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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Foreign Policy Update

Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC
December 4, 2013

3:00 P.M. EST


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, and welcome everyone here to the Washington Foreign Press Center, and those of you joining us via Digital Video Conference in New York. Thank you for joining us. We’re extremely pleased to welcome back to the Foreign Press Center the U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson, Ms. Marie Harf. This is the second opportunity we’ve had to host Marie in the past few months, and we want to thank you for carving out time in your schedule. She’s doing back-to-back briefings today, so thank you very much.

I know that time is short and you’re all eager to move on to the briefing, so I’m going to dispense with any other formalities and just invite Marie to the podium to begin. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you so much. And some of our journalists are doing double duty today too, so I see some friendly faces in the audience.

I don’t have anything to start off with at the top. I’m happy to be back here again for what I know will be a regular occurrence. And with that, I’m happy to open it up to questions. I think we’ll call them from up here and take as many as we can.

MODERATOR: Right. So before we go into the questions, I just have a few things. Please state your name and outlet before you pose the question. I also need you to wait for the microphone, because we are transcribing. We have a finite amount of time, a lot of people that want to ask questions, so please keep them concise and to single-part questions at this point.

So thank you very much. Questions? We can start here in the front.

MS. HARF: Let’s start here. The microphone’s coming.


QUESTION: Maria Garcia with Notimex. I would like to ask you about the case of the stolen (inaudible) Mexico. Mexican authorities have (inaudible) Department of State. Do you know (inaudible) and (inaudible) when the Mexican president came to – took office a year ago, he changed the mechanisms of U.S. cooperation. The Mexican Government now says that they are more effective. Could you give us an assessment of that?

MS. HARF: Well, thank you for the question. I hope everyone could hear it in the room. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports. We have had discussions with the Mexican authorities, have said that we stand ready to assist if there is any way we can. Don’t have much more for you on this at this time. I know it’s an ongoing situation and we’ll see what happens over the coming days.

We obviously very much value our close partnership with the Mexican Government on a host of security, economic, regional issues, and we’ll continue working closely with them. Again, in this case, we’ve stood ready to offer our assistance if there is any way we possibly can.

MODERATOR: Can we go to the second row?

QUESTION: Hi. Piper Uros, correspondent of Tanjug News Agency from Serbia. My question is on Serbia and EU negotiations. Simple one: Do you think that Serbia deserves to start negotiations this December or January of next year regarding what Serbian Government did in the Brussels talks in the fight against corruption and organized crime? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you for the question. Well, obviously it’s not our decision. It’s a discussion between Serbia and the EU. But we do continue to fully support Serbia’s commitment to a future in the European Union. We believe Serbia has both the willingness and the ability to meet the expectations of the EU member states who will vote – I think it’s later this month – on starting accession negotiations with Serbia. So both Serbia and Kosovo have made significant progress in implementing dialogue agreements, and we hope this process will continue. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Up here to the front.

QUESTION: Thanks. Andrei Sitov from Tass, from Russian news agency. Thanks to our hosts and thanks, Marie, for coming.

MS. HARF: Of course.

QUESTION: For a wrap-up piece for the end of the year, I wanted to ask you to list for us the biggest accomplishments of the U.S. foreign policy over the past year and where you have probably fallen short of your goals. Thank you.

MS. HARF: Wow. That’s a question I need some time to think about, but it’s a very important one. Well, I’ve only been here since June, but I think it’s been a very busy year for all of us. As you know, Secretary Kerry is overseas right now, and I don’t even know what number trip this is in the past year. But obviously, we face some big challenges, whether we talk about Iran – obviously that’s been a huge topic, the recently concluded first-step agreement in Geneva with Russia and the rest of the P5+1 that really puts the first meaningful limits on Iran’s nuclear program and helps move us on a process to a final agreement. This is at the top of our foreign policy agenda, and we’ve made progress on that this year. We have a long way to go, certainly one of our top priorities.

If we look at Afghanistan, the Secretary right now – or not anymore, but the last few days has been in Brussels talking to our NATO counterparts about what we will look like after 2014. He’s been in discussions with President Karzai about signing a BSA. We’re very much focused right now on determining what our future presence will look like there, how we’re going to bring our troops home, and what our relationship will look like with the Afghans going forward. That’s also a top priority.

If we look at Syria, we’ve talked about that a lot. On the chemical weapons front, we and the Russians -- again going back to that relationship -- negotiated a framework agreement, got a unanimous Security Council resolution, and put us on a path to destroy the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world, I believe. So that is something that we felt was a step forward. But there’s, of course, much more work to be done in Syria. Starting after the first of the year, we’ll go back to Geneva, I believe, for the Geneva II conference to help get us on a path towards a political transition there.

One other place I’ll mention, because the Vice President is there right now, is of course our policy in Asia, whether it’s trade – we can talk a little bit about the TPP. We are very much focused on our outreach and our policy in the Asia Pacific region – economically and diplomatically. This has been at the forefront of our agenda. The Vice President is discussing it right now. And that’s also been something that we’re looking to do even more on in the new year, I think.

So those are the first things that come to mind. I’m sure there are many others that you can ask about as well.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) on your wish list?

MS. HARF: Well, obviously, the world is still a very complicated place. On all of these issues, there’s much more work to be done. As I said, on Iran, we have an upcoming series of negotiations where we will be implementing this first step and doing a final agreement, a comprehensive agreement. On Syria, we need to get a political transition in Syria that gets a transitioning governing body in place, and then, hopefully, gets us to a place where we can end this awful conflict there.

So we have trade agreements to finalize. We have a BSA to sign. We have a whole host of issues on our plate going into the new year, but we feel we’ve made progress. We have a good team in place who are engaged on these issues every single day.

MODERATOR: I’m going to go back to the fourth row on the end, and then come back.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)


QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: We’ll go to you next, I promise. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Weihua Chen, China Daily. I want to ask: The reports about Biden, Vice President Biden meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping --

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- and when he talks with press, it was said he was subdued about this Air Defense Identification Zone.

And also, your counterpart in China, foreign ministry spokesman, always said everyone else – Japan, U.S. – have this identification zone, why make a fuss about China? The timing, some criticize not good, but it doesn’t seem to have any good timing for China-Japan for years. So what’s your comments? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, I don’t want to get into a war of the words or dueling words with my counterpart, but I’ll say a few points. The Vice President did, as you say, speak to this issue a couple of times during his trip. We’re very concerned about the fact that China announced the establishment of this ADIZ unilaterally. We believe that it’s a highly provocative act that is attempting to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea, which, as we all know, is a highly sensitive area. This can raise regional tensions. This can contribute to the possibility of miscalculations and accidents, again in a very sensitive area. So we are raising those issues directly. The Vice President did. Other senior officials have as well. And we’re going to continue the conversation. We don’t believe that the ADIZ should be implemented, and we’ll see where the discussions go from here.

MODERATOR: I’m going to go here to the front, and then we’ll get back to --

MS. HARF: I promise, we’ll get to you.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: I know. I want everyone to do their jobs and ask their questions.


QUESTION: Irina Gelevska, Macedonian Radio and TV. You mentioned that Secretary Kerry was in Brussels. They were talking about the next summit next year.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Obviously, Afghanistan will be the main topic. But do you – does he support the idea of Madam Clinton, after the Chicago summit, that that will be the last summit without enlargement? What is actually your stand on this, whether you think that this summit in UK should be a summit of enlargement?

MS. HARF: Well, without speaking specifically to that summit, we – the United States remains committed to NATO having an open door, generally speaking. We’ve spoken about this a lot. Aspirants need to meet NATO standards for membership, and we’ll support them in that effort. I don’t want to get into more specifics about what might be discussed at what summit, but certainly in practice we support this, generally speaking.

MODEERATOR: We’ll go to the back.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Wajid Syed. I’m with Pakistan’s Geo TV. So my question is regarding Pakistan. The NATO supply routes are blocked once again. Are you guys – your comment – does – are you guys thinking to change the routes, or how do you deal with the situation?

MS. HARF: I’m – can you speak a little louder? I missed the first part of your question. I’m sorry.

QUESTION: NATO supply routes are blocked --

MS. HARF: The supply routes, yes.


MS. HARF: Thank you. Sorry, I missed that first part. Well, we are aware – I think this is what you’re referring to – that there are protests occurring along one of our primary commercial transit routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is a preferred route because of cost, but we do have flexibility and redundancy built into our transit routes for Afghanistan for a variety of reasons. So shipments – as you mentioned, shipments of U.S. retrograde and NATO-ISAF cargo through this GLOC, through this Pakistan ground line of communication, are not moving right now via Torkham. We’re concerned about the safety of drivers who are contracted to move our equipment. We do have flexibility built in. We don’t think that this will, over the long term, affect – impact our retrograde movement. And as soon as it’s safe to reopen this, we will absolutely do so.

MODERATOR: Going to go to the front, and then I’m going to head to New York. Front in the red jacket.

QUESTION: Marie, thanks a lot.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this extra briefing for foreign media.

MS. HARF: Of course.

QUESTION: We really appreciate it.

MS. HARF: Thank you.

QUESTION: I know you have been talking about the East China Sea air defense zone issue a lot, so let’s have a break. (Laughter.) So outside of this East China Sea air defense zone issue, how has the Vice President Joe Biden’s visit affect the cooperation between U.S. and China in other aspects and the State Department’s goal? And also, I wonder, will this air defense zone issue affect U.S.-China cooperation? And are you still positive about the Sino-U.S. relations in the long run? Thanks a lot.

MS. HARF: And thank you for the question. I think it hits on a few key points. The first is that this was a long-planned visit by the Vice President to China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, and it is touching on a wide range of bilateral issues. Obviously, this is the one in the news right now, but there’s a wide range of issues we work on together. And I think if you take a look at what the Vice President said today in his remarks after his meeting with President Xi, it was very much about the relationship moving forward and about the opportunities we have to cooperate, to work together on shared challenges and shared interests in the region, whether that’s economically, countering threats like North Korea, all of the issues that we’ve talked about, I know, at length in here and elsewhere.

So the Vice President, as I’ve said, will meet with key leaders to discuss a full range of these bilateral, regional, and global issues. The trip is really about doing a few things, really reaffirming our presence as a Pacific power; promoting our trade interests and economic interests, a huge issue we talk about all over the Asia Pacific region; and underscoring our commitment to the rebalance, or the pivot, as I know we’ve all talked about a lot in here.

So this is in the news right now, but there are a lot of issues, particularly economic, that the Vice President is talking about on this trip. He has a big delegation with him of folks from the State Department. I think there are folks from the trade – our trade folks, as well. So all of these issues are going to be discussed, and we’ll, I think, probably have a fuller readout after he returns.

QUESTION: Are you positive about the future of the U.S.-China relations in the long run?

MS. HARF: Absolutely. We’re two countries that work together on a host of issues. We don’t agree on everything; no two countries do. But if you look at some of the topics I talked about when I answered the question about what we’ve done over the last year through the P5 and the P5+1, whether it’s getting a Security Council resolution on Syria, working to get this agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, working on the North Korea nuclear issue, economics, trade – there are a host of places where we work together with China on. The presidents had a good meeting in Sunnylands earlier this year, and we’re just building on that and moving the relationship forward.

QUESTION: Thanks a lot.

MS. HARF: Of course.

MODERATOR: I’m going to go to our colleagues in New York right now and allow them a question, so please.

QUESTION: Hi. Karim Lebhour from the French radio, Radio France Internationale, as you can probably guess from my accent. The UN Security Council will vote tomorrow a resolution on Centrafrique, the Central African Republic. We are told by UN diplomats that the U.S. is very reluctant to authorize a peacekeeping mission in Centrafrique and there’s been a bit of a hole between the French and the Americans on that subject from what I gather. So I’d like to know what exactly are the U.S. reservations on the UN peacekeeping mission in Centrafrique since it seems that everybody agrees that it should be the way to go?

MS. HARF: Thank you for the question. I think I heard you were asking about the Central African Republic, if that’s correct, and the peacekeeping mission there? Just making sure I heard you through the TV.

We’ve been long concerned about protecting civilian, preventing atrocities, and ensuring access for humanitarian assistance in the CAR. We believe that a durable solution must include the demobilization of armed groups, the restoration of security and state authority, and a transition to a legitimate elected government.

Our position has remained that we believe that the swift ongoing deployment of the African Union-led peacekeeping mission, which is MISCA, goes by MISCA, offers the most immediate mechanism for stopping the violence now and preventing further atrocities. And to this end, Secretary Kerry has authorized 40 million in nonlethal equipment, training, logistical and planning assistance to MISCA. And we support, of course, the French mobilization as an important step toward protecting civilians and facilitating MISCA’s swift deployment.

We believe it's important to support the AU in taking the lead on this matter. Should a UN peacekeeping operation eventually be deemed appropriate, a strong, well-equipped and financially supported MISCA will actually allow for a swifter transition to a UN force. I don’t want to get ahead of that discussion, but certainly we believe that MISCA will help facilitate that.

MODERATOR: Okay. Now back here. In the middle. Right here in the center.

QUESTION: Thank you, Marie. Elliot Waldman, Tokyo Broadcasting System. Thank you very much for being here. I know you’re still a little under the weather, so I appreciate it.

MS. HARF: I know. Thank you. It’s getting better.

QUESTION: Yeah, great.

MS. HARF: Every day.

QUESTION: So I wanted to ask again about the Chinese ADIZ. I know we’ve done this to death, but --

MS. HARF: It’s okay.

QUESTION: -- there’s been a lot of different phrases used by yourself and your colleagues on the U.S. position to rescind the process, to not recognize – that the U.S. doesn’t recognize, that you’re asking China not to implement. And I think General Dempsey made some comments about this earlier today in which he said that the problem itself is not with the ADIZ per se, but rather with the fact that the rules and protocols associated with it are outside international norms.

So I wonder if you could – if I could take this opportunity to ask you to clarify. Is it – is the problem with the ADIZ itself, or is it with the anomalous nature of – the way in which it’s being implemented? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, it’s a good question. And I actually don’t think you can divorce the two. Obviously, we don’t believe that ADIZs in general are a bad thing. They exist all over the world is my understanding. And I’m learning a lot about international aviation, by the way, over these past few days.

So it’s actually – the problem has been I think two-fold. One is the unilateral, uncoordinated nature in which this was announced and put into place. I think we’ve been very clear that that only leads to the – to showing that it’s a provocative action, and that it was done in a very uncoordinated way.

But also, some of the things that are wrapped up in this ADIZ – and I’ve talked about some of them, but for example, the requirements that are part of this. The requirement to file a flight plan with the China Government, the notion that there's a reference to quote, “defensive emergency measures should aircraft fail to comply” with China’s stated requirements. We believe that’s an ambiguous statement, and can be perceived as many as a provocative one. So the notion of ADIZs is something that’s I think exists all over the world, but it’s way it was put into place and some of the requirements underneath it that we find provocative, that we don’t recognize.

I know there’s a lot of parsing of words. Our policy hasn't changed depending on what word you use. Our policies remain the same that we don’t recognize it and we don't think it should be implemented.

MODERATOR: All right. I’m going to go to the red tie and then move to the back. Fourth row.

MS. HARF: Lots of red ties.

MODERATOR: There are.

MS. HARF: It’s that time of year.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for the briefing. My name is Ramon Sahmkow from the AFP, the Spanish (inaudible). I want to try to change the subject to Venezuela. The local elections are coming this weekend. The United States has always has been worried about results being tampered in Venezuela in the old – much – many elections in the past years. How do you see these local elections in the situation – political situation in Venezuela and the future relations with – between Venezuela and the United States?

And another sports-related question is, Cuba apparently has accepted to go back to Serie del Caribe, which is a baseball tournament which includes Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Apparently, this decision was taken after the United States approved Puerto Rico to participate in this with Cuba. So do you have anything on that? And would – is it theoretically the embargo would get in the way in between a sports tournament? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you for the questions. They’re –

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. HARF: No, it’s okay. They’re very good ones and I fear that I may not have fulsome answers for you.

But on the Cuba question I’m not familiar with this baseball tournament. Our whole Cuba policy is based on the notion or based largely on the notion that we want to improve people-to-people ties. That’s why you’ve seen some of our Cuba policies, whether it’s remittances or travel for families going back and forth. We’ve tried to improve that because we want to encourage ties between our people. We want to give the Cuban people opportunity to express themselves and continue to push the government to give them opportunities to do so.

Obviously, the embargo remains in place. That hasn’t changed. I, quite frankly, don’t know how it would impact this. I’m happy to look into it, and if you give one of us your card, I’m happy to get back to you on that issue.

On Venezuela, we continue to believe that a functional relationship with Venezuela is important, focusing on mutual areas and mutual interests, whether that's counternarcotics, counterterrorism, or commerce. All of these are important. I don’t have a lot of details about the upcoming elections. Again, I’m happy to look into that for you. We always take allegations of electoral misconduct seriously running up to, during, or after elections. I don’t have any details about these, but I’m happy to look into it. Just make sure you give someone your card so we can get back to you. Thank you.

MODERATOR: I’m going to go back to the far back right, the young woman in red.

QUESTION: Thank you for doing this briefing today, from China News Service, so let’s go back to the East China Sea. According to China’s --

MS. HARF: Every other question, we’ll just do the East China Sea. It’s okay.

QUESTION: Okay. (Laughter.)

MS. HARF: Go ahead.

QUESTION: So according to China’s foreign ministry, there are 55 airlines from the 19 countries, and the three regions have already reported their flight plans to China. So it seems that many countries respect China’s ADIZ. So what is your response?

And my second question is: ADI – China says that its ADIZ practice fully respect international laws and practices, and it should be respected by other countries. And what is your response? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Well, I have the, I think, benefit of only speaking for one country. I can only say what our policy is and how we feel. I know you mentioned there are possibly other countries who feel differently. I happily don’t have to speak for other countries but ours. I can just say what our policy is. We believe this is a provocative act. We don’t believe it should be implemented. And I’ve outlined a couple of those reasons why. Again, there’s conversations going on on the ground right now. The Vice President and his team are out there.

But we do believe that the unilateral nature of this, the way it was not coordinated, and some of the requirements that fall under it don’t comply with international norms of aviation. I’m not an aviation expert, although I’m quickly becoming one. But there are a lot of things, including filing flight plans with the government, including the notion about what will happen if you don’t. We believe this is outside the international norms and don’t believe it should be implemented.

MODERATOR: I’m going to go back, fifth row, second to the right.

QUESTION: Ma’am, I want to ask you on the Ukraine, if I may. We know that the Secretary canceled his trip to Kyiv, but the situation has changed and there’s violence, crackdown of the opposition in the streets. Will there be any change of plans in the States? Is the Washington going to – still going to be on wait-and-see, or is planning to get engaged in talks with Kyiv?

MODERATOR: Could you just identify yourself?

QUESTION: I’m Sevinj Osmanqizi with ANS Television.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you. Well, the Secretary spoke to this a little bit in his press avail yesterday, I believe. In terms of travel to Kyiv, Assistant Secretary of State Toria Nuland will be arriving there tomorrow, I believe, for the OSCE ministerial, which is proceeding as planned. She’s a senior official, will be meeting with Ukrainian Government officials, civil society, opposition officials to talk about what’s going on there, and hopefully getting them back on a path towards European integration.

We’ve urged the government, the opposition, civil society, to start a dialogue to get Ukraine back on this path to talk about their future. The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to choose their future. We’ve heard them speak in the streets publicly about the fact that they’re – they want to move on a path towards European integration. I should also point out that we don’t think this is a zero-sum game. Ukraine can have a strong relationship with Russia, with the EU, and the United States. There’s enough room for all of us to be friends here.

So I think that we’re going to continue these conversations, Assistant Secretary Nuland will. The Secretary again has spoken about this a few times. We think it’s important for Ukraine, who is in this position, it seems like, of a pause right now, to get back on this path, and they’ve already taken some steps in this process, and hopefully they’ll take some more.

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MS. HARF: Sure.

QUESTION: Since this is not a --

MODERATOR: Please wait.

QUESTION: I’m Andrei Sitov, again, from TASS. Since this is not a zero-sum game and since we all have room to participate there, what do you think about the idea promoted by the Ukrainians about tripartite talks with Russia, Ukraine, and the EU? Thank you.

MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I’ve seen those reports. I think I’d probably refer you to those three, as we wouldn’t be a part of them, for their insights on this idea. But obviously, we believe that there’s room for all of us and that there’s no place for violence in any modern European state, in any discussion with opposition governments anywhere, quite frankly. So hopefully these discussions will continue.

MODERATOR: We’ll go here to the front again.

QUESTION: Hi. My question is referred --

MODERATOR: Can you --

QUESTION: Oh, Jane Tang, Caixin Media. My question is referred to TPP. You mentioned about TPP that – before. And do you have any insight for us about the possibility of China joining TPP? Because they have indirectly mentioned about the interest of joining it. Do you have any insight for us from American Government? And will the ADIZ issue make America more eager to get this TPP done? Because we know there is a lot of difficulty domestic about TPP, like in the Congress. Thank you.

MS. HARF: No, and it’s a good question, and just a little bit on TTP*: In Bali, Indonesia – I can’t even remember when that was, a couple months ago – we made real progress on reaching agreement among the dozen TPP members representing about 40 percent of the world’s economy. Over several days of high-level talks, we narrowed differences and reaffirmed the objective of concluding negotiations on the TPP by the end of the year. As we know, there are still tough issues to be resolved, but moving forward is essential, and we believe the objective of completing the negotiations this year is tough, but still achievable, and certainly what we’re still working towards.

TPP members are a diverse group, both large and small economies, advanced and emerging on four continents. But we all share a belief that the best way to generate economic growth and job creation is to eliminate these kind of barriers to trade and investment among us. I think that other issues – we think that trade discussions should continue, should move forward. There is sometimes difficulties in bilateral relationships where we are also having trade discussions, and we think those should be separate. We really believe that it’s in all of our interests to conclude these kind of trade agreements, that it will give benefits to all of our countries, and that’s why we should move forward as quickly as possible, even though there are challenges.

QUESTION: The ADIZ, what is --

MS. HARF: Oh, yes. Repeat that part of your question again. Sorry.

QUESTION: Will the ADIZ make America more eager to get TPP done?

MS. HARF: I think we’re eager to get it done regardless. We said our goal is the end of the year. Obviously, it’s tough, but we’re certainly eager to get it done with or without the ADIZ issue.

MODERATOR: We’ll go back to the red tie.

MS. HARF: Other red tie.

MODERATOR: Second red tie.

QUESTION: Hi, Hyo Dong Roh with the Yonhap news agency of South Korea. The South Korean Government is going to declare a newly expanded Korean air defense identification zone, and it is going into negotiations with the United States. And there’s some news reports that the U.S. will not agree with Korea’s move to expand the KADIZ. So could you please let us know what the U.S. position is on that?

MS. HARF: I’ve seen some of these reports. I’d have to check into this a little bit more and see what our position is on some future potential ADIZ. I quite frankly just don’t know. Again, I don’t have a lot of details. I’m happy to look into that for you.

MODERATOR: Here in the middle with the glasses.

QUESTION: I’m Yuichiro Nishigaki, JiJi Press, Japanese news agency, and I have a question about recent movements in Japan. Sorry, it’s domestic matter, but Japanese Government launched a U.S.-style national security council yesterday. And Japanese Government is expected to pass a state security bill on Friday.

MS. HARF: Okay.

QUESTION: And do you have any comments on these issues, or do you – does the United States Government support these measures? Can I have your comments?

MS. HARF: Yes. Well, I haven’t seen those specific reports, so I’m happy to look into – I just don’t know about those developments. I’m happy to look into them.

We obviously see our alliance with Japan as a pillar of stability in the region, as a clear symbol of our strategic engagement with the Asia Pacific region, incredibly close alliance and relationship that covers a broad range of issues – security, economic, and others. I don’t know about those specific developments. I’m happy to look into them, and if we have more to say, we can have someone get back to you. Thank you for the question.

MODERATOR: I think we’ll go here . To the middle in the red jacket, please.

QUESTION: Sorry, back – Melissa from the Straits Times Singapore, back to the East China Sea. You just mentioned unilateral --

MS. HARF: Everyone, like, apologizes when they say that. It’s okay. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I mean, you use the words the nature of it was unilateral and uncoordinated.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: How should have it been coordinated, and what would the negotiation process have been like if it were coordinated? Have there been previous negotiations with China of this nature?

MS. HARF: Those are all very good questions. I don’t know the answer to the last one. I’m happy to look into it, whether there have been discussions in the past. I’m assuming there have been. I just don’t know.

Well, clearly, how it was done was not coordinated and it wasn’t discussed with any of the other parties that are involved, particularly in such a highly sensitive area. We’re talking about contested territory. Doing it unilaterally by yourself isn’t how it’s supposed to work, it’s my understanding. If there are more details about how this normally works, again, I’m going to do a little research on ADIZs and how they normally get put into place. That’s clearly not what happened here. I’m happy to share if there are additional guidelines.

MODERATOR: Okay. Second row right here in the black jacket. Second row, black jacket.

MS. HARF: And then we’ll go to you.

MODERATOR: And then we’ll go to you. That may have to be our last question.

QUESTION: Thank you, Ms. Harf. Wei Han Wong, from Today newspaper from Singapore.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Back on TPP, can you elaborate on what are the last wrinkles to iron out ahead of the UN deadline? In the last round of negotiation, this would --

MS. HARF: No, it’s a good question, and I don’t want to get into specifics about private diplomatic negotiations over trade agreements. Obviously, those are private for a reason, I think, to give them the best chance of success. But these are complicated issues. There’s a lot of countries involved, a lot of trade issues involved. So we want to make sure that we work with all of our partners who are going to be a part of this trade agreement to make sure it’s beneficial to all of us and to get everyone on the same page here. It’s a lot of negotiations. I’m not going to outline what those specifically look like. But again, we’re still tracking to get this done as soon as possible.

MODERATOR: Okay. Third row, second over, we’ll go there.

QUESTION: Thank you. The Obama Administration is thought to have fared poorly its handling of domestic issues in 2013, so what do you think of its overall conduct of foreign relations in 2013? And besides, may I – could you share your thoughts on U.S. relations with major powers like Russia, China, the European Union, and Latin America? Thank you.

MS. HARF: Thank you. I like these year-end questions. I hadn’t actually thought about them until today, so I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

I think it goes back to what I said. There have been a lot of complicated issues on everyone’s plate this year. There are a lot of challenges out there in the world. We are absolutely clear-eyed about that. When – if you just look back, we’ve just started our second term. I was on the campaign with the President in 2012 and we ran looking forward to a second term where we could address a couple of key issues. And I’ve mentioned some of them, but I’ll go over them a little bit more again.

We talked a lot about Iran and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We’ve made progress on that front this year. Do we have a lot more to do? Of course. If this were easy, it would have been done years ago. But we’ve made tangible progress working with China, Russia, the EU, exactly the people you asked about, Germany, France, the rest of our P5+1 counterparts, to put in place an agreement that halts the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, rolls it back in key areas, and sets us on a path to negotiate a comprehensive agreement. We have a lot more work to do, but in one of our key objectives, we’ve made progress.

We also ran for a second term talking about ending the war in Afghanistan and figuring out what our presence was going to look like post-2014 and putting in place a partnership with the Afghan Government and the Afghan people that continued to promote our interests there. We’ve made progress there. We have concluded negotiations on a Bilateral Security Agreement. It needs to be signed now, but we’re getting closer. Again, much more work to do, but we’ve made progress in the last year.

Again, going back to Syria, an incredibly heartbreaking, complicated, really tough issue with no easy answers, we’ve negotiated a way and are in the process of destroying their chemical weapons stockpile, which we all saw the horrific impact of when it was used this year. And we have a date in place for a Geneva II conference. Is a political transition going to be easy? Of course not. But we have to make progress, we have to continue trying and working, again, with Russia and the UN in this case, to convene a Geneva II conference.

So if you look at our relationships around the world, with Europe and Latin America, Asia, Russia and China, like you said, we all don’t agree on everything. That just doesn’t – wouldn’t even be feasible to think about agreeing with everyone all the time. But we have issues where we can all work together where we have common security, economic interests, and where we’re able to work together as partners around the world. And we’re going to continue doing that as we go into 2014, which I can’t believe is almost here already. I don’t even know where the time goes.

But there are a lot of challenges we want to keep making progress on – Middle East peace, which Secretary Kerry has been incredibly focused on. He’s landing tonight – maybe already has landed in Israel – and will be having conversations tomorrow with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu – another really tough issue that we’ve made progress on in the last year. Is there much more work to do? Of course. But these are tough issues that we’re tackling head on. If you talk about trade and economics, TTP*, this is an incredibly important part of our agenda that is at the forefront.

And the last issue I’ll mention – then I will stop talking for a while to give everyone a break – but if you look at some of the other issues Secretary Kerry and the Administration is focused on, things like climate change, we’ve talked a little bit about that. I think he’ll be talking about it more in the coming weeks and months and over the next year – incredibly important for all of our countries around the world to tackle this head on, to work together to confront this challenge from a security and economic perspective.

So these are issues that are at the top of our agenda. That’s a lot on our plate. But again, we’re all just happy to be here and working hard every day on them. I know Secretary Kerry certainly feels that way.

QUESTION: One more small one?

MODERATOR: Okay, last one.

QUESTION: Last one. Just before (inaudible) the issue of the past year, again, in the same context of wrapping up.

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm. Wrapping up the year.

QUESTION: Right. How much of a setback has been this Snowden for your relations with the outside world? Thanks.

MS. HARF: I think it’s indicative of the fact that it didn’t come up until the end of this briefing today that we have a lot of issues that are really important that we all work on together, all of our countries, and the last time I was at this podium, I said – I got a lot of questions about this – and I said we don’t want this to impact our ability to work together on other issues. And if you look at Russia, if you look at other countries in Europe, it hasn’t. And if you look just at the fact that this wasn’t brought up until the end of the briefing today with all these other really important issues to discuss, obviously, it’s something we are talking to other countries about, we are working through. But we’re looking at 2014 moving forward on all of these issues together, really moving past this.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: And with that look forward --

MS. HARF: I know.

MODERATOR: -- we need to end the briefing. Thank you again for coming.

MS. HARF: Thank you all so much for coming.

MODERATOR: And thank you all for being here. That officially closes the briefing. Thank you.