Thursday, May 22, 2014

US State Dept Spox on Turkey, Soma, Tear Gas, KRG Oil

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
May 22, 2014

QUESTION: Going back to Turkey, more than a week ago you called on Turkish government to do investigation and you called also accountability. Over the week – what’s your assessment? Do you think that 301 people – miners’ killing are being investigated as you called?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any new assessment today. Obviously, it’s natural that they would be in the lead. As we’ve noted many times, our heartfelt condolences go out to the families. To our knowledge, the Government of Turkey has – while they’ve expressed gratitude for our offers of assistance, they have not – they have said that if they need it, they will ask for it. They have not asked for it at this point. But again, we’re following it closely and in close touch on the ground.

QUESTION: One last point – question: As you know, protests have been going on, and you commented on this a couple days ago. A few months ago, Amnesty International called on U.S. not to sell tear gas and other armored vehicles. Do you have any reassessment of that policy right now? Selling to Turkey.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Turkey is a NATO ally. We have approved export licenses to allow the Turkish government to purchase U.S. products, including tear gas. These products are intended for law enforcement to use to save lives, maintain order, and protect property, and they’re held to a certain standard as well.
QUESTION: A couple days ago you were asked about these comments allegedly made – comments and behavior, allegedly, by Prime Minister Erdogan. Has that – have you pursued that at all with the Turks? Has anyone reached out to him or to the foreign minister?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of any further clarification of them. We’re clearly in close touch with them, but I don’t have any – nothing new to provide on that particular topic.

QUESTION: Thank you. Today Turkish energy minister stated that Turkey began shipping Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil to the world market. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen these reports and we’ll discuss their implications with our partners in Turkey and in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Our most immediate concern is for Iraq’s stability. We’ve had a longstanding position on this issue, as you know, that has not changed. And Iraq is facing a difficult situation. We’ve been clear that it’s important for all sides to take actions to help the country pull together and avoid actions that might further exacerbate divisions and tensions. So we’ll be in touch with both sides.
QUESTION: Have you talked to Baghdad over this recent decision?
MS. PSAKI: Have we talked --
QUESTION: -- talked to the Maliki government on this particular issue?
MS. PSAKI: We will be in touch, I’m certain, with them as well. We’re in touch with them on a regular basis. But again, I don’t have any specific updates on contacts. But go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you see this shipping to the world market of Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil – is this a factor for division, contribute to division of Iraq? Is this your assessment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, our position has long been that we don’t support exports without the appropriate approval of the federal Iraqi government, and certainly we do have concerns about the impact of those continuing.

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