s active and meaningful participation globally to achieve sustainable peace and security as well as sustainable development.

18. As leading development donors and partners, we remain fully committed to agreeing an ambitious post-2015 development agenda that will coherently address poverty eradication and sustainable development. Such an agenda must also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights where the aspect of human security is essential and without which sustainable development cannot happen. It should end extreme poverty, building on and completing the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. We will continue to strive jointly to achieve a transformative outcome at the September 2015 Summit, to which we expect all other partners – including emerging economies – to contribute their fair share. Recognising that tackling infrastructure shortfalls in the world effectively is crucial to lifting growth, we are committed to promoting quality infrastructure investment including through effective resource mobilisation in partnership with relevant stakeholders such as multilateral development banks and the private sector. Bilaterally, Japan and the EU have cooperated closely in the past on the nexus of security and sustainable development, such as through trust funds in countries like Afghanistan.Building on last year’s Japan-EU Development Policy Dialogue, we welcome progress in trilateral cooperation activities in Africa, such as Djibouti, Kenya and Zambia and we are exploring future cooperation possibilities in Africa and Asia for enhanced quality growth and human security.

19. We welcome the success of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. We will continue our close exchange of practices and views on this issue, including the recent earthquakes in Nepal, and reiterate the importance of incorporating disaster risk reduction measures into both development programmes and humanitarian assistance. In this context, we decided to organise an expert meeting on humanitarian assistance and emergency relief.

20. We consider that trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling – by sea, land and air alike – are forms of crime and severe violation of human rights. We aim to combat them and to address the political and socio-economic drivers of irregular migration. We underline the responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination to cooperate to prevent smuggling, human trafficking and forced labour, to disrupt the involved criminal groups and to eliminate their financing opportunities. We stand ready to assist the committed countries in this endeavour.We call upon all states to promote international efforts to this end, including by promoting relevant international agreements.

21. We reaffirm our commitment to strengthen the multilateral trading system under the WTO by concluding the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), based on the principles of balance and realism. We are also committed to attain concrete outcomes of plurilateral negotiations, including the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which will strengthen the multilateral trading system. We emphasise our determination to combat all forms of protectionism.

22. We have established a Strategic Partnership in Science, Technology and Innovation in order to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness and address common challenges in our societies. Recognising the expanding cooperation in this area since the last Summit, we endorsed today the Joint Vision towards a new strategic partnership in Research and Innovation between the Government of Japan and the European Commission as adopted by the 3rd EU-Japan Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation. We highlighted thematic areas where we will see substantial and growing Japan-EU cooperation – ICT, aeronautics and materials including critical raw materials – as well as health, environment, energy and high-energy physics. We confirmed the importance of specific actions that will continue this positive momentum, such as establishing a new mechanism for the joint funding of research and innovation projects, and taking measures to enhance the mobility of researchers between Japan and the EU, including the new ERC-JSPS cooperation arrangement. We recognised the importance of exchanging views and coordinating where possible on Science, Technology and Innovation policies such as Open Science. We also acknowledged the positive role of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point in Japan and the value of outreach activities to promote public understanding and engagement in our cooperation.

23. We are committed to reviewing scientifically the remaining restrictive measures for radionuclides in food and feed exportation from Japan, in particular those from Fukushima, and African Swine Fever, BSE and Avian Influenza-related measures on pork, beef and poultry products from the European Union.

24. Solid Japan-EU dialogue and cooperation across a broad range of sectors drive our Strategic Partnership along. We welcome the recent developments in the following sectors, including the successful dialogues held since the last Summit in Industry, ICT, Transport and Employment:

– The Japan-EU Industrial Policy Dialogue held in March 2015 put an emphasis on deepening regulatory cooperation involving both government and business, which was also welcomed by the Japan-EU Business Round Table. We express our great expectation for further progress in regulatory cooperation between Japan and the EU, while noting that the cooperation is also to be dealt with via the EPA/FTA negotiations.

– The Japan-EU ICT Policy Dialogue held in March 2015 reaffirmed the importance of developing and ensuring open and innovative digital economy based on multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. We welcome the signature of the EU-Japan Joint Declaration on 5th generation mobile telecommunications networks (5G) that will enhance cooperation to ensure global interoperability and strengthen collaboration on research activities.

– The Japan-EU Railway Industrial Dialogue held in December 2014 and May 2015 discussed global business opportunities in the railway sector. We recognise the value of enhanced cooperation, including on technical standards, both between the public authorities and business representatives of two of the world leading players in this sector. We are confident that the dialogue can lead to enhanced openness of our respective markets and to joint actions in the global market.

– The Japan-EU Symposium on Employment held in June 2014 deepened understanding on “Anticipating restructuring in a changing world of work” and “Managing restructuring and facing up to future challenges” among the government, worker, and employer representatives in Japan and the EU.

– The ongoing Japan-EU aviation dialogue, initiated in October 2012, will be crucial for fostering joint efforts towards a solid partnership in this field.

– Japan and EU will continue cooperation in sustainable management of forestry and sustainable use of fishery resources and in combatingillegal trade in wildlife products bilaterally or through multilateral organisations.

We also recognise the importance of active and continued contribution of the Business Round Table to further development of bilateral economic relationship, and welcome the recommendations it adopted in April 2015.

Deepening mutual understanding for future cooperation

25. We acknowledge that people-to-people and cultural exchange, and cooperation in higher education are vitally important to deepen mutual understanding, foster intellectual exchanges and engage broader public. The EU Erasmus+ programme and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions offer new scope for EU-Japan mobility of excellent students, researchers and staff. Prime Minister Abe announced the Japan-Europe MIRAI programme to invite 150 university/ post-graduate European students to Japan within the fiscal year 2015 and the EU leaders welcomed the prospect of further partnership-building. We also recognise the importance of exchange between civil society and cultural operators on both sides, including mutual support to promote student exchanges. We welcome parliamentary exchanges, such as the fruitful 35th Japan-EU Interparliamentary Meeting held last month.

General Market

Joint press statement following the 23rd Japan-EU Summit, Tokyo, 29 May 2015

Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, met in Tokyo on 29 May 2015 for the 23rd Summit between Japan and the European Union (EU) and issued the following joint statement.

Developing our Strategic Partnership

1. As close partners, Japan and the European Union are working together to address issues of vital importance to our citizens and the world based on common values and shared principles. We are conducting joint efforts to build peace, security and stability around the globe, by reinforcing our bilateral partnership and shouldering greater responsibilities for regional and global security. We are also negotiating landmark Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) /Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that will deepen our cooperation and enhance our common prosperity.

2. Regular and substantial high-level meetings at summit and ministerial level drive our relations. We concurred today on an enhanced political dialogue on foreign and security policy at ministerial level. We will also intensify cooperation within the regional and inter-regional frameworks, such as the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Japan welcomes the EU’s continued interest in greater involvement in the East Asia Summit and acknowledges the EU’s effort to promote the rule of law in the region.

3. The SPA and EPA/ FTA hold the potential to lift our relations to a new strategic level. We welcome the progress made in both negotiations and task negotiators to further accelerate both processes in parallel. With the SPA, we are establishing a legally binding foundation for the coming decades. As strategic partners we want to consolidate, deepen and extend our cooperation to all areas of mutual interest, the bilateral issues but also the global challenges. Given our combined global economic weight and international standing, we have a common interest and responsibility to show joint leadership on these issues. To consolidate our solid and evolving trade and economic partnership and pave the way for the future, we reaffirm the importance of a highly comprehensive and ambitious EPA/ FTA to be concluded as soon as possible. Such agreement will address notably issues related to market access for goods, services and investment, procurement including railways, as well as those related to non-tariff measures and the protection of geographical indications as well as intellectual property rights. To this end we have entrusted our negotiators with the mandate to settle the outstanding differences with a view to reaching agreement encompassing all the key issues preferably by the end of 2015.

4. We endorsed a Joint Vision today to strengthen our Strategic Partnership in Research and Innovation, an engine for growth and job creation in our two economies. We also committed to cooperate on the research and development of the 5th generation mobile telecommunications networks together.

Acting together for global peace and security

5. 2015 marks the 70th year since the end of World War II and the 40th year since the conclusion of the Helsinki Final Act. In this context, we reflected on the importance of reconciliation and regional cooperation and recognised the contributions that both Japan and the EU have made to the peace, stability and prosperity of the international community over the last 70 years. We reaffirmed our commitment to further enhancing cooperation and collaboration in this field at both global and regional levels, based on the common values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and shared principles such as open markets and rules-based international system.

6. We welcome the expanding Japan-EU cooperation and partnership in the field of peace and security, including crisis management cooperation. The EU welcomes and supports the efforts of Japan in promoting and sustaining global security as set out in the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation. We reviewed the successful cooperation over the last year between Japan and the EU on missions aimed at improving the security in Niger and Mali as well as efforts regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo. We committed to explore further cooperation in Ukraine and Somalia as a next step. A joint seminar of military and government staff in 2015 in Tokyo took stock of this positive track record we are building together, helped deepen mutual understanding on our respective security policies and explored future cooperation possibilities. We will continue such consultations and welcome the upcoming consultation between Ministry of Defense of Japan and the EU this year. We also discussed the possibility of future participation of Japan in CSDP missions, bearing in mind necessary steps to this end and the specific expertise that Japan has to offer in this area.

7. We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and also condemn the recent attacks which have been carried out by terrorist groups, including ISIL/Da’esh, in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. We are working to support international cooperation to counter-terrorism, through the UN, the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, and the G7 and to implement fully the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. We will intensify Japan-EU counter-terrorism cooperation, seeking measures to mitigate risk and strengthen border security, while protecting human rights and personal data. We reaffirm the need to utilise all available tools to fight and prevent terrorism and to coordinate capacity building efforts with third states. We also stress the importance of preventing, detecting and prosecuting terrorism financing. We are determined to fight against the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters, in accordance with resolution 2178 of the UN Security Council.

8. We emphasise the importance of ensuring the rule of law in global commons, namely cyber, outer space and the sea. In this context, we welcome the First Japan-EU Space Policy Dialogue and Cyber Dialogue held in October 2014 in Tokyo where stakeholders shared respective policies and identified potential ways forward. Building on this common ground, including the safety and stability of cyberspace based on free flow of information and open internet, we look forward to the next Dialogues in Brussels in 2015, whereby security aspects could be addressed. We are strongly committed to finalise negotiations on the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities by the end of 2015. We welcome continuing concrete cooperation in anti-piracy activities off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden within the relevant International Contact Group and through operational activities between the deployed units of Japan Self-Defense Forces and the EU’s Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR)-Operation ATALANTA. This includes joint exercises at sea as well as the support offered by Japan for the trial of suspected pirates currently held in the Seychelles

9. We reaffirm our determination to further cooperate on disarmament and non-proliferation in order to realise our shared goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Despite the absence of a consensus outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Japan and the EU remain committed to cooperate to maintain and strengthen the credibility of the NPT regime and sustain the trust for multilateralism. We also continue to work towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the early commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. We welcome the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and remain committed to promoting its effective implementation and universalisation. We are committed to ensuring strict export control of arms and dual-use items and technologies, especially with regard to areas of tension.

10. Mindful of the uncertainties in the regional security environment, we condemn all violations of international law and of the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. We underline the need for all parties to seek peaceful, and cooperative solutions to maritime claims, including through internationally recognised legal dispute settlement mechanisms, and to maintain full freedom of navigation and overflight of the high seas under international law as enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. The safety of navigation is essential for peaceful and sustainable development. We urge all parties to clarify the basis of their claims based on international law, and to refrain from unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion. We continue to observe the situation in the East and South China Sea and are concerned by any unilateral actions that change the status quo and increase tensions. We support the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the rapid conclusion of the negotiations to establish an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. We highlight the constructive role of practical confidence-building measures, such as the establishment of direct links of communication in cases of crisis and crisis management mechanisms in this regard.

11. We express our grave concern on the North Korea‘s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and urge the North Korea to comply with its obligations under all the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and its commitment under the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement, to return to full compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards, and to take immediate steps to end human rights violations, including the abductions issue. We urge North Korea to make constructive efforts to these ends.

12. We call on all sides to fully implement their commitment under the Minsk agreements to solve the conflict in Ukraine peacefully, respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We remain determined never to recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and will continue to support the government of Ukraine to advance its reforms, aimed at strengthening and modernising Ukraine for the benefit of its citizens. We will also continue to coordinate our policies and explore new opportunities for cooperation aimed at the modernisation of countries in the context of the EU’s Eastern Partnership, as well as in the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region.

13. We express grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Syria and reaffirm that only a Syrian-led inclusive political transition, based on the Geneva communiqué and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, can put an end to the conflict. We call on all Syrian parties to show commitment to a political process, which must be accompanied by confidence building measures. We commit to continue our support for Iraq to defeat ISIL/Da’esh. We also encourage all Iraqis to actively work for national reconciliation and to continue the path of reforms promoting more inclusive governance. In response to the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen, we call on all parties to commit to the restart of a comprehensive political transition process through the UN-led negotiations and without resorting to violence. We welcome the important progress in the intensive diplomatic efforts at reaching solutions on key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iranian nuclear issues. We reaffirm that there is no military solution to the Libyan conflict; only a political settlement can provide a sustainable way forward. We call on the Libyan parties to do their utmost in order to find a common understanding based the proposal for a political agreement presented by UNSMIL on 27 April. We believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through negotiations, the outcome of which would see the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side peacefully and in mutual recognition. We would be ready to boost our respective relations with both parties, notably economically, to help them reap the full benefits of any peaceful settlement. Again this highlighted our shared conviction that international disputes and issues should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. We express our concern about the continuation of settlement policy, which threatens the two State solution. We call on both parties to take the measures in order to relaunch the negotiations.

Fostering growth, prosperity and sustainable development

14. We recognise the serious and urgent challenge posed by climate change. We are resolved to play our part in concluding this December in Paris a global Agreement applicable to all Parties that is ambitious, robust, inclusive and reflects changing global circumstances putting the world on track to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The Agreement must include adequate provisions on the transparency and accountability of all Parties towards their commitments. While delivering on the ultimate objective of the Convention, it must also address adaptation to climate change impacts and help mobilise climate finance on the required transformational scale including effective utilisation of Green Climate Funds. It should also spur international cooperation to help Parties deliver on their commitments. We for our part intend to strengthen our bilateral cooperation on climate and energy, notably through the SPA, and to work together ever closer in the relevant international fora.

15. We will deliver on our existing climate pledges and continue to look for further pre-2020 mitigation opportunities. Looking beyond 2020 and determined to show leadership in the global effort towards the below 2°C goal, the EU explained the timeliness and ambition of its intended nationally determined contribution to the new Agreement, and Japan affirmed that it intends to submit an ambitious contribution expeditiously. We commend those Parties that have submitted their contributions, especially those Parties with the least responsibilities and capabilities. We call on all others, and particularly on major and emerging economies, to submit theirs expeditiously, to base them on fairness and the requirements of science and to present them in a way promoting transparency and accountability.

16. We recognise the importance of a secure, sustainable, affordable and safe supply of energy and are resolved to use various greenhouse gas emissions reduction measures to realise a low carbon and climate-friendly economy. As both Japan and the EU are critically dependent on external energy sources, we intend to strengthen our cooperation including through Japan-EU energy policy dialogue on issues that are important for securing sustainable energy supply. We welcome the joint statement of the G7 Energy Ministerial meeting in Hamburg (11-12 May 2015). We will strengthen our partnership in fusion energy research through the multilateral ITER Project and the bilateral Broader Approach Activities for the next step towards the realisation of fusion energy, as well as on fission research and development.

17. We reiterate the need for gender equality and the importance of women’s full participation in society and the economy. We will strengthen our cooperation to promote the empowerment of women and the advancement of women’s rights globally. We concur on fostering cooperation towards a society with equal opportunities for women, including through World Assembly for Women in Tokyo. The EU welcomes Japan’s focus on empowerment of women and is ready to share examples of good practice in this area. We also emphasise the importance of promoting women’s active and meaningful participation globally to achieve sustainable peace and security as well as sustainable development.

18. As leading development donors and partners, we remain fully committed to agreeing an ambitious post-2015 development agenda that will coherently address poverty eradication and sustainable development. Such an agenda must also promote peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights where the aspect of human security is essential and without which sustainable development cannot happen. It should end extreme poverty, building on and completing the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. We will continue to strive jointly to achieve a transformative outcome at the September 2015 Summit, to which we expect all other partners – including emerging economies – to contribute their fair share. Recognising that tackling infrastructure shortfalls in the world effectively is crucial to lifting growth, we are committed to promoting quality infrastructure investment including through effective resource mobilisation in partnership with relevant stakeholders such as multilateral development banks and the private sector. Bilaterally, Japan and the EU have cooperated closely in the past on the nexus of security and sustainable development, such as through trust funds in countries like Afghanistan. Building on last year’s Japan-EU Development Policy Dialogue, we welcome progress in trilateral cooperation activities in Africa, such as Djibouti, Kenya and Zambia and we are exploring future cooperation possibilities in Africa and Asia for enhanced quality growth and human security.

19. We welcome the success of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. We will continue our close exchange of practices and views on this issue, including the recent earthquakes in Nepal, and reiterate the importance of incorporating disaster risk reduction measures into both development programmes and humanitarian assistance. In this context, we decided to organise an expert meeting on humanitarian assistance and emergency relief.

20. We consider that trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling – by sea, land and air alike – are forms of crime and severe violation of human rights. We aim to combat them and to address the political and socio-economic drivers of irregular migration. We underline the responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination to cooperate to prevent smuggling, human trafficking and forced labour, to disrupt the involved criminal groups and to eliminate their financing opportunities. We stand ready to assist the committed countries in this endeavour. We call upon all states to promote international efforts to this end, including by promoting relevant international agreements.

21. We reaffirm our commitment to strengthen the multilateral trading system under the WTO by concluding the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), based on the principles of balance and realism. We are also committed to attain concrete outcomes of plurilateral negotiations, including the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), which will strengthen the multilateral trading system. We emphasise our determination to combat all forms of protectionism.

22. We have established a Strategic Partnership in Science, Technology and Innovation in order to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness and address common challenges in our societies. Recognising the expanding cooperation in this area since the last Summit, we endorsed today the Joint Vision towards a new strategic partnership in Research and Innovation between the Government of Japan and the European Commission as adopted by the 3rd EU-Japan Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation. We highlighted thematic areas where we will see substantial and growing Japan-EU cooperation – ICT, aeronautics and materials including critical raw materials – as well as health, environment, energy and high-energy physics. We confirmed the importance of specific actions that will continue this positive momentum, such as establishing a new mechanism for the joint funding of research and innovation projects, and taking measures to enhance the mobility of researchers between Japan and the EU, including the new ERC-JSPS cooperation arrangement. We recognised the importance of exchanging views and coordinating where possible on Science, Technology and Innovation policies such as Open Science. We also acknowledged the positive role of the Horizon 2020 National Contact Point in Japan and the value of outreach activities to promote public understanding and engagement in our cooperation.

23. We are committed to reviewing scientifically the remaining restrictive measures for radionuclides in food and feed exportation from Japan, in particular those from Fukushima, and African Swine Fever, BSE and Avian Influenza-related measures on pork, beef and poultry products from the European Union.

24. Solid Japan-EU dialogue and cooperation across a broad range of sectors drive our Strategic Partnership along. We welcome the recent developments in the following sectors, including the successful dialogues held since the last Summit in Industry, ICT, Transport and Employment:

– The Japan-EU Industrial Policy Dialogue held in March 2015 put an emphasis on deepening regulatory cooperation involving both government and business, which was also welcomed by the Japan-EU Business Round Table. We express our great expectation for further progress in regulatory cooperation between Japan and the EU, while noting that the cooperation is also to be dealt with via the EPA/FTA negotiations.

– The Japan-EU ICT Policy Dialogue held in March 2015 reaffirmed the importance of developing and ensuring open and innovative digital economy based on multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. We welcome the signature of the EU-Japan Joint Declaration on 5th generation mobile telecommunications networks (5G) that will enhance cooperation to ensure global interoperability and strengthen collaboration on research activities.

– The Japan-EU Railway Industrial Dialogue held in December 2014 and May 2015 discussed global business opportunities in the railway sector. We recognise the value of enhanced cooperation, including on technical standards, both between the public authorities and business representatives of two of the world leading players in this sector. We are confident that the dialogue can lead to enhanced openness of our respective markets and to joint actions in the global market.

– The Japan-EU Symposium on Employment held in June 2014 deepened understanding on “Anticipating restructuring in a changing world of work” and “Managing restructuring and facing up to future challenges” among the government, worker, and employer representatives in Japan and the EU.

– The ongoing Japan-EU aviation dialogue, initiated in October 2012, will be crucial for fostering joint efforts towards a solid partnership in this field.

– Japan and EU will continue cooperation in sustainable management of forestry and sustainable use of fishery resources and in combating illegal trade in wildlife products bilaterally or through multilateral organisations.

We also recognise the importance of active and continued contribution of the Business Round Table to further development of bilateral economic relationship, and welcome the recommendations it adopted in April 2015.

Deepening mutual understanding for future cooperation

25. We acknowledge that people-to-people and cultural exchange, and cooperation in higher education are vitally important to deepen mutual understanding, foster intellectual exchanges and engage broader public. The EU Erasmus+ programme and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions offer new scope for EU-Japan mobility of excellent students, researchers and staff. Prime Minister Abe announced the Japan-Europe MIRAI programme to invite 150 university/ post-graduate European students to Japan within the fiscal year 2015 and the EU leaders welcomed the prospect of further partnership-building. We also recognise the importance of exchange between civil society and cultural operators on both sides, including mutual support to promote student exchanges. We welcome parliamentary exchanges, such as the fruitful 35th Japan-EU Interparliamentary Meeting held last month.

General Information

Liberia Will Probably/Hopefully (!) Be Declared Ebola Free Tomorrow

The WHO is poised to declare Liberia Ebola-free tomorrow, as long as no new cases are discovered. This means its been 42 days since the last known ebola case in the country. Meanwhile, the number of new cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea have reached a new low. “In an update published this week, the U.N. health agency said the situation was “encouraging” but noted officials are still unable to track exactly where the virus is spreading. In Guinea, five of the country’s nine new cases were detected only after the patients died; none had sought treatment in a hospital. In Sierra Leone, only two of the nine cases were identified as contacts of previous Ebola patients.(AP http://yhoo.it/1H4nzzi)

The human cost of cheap manicures…A stunning report shows the terrible conditions faced by nail salon workers in New York City. “The juxtapositions in nail salon workers’ lives can be jarring. Many spend their days holding hands with women of unimaginable affluence, at salons on Madison Avenue and in Greenwich, Conn. Away from the manicure tables they crash in flophouses packed with bunk beds, or in fetid apartments shared by as many as a dozen strangers.” (NY Times http://nyti.ms/1GRGtEb)

Clashes in Burundi…At least four people were killed in Burundi Thursday in clashes over the president’s bid for a third term, as the African Union warned it was not possible to hold an election under such conditions. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Ee2v3n)

Africa

Judges in France will investigate claims that French soldiers raped children in the Central African Republic, the state prosecutor announced Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1EdXV52)

Youths in Guinea’s capital blocked roads with burning tyres and clashed with security forces on Thursday, raising pressure on President Alpha Conde ahead of talks with the opposition aimed at resolving a dispute over the timing of elections. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1P46jyo)

A leading Burundi opposition figure said on Thursday that parliamentary elections in May and the presidential vote in June should be delayed because of unrest, provided the vote was held before the president’s current term ends on August 26. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1P46idY)

Tackling an “epidemic” of sexual violence in Uganda, in which disabled women and girls are most vulnerable to abuse, and seeking justice for the victims are at the heart of a campaign launched by the rights group Equality Now on Thursday.  (Reuters http://bit.ly/1EdZct0)

Some of thousands of Nigerians told to leave neighboring Niger in the past week due to threats from Boko Haram militants have died en route from lack of food and water, evacuees said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Ju7Mat)

Fear and poverty are keeping many children in Sierra Leone out of classrooms and on the streets hawking or labouring– another effect of the Ebola outbreak that kept schools closed for nine months. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1P48UbE)

The deputy head of South Africa’s revenue service has resigned, the agency said on Thursday, the latest in a exodus of senior officials which has raised concerns about the efficiency of tax collection. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1P46kCw)

Interviews reveal that the network of former rebels in the Ivory Coast continues to maintain loyalist fighters under their exclusive control. A confidential U.N. arms inventory showed that one former rebel commander possesses enough weapons – from surface-to-air missiles to millions of rounds of ammunition – to outgun the Ivorian army. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P48FgO)

An interview with former Malawian president Joyce Banda. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Ee2bS9)

MENA

A group of Ethiopians who had been kidnapped in Libya arrived at Cairo airport on Thursday after Egyptian army forces rescued them, state media quoted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as saying. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1EdXSX5)

A renowned construction company in Qatar has fired 90 North Korean laborers — nearly half of its entire North Korean workforce — for breaching its labor regulations. (VOA http://bit.ly/1P48wtY)

Yemen’s mission to the United Nations called Wednesday for a ground intervention to push back a Houthi rebel offensive in the south of a country where conditions are deteriorating after weeks of war. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Ju7JLK)

Yemen: A U.S. operation has killed the senior Al Qaeda figure who issued the claim of responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, according to U.S. sources familiar with the matter and a reported video posted by the group. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1bBUqNR)

Asia

Only a fraction of the emergency funds the United Nations has requested for victims of Nepal’s earthquake have come in, U.N. officials said on Thursday, as crises around the world put unprecedented demands on international donors.  (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1P45tSq)

Iran’s Red Crescent will send a ship carrying 2,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Yemen, official media said Thursday, following weeks of deadly fighting between Tehran-backed rebels and loyalist forces. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1H4nAmX)

Asian economies will lead world growth in 2015, expanding at a 5.6 percent pace that is level with last year, as recoveries in India and Japan help to offset the slowdown in China, the IMF said in a report Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1IjHquJ)

The Americas

Honduran officials say the United Nations is establishing a local office to monitor human rights in the violence-plagued Central American nation. (AP http://yhoo.it/1H4nNXi)

Police in Mexico have rescued more than 100 migrants kidnapped by a human trafficking gang near the capital. Reports said some of the migrants had been held hostage for five weeks in a house in Mexico State. (BBC http://bbc.in/1EdYRGA)

…and the rest

The European Union has suspended 1 billion euros in funding for Romanian projects because of allegations of corruption and irregularities, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1P45tlx)

Technological advances that have reduced prices and improved efficiency of renewable energy have helped transform the politics around climate change since 2009 when an attempt to forge a global deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions failed, the U.N. climate chief said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Ee2rR7)

The European Union underscored its support on Thursday for an embattled Serbian rights official, under fire from the ruling conservatives who accuse him of harboring political ambitions. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1EdXWGa)

Opinion/Blogs

If Labour wins the UK elections, what will it do for international development? (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1GRJqoc)

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Means Business (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1ESmrLv )

Smartphones Can Be Smart Enough To Find A Parasitic Worm (Goats and Soda http://n.pr/1EdY48H)

The ethics of NGO funding (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1Ju4jsG)

Police Killings Challenge U.S. “Exceptionalism” (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/1EdY3S0)

Things might be about to get a whole lot worse in Nepal (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1EdY6gL)

Does maternal health care deliver in your part of the world? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Ee2VH0)

Are mothers and children missing out on Nepal aid? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1P48SAL)

Human traffickers are targeting Nepal – we must do more to help (Guardian http://bit.ly/1cs2Ybk)

Death by Corruption: The Nepal Earthquake (Global Anticorruption Blog http://bit.ly/1Ik6pOB)

Discussion

comments…

General Market

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – April 21, 2015

MS HARF:  Welcome to the daily briefing, everyone.  I have two items at the top.  First, a travel update.  Secretary of State John Kerry will host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts on April 26th as part of Prime Minister Abe’s official visit to the United States. 

Secretary Kerry will then travel to New York City on April 27th for a series of meetings and events, including the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, the 2+2 meeting, involving Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and their Japanese counterparts.  Secretary Kerry will also visit the United Nations to provide opening remarks on behalf of the United States at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the NPT.  While at the United Nations, the Secretary will participate in other NPT-related events.  At the UN, the Secretary will also participate in a series of bilateral meetings with other NPT Review Conference participants.  We don’t have a full schedule yet, but we’ll keep you all posted as we do.

And then the other item at the top:  Deputy Secretary Blinken met yesterday with the Vice Chair of the Vietnamese National Assembly and Politburo Member Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and her delegation at the Department of State.  They discussed key bilateral and regional issues that reflect the strong and growing partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam.  This meeting is one in a series of high-level visits that are taking place during the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations; that anniversary is this year.  Each visit provides an opportunity to advance the bilateral relationship through the comprehensive partnership that Presidents Obama and Sang launched in July 2013.

Matt.

QUESTION:  Can I just ask you a logistical question on —

MS HARF:  Always.

QUESTION:  Well, first of all —

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — how about a technical question?  There seems to be an echo.  Do you hear that?  No?  It seemed to be an echo.

MS HARF:  There’s a little bit when I was speaking.  Is it better now?

QUESTION:  I can’t tell.

MS HARF:  Maybe it’s —

QUESTION:  But anyway —

MS HARF:  Maybe it’s just you, Matt.

QUESTION:  It might be ringing in my ears. 

MS HARF:  Anyone else hear that?  Weird.  Okay.

QUESTION:  Among the – I realize you said the bilats aren’t set yet for New York —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — but would a likely one be Foreign Minister Zarif —

MS HARF:  Possibly.

QUESTION:  — who will also be —

MS HARF:  Possibly.  Mm-hmm.  He’ll be in town, so we’ll see.  We’re still working through the schedule.

QUESTION:  And he’ll be there on the – so that’s the 28th or the —

MS HARF:  The Secretary. 

QUESTION:  Yes.

MS HARF:  The Secretary will be there on Monday.

QUESTION:  Not on Tuesday.

MS HARF:  We may come back Tuesday morning.  I don’t know when we’re returning to Washington, but I don’t – as of this point has no meetings scheduled on Tuesday in New York.

QUESTION:  Tuesday, okay.  So all of the bilats, whoever he has them with, would be —

MS HARF:  As of this point.  But as you know, the schedule can change.

QUESTION:  Got you, okay.  Off of logistics —

MS HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  — can I ask you if you were able to find out an answer to the questions from yesterday about this money that Iran might get upon signing —

MS HARF:  Right.

QUESTION:  — whatever it is that they do —

MS HARF:  So a couple points on that.  I’ve talked to the folks who’ve – I think this originated, some of this, out of Hill briefings.  I’ve talked to the folks that have briefed the Hill, talked to the folks on our delegation.  I think people were a little perplexed about what these reports were referring to; because as we’ve said and I repeated yesterday, the Iranians will get, under a comprehensive agreement, the sanctions relief after they take the key nuclear-related steps.  So obviously, all the details about how that will happen and when are still part of the negotiations.  But in terms of some of those specific – specifics in that story, I think, and that I was about yesterday, they sort of didn’t know what those were referring to.

QUESTION:  Right.  Okay, so in other words —

MS HARF:  And I think it was maybe speculation on some people’s part.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Does that mean, though, that when you talk about sanctions relief being dependent on them taking the —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — nuclear-related steps, that that would include the release of frozen assets?

MS HARF:  Well, the release of their frozen assets is only one piece of this, Matt, as you know.

QUESTION:  I understand.

MS HARF:  And throughout the JPOA, they have received access to —

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  — small portions of those frozen assets overseas as part of the JPOA.  So I can’t speculate on day one of a possible agreement what might happen, because we’ve said sanctions relief will only come after they take key nuclear-related steps but there’s been this ongoing relief as part of the JPOA.  So all the details about what happens on day one and day two and day fifteen are still being negotiated.

QUESTION:  Right.  No, but my question is:  Do you consider that, the release of frozen funds, to be sanctions relief?

MS HARF:  Well, you’re assuming that that happens in one fell swoop.

QUESTION:  No, no.  I’m just wondering if you consider the release of frozen assets to be sanctions relief per se —

MS HARF:  It’s a –

QUESTION:  — or if it’s —

MS HARF:  I mean, in general – in general – that’s in general what’s referred to when we talk about sanctions relief, whether it’s suspension of certain sanctions —

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  — that are in place currently, access to some of the funds as they’ve had under the JPOA, of course.  But in terms of what this might actually look like on day one, I’m just not going to speculate.  I, again, went back to folks yesterday and —

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  — and all the specific details about all of this still have to be worked out.

QUESTION:  Okay.  But you can’t – so it is possible, in fact, that upon completion of, on June 30th if that’s when it is, upon completion the Iranians might get something in the form of money of —

MS HARF:  I don’t want to say it’s possible or not possible because there’s conversations happening inside the negotiating room and I don’t want to rule anything in or out at this point.  They have been getting access to some of this as part of the JPOA —

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  — so I think that’s one of the big questions, right?  Does that continue?  Does it not?  Sort of what happens.  So I really just don’t want to speculate.  Those details have yet to be worked out and aren’t at this point – we haven’t met again to have further discussions.

QUESTION:  Okay.  But it sounds as though —

MS HARF:  So I think some of those news reports were speculative, and people that have been doing the congressional briefings said that’s not what we talked about in the briefings, so I think there was some, on our part, confusion.

QUESTION:  Speculative but not necessarily wrong because —

MS HARF:  But by no means right.  So I don’t think you should assume – what they said is they read the reports and said, well, that’s not what was discussed inside these briefings.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So you would have no idea —

MS HARF:  So —

QUESTION:  — how people on the Hill would think that Iran is going to get some kind of a signing bonus?

MS HARF:  Correct.  They did not.

QUESTION:  But you’re saying that —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  Well, even though they don’t have – they have no idea how people on the Hill got that impression —

MS HARF:  Right.

QUESTION:  — it’s still possible.

MS HARF:  I didn’t say that a signing – a, quote, “signing bonus” was possible.  I said —

QUESTION:  Yeah, I’m sorry.  I introduced that phrase the other day —

MS HARF:  It’s okay.

QUESTION:  — and I’m not sure that– it’s not – I just don’t know what else to call it.

MS HARF:  I know.  But access to some —

QUESTION:  But you’re saying it’s possible.

MS HARF:  I’m saying – I’m not going to say it’s possible or not possible.  These are – these are – because I don’t want to indicate that in some way it is, right?  These are discussions happening inside the room.  They’ve been getting access to some of it throughout the JPOA, so if suddenly this becomes a comprehensive joint plan of action, what happens to what’s already – these are all just very technical questions.  And we just at this point still have a lot of details to work out.

QUESTION:  Okay.

QUESTION:  Marie, on this —

QUESTION:  Can I ask —

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Sorry.

MS HARF:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  So —

MS HARF:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  — on this, what’s the amount of the Iranian frozen assets in the United States?

MS HARF:  In the United States?

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MS HARF:  Or writ large?

QUESTION:  In the United States, at large.  You have both numbers or —

MS HARF:  I am happy to check to see if I can get you those figures. 

QUESTION:  And since the start of the application of the JPOA, how much money the Iranians have received?

MS HARF:  They’ve received just a very small amount of money on a regular basis.  I’m happy to check with the Treasury Department and see what those – what the exact figures are because that’s in their purview, but I’m happy to check.

Go ahead, Jo.

QUESTION:  Thanks.

QUESTION:  I wanted to ask on the release of any monies for taking nuclear-related steps, is – at one point, I believe a couple of weeks ago when we were in Lausanne, the idea was it would be – that money would be released as Iran completed certain steps.

MS HARF:  We have always said that, yes, sanctions relief, including that, will happen as they take steps.  Yes.

QUESTION:  Okay, well – but completed and take are two different things.

MS HARF:  I don’t think we’re using them in two different ways, Jo.

QUESTION:  So it’s completed.  Because I think there was some briefing yesterday with your counterpart or your colleague in the White House which was taken by some other people to —

MS HARF:  To indicate a change in policy.

QUESTION:  Yeah, to indicate they could be — 

MS HARF:  And there has been absolutely —

QUESTION:  — as soon as they start taking steps.

MS HARF:  There has been no change in policy from what we’ve said all along in terms of sanctions relief.  We’ve also said that a lot of these details still have to be worked out.

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  Exactly what nuclear steps they have to take, exactly what the sanctions – those are all details that just haven’t been worked out yet.

QUESTION:  But —

MS HARF:  But there’s been no shift in our policy about the principle.

QUESTION:  But the principle is that the monies will be released as they complete it.

MS HARF:  Well, you’re just – you’re just looking at monies though, and that’s only one part of sanctions relief.

QUESTION:  Or – yes.  No, that’s true.  That’s true.

MS HARF:  Well, no but I just want to —

QUESTION:  Their sanctions would start to be eased or phased in as they complete —

MS HARF:  So I’m just going to read from the parameters we put out.

QUESTION:  — various steps.

MS HARF:  “U.S. and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.”  That’s what we put out in the parameters.

QUESTION:  Has taken.  So that would be past as opposed to —

MS HARF:  Correct.  Now the timing if it’s – like those are all details that we really just haven’t worked out yet. 

QUESTION:  So it’s possible, as Matt was saying, that it could be as they start to take steps.  It might be —

MS HARF:  I know.  Has taken.  But has taken and then an (inaudible), right?  I mean, these are just details that haven’t been worked out yet.

Yes. 

QUESTION:  Can we go to Egypt?

QUESTION:  Can we go to Morsy?

MS HARF:  Are you – do you have anything on Iran? 

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) the schedule in New York.  Is he going to have a meeting with the Egyptian and the Jordanian foreign ministers?

MS HARF:  We’re still working out the schedule.  We don’t have any more details at this time.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Do you have any comment on the sentencing of former Egyptian president Morsy to 20 years?

MS HARF:  I do.  We are concerned by these sentences.  All Egyptians regardless of political affiliation are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law, including their full respect for their rights to due process.  We will review the basis of the verdict, which I understand the Egyptian court will make public soon.  I don’t think we’ll have much more analysis to do before we review that basis of that verdict.  And at that point we’ll probably have more comment. 

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION:  You said that all Egyptians are entitled to equal and fair treatment before the law.

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Do you believe that at this point, knowing what you know about the sentence, did former President Morsy receive equal and fair treatment before the law?

MS HARF:  We’re going to review the basis of the verdict before, I think, we make further analysis on what happened here.

QUESTION:  So you don’t have a position yet?

MS HARF:  We need some more information.

QUESTION:  And one other thing?

MS HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Just – because obviously, the sentencing is just one act in a —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — long series of trials —

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — and so on.  As a general principle, having seen the treatment of former government officials such as Morsy and their Muslim Brotherhood colleagues over the last couple of years, do you believe that these prosecutions have been politically motivated?

MS HARF:  Well, I don’t want to make a broad generalization about all of them.  But in general, we have said that we, of course, are opposed to politicized arrests, detentions, and prosecutions.  We’ve seen a lot of that.  And when we talk about some of the mass sentences, mass death sentences, we’ve said sort of basic logic would lead you to believe that these weren’t sort of the kinds of trials they should be.  But I don’t want to generalize about all of them.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And you – and just so we’re clear, you don’t want to specifically say or suggest that the treatment of the former president has been —

MS HARF:  President Morsy.

QUESTION:  — yeah, President Morsy, has been —

MS HARF:  Not Mubarak.

QUESTION:  — politicized?

MS HARF:  There’s others.  Correct.  We’re going to look at the case and we’ll have more comment then.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Just with regard to – recently, the United States decided to lift the hold on military —

MS HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  — assistance to the country.  And just following this decision, these mass trials and mass death decisions and sentences come out.  Do you think that this downplaying of the United States have a role in these decisions?

MS HARF:  Well, we’re not downplaying anything.  We make very clear publicly when we have concerns about trials or other human rights issues inside Egypt.  We were very clear when we announced some of the assistance decisions that we made, what the purpose of that was for – that it’s in our national security interest, and we can both do that and also express deep concerns at the same time.

QUESTION:  Why were this assistance – military assistance was hold in the —

MS HARF:  I’m sorry?

QUESTION:  Why this military assistance was —

MS HARF:  Why was it?

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MS HARF:  We were undergoing a review of all of our assistances, as people, I think, are well aware of, in the aftermath of what has happened in Egypt.  This was an ongoing process.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Then what changed?

MS HARF:  Well, we made a decision.  I think that’s what changed.

QUESTION:  Marie?

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Syria and Turkey.  The Secretary will meet shortly with the Turkish foreign minister.

MS HARF:  He will.

QUESTION:  News reports said that there is an ongoing Turkish disagreement with the Obama Administration over the Syrian opposition train and equip program, and the enemy – the trainees will combat when they finish the six weeks – week course.  Is there disagreement between the U.S. and Turkey about the goal?

MS HARF:  I hadn’t seen those reports.  We talk to the Turks all the time about what’s happening in Syria, about supporting the opposition.  I am sure it will be a major topic of conversation today, and I don’t have much more to preview from that meeting.

QUESTION:  And who’s the enemy that the trainees will fight after that?

MS HARF:  Well, we’ve talked about this being a train and equip program to help the opposition fight ISIL.  We’ve been very clear about that.  We also know the opposition is fighting a war on two fronts here.

QUESTION:  What’s —

MS HARF:  And when it comes to this program, we’ve talked very clearly about that being ISIL.

QUESTION:  And what about the Assad regime?

MS HARF:  What about it?

QUESTION:  Are they able to —

MS HARF:  We’ve always said that the opposition was fighting a war on two fronts.  I just repeated that again.

QUESTION:  Mm-hmm.  And is there any update for – of the U.S. position towards Turkey’s proposal to establish a safe zone in Syria?

MS HARF:  I don’t have any updates for you on that.  I’m happy to see if there’s anything else coming out of the meeting.

Yes.

QUESTION:  What’s on the agenda with this meeting?  There are two other senior Turkish officials also who have meetings today here.

MS HARF:  Mm-hmm.  Well, I’m expecting – and we’ll see what comes out of the meeting, but the range of issues we work with the Turks on, whether it’s the anti-ISIL coalition, whether it’s the issue of foreign fighters, whether it’s what’s happening other places in the region, like Yemen – I’m sure there’ll be a lot of discussions with them on all of those issues.  And we will see —

QUESTION:  Are they playing —

MS HARF:  — what comes out of those.

QUESTION:  — a helpful role in Iraq, the Turks?

MS HARF:  We have said, as part of this anti-ISIL coalition, they play a key role in a number of ways, and one of the most important of which is taking steps to close down their border, and – because obviously, given the geographical proximity, they have a role to play here in preventing foreign fighters from being able to transit from Turkey into Syria, of course.  But when it comes to Iraq, obviously, that’s part of the anti-ISIL fight that they’ve been focused on as well.

QUESTION:  Because the president of Iraq is visiting Ankara today to meet with the president and the prime minister for planning on how to regain the Mosul.  Would this —

MS HARF:  And I’m sure they’ll read out their meetings from one of them.

QUESTION:  Will this be an issue to be discussed today?

MS HARF:  I’m sure these issues in general will be discussed.  Nothing else to preview.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  On Iran?

MS HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Given your changing position on – your position on Iran sanctions —

MS HARF:  Given – what was the very first part of that?

QUESTION:  Your change in position —

MS HARF:  There is absolutely no change in position on Iran sanctions.  I just said that four times.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So would there be any change —

QUESTION:  But given the —

MS HARF:  Right.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  — change in position —

QUESTION:  Will there be any change in your position on Iran-Pakistani-India gas pipeline?  Do you welcome that, or do you still have the same position —

MS HARF:  We have been clear on our position about that.  That hasn’t changed either.

QUESTION:  And would you mind now if India increases its input from Iran on oil?

MS HARF:  Well, we – that’s getting a little ahead of where we are. 

QUESTION:  Okay.

MS HARF:  The restrictions on oil purchases remain in place, as we’ve talked about, under their JPOA terms.  So what will happen under a comprehensive joint plan of action, I just don’t know yet.

QUESTION:  I have one on Bangladesh.  Can I ask?

MS HARF:  Let’s – okay, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Have you seen the reports about the violence in Bangladesh —

MS HARF:  I have.

QUESTION:  — attack on the opposition leader?

MS HARF:  I think the embassy has put out a statement on this as well, but I can gist it for you: that we deplore the political violence surrounding municipal elections in Dhaka – that’s what this specific statement was about – condemn in the strongest terms the use of violence for political objectives.  And we’ve called on everyone involved in the municipal elections to uphold their responsibility to ensure the elections are free, fair, and nonviolent.  We’ve also urged the security forces to permit free expression and association during the election campaign, to protect candidates against political violence, and to prosecute those who violate the law.

QUESTION:  Do you think the current government is insensitive or is not able to protect the opposition leader?

MS HARF:  I think I just said what we have to say on this.  I don’t have much else for you.

QUESTION:  Okay.

MS HARF:  Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Can we go to Greece?

MS HARF:  We can.

QUESTION:  Do you have a readout of yesterday’s meetings between the foreign minister of Greece and the Secretary?

MS HARF:  I do.  The Secretary and the foreign minister discussed bilateral and regional issues, including Greece’s economic situation, counterterrorism cooperation, and the importance of solidarity in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, also European energy security.  They also discussed support for the UN-facilitated efforts in Cyprus to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

QUESTION:  Marie, you designate today – the State Department, I mean – Mr. Christodoulos Xiros.

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  He is the brother of the other Xiros.

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  We have a lot of Xiros in Athens.  And Mr. Maziotis under Executive Order —

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — 13224.

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  You know that matter?

MS HARF:  I am familiar with it.

QUESTION:  My question is:  Why you did it today, one day after the meeting of the foreign minister and the Secretary?

MS HARF:  Well, just so folks know – and I think most people know this – the process for designated terrorists often takes months and months, and we’ve been working on these for months in advance of today’s announcement.  It’s just a quite lengthy process, as I think people know.  These designations were based on the fact that they have carried out terrorist activities as defined under that executive order that you mentioned.  In terms of the legislation, we’ve told them publicly and privately the concerns we have.  I don’t have much more else to say about timing, but these have been really ongoing process here. 

QUESTION:  I mean, I’m wondering why you didn’t designate his brother, that – he killed some Americans, as you said. 

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  Why you didn’t designate the leader of the organization, Mr. Yotopoulos?  Why only Christodoulos Xiros?

MS HARF:  Well, we designated two people, and – that we believe when they – these two individuals were outside of custody.  They’re both back in custody now, but when they were outside of custody, they resumed terrorist activity.  This really highlights our concern both about them, but also about the new Greek legislation.  Again, these designations have been in process for some time, and each case is different.  There’s ongoing looks at people all the time, but we just don’t comment on those.

QUESTION:  Another question, please.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible), you just said that this highlights your concern about the new legislation.

MS HARF:  Doesn’t mean that’s why we did it.  It just highlights it.  I mean, these have been in process for months, and this new law, I think, was only passed last week.

QUESTION:  So —

QUESTION:  No, yesterday.

MS HARF:  Friday, I think, or maybe —

QUESTION:  No, they adopted it yesterday.

MS HARF:  Okay.  Well, I first heard about —

QUESTION:  So what you’re telling me – I mean, you say it highlights your concerns about it, but —

MS HARF:  Correct, it highlights them —

QUESTION:  — it’s very fresh legislation for something that you’ve been working on for months.

MS HARF:  Absolutely, which is why I’m saying that we’ve been working on these —

QUESTION:  You highlight something after the fact.

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  Yeah, yeah.

MS HARF:  No, I mean —

QUESTION:  Yes, of course you can.

MS HARF:  Right, I think we’re all —

QUESTION:  You have to.

QUESTION:  Yes.

MS HARF:  I think we’re all saying the same thing.

QUESTION:  Can I ask, though —

MS HARF:  We’ve been working on these designations for many months, based on the time they were undertaking terrorist activity when they were not in captivity.  That’s why we felt it was – regardless of whether this new law had been passed or not, these designations still would have gone forward.

QUESTION:  Can I ask —

QUESTION:  I have another question if I may.

MS HARF:  You may.

QUESTION:  The foreign minister of Greece told us yesterday that he explained to the Secretary what is going on with the other Xiros, the younger one, the one that you don’t want to —

MS HARF:  The one who was not designated.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So my question is that:  Is the Secretary satisfied with explanation that the foreign minister of Greece gave him yesterday?

MS HARF:  Well, during his bilateral meeting, as you said, yesterday, Secretary Kerry raised our concerns that those who have committed acts of terrorism need to remain incarcerated.  Both leaders reiterated the importance of our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation.  And we’ll be watching carefully the implementation of Greece’s new law and we will stay in close touch with Greek authorities on the matter.  I think we’ll just see how this all plays out.

QUESTION:  Can I ask, though, is the other Xiros – the one not designated today – on another list?

MS HARF:  I do not – he definitely was not designated today.  I’m not sure if he’s on another list.  I just don’t know, Matt.  I’m sorry.  I’m happy to check.

QUESTION:  Were there any assurances given from the Greek foreign minister that this law would not see Savvas Xiros released? 

MS HARF:  I’m —

QUESTION:  That’s kind of what he sort of said in the remarks yesterday, that there would be no terrorists released. 

MS HARF:  Well, I think that’s what I just said – we’ll be watching to see how it’s implemented.

QUESTION:  But there were no assurances?

MS HARF:  I’m not going to get into more details of their conversation. 

QUESTION:  And another follow up on – in that you say that all their assets or any interest in the U.S. —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  Do you have a quantification of the —

MS HARF:  We tend not to on these issues.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And the – how do you – I wonder – are you – because most of the – these kind of Greek personalities have connections in Switzerland, not in U.S.  So are you in touch with the Swiss?

MS HARF:  Well, let me see.  I don’t know if we’re in touch with the Swiss.  I believe – I’m trying to see if they were also designated by the UN.  I’m not sure about that.  I’m happy to check. 

Yes.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  On Honduras.

MS HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  President Juan Orlando Hernandez is here in the State Department. 

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  And I think he’s even speaking as we speak at the Conference of the Americas downstairs.

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  I’m wondering if he’s had a chance to meet with the Secretary this morning, and if – earlier today, and if so, were there any discussions about Honduras’s LGBT rights record, which includes almost 200 reported LGBT murders in the last five years.

MS HARF:  I’m not sure that they were able to meet this morning.  Let me check with his staff.  I don’t – I didn’t hear that they were, but I’m happy to check.  I know there are a lot of folks in the building for that conference today.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  And then as a quick follow-up to that, last month six members of Congress urged USAID to use funds from the Central America Regional Security Initiative to support LGBT advocacy groups in three countries, including Honduras, in Central America.  Do you have any updates on that? 

MS HARF:  Let me check and see.  I remember that request coming in.  And I’m happy to check and get an update for you.

QUESTION:  Also on the Americas —

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS HARF:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  — in his speech today, the Secretary talked about how he’s open for a better relationship with Venezuela.  I wondered if there’s any update on the Venezuelan request to have fewer U.S. diplomats —

MS HARF:  I don’t believe there’s any update on that.  I have not heard of an update on that.

QUESTION:  And anything on Cuba, how that’s going with the opening of the embassies?

MS HARF:  I don’t think I have any update on that either.

QUESTION:  Marie, on Yemen. 

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Are you aware of the Omani peace plan for Yemen?

MS HARF:  The Omani peace plan?

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MS HARF:  I haven’t heard details of that, no.

QUESTION:  And —

MS HARF:  But we’re certainly aware that there are countries in the region who are trying to work to see if we can get some sort of political dialogue going here.

QUESTION:  And what about the Iranian one?  Are you aware of it and what do you think about it?

MS HARF:  I’m certainly aware of the reports.  Again, what needs to happen is a political dialogue, and we’re seeing if we can help in that in any way.  Hopefully that’s what needs to happen next.

QUESTION:  On that, Marie, the Iranian deputy —

QUESTION:  Do you – sorry, Arshad.

QUESTION:  Oh, go ahead, yeah.

QUESTION:  Do you support it?

MS HARF:  I said we support political dialogue.  I don’t know all of the details of the Iranian plan, but, as we’ve said, there’s a way to do this under UN auspices. 

Yes.

QUESTION:  Iran’s deputy foreign minister said today that he was optimistic that a ceasefire in Yemen would be announced later today.  Do you have any reason to believe that he’s correct? 

MS HARF:  We certainly hope that a ceasefire could be announced as soon as possible, given that’s what needs to happen on the ground.  But I certainly don’t have anything to predict in terms of —

QUESTION:  But regardless of whether you have anything to predict, I mean, do you have any reason to believe that things are heading that way?

MS HARF:  Well, wouldn’t that be a prediction?

QUESTION:  Not necessarily.  I could – one could have a reason to believe something that is not specifically a prediction that something will happen later today.

MS HARF:  I’m failing to see the distinction.  I just don’t have anything on that for you.

Yes.  Go ahead.  Yes. 

QUESTION:  Can I ask, is there a concern in this building and within the Administration about the continuing airstrikes by the Saudi Arabians and the amount of devastation that’s being carried out both in – well, in Aden and in Sana’a as well?

MS HARF:  Well, we’ve certainly – and I saw reports specifically on the large strike in Sana’a yesterday, and of course, any loss of civilian life is tragic.  This, I think, highlights the pressing need for the Yemeni parties to return to a UN-led negotiation.  And we’ve called on all sides throughout this to comply with international humanitarian law, to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians as well.

QUESTION:  Have you actually – according to one report I saw – have you actually asked the Saudis to rein in the strikes?  Have you been pressing them to —

MS HARF:  I’m happy to check and see.  I haven’t heard that.

QUESTION:  Philippines and China?

MS HARF:  Sure.

QUESTION:  Do you have comment on the Filipino activists who say that the Chinese have turned water cannon on their fishing boats?

MS HARF:  Yes.  We are looking into these reports.  I can’t independently confirm them, but if true, the use of water cannons against Philippine civilian vessels that have a longstanding practice of fishing in these waters at Scarborough Reef or in other disputed areas of the South China Sea would be a provocative act.  It would represent a step backward in finding a diplomatic resolution to the dispute.  Countries should not use force or coercion to support disputed territorial or maritime claims.  We have continued to encourage South China Sea claimants to exercise restraint and to pursue diplomatic means to clarify their claims and to resolve disputes.

QUESTION:  Thanks.

MS HARF:  Yes, in the back.

QUESTION:  I have one more thing on Bangladesh.

MS HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Do you have any updated information about the state – former state minister Salahuddin Ahmed, who’s been disappeared for a long time?

MS HARF:  I don’t have any additional information for you.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Administration has evidence that Iranians are supplying weapons and other support —

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — formal support to Houthis.  What kind of evidence does the Administration have?  Can you update us?

MS HARF:  Well, we’ve – this isn’t something new, unfortunately.  We’ve long talked about the support when it comes from funding or whether it’s weapons supplies that the Iranians are sending to the Houthi.  This has been really an ongoing relationship for a very long time.  I’m happy to see if there’s more evidence to share publicly of that, but this has been something we’ve expressed concern about for some time.

QUESTION:  And last week there were reports that Iranian – Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships with some weapons towards Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply Shia Houthis.  And these reports were referenced – the information were referenced to a U.S. official.  Do you confirm this, and do you have any (inaudible)?

MS HARF:  Well, obviously, we take any of those reports seriously.  I’m not going to get into specifics of what we know about everything Iran is doing or how they’re doing it to support the Houthi.  I would note, though – I think the Defense Department may have already addressed this in their briefing today, but there were reports about these U.S. ships that have been moved.  And I want to be very clear, just so no one has the wrong impression, that they are not there to intercept Iranian ships, to do issues like that; that the purpose of moving them is only to ensure the shipping lanes remain open and safe.  I think there was some misreporting and confusion on this, and I just wanted to be very clear.  I know they spoke to it too, but that the purpose is not to do anything in terms of those Iranian ships.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

QUESTION:  On the monitoring —

QUESTION:  So does that mean that the Iranians can send all the – as many weapons as they want and —

MS HARF:  That is not what I said – that the purpose of the U.S. —

QUESTION:  I understand that.

MS HARF:  Right, okay.

QUESTION:  But you’re not prepared to stop it.  Is that what you’re saying?

MS HARF:  Well, as I said, the purpose of moving them – their mission is to ensure the shipping – right.  Okay.

QUESTION:  I get that, but I’m just —

MS HARF:  To ensure the shipping lanes remain open and safe.

QUESTION:  But I – but my question is:  Does that mean that Iran can continue to send weapons in to support the Houthis and the Administration —

MS HARF:  Well, there’s —

QUESTION:  — has decided that it’s not going to do anything to stop it?

MS HARF:  Well, there’s now a UN Security Council resolution that prohibits those arms shipments into Yemen.

QUESTION:  Yes. But —

MS HARF:  I don’t have anything to detail for you on how that might play out on the ground, but to be very clear about these specific U.S. vessels and what their purpose is.

QUESTION:  Well, yeah, but someone has to enforce the UN Security Council resolution.

MS HARF:  I understand that, and I just don’t have any details for you on that.

QUESTION:  It’s not going to be 15 ambassadors running out and paddling around off the coast of Yemen that are going to stop – that’re going to enforce the prohibition of arms. 

MS HARF:  And I just said I don’t have any more details for you.

QUESTION:  My question is:  Has the Administration decided that it is not going to participate in enforcing this UN Security Council resolution?

MS HARF:  I can check and see if there are details on enforcement for you.

QUESTION:  I have a follow-up on that.  Why safe passage now?  Why does this need to be enforced now?  What has changed about the passage —

MS HARF:  I’m happy for you to ask the Defense Department that question.

Yes.

QUESTION:  And just to follow up, you said then their role is not to intercept.

MS HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  But are they actually monitoring any Iranian vessels that might be heading towards Yemen?

MS HARF:  Monitoring in what way?

QUESTION:  Well, watching them, surveying them —

MS HARF:  Again, their —

QUESTION:  — keeping an eye on.

MS HARF:  Their purpose is to ensure the shipping lanes remain open.  I really refer you to DOD on that if you have questions.

QUESTION:  So that could be a yes.

QUESTION:  But does that include —

MS HARF:  The truth – just ask DOD.  They’re DOD ships.

QUESTION:  If their purpose is to include – their purpose is to ensure that the shipping lanes remain open, does that mean that you are going to keep the shipping lanes open for Iranian ships carrying weapons to the Houthis?

MS HARF:  You understand the commercial importance —

QUESTION:  I do.

MS HARF:  — of this shipping lane, Matt.

QUESTION:  I do.

MS HARF:  I think you understand that.

QUESTION:  I do.

MS HARF:  That’s obviously what this is focused on.

QUESTION:  So they won’t stop any vessels?

MS HARF:  Their purpose is to ensure the shipping lanes remain open.  And again, that is what the Defense Department is saying the purpose is.

QUESTION:  Right.

MS HARF:  For any more specifics —

QUESTION:  Okay.  I’ll go over —

MS HARF:  — I’m happy for you all to go talk to the Defense Department.

QUESTION:  Okay, I’ll go over there.  But I mean, keeping the shipping lanes open —

MS HARF:  But you’ll go over there.  But —

QUESTION:  — for all ships?

QUESTION:  So these are not —

QUESTION:  I mean, I don’t —

MS HARF:  Again —

QUESTION:  Including Iranian vessels —

QUESTION:  Exactly.

QUESTION:  — carrying weapons for the Houthis?

MS HARF:  Justin, do you have —

QUESTION:  Yeah, I do have a question.  So are there – are you aware of Iranian shipments of weapons en route right now to Yemen?

MS HARF:  I just got asked that question five minutes ago.  You can take a look at the transcript.

QUESTION:  And what did you say?  And you said?

MS HARF:  You can take a look at the transcript.

QUESTION:  Well, okay, a follow-up to that.  Is there a naval —

MS HARF:  You should come on time.

QUESTION:  Is there an Iranian military escort with those shipments, or is this a commercial vessel or what?

MS HARF:  I just said I wasn’t going to get into those details, so I’m not going to get into them with you either.

Go ahead.

QUESTION:  So they are not sent to reassure the U.S. partners and allies against the —

MS HARF:  Well, certainly part of the reassurance for the partner —

QUESTION:  — against the – against Iran’s —

MS HARF:  Well – but certainly part of the reassurance for the partners in the reason – in the region, excuse me, is to keep these shipping lanes open.  I mean, our partners in the region rely on these for a lot of commerce, for a lot of economic value.  So obviously that’s something that’s important to us.

QUESTION:  Apparently the Houthis rely on them as well, too —

MS HARF:  Are there any other questions on this?

QUESTION:  — for a resupply of Iranian weapons.  (Laughter.) 

MS HARF:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Who’s threatening the situation there now, do you think – and why?

MS HARF:  I just don’t have more details for you all than this.

QUESTION:  Is it a message to Iran in any way not to send this shipment?

MS HARF:  No. 

QUESTION:  I have a question on Cyprus.

QUESTION:  Well, why not?  Why isn’t it – why don’t you want to send a message to the Iranians that they should abide by the Security Council resolution?

QUESTION:  And not arm the Houthis.

MS HARF:  Well, I think there’s ways to send that message, and we’ve said that very publicly. 

QUESTION:  Yeah, but —

MS HARF:  I have said that from this podium.  My colleagues at the White House and the Defense Department and others have said it.  I think there was a lot of misreporting – I saw a lot of cable tickers today – “Ships going there to intercept Iranian ships.”  That is blatantly untrue.  So this discrete movement of U.S. assets is for a discrete purpose.  Are there all these other ways we have of making clear to the Iranians what they should and shouldn’t do?  Absolutely.

QUESTION:  Okay, but first of all —

MS HARF:  So let’s just not get all spun up about something that’s not accurate.

QUESTION:  — this is an aircraft carrier.  It’s nothing discreet about it, right? 

MS HARF:  I don’t have much —

QUESTION:  It’s an enormous ship with —

MS HARF:  Unless you have a question, I’m going to move on, Matt.

QUESTION:  The question is this:  Why not send a message – why you —

MS HARF:  Because we have a variety of ways of sending messages about what should happen here.

QUESTION:  Okay.  But I’ll tell you with absolutely all due respect for you, for the Pentagon, for the Pentagon spokesman —

MS HARF:  I’m sure what follows will be very respectful.

QUESTION:  — it will be – and Josh Earnest say from the podium is not as strong a message as sending an aircraft carrier into these waters.

MS HARF:  Well, I’m happy to take your advice on board.  No pun intended.

QUESTION:  On board.  Hmm.

MS HARF:  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)  I have a question on Cyprus. 

MS HARF:  Okay. 

QUESTION:  Mrs. Nuland was in Turkey a few days ago.  Yesterday she met with the foreign minister of Greece.  As I understand, she’s planning to go to Cyprus.

MS HARF:  I don’t have any travel update for her.

QUESTION:  Okay, let me ask my question.

MS HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  I have this feeling that something’s cooking about the Cyprus problem.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  I do too.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  And if you could give us some information on that.  I’m sure that’s how something’s (inaudible).

QUESTION:  A lot of spices.  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  So if you can also take my question, please tell us where she’s —

MS HARF:  I’m going to task to EUR press:  “He thinks something’s cooking.  Please provide lines.”  (Laughter.) 

QUESTION:  So on my question, do you have any information to give us?

MS HARF:  I don’t. 

QUESTION:  Can you take the question, please?

MS HARF:  I’m happy to.

QUESTION:  Thank you very much.

MS HARF:  In the back.  Let’s go in the back.

QUESTION:  Do you feel that Cyprus question, which has been on the backburner, is going to come —

MS HARF:  Well, I just mentioned that the Secretary spoke to the Greek foreign minister yesterday about it in their meeting.  So I think that indicates its importance.

QUESTION:  Is he going to speak to the Turkish foreign minister today?

QUESTION:  Turkish, yeah —

MS HARF:  We’ll see.  I will be in the meeting if this briefing ever ends.

QUESTION:  Yes.  Thank you.

MS HARF:  No, wait.  No, there’s a few more.  Someone else gets to ask questions. 

Go ahead in the back.

QUESTION:  Different topic.

MS HARF:  Yes, please.

QUESTION:  Austria, Germany, and Serbia are set to recognize the Armenian genocide by the end of this week.  Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel already voiced her support.  Do you think this dynamics, particularly the recognition by European allies, will affect position here in Washington on —

MS HARF:  I have no updates for you on this.  We have been very clear about our position on this.

QUESTION:  Is any foreign government pressuring this Administration for not recognizing, for not labeling the events —

MS HARF:  I just don’t have more for you on this.  Let’s just do —

QUESTION:  So you don’t know if there is any foreign pressure —

MS HARF:  I just said I don’t have anything for you on this.  Doesn’t mean I don’t know.

Let’s just do three more and then we’re done.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Sure.  So this is a Japan question.  Japan’s Prime Minister Abe suggested that in his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II that he will not apologize for the country’s World War II aggressions, like some previous Japanese leaders have done.  So is the U.S. worried about this in any way?

MS HARF:  Well, we’re certainly very much looking forward to his visit to the United States.  As I said at the top of the briefing, the Secretary will be hosting him in Boston at his home for dinner.  And we’ve continued to emphasize the importance of approaching historical legacy issues in a manner that promotes healing and reconciliation for all parties.  We’ve been very clear about the importance of that.

Yes.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Actually on this, did you have any response or reaction to him, Abe, sending these offerings to the war shrine, which apparently suggests that he won’t actually physically go there?  Is that a good thing?

MS HARF:  Right.  I don’t have sort of analysis to do for you of this.  We of course believe that strong and constructive relations between countries in the region promote peace and stability in their interests, certainly in our interests as well.  So don’t have much more for you on that.

Yes.  Two more.

QUESTION:  On Ukraine —

MS HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  — as you know, U.S. paratroopers started training of Ukrainian national guard and – a couple of days ago.  And Russian officials claim that this is the violation of Minsk agreement, quoting that it states – Minsk agreement requires pullout of all foreign and armed formations, military group, and mercenaries from the territory —

MS HARF:  So they started removing their —

QUESTION:  Yeah. 

MS HARF:  — forces? 

QUESTION:  Yeah.

MS HARF:  I’m sorry?  Oh, right. 

QUESTION:  So is that a violation of Minsk agreement?

MS HARF:  This is the kind of bilateral training we’ve been doing for over 20 – the last 20 years with Ukraine.  Certainly this is at the invitation of the Ukrainian Government.  This is part of our longstanding defensive cooperation with Ukraine, about which we’ve always been fully transparent.  This is something, again, we’ve been doing under multiple administrations in Ukraine for about 20 years.  So this is, by no means, unusual.  And again, it is at the invitation of the Ukrainian Government.  I don’t remember the Ukrainian Government inviting in Russian separatists. 

Abigail.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  It’s unusual but – it’s not unusual —

MS HARF:  It’s – it is not unusual, by any means.&nbsp