Department Press Briefing – May 20, 2024


1:19 p.m. EDT

MR MILLER: Hello everyone. Good to be back after some time on the road. I’m going to start on some comments on the announcement from the prosecutor at the ICC today.

As the Secretary said in a statement a short time ago, the United States fundamentally rejects the announcement today from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that he is applying for arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials together with warrants for Hamas terrorists.

There should be no equivalence between Israel and Hamas – none. Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and is still holding dozens of innocent people hostage, including Americans.

Furthermore, the United States has been clear since well before the current conflict that the ICC has no jurisdiction over this matter. The ICC was established by its state parties as a court of limited jurisdiction. These limits are rooted in principles of complementarity, which do not appear to have been applied here amid the prosecutor’s rush to seek these arrest warrants, rather than allowing the Israeli legal system a full and timely opportunity to proceed.

In other situations, the prosecutor deferred to national investigations and worked with states to allow them time to investigate. The prosecutor did not afford the same opportunity to Israel in this case, which has ongoing investigations into allegations against its personnel.

There are also deeply troubling process questions. Despite not being a member of the court, Israel was prepared to cooperate with the prosecutor and had made that clear. In fact, the prosecutor himself was scheduled to visit Israel as early as next week to discuss the investigation and hear from the Israeli Government. The prosecutor’s staff was supposed to land in Israel today to coordinate the visit, and instead, Israel was informed that the prosecutor’s staff didn’t get on their flight around the same time that the prosecutor himself went on television to announce these charges. These circumstances call into question the legitimacy and credibility of this investigation.

Finally, this decision does nothing to help – and could jeopardize – ongoing efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement that would get hostages out of Gaza and surge humanitarian assistance in. Those are the goals that the United States is pursuing and will continue to pursue despite these actions by the ICC prosecutor.

And with that, Matt.

QUESTION: That’s it? Nothing else?

MR MILLER: That’s it.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Well, let’s start with that since you – since you started with that. Just very briefly, you said that the actions – the announcement on television and cancellation of the flights of the staff – call into question the legitimacy and credibility of the investigation. Do they call into – do they call those into question for the entire court?

MR MILLER: We are just referring to the actions the prosecutor has taken. The entire court hasn’t acted; the prosecutor has taken this initial action. We’re going to see what the next step is. But certainly it calls into question the investigation that he has conducted, and the action he has taken when you see him short-circuit a process that was underway to gather facts – which is what you expect any prosecutor, any investigator to do when they’re considering pursuing such a case.

QUESTION: Okay. And so are you going to do anything about this, or are you going to wait until the judges actually either approve or deny the applications?

MR MILLER: I don’t have any announcements to make today. Obviously, we’ve made clear that we reject this action by the prosecutor, we’re reviewing his initial statement, and I don’t have anything further to announce.

QUESTION: Okay. And then – (laughter) – but the – I’ll let someone else go. I —

QUESTION: Can I follow up?

MR MILLER: Said? Sure.

QUESTION: Yeah. You said that this could jeopardize efforts for a ceasefire. Why is that? Why should this jeopardize efforts for implementing a ceasefire?

MR MILLER: I don’t think there’s any doubt that this action will embolden Hamas and embolden the leadership of Hamas who have been the principal obstacle to achieving a ceasefire agreement.

QUESTION: So, Hamas a couple weeks ago basically agreed to the American points for a ceasefire —

MR MILLER: That’s not – that’s not accurate, Said.

QUESTION: — but that was rejected out of hand.

MR MILLER: That’s not accurate, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. So let me ask you just one more question – there are many others that would like to ask many other questions. Let me ask you about Rafah. We – according to the UN, we have 900,000 people at city of Rafah – so they just fled. So, you were saying all along that unless Israel has a plan to relocate 1.4 million people, you are not going to agree to – but obviously the assault is full-foot now. There are in the center of Rafah, as you understand it, 900,000 people, which is almost a million people, that is – so – have already fled. So, what is the United States going to do about this, and how does it view it? Is this, in your view, a war crime?

MR MILLER: I thought you had a question there, but then when you kept going – you kept going.

QUESTION: Okay. Sure. No, go ahead. There’s no question —

MR MILLER: So, with respect to how we view it – so we have made clear that we oppose a major military operation in Rafah. We don’t think that would be productive to Israel’s security either in the short term or the long term, and we think it would have a dramatic impact on the lives of the Palestinian people there and on the ability to get humanitarian assistance in. We have not yet seen Israel launch a major operation. It’s something that we are not only watching very closely, but we were in close communication with them about.

That said, we do have great concerns about the ability to care for all of the people who have been evacuated and some that – who have chosen to leave themselves even if they’re not in the areas that – where Israel has ordered people to leave. We have great concerns about the ability to get them – food, water, medicine, humanitarian assistance, shelter, sanitation. And so, we are working with the humanitarian community, the – our international partners on that question, but we are also engaged in conversations with the Government of Israel about this.

The National Security Advisor to the President was in Israel this week meeting with the Israeli Government. I will leave it to the White House to speak to that – those meetings largely, but it is our goal to try to prevent a major operation that would have such a deleterious humanitarian impact.

QUESTION: Okay. And my final one, on the issue of the crossing at Rafah, I mean, we have not seen any aid trucks go through for a number of days now through Rafah and Karem Abu Salem So, how are you getting – you said that you’re getting the aid through to those that have been forced to flee. So how are you getting it?

MR MILLER: So, first of all, you’re right that Rafah is not open. Aid has been going in through Kerem Shalom. There have been some days when the aid has been in the form of commercial trucks – not humanitarian assistance, but it’s still food and water that’s going into Gaza, getting to people who need it. Of course, we’ve just opened the maritime route in the last few days, which will allow the increase of humanitarian assistance, and there has been aid going in through the north.

That said, we want to see Rafah open as well, and we have been engaged in discussions with our Israeli counterparts and with the – our Egyptian counterparts about how to effectuate that. And it remains a top priority for us.

QUESTION: Is it likely to open in the next day or so?

MR MILLER: What’s that?

QUESTION: Is it likely to open in the next few days?

MR MILLER: I’m just not – you know, Said, I never make predictions here.

QUESTION: Well, I was kind of momentarily stunned by your original answers that I forgot my question, but these will be brief. So, are you okay, then, with the application for arrest warrant against Hamas?

MR MILLER: We do not believe that they have jurisdiction over either of the parties of this conflict, and that includes Hamas.

QUESTION: So, you don’t think that Hamas – you don’t think that Hamas leaders should be prosecuted?

MR MILLER: We – we absolutely believe that Hamas should be held accountable. That could be —

QUESTION: Held accountable.

MR MILLER: Hold on. Let me – just let me finish.


MR MILLER: That could be either through the prosecution of the war effort by Israel. It could be through —

QUESTION: In other words, them being killed?

MR MILLER: Hold on – let me – it could by being killed. It could by – it could by being brought to justice in an Israeli court. We do not believe the ICC has jurisdiction over either of the parties in this case because the Palestinian people do not represent a state, and that includes the leaders of Hamas.

QUESTION: Okay. But obviously the administration is also troubled by actions that Israel has taken post-October 7th. So where – where is the accountability for that? Where do the Palestinians go? This is a question I asked Matt – I mean, Ned, a long time ago, over and over and over again. Where do the Palestinians go to seek redress?

MR MILLER: So let me answer this a couple of different ways. First of all, in the short term, with respect to questions of war crimes, Israel does have open investigations – a number of open investigations – we made this public when we released our report on National Security Memo 20, including some investigations that have become criminal investigations into conduct by members of the IDF. That is the first instance for judging whether someone has committed a war crime are a violation of IDF code of conduct.

That’s one of the reasons why we have concerns about the ICC. The ICC is set up to be a court of last resort. If a country isn’t properly holding itself and its personnel accountable, that’s when the ICC comes in – not in the middle of the process, as they have done here. That said, ultimately – and you know this, Matt, because we’ve spoken about it a lot – we believe that there should be the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and an independent Palestinian state would have the ability to join the Rome Statute and become a member of the International Criminal Court, as every state in the world has the right to do. But that’s —


MR MILLER: But that’s – but that is not —

QUESTION: But until then, they’re SOL? Any —

MR MILLER: No. That – there —

QUESTION: So where do they go in the meantime?

MR MILLER: They are not SOL. I said first of all, the – Israel has its own investigation. Second, we have accountability mechanisms here. We have processes that are ongoing to look at Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law. So, there are places to look at these questions. It’s just, in our view, fundamentally not a role of the ICC. And I should say – but remember, we have a jurisdictional complaint here in that we don’t believe the ICC has jurisdiction.

But if you looked at the statement the Secretary made that I echoed in my opening remarks, that isn’t our only problem with the action the prosecutor has taken. We also have a problem that he has short-circuited an investigation and brought this action without waiting to see where these Israeli investigations end up, without completing the trip that he had planned to come to Israel to look into these questions. So it’s not just a question of jurisdiction. It’s also a question of the way the investigation has been concluded.

QUESTION: Okay. So who – who – all right, well, so let’s just focus on jurisdiction for a second. Who does have jurisdiction here?

MR MILLER: So the Government of Israel has jurisdiction over —

QUESTION: Over the occupied —

MR MILLER: We have – we have jurisdiction —

QUESTION: Over Gaza, which is not entirely occupied.

MR MILLER: They have jurisdiction into looking at the actions by their military personnel.

QUESTION: Okay, but Palestinians that have a complaint, they have to bring it to Israeli courts?

MR MILLER: We – we have jurisdiction and we —

QUESTION: You have jurisdiction?

MR MILLER: With the use of our equipment —

QUESTION: I’m sorry, how do you have jurisdiction?

MR MILLER: With the use of our military equipment that we have provided.

QUESTION: Matt, how do you have jurisdiction?

MR MILLER: If you look at the Leahy Law, if you look at —

QUESTION: No, that’s – that’s not jurisdiction in a criminal process. That’s jurisdiction in a —

MR MILLER: Not in a criminal process, but it has to do with the determinations that we make and the policies that flow from it.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that’s not jurisdiction.

MR MILLER: So but Matt, long term, you are right that we want to see —

QUESTION: You used work for DOJ, Matt. Come on.

MR MILLER: You — it is —

QUESTION: There is no — the U.S. does not have jurisdiction here.

MR MILLER: There are different – I wasn’t referring to criminal jurisdiction, Matt. There are different ways to look at this. Long term, we agree with you that the Palestinian people should be a state that has the – and have the ability to make these determinations. But that’s not where we are today. That’s what we’re trying to get to.

QUESTION: You were fine with the ICC going after Russia (inaudible).

MR MILLER: Go ahead – go ahead, Humeyra.

QUESTION: Matt, so what about the merits of the arrest warrant. You talked about – you pushed back on the jurisdiction and the process. Does the United States – is it able to challenge the substance of the arrest warrant? I mean, some of the things that the prosecutor says – evidence his office collected showed Israel has systematically deprived civilians of objects indispensable to human survival, including restricting food, water, medicine, and energy. Is the State Department able to challenge the arrest warrant application on those basis?

MR MILLER: I am not going to speak to all the details of the prosecutors’ arrest warrant because there will be a process for getting into that at the ICC, and people will be able to challenge that. But I’ll say we have spoken to the provision of humanitarian assistance – for example, recently when we issued the report on NSM-20, where we laid out where we have seen Israel not taking all the steps that we thought they ought to take but we saw an improvement and a turnaround and an increase in the ability to get humanitarian assistance in.

QUESTION: But I don’t understand why you can’t address this right now, because when —

MR MILLER: Because I’m not a lawyer in court going point by point by this arrest warrant.

QUESTION: Yeah, then when South Africa brought the case in ICJ, U.S. called it meritless. And right now, can you call the substance of the arrest warrant applications meritless?

MR MILLER: So, we took a – so I will say we believe it is fully unfounded, should not have been brought. Now, with respect to the underlying allegations, we’ll have time to look at that. This is an arrest warrant that was issued today. We’ll have time to look at it, to digest it, and perhaps issue a more complete response.

But as I said, we shouldn’t be where we are today,because there are processes ongoing to look at some of these questions that we think should have been allowed to play out. And as I said, when you look at the fact that the prosecutor was scheduled to go to Israel, and his staff was scheduled to go there today, we’re puzzled to understand why he would yank those trips and go on television to make an announcement, something that also is very strange. As Matt pointed out, I used to work at DOJ; it’s not usually how prosecutors announce their – their —

QUESTION: No, I – now wait a second. I did not say that it was strange that he went on TV to do it.

MR MILLER: No, no. No, you pointed out – you – no, no – you pointed out I used to work at DOJ is what I was referring to. It’s a strange thing for a prosecutor to make an initial arrest announcement on television, not in a formal document. So, we look at all of these circumstances and have real concerns about it.

QUESTION: Right. In terms of accountability, though —

MR MILLER: Sorry to put words in your mouth. I was —

QUESTION: Well, fine, but —

MR MILLER: The part that I meant you were – I was attesting to you was what followed, not —

QUESTION: Are you saying – did you mean Eric Holder never did a TV interview in your time as spokesman?

MR MILLER: Not to – not to announce an arrest warrant before we had issued any actual charging documents, no.

QUESTION: Okay. So, you’re just angry at his —

MR MILLER: And I think – and – no, and I will say —

QUESTION: You’re angry at the process that he used.

MR MILLER: I will say the process itself calls into question the underlying substance.

QUESTION: Right. In terms of accountability, though, you talk about the fact that Israel has open investigations. So, what kind of timeline did Israel provide you to conclude those investigations?

MR MILLER: So, we have made clear to Israel that those investigations ought to proceed expeditiously. They ought to reach conclusions as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And have they provided you a timeline?

MR MILLER: I’m not – I’m not going to – I’m not going to speak to our internal discussions or speak for the Israeli Government. But everyone – it is very difficult always to put a timeline on any kind of investigation, certainly on a criminal investigation, and I wouldn’t want to do that on behalf of the foreign government other than to say our expectation on behalf of the United States is that they should proceed and finish as soon as possible – but not at the expense of thoroughness. And that is always the balance when you look at an investigation is expediency versus thoroughness. You want to be quick, but you want to be thorough. That’s more important.

QUESTION: And my final one is does the ICC arrest warrant – I understand you challenge it from a jurisdiction and process point of view. But I suspect the U.S. still recognizes the ICC, right?

MR MILLER: We do, yeah.

QUESTION: Right. So, the fact that the prosecutor has applied for an arrest warrant and talking about crimes against humanity, does that give the State Department a pause or, like, give you second thoughts about the – the conclusions of the NSM report? I mean, you have raised certain concerns there, but then you did find Israel’s assurances credible. Is that something that would make you rethink that conclusion?

MR MILLER: No. In – if we saw new evidence, we would always look at that and be willing to – we’re always willing to look at our assessments if they are changed by new evidence that comes in the door. But we had conducted a thorough review in writing that report, and there’s nothing that we saw in the charges announced today that changes our fundamental conclusions.


QUESTION: Can I just follow up on Matt’s first question – or second question – to you and you saying that you have nothing to announce today in terms of action that the U.S. might take. Can you just help us understand: Is the administration considering taking action against the ICC because of this?

MR MILLER: You should not read into my statement to Matt that we are either considering anything or not considering anything. It’s just to reflect the fact that this is an announcement that was just made this morning. We are reviewing the document the prosecutor put forward. And I don’t have any announcements to make about what our upcoming steps might be.

QUESTION: Is there any way that the U.S. is able to stand in the way of these arrest warrants actually coming to fruition, like logistically?

MR MILLER: That’s a – that is a question that is beyond my remit as someone who’s not an international lawyer to answer. So, I’m happy to look at that question and get back, but ultimately I think that’s a legal question for the ICC more than us.

QUESTION: And you said that the U.S. still supports the ICC as a legitimate body. But does this undermine the ICC as a whole? I mean, like, how do you – how do we think about those two things? You guys are still supporting the ICC investigation in Ukraine, yet here you’re saying you don’t think they have jurisdiction. But how does that not make an impact on your view of the ICC writ large?

MR MILLER: So, the ICC has done important work over the years to hold people accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and we have supported that work. And that’s not changed by the announcement today. But I will say that we do have great concerns about the prosecutor and the steps that he took. And I – and like I said, it’s not just because of the jurisdictional question. It would be one thing if we were just looking at a jurisdictional dispute here, where the prosecutor believed that he had legitimate jurisdiction, and we believe that he fundamentally didn’t. That is a – that is a legal question that lawyers can argue, as they often do. But ultimately, we look at the way the investigation itself has been conducted, and that gives us added concerns about the actions that he took.


QUESTION: Thanks, Matt. The – you mentioned that the U.S. thinks this is fully unfounded. Did you just mean like coming to the conclusion of these arrest warrants being sought, or did you mean the whole process?

MR MILLER: So, I’m not going to – so I mean the entire process. I’m not going to do a factual point by point of each of the charges. But the process —

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted to check that before I —

MR MILLER: — the process itself, the equation of Israel with Hamas – a brutal terrorist group with a democracy that, for all its faults, does – like any democracy, does have its own existing accountability mechanisms that are underway – we find that process and the outcome that it has generated deeply flawed.

QUESTION: But the ICC coming to this conclusion, presumably they’re looking at pretty similar material to what the U.S. looks at when they’re – when you’re doing your own process and assessment of the actions that the U.S. – that Israel, sorry – has taken. So, if they are looking at open source evidence and that kind of thing, are you – is the U.S. – can you say whether you’re confident in the process that the ICC uses to get to its conclusion, or not everything is (inaudible)?

MR MILLER: So, I don’t have any confidence in the process that they used to get to a conclusion in this case – in fact, quite the opposite – and I don’t know where they got their information. This goes to the point I made in my opening statement about calling off a visit to Israel where they could have interacted with the Israeli Government. They of course are not in the ground – on the ground in Gaza to collect information firsthand. Whether they’ve been able to collect evidence otherwise, I don’t know. I presume we would see it that – as the case goes forward.

QUESTION: But what do you mean you don’t where they got their information from? A lot of it’s open source.

MR MILLER: That’s – so my point is —

QUESTION: I mean, do they have to go to – do they have to go to Israel to find – to figure out what public comments from Israeli officials are saying?

MR MILLER: It is not just – so whenever you’re conducting a case, it is not just a question of public comments. I would think if you were going to bring a case of this nature, you might want to go to the Israeli Government, say, okay, we have concerns —


MR MILLER: Hold on, let me just – we have concerns – we have concerns about —

QUESTION: And they didn’t? You’re sure that they – you’re sure that they didn’t?

MR MILLER: We have concerns about the following things; why don’t you brief us on your ongoing investigations and tell us —

QUESTION: Okay. And you know that they didn’t?

MR MILLER: I know they have not conducted a full, complete process to that regard. There was a trip that was scheduled to go through some of these questions.

QUESTION: But before now —

MR MILLER: Hold on – that trip isn’t it. Whether they’ve conducted some limited review, I will let the Israeli Government speak to that. I know that they have not – that the Israeli Government was prepared to cooperate in much more extensive detail, and that process was ended by the action of the prosecutor today.

QUESTION: All right, let’s turn it around. What about Hamas?

MR MILLER: I don’t think Hamas was going to cooperate with an investigation, no, if that is – if that’s the question.

QUESTION: All right. Okay. So they don’t need to go to Gaza and talk to Sinwar and – who’s the other guy, I can’t remember —


QUESTION: Deif. And they don’t need to go to Doha, but they do need to go to Israel?

MR MILLER: So we don’t even get to the question, because there’s a jurisdictional issue. We don’t believe they have jurisdiction over the leaders of Hamas who are in Gaza.

QUESTION:  Now you’re – but now you’re – but Matt – (laughter) – you’re —

MR MILLER: We have more than one concern about this case.

QUESTION: I get that, but —

MR MILLER: So, I would say – but I would say if you – like, also —

QUESTION: But if they don’t have jurisdiction, then why are you saying that they should’ve gone to Israel?

MR MILLER: Because we have —

QUESTION: Because Israel’s not a member of the court because you’re – and you are not a member of the court. So why should they go to Israel?

MR MILLER: We have more than one concern. As we said in the statement, despite Israel – we made it clear in the statement – despite Israel not being a member of the court, they were willing to cooperate. With respect to Hamas, however, I would say it is – you can conclude, looking what – what happened on October 7th, that Hamas intended to kill civilians.

QUESTION: No doubt.

MR MILLER: That is – that is without doubt. Absent the jurisdictional questions, it would absolutely be a war crime and a crime against humanity.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering why it’s a problem for you guys —

MR MILLER: That – this – you can’t – hold on – you cannot say the same about the state of Israel.

QUESTION: Well, okay. I’m just wondering why it’s a problem for you guys for the ICC to go after Israeli officials and doesn’t seem to be a problem for them to go after Hamas.

MR MILLER: That’s not what I said. I made clear already we don’t think they have jurisdiction to go over Hamas – to go after Hamas.

QUESTION: But – so should Hamas be held accountable for what they did?

MR MILLER: I answered that question a little while ago. I said yes, they should absolutely be accountable.

QUESTION: And who is going to hold them – and who – oh, right, the Israeli Government?

MR MILLER: The Israeli Government should hold them accountable on the battlefield, and if not a battlefield, in a court of law.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: Could you clarify something you said to Camilla? Sorry, Matt. You said that the fact that they were combined together, the two indictments – if they were separate indictments, if they were separate orders of arrest and so on, would that be acceptable? If, let’s say —

MR MILLER: It doesn’t change the jurisdictional objection that we have.

QUESTION: There’s not – yeah, but you would accept – just so I can understand – I know —

MR MILLER: No, I just said the opposite: we have a jurisdictional objection, so no.

QUESTION: So – yeah, if there were just an indictment of Hamas by itself and of Israel by itself, you can say, we take the indictment against Hamas but not against Israel? Is that – I’m trying to understand.

MR MILLER: Said, no – then – I thought I was clear. We do not believe they have jurisdiction to either of the parties in this conflict.


QUESTION: Follow-up.

MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. So, you said Israel does have open investigations. Are you satisfied with the way Israel conducts these investigations?

MR MILLER: I’m not ready to offer an assessment on that at this point, because the investigations are ongoing. I think it’s appropriate to wait for their conclusion. If there is – if there are investigations that conclude that we don’t think have been conducted appropriately, and we don’t think there has been justice when there ought to be justice, and we have the ability to make that assessment ourself, we will absolutely stand up and say it. But the investigations are ongoing right now. We can’t offer that kind of conclusion at this point.

QUESTION: Will there be any consequences if you find out that’s why the —

MR MILLER: So, I’m – that gets into a hypothetical that’s several steps down the road. We haven’t even found – gotten to the point of that sort of finding yet, so I’m not going to engage with that.

QUESTION: Just one more on this accusations. The ICC accuses of Netanyahu and Gallant of causing extermination, starvation of civilians, as a method of war, deliberately targeting civilians. Do you think those things are not happening in Gaza?

MR MILLER: We don’t. We have made clear that there have been steps that we wanted Israel to take to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance that for a time they weren’t taking. Now, they often will come up and present objections and say they are trying to prevent, for example, military items from getting in or dual-use items that can be used for the military to get in, and they will say that they have restricted movements in certain areas because it is an area where the military is operating; they don’t want to put humanitarian actors at harm’s way. Whatever the case may be, there have been a number of times we have made clear that their actions weren’t good enough and we need to see improvements.

And you’ve heard the President say that. You’ve heard the Secretary say that, and more importantly, you’ve seen the President and the Secretary get involved to bring about a change in behavior on behalf of the Israeli Government, and we have seen that change.

So, the fundamental, bottom-line reality is that we have seen food get in, water get in, medicine get in – not enough, but we have —

QUESTION: You have seen this change, but are you —

MR MILLER: But we have seen a trend line where it has improved.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the amount of humanitarian aid getting into Gaza?

MR MILLER: We have seen an improvement. But until people in Gaza are not hungry, till they have enough to eat, enough to drink, medicine, shelter, we will not be satisfied, and we won’t stop pushing for more, absolutely.

Shannon, go ahead.

QUESTION: Is it okay to move on to Iran?


QUESTION: Can we still in Israel?

MR MILLER: Let me – yeah, go ahead and then we’ll come back to you for – I’ll come back to you next, Shannon.

QUESTION: Okay. Second question, in addition to everybody else asked, is you said that Israel is not a member of the ICC, which is true. But also, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but Israel has supported the candidacy of Mr. Khan when he was elected in 2021, and they wanted him to be there. So, the fact that they actually endorsed him, they know there are some consequences, otherwise they won’t have bothered in the first place. So, this is just to – I don’t agree – to agree or disagree.

MR MILLER: It doesn’t change the underlying —

QUESTION: It doesn’t change anything.

MR MILLER: — the underlying jurisdictional question.

QUESTION: Okay. So that my question is lawmakers agreed with you. They said the same. They repeated the same statement they issued in the White House. But they went further, and they said actually the decision is antisemitic. Do you agree that this decision is antisemitic as well?

MR MILLER: That’s not an assessment that we have made or a conclusion we have drawn.

QUESTION: Okay, and one last thing is on the issue itself, many international lawyers, very well known, different background, they said they found a reasonable ground that actually Israel has committed crime against humanity and crimes – war crimes. Does the White – sorry, the State Department lawyers have a different conclusion, or did the – you have not reached this conclusion, or do you disagree with them? What exactly the difference between the lawyers who works at State Department and international lawyers who found different conclusion?

MR MILLER: So let me try to separate the ICC and answer this in two ways. One, when it comes to the ICC, we have a jurisdictional issue and then we have an issue with how this investigation was conducted. But to answer your underlying question about making that sort of determination, it is a question that we are looking at here. We have ongoing processes to look at Israel’s use of U.S.-provided weapons, and those processes are ongoing. We have not yet reached final determinations.

Shannon, go ahead now.

QUESTION: Thank you. I know you extended official condolences of the U.S. for the death of Iran’s president and foreign minister over the weekend. The U.S. also participated in a moment of silence for President Raisi at the UN Security Council, and it sparked some controversy on Twitter. Does the State Department view that as appropriate, taking part in that kind of observance?

MR MILLER: Let me say a few things. One, we have been quite clear that Ebrahim Raisi was a brutal participant in the repression of the Iranian people for nearly four decades. He was involved in numerous horrific human rights abuses, including playing a key role in the extrajudicial killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Some of the worst human rights abuses occurred during his tenure as president, especially the human rights abuses against the women and girls of Iran.

That said, we regret any loss of life. We don’t want to see anyone die in a helicopter crash. But that doesn’t change the reality of his record both as a judge and as the president of Iran and the fact that he has blood on his hands. So, I think, most importantly, our fundamental approach to Iran has not changed and will not change. We will continue to support the people of Iran, to defend their human rights, their aspirations to an open, free society and democratic participation. And we will continue to confront the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism, its proliferation of dangerous weapons, and its advancement of nuclear – its nuclear program in ways that have no credible civilian purpose.

QUESTION: And just a quick follow. In the aftermath of that crash, did the U.S. help in recovery efforts in any way, or was it asked to assist?

MR MILLER: We were asked for assistance by the Iranian Government. We did make clear to them that we would offer assistance, as we would do in response to any request by a foreign government in this sort of situation. And ultimately, we were not able to provide that assistance.

QUESTION: You were asked?

MR MILLER: We were asked.


QUESTION: And for what exactly?

MR MILLER: I’m not going to get into – I’m not – I’m not going to get into the details, but we were asked by the Iranian Government for assistance. We said that we would be willing to assist. It’s something that we would do with respect to any government in this situation. Ultimately, largely for logistical reasons, we weren’t able to provide that assistance.

QUESTION: All right. And then can I just ask you about the statement? What exactly is official condolences?

MR MILLER: It’s the condolences on behalf of the United States Government.

QUESTION: Well, then why doesn’t it say that? This is like official condolences means absolutely nothing, and I’m not even sure why you’re offering condolences if this guy was as bad as you say he was.


QUESTION: Why? I mean —

MR MILLER: Because we regret any loss of life. We don’t want to see people die in helicopter crashes. It doesn’t change our view of him, our view of the regime. But I’ll say that there are – there are —

QUESTION: Really? There is not one person that you can think of that the United States didn’t want to see in an air accident, ever? Really, none?

MR MILLER: There were people onboard that aircraft who have families. We thought that’s an appropriate step to take. It’s a step that the United States Government has taken when any number of foreign leaders with whom we had vehement disagreements have died. But we also made clear in that statement that we continue to support the Iranian people in their fundamental struggle for freedom.

QUESTION: Really? Well, I would just point out to you that when the former – one of the former presidents of Cuba died – this would be Fidel Castro – your – one of your predecessors did not offer any condolences.


QUESTION: And, basically, said good riddance.

MR MILLER: So, I will —

QUESTION: And if you really think that Raisi was as bad as what you have laid out at the beginning, I’m just a little bit curious as to why you would put a statement out – no matter how short it is, but with the line “official condolences” in it. I don’t get it.

MR MILLER: So, as long as we’re addressing the historical record, the United States offered condolences when Hugo Chavez died, when Joseph Stalin died – people with whom we had great disagreements. So that is —

QUESTION: Joseph Stalin was also an ally of the United States all through – and we talked about this earlier – all through World War II.

MR MILLER: He did not die during World War II.

QUESTION: No, he did not.

MR MILLER: He died afterwards. The disagreements with him were quite clear and quite plain and quite well articulated by the United States Government. It is a step that the United States takes, recognizing that people have families, and in no way – in no way at all undermining our fundamental view of the Iranian regime and its crimes against its own people and our support for the Iranian people.

QUESTION: Can I follow on that?

QUESTION: Matt, on Matt’s —

MR MILLER: Go ahead. Guita, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. I think Matt’s – well, he did make it clear that his point is on the word “official.” You mentioned a few condolences that you sent to other countries, but you did not use this word “official.” That aside, I’m sure you’ve seen – you’ve probably seen the – that the people inside of Iran are – some of them are celebrating this incident. I was wondering what you make of that.

MR MILLER: So, I can certainly understand why people inside Iran would feel that way when you look at the brutal repression that happened under President Raisi’s tenure. As I said in a comment a moment ago, especially when you look at his abuse of women and girls, I can see why people in Iran would feel that way in response to his death. But I obviously can’t speak for them.

QUESTION: But with the condolences and then support for Iranian people, aren’t you sending contradictory messages?

MR MILLER: Absolutely not. If you just listen – if you listen to the statement, I just made a moment ago, I think we have been quite clear about how we viewed his tenure. And you don’t just have to look at what I said today. I don’t think there’s any country in the world that has been more clear-eyed about the Iranian regime and more clear-eyed about this president’s repression of the Iranian people than the United States of America. We have made that quite clear.

QUESTION: Not even Israel?

MR MILLER: So that would be a close one and two, I think. We have been quite clear. And that has not just been with the words that you have heard from the seniormost leaders in our government, but it has been the actions that we have taken, including imposing more than 500 sanctions on the Iranian Government and Iranian entities for their destabilizing actions in the region and for the repression of their own people.

QUESTION: A follow-up on this, please?


QUESTION: First, what is the U.S. Government’s official message to those Iranians who have been killed, murdered, attacked, wounded by this guy?

MR MILLER: The official message is that we stand with them as we have stood by them, and our policy of holding the Iranian regime responsible for those abuses has not changed and will not change, period.

QUESTION: And more broadly, can you tell us anything about the origin of the crash, its outcome, and also potential implications for the wider region, please?

MR MILLER: So, I have seen the statements made on Iranian state television that it was the result of a technical failure. I don’t have any independent assessment to offer, and I wouldn’t want – hold on, hold on. Just and I wouldn’t want to offer any assessments about what the impact might be.

QUESTION: I have more on Ukraine.

QUESTION: On Iran? Gaza?

MR MILLER: Maybe also on Iran. Iran? No?



QUESTION: Yes, yes, yes.

MR MILLER: Go ahead. Yeah.

QUESTION: I know you were quite clear, but it still is very difficult for me to understand or even report on the statement that you just put out, the official condolences. Everything you are talking about is about supporting Iranian people, human rights.

MR MILLER: As was the statement that we issued.

QUESTION: Exactly. And then there was another statement following your statement. Why there was a second statement? Why I think that you felt that you have to do more explanation? And why was the second —

MR MILLER: No, I think you’re referring to all this was in about a half-an-hour period before I came to the podium —


MR MILLER: — so it’s not like there was a long lag in time here.

QUESTION: So how should we – as Iranian journalist, how can I report on your officials’ condolences when you are all the time talking about supporting Iranian people? How can we tell Iranian people who – exactly how Guita was talking about? They were very happy on social media, if you check it. How are we going to report on the official —


QUESTION: You don’t have any diplomatic — diplomatic tie with Iranian Government.

MR MILLER: So, first of all, I would never presume to tell anyone how to report anything. But I would say that you can look at not just the statements I have made today, but the repeated statements over nearly three and a half years by the President of the United States and by the Secretary of State and other members of the administration about our views of the Iranian regime, and more importantly, our actions to hold them accountable and our support for the Iranian people in their struggle against that brutal regime. Those have not changed. Those will not change.

QUESTION: Does this have to do anything with the indirect talks you have in Oman?

MR MILLER: So, I’m not going to speak to any talks, real or imagined, but I will say that the actions – but I would not draw any such conclusions.

QUESTION: And Matt, about Ali Bagheri Kani, how do you feel about him?

MR MILLER: About – I’m sorry?

QUESTION: Mr. Bagheri Kani, who is going to be the acting foreign minister, is going to be – he was deputy of Mr. Amir-Abdollahian. How do you feel about him? Do you have any comments?

MR MILLER: I just don’t have any comment to offer today. Maybe in the coming days, but not today.

Josh, did you have one?

QUESTION: Thanks, Matt. I just wanted to follow up on what – the condolences question. Seems like you’re taking kind of an “ask not for whom the bell tolls” approach to this.

MR MILLER: A what approach?

QUESTION: The John Donne poem. Never mind.

MR MILLER: No, no, no, I just didn’t hear it.

QUESTION: “Ask not for whom the boll tolls, it tolls for thee.”

MR MILLER: Oh, yes.


MR MILLER: My favorite author, so I would – had I heard the reference, I would have liked to think I would have caught it.

QUESTION: Hemingway is your favorite author? Really? Well, then perhaps let’s shorten the sentences. (Laughter.)

MR MILLER: Well done, Matt. I will – I will do my best. I have a lot to get through up here. Maybe if my questions weren’t interrupted so often. (Laughter.)

Go ahead. I have to get it all out or I know – if I pause for one breath you jump in. Go ahead, sorry.

QUESTION: Sorry, it’s actually John Donne, not Hemingway, but anyway. So, but in all seriousness, Masih Alinejad says that these condolences are a slap in the face to Iranian women and salt in the wound of people who the Iranian – who the regime has oppressed. I listen to what you say today, and I’m wondering, like, who’s the target audience for this statement? What effect are you hoping it will have? I mean, I can’t believe you expect that the Raisi family will take some – find some consolation in the U.S. Government’s statement here. Is it a courtesy to the Iranian Government? I mean, the – we didn’t hear this kind of statement when Yevgeny Prigozhin family famously went – died in a plane crash.

MR MILLER: Not a head of state.

QUESTION: Neither is Raisi, but —

MR MILLER: Yeah. Yeah. Not a official government leader.

QUESTION: I mean, just what – what are you trying to accomplish here, and how do you balance it against those other —

MR MILLER: It is – it is this —

QUESTION: — these other costs?

MR MILLER: It is the type of statement the United States Government typically makes in these situations, as I went through, including with some quite objectionable people, as we have done throughout our history. But it doesn’t change at all our view of him, our view of the regime, or the policy that we will carry out with respect to that regime.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) this some with Putin, but you didn’t acknowledge his re-election and you didn’t say anything about that, but now you’re expressing official condolences.

MR MILLER: Different – different circumstances.

QUESTION: Could I just get you —


QUESTION: — to be a little more detailed on the – like, I’m – and I’m not trying to – even trying to jam you up here. I’m just wondering, like, what are you trying to accomplish by saying this gesture?

MR MILLER: We thought it was –

QUESTION: Is it supposed to have a – is it supposed to have some sort of humanitarian effect on the families of the people who died? Is it a diplomatic thing that you hope will be reciprocated? Like, just talk us through –

MR MILLER: It has nothing to do with hopes of anything that will transpire. It is the appropriate step, we think, for the United States Government to take in this instance, while also being very clear about what our policy is and what our view is of the Iranian regime.


QUESTION: Matt, just on this help that you said Iran has sought from U.S.


QUESTION: This was – just to confirm, it’s pretty incredible – this was in the aftermath of the crash, and they needed help with the rescue efforts?

MR MILLER: It was in the aftermath of the crash. They did offer – or ask for assistance. I’m not going to get into what the details of that —

QUESTION: To find the —

MR MILLER: Of the – I’m —

QUESTION: To find the president?

MR MILLER: I’m just not going to get into the details. That is essentially right, but I’m not going to get into details from here. Ultimately, we weren’t able to offer that assistance.

QUESTION: Can you say, like, through the usual indirect channels, this – this help was —

MR MILLER: I’m not going to get into – I’m not going to get into the channels at all.

QUESTION: And did you suggest Türkiye instead?

MR MILLER: I am just not going to get into those conversations.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: So, regarding those reports that there were celebrations in Iran from opposition groups following the death, there have also, according to the BBC, been reports of supporters of the regime threatening those celebrators, telling them that there would be consequences if they came forward. Does the United States have any opinion on that, or words to Iran on that?

MR MILLER: So, one of the points we made in the statement that we put out – the short, two-sentence statement – was Iran will be selecting a new president right now. And as they go through that process, we will be supporting the Iranians’ – the Iranian people’s ability to express their fundamental freedoms.

Now, we have seen those freedoms cracked down on again and again, and it’s not just the freedom to exercise their vote. It’s their freedom of speech. It’s other fundamental freedoms. And so, I’m not surprised that you’ve seen initial reaction in that light. We will look at this the same way we have looked at past instances of crackdowns by the regime or by allies of the regime to the Iranian people exercising their fundamental rights. And if there are steps that are appropriate for us to take to hold people accountable for those actions, we will not hesitate to do so.

QUESTION: Is there any concern on the part of the U.S. that this could affect regional stability in a region that already is hanging on a knife’s edge?

MR MILLER: Look, we – I’m not going to offer any assessment about something that just happened 24 hours ago. But we – in this region, we are always concerned about anything that could cause instability. It’s why you’ve seen the Secretary and other members of the administration so engaged since October 7th to try to keep the conflict in Gaza from escalating further and spiraling out of control, and that will continue to be our overriding policy goal, not just – not connected necessarily to this death, but for its own – for its own sake.


MR MILLER: All right. Any more on this topic before we go on?

QUESTION: Other? Israel.

MR MILLER: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. Do you have any reactions and comments on the former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as he said that – he claims that the U.S. is one of the main responsible for the Iranian president helicopter crash due to the sanctions?

MR MILLER: So, first of all, we are not going to apologize for our sanctions regime at all. The Iranian Government has used its aircraft to transport equipment to support terrorism. So, we will continue to fully enforce our sanctions regime, including our sanctions regimes on aircraft for use by the Iranian Government. Ultimately, it’s the Iranian Government that is responsible for the decision to fly a 45-year-old helicopter in what was described as poor weather conditions, not any other actor.

QUESTION: And then do you confirm or reject the indirect talks with Iran in Oman?

MR MILLER: I’m just not going to speak to those at all. We have long made clear that we have the ability to send Iran messages when it’s our – in our interest to do so. But I’m not going to comment on those in any way.


MR MILLER: Janne, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Matt. Two questions. North Korea launched several ballistic missiles into the east coast last weekend. This was done right after Putin and Xi Jinping announced their support for North Korea at the summit. Do you assess that North Korea, China, and Russia will deepen their solidarity?

MR MILLER: So, with respect to that missile launch, the Pentagon put out a statement on that this weekend, and I would refer to you that. But when it comes to the cooperation between Russia and North Korea, we have made clear it’s a trend that should be a great concern of anyone who is interested in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. That should include the PRC.

It’s one of the points the Secretary made clear in our last trip to Beijing, as he has in his other interactions with his Chinese counterparts, that we think that’s something that should concern China as well, and China should use its influence to push back on that increasing – that increasing cooperation between the two regimes. It’s not a decision they have made to do so as of yet.

QUESTION: But the role of the UN Security Council is weakening, so how can we sanction North Korea’s continued violations?

MR MILLER: So, we have been concerned that the Security Council has not spoken with one voice since 2017 on the DPRK’s repeated violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Because there’s not been unity, the DPRK has escalated its ballistic missile launches, each one of which violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and we urge Beijing and Moscow to use their influence to encourage DPRK to refrain from that behavior and return to the negotiating table.

QUESTION: Thank you.


QUESTION: So, on the – back on the question of jurisdiction —


QUESTION: — with the international – you said that because the Palestinians are not a state actor, they don’t have jurisdiction over their side. But back in 2014 – I just googled this one up – Jen Psaki was up here, your former colleague. The statement was: “Today the [ICC] convicted Germain Katanga, the Commander of the [FRPI] militia, for his responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity. [The] ICC’s DRC cases represent a significant step toward delivering justice for victims in the DRC.” She then went on to say, “The United States reiterates its call for the apprehension of Sylvester Mudacumura, another leader of an abusive rebel militia in the DRC, who is subject to an arrest warrant by the ICC… The Department of State continues to offer a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.” So. at least in 2014, it was the position of the administration that you could even put out a reward for the arrest of somebody that would then go to the ICC and would have jurisdiction. So, why does not that apply to the current conflict?

MR MILLER: So, we have supported the work of the ICC in previous cases. I can’t speak to this case because I don’t know the fundamentals of it, and I don’t know the jurisdictional questions. Ultimately, the main way that the ICC has jurisdiction is if one of the two state parties to a case is a signatory to the Rome Statute and comes in under the ICC’s jurisdiction. That is not the case here. You have Israel, who, of course, is not a signatory to the ICC; the Palestinians, who do not represent a state at this time and so in our view cannot sign the Rome Statute and become – come under the ICC’s jurisdiction. I can’t speak to other cases. I’d have to look into in more detail.

QUESTION: And one quick follow-up to what Said had asked about whether or not the U.S. had approved the deal that Hamas said it agreed to. There’s a lot of reporting in the region that CIA Director Burns was involved in that, had approved it. Are you saying that – is that not the case? What was Burns’ involvement there?

MR MILLER: So I’m not going to speak to any of the reporting, because I know there’s been – I will just say – because there has been reporting all over the map on this question, some of it right, some of it partially right, some of it completely wrong – I will say that the reporting that Hamas had accepted a proposal that we put on the table was not accurate. They had sent back a response that accepted some of it but offered amendments, some of those amendments significant in nature. And they claimed at the time they had accepted the response. That’s not what – or accepted the proposal. That’s not what had actually happened.

QUESTION: Just extremely briefly, would – it’s not just the DRC that you guys have supported ICC investigations into or offered rewards. So, Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army, there was a big push made and rewards offered for that. So, I’m glad that you said that it’s not just the DRC. But secondly, when you said that the ICC in this case – at least with Israel – didn’t go to Israel to interview people, they also didn’t go to Gaza or to Doha, correct?

MR MILLER: They will have to speak to that. I just don’t know.

QUESTION: Okay. And then they – and in other case —

MR MILLER: I know they didn’t go – I know – actually, I know they don’t – didn’t go to Gaza. Whether they went to Doha, I have no idea.

QUESTION: Okay. And then another – another ICC case that you have supported or an actual arrest warrant that was issued, not just applied for but was issued, in terms of Russia and Ukraine. Did the ICC prosecutors go to Russia to interview the people who were ultimately given – subject – subjected to these arrest warrants?

MR MILLER: So – so the difference between Russia and Israel is that Israel is a democracy with accountability mechanisms and investigations that are underway. That is not the case in Russia. We are not aware of any Russian investigation into war crimes that is underway. So, the —

QUESTION: But the similarity between the two is that neither of them are parties to the Rome Statute, neither of them are members, just like you are not.

MR MILLER: But – so Ukraine is, however, in that case, and that’s why they have jurisdiction in that matter. It’s one of the parties to that conflict is a member – is a signatory.

QUESTION: So, in other words, then it’s okay if they go to one side but not to the other?

MR MILLER: That is the fundamental – that is how jurisdiction is fundamentally applied under the Rome Statute is if one of the parties to the conflict is a signatory to the conflict[1], and that’s not a case – it’s not —

QUESTION: Yes. So, if you’re not a signatory to a conflict, then it should be – then, apparently, it’s okay if they don’t – the prosecution doesn’t go to that country, in this case Russia.

MR MILLER: So, it’s – so it is not —

QUESTION: And then this current case Israel, which is not a signatory to – but you don’t have a problem with it when they didn’t go to Russia.

MR MILLER: So, there’s a fundamental —

QUESTION: But you do have a problem when —

MR MILLER: There is a fundamental difference here and it’s that Israel said they were going to cooperate with the investigation. Russia did not. That’s why the trip was so – to Israel was so important. Israel said they were going to cooperate with the investigation, talk to them about the charges that they were preparing to bring. And the ICC short-circuited that cooperation by bringing these charges.

QUESTION: Matt, look, come on.

MR MILLER: Russia was – Russia was never going to cooperate.

QUESTION: For the last – for the last month, Israeli officials have been going off about how horrible it would be and how awful it would be if the ICC comes forward with these arrest warrants, to the point where people in this government were like what are they so – what are they getting so concerned about. Nothing is yet happening. Well, now it has happened, okay? But they have made clear from day one that they don’t think this is a legitimate investigation.

MR MILLER: Correct.

QUESTION: What makes you think they were prepared to cooperate?

MR MILLER: So, I can only say that they had a trip scheduled for the prosecutor himself where they planned to cooperate. Now, look, if he had made that trip and been stiff-armed, that’d be a different circumstance perhaps. I have a fundamental – I have a fundamental hard time arguing why it was he had to bring these warrants today before he completed that trip. Why not go and see if they’re cooperating and make the assessment afterwards? That’s not what happened.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you, Matt. Three very quick questions. In a recent media interview, Indian Prime Minister Modi revealed how he made an effort to stop Israel’s attack in Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan by sending an envoy to Tel Aviv. Is the State Department aware of this?

MR MILLER: So, I am aware of those comments. I don’t have any comment on them.

QUESTION: May I draw your attention to a New York Times investigative story titled “Strangers in Their Own Land: Being Muslim in Modi’s India”, which described – describes how the world’s largest Muslim community in India raising their families and children with fear and uncertainty. Have you engaged with the Indian officials in these issues?

MR MILLER: So, I won’t speak to private diplomatic conversations, but we are deeply committed to promoting and protecting universal respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief of all around the world. We have engaged many countries, including India, on the importance of equal treatment for members of all religious communities.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. considering reinstating the GSP facilities for Bangladeshi product, as Bangladeshi foreign minister told the – on Saturday, Assistant Secretary Donald Lu assured Washington would consider reinstating the GSP facilities for Bangladeshi —

MR MILLER: I just don’t have any announcements to make on that regard.

Alex, go ahead, and then we’ll wrap for today.

QUESTION: On Ukraine – two questions.


QUESTION: You were with the Secertary in Kyiv. I want to give you a chance to respond to this latest notion that the U.S. doesn’t want – is afraid of seeing Russia lose —

MR MILLER: That the U.S. what?

QUESTION: Doesn’t want to see Russia lose and that – I mean, the statement came from the Ukrainian president. Why wouldn’t you – wouldn’t you want —

MR MILLER: The statement came from the Ukraine president? I don’t believe I saw a statement that – the United States fundamentally wants Ukraine —

QUESTION: Doesn’t want to see Russia lose and that —

MR MILLER: The – so there are two parties in this conflict. One is Russia; the other is Ukraine. We fundamentally want to see Ukraine win this war and have made that clear, including, I think, by providing them with billions of dollars in security assistance. You have also seen the Secretary make an entire speech about the strategic failure that Russia has brought on self by launching this conflict. So, I’m not sure what that refers to.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, you want to see Russia lose the war? Is that —

MR MILLER: And we want to see Ukraine win, which, by its very nature, means Russia losing the war.

QUESTION: Why can’t you say that we don’t – we want to see —

MR MILLER: We want to see – look, so we would rather see Russia just end of war. So, I think we’re – I’m not sure how we got into this semantic argument about this. But I think our position on who we want to see win this war and who we want to see lose it has been pretty clear for more than two years now.

QUESTION: Thank you. I want to get your comments on former Deputy Secretary Toria Nuland’s interview last night, in which she urged the administration to lift all the restrictions, including the use of weapons inside Russia, in which she says, actually, Russia is a beneficiary of our hesitation.

MR MILLER: So, I don’t have any comment on that, other than that our policy hasn’t changed. And with that, we’ll end for —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR MILLER: Yeah, go.

QUESTION: I got two more, completely different, and they’ll be extremely brief.

MR MILLER: Yeah, go ahead – go ahead, and then we’ll wrap.

QUESTION: One on Congo. Do you know anything about these American – these three Americans who – one dead and two arrested – who are allegedly involved in this apparent coup attempt?

MR MILLER: So, a few things about that. First of all, just as a policy statement, we condemn the armed attacks on the residence of the National Assembly deputy and the national palace, and denounce political violence in all forms. And we are extremely concerned by the reports of involvement by U.S. citizens. We are closely monitoring the situation, and we will cooperate with DRC authorities to the fullest extent possible to investigate.

With respect to involvement of U.S. citizens – so first of all, with respect to the individual who has – is deceased, we do not have any record of him being a United States citizen. With respect to the other two who have been reported to be United States citizens, who are reported to be in custody, because of privacy restrictions that you all are well familiar with, I can’t comment on those cases in detail – other than to say that whenever a United States citizen is arrested overseas, we seek consular access, and we would do that in any circumstance.

QUESTION: So – but so – but you have sought consular access for these people who are reported to be —

MR MILLER: So, I don’t know if I can say that without violating the privacy rules. In every —

QUESTION: Well, either you have or you haven’t, whether —

MR MILLER: Well, but you – but you know the rule, which —

QUESTION: You’ve been told – I get it, but —

MR MILLER: We have to go get a privacy waiver before we can say that. It’s – I know it’s silly, but it’s apparently the law, so I ought to follow it.

QUESTION: You have to go get a Privacy Act waiver even – even before you – have the Congolese notified you —

MR MILLER: Before speaking to —

QUESTION: — that there are two American citizens who have been arrested?

MR MILLER: So due to these privacy restrictions, there’s not much more I can say today.

QUESTION: They have to do it –

MR MILLER: Hold on.

QUESTION: under the Vienna Convention —

MR MILLER: But I – but I hope to be able to say more, as we often are able to do in these cases —

QUESTION: All right. And then —

MR MILLER: — as we work through these issues.

QUESTION: And then on the guy who apparently died, what do you mean you don’t have any record of him being a U.S. citizen?

MR MILLER: We don’t have a record of him being a U.S. citizen.

QUESTION: How about an LPR? How about —

MR MILLER: So often that – oftentimes that’s harder to establish, if someone’s an LPR or not, the different ways to look at the question – we don’t – but I – so – but I can say with respect to citizenship, we do not believe – we do not believe, do not have any record of him being a citizen.

QUESTION: Okay. And then on the other question, which is about Syria, do you have anything to say about the death of an American citizen in Syrian – in Syria over the – apparently – or it was just announced over the weekend. Do you —

MR MILLER: So, first of all, we saw the statement the Kamalmaz family put out over the weekend, and our hearts go out to them at this difficult time. I will just say that we have engaged extensively to try to bring Majd Kamalmaz home, and we remain committed to seeking a full – seeking a full accounting of his fate.

With that, we’ll wrap —

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR MILLER: One more, yeah, and then we’ll —

QUESTION: Can you just clarify? He – was he – he was never determined wrongfully detained. Can you say what status he was given, if anything?

MR MILLER: So, he wasn’t determined to be wrongfully detained. I don’t have a full understanding of it; I know that some of it has to do with not being – not being acknowledged by the Syrian Government. And so, it has to do with a status that he had already been assigned before the Levinson Act passed. Some of this gets into bureaucratic questions, but it did not change our work to try to seek a full accounting for his status, and that work continues.

So, with that, we’ll wrap for today. Thanks, everyone.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:14 p.m.)

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  1. if one of the parties to the conflict is a signatory of the statute.

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