Tag Archives: Marie Harf

US has worked actively with Indians and others to help Americans leave Yemen

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Yemen
Indian Navy’s massive evacuation mission in Yemen (representative photo)

Washington DC: The US has actively worked with Indians and others, including organisations like International Organisation for Migration (IOM), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to use their resources and to tell Americans how they they can use those resources to leave Yemen.

This was pointed out by Marie Harf, the US department of State Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, at the daily press briefing here on Monday. Ms. Harf said: “are aware that several other U.S. citizens are detained in Yemen” while confirming that U.S. citizen Casey Coombs ( a freelance journalist) had left Yemen and arrived safely in Muscat, Oman, she said that he was in stable condition. She also told journalists that the U.S. ambassador and a consular official met him at the airport upon his arrival and were providing all possible consular assistance.

Ms. Harf said: “We are grateful to the Government of Oman and personally to Sultan Qaboos for assisting with the safe passage of a U.S. citizen to Oman, and deeply appreciate his majesty’s friendship to our country.”

Casey Coombs
Casey Coombs

When asked whether Coombs had been detained by the Rebel Houthis, Ms. Harf neither confirmed nor denied it. She summed up the query by saying: “I don’t have more details to share”. When asked whether Coombs was injured or wounded, she replied: “I don’t have more details on that to share, but I know there have been some press reports out there about his condition, so we wanted folks to know that he is in stable condition.”

Citing “their safety” as the reason, Ms. Harf said it would not be possible to give the specific number of Americans held in Yemen. She also said: “we are doing everything we can to obtain the release of these individuals. And obviously, there are a number of ways we can do that, some of which we’ve talked about before.

Ms. Harf further said, Americans were being told not to go to Yemen as the situation there is dangerous. More so as the US embassy has been temporarily closed, and he US does not have the same kind of resources to help them (the Americans) if they get into trouble or get taken or have an issue that they need resolved. She states categorically – “while we have not used American assets to evacuate Americans, we have actively worked with international organizations like IOM, like the ICRC, and with other countries like Djibouti and the Indians and others to use their resources and to tell Americans how they can use those resources to leave Yemen. So we have done everything we can to let Americans know what the resources out there are and to help facilitate them taking advantage of those resources.”

On being asked by a journalist if there was any talks in Oman between the U.S. and the Houthis regarding the situation in Yemen in general and about the Americans specifically, Ms. Harf said that US Assistant Secretary Patterson traveled to Oman and to Saudi Arabia to conduct meetings and consultations with a variety of regional parties on the crisis in Yemen.

When asked whether or not she met with the Houthis, the Ms. Harf said: “they engage with a wide swath of Yemenis from a number of different groups, and we’re just not going to get into specifics.”

Middle-East free of nuclear weapons and Israel

Newsroom24x7 Desk

nuclear-freeWashington DC: US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf preferred to keep her reply short and crypt at the daily press briefing here on Thursday when a journalist asked whether or not it would be right to say: “In the future, if it ever comes to pass that the Middle East is declared as a nuclear weapons-free zone, it should include Israel?

Ms. Harf’s short response to this poser was: “I don’t have much more to share for you than this.”

At a broader level, responding to related queries Ms. Harf said the NPT review process is in its final week in New York. There’s no final text on this issue of the Middle East conference. We are working to ensure that a final text meets our interests and those of Israel. Both the United States and Israel support the creation of a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East. We’re closely working with our Israeli partners to advance our mutual interests, including preserving the NPT. Given there’s no final text, this is something we’re working behind the scenes and don’t have much more to share than that.

Notwithstanding the growing US predicament as Israel is not finding itself comfortable with the UN move for holding a Middle-East Conference to create a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, there is active US participation in behind the scene talks to bring pressure on Israel to join this conference

Within the next 24-hours, a draft statement to back the UN treaty to regulate nuclear technology is likely to be ready in New York city where UN officials have worked through this week in this direction. This inititaive is geared to complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

A draft has also been circulated within the UN for making the Middle-East free of nuclear weapons. Israel wants a consensus among all Middle-East countries for the Middle-East Conference

Marshall Islands flagged cargo ship Maersk Tigris detained by Iranian patrol boats

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maersk tigris2Danish cargo ship Maersk Tigris, chartered by Maersk shipping company, which was seized yesterday in the Strait of Hormuz with 24 crew on board, remains in the custody of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

When the captain of the ship registered in Marshall Islands and en route to Jebel Ali, refused to follow an order to move into Iranian waters, patrol boats fired at Maersk Tigris and the Guard Corps personnel boarded the cargo vessel at about 9 a.m. GMT. yesterday and diverted it toward Larak Island.

Maersk TigrisBriefing the press a few hours ago, Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson, US department of State said that the ship is anchored off the northeast coast of Larak Island, Iran. The US is continuing to monitor the situation and no reports of injuries to crew members have been received.

Ms. harf told journalists that the US is holding discussions with officials from the Republic of the Marshall Islands as well as with the shipping company to determine steps to be taken for the “peaceful resolution of this incident and the safe passage of the ship and crew.”

The Republic of Marshall Islands has requested assistance for the release of the Maersk ship, Ms. Harf stated adding the U.S. of course remains committed to freedom of navigation through international waterways, and to ensure that the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe. Under the U.S.-Republic of Marshall Islands Compact of Free Association, the U.S. has full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to the Marshall Islands, including matters relating to vessels flying their flag, Ms. Harf pointed out.

According to Iranian authorities, Maersk shipping company has been ordered by an Iranian court to pay damages to a private firm.

Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company. The company operates in over 120 countries around the world and has a fleet of over 600 ships which sail every major trade lane on the globe.

Iraq remains a dangerous place, US taking full precautions for American people and facilities

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Iraq-ErbilWashington DC: A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated directly outside an entry point on the perimeter of the U.S. consulate in Erbil in Iraq on Friday at 10:44 a.m. Eastern time when the duck and cover protocol was activated at the U.S. consulate.

Briefing media persons on this incident Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson, US department of State said here that all chief of mission personnel have been accounted for. There are no reports of injuries to chief of mission personnel or to the local guards.

Host nation fire assets responded to extinguish the fire, Ms. Harf said adding local authorities have also responded and were securing the area. Appreciating the ‘rapid response of the Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to this matter’, she said the US will work with them to investigate the incident to determine the facts behind the explosion.

Ms. Harf emphasised that there’s already a high level of security at the consulate, at the US embassy in Baghdad and said the latest explosion in Iraq is something that the US would take as very serious.

I think that Iraq remains a dangerous place – many parts of it do. So I’m not going to get into specifics, but we know that the security environment there is quite a challenging one and obviously take a number of security precautions when it comes to our people and our facilities. – Marie Harf, Acting Spokesperson, US Department of State

On Chinese journalist Gao Yu

Ms. Harf also stated that the United States is deeply concerned that Chinese journalist Gao Yu has been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison after a closed trial on charges of leaking state secrets to a foreign news outlet. The conviction of this veteran journalist, she pointed out, is part of a disturbing pattern of government action against public interest lawyers, internet activists, journalists, religious leaders, and others who peacefully question official Chinese policies and actions. We call on the Chinese authorities to release Ms. Gao immediately and to respect China’s international human rights commitments.

Syria

On Syrian President Assad’s denial of the Human Rights Watch reports about his use of chemical weapons in some cities in Syria lately, the US spokesperson said: These…latest denials of his are really not credible, sort of bordered on delusion. We have a lot of evidence about what’s happening here, not just in this most recent attack, but certainly before that. Ms. Harf went on to emphasise that the US is looking very closely, particularly into the latest one and considering next steps. There’s an investigation ongoing.

When asked about the allegations about the use of ammonium chloride, which is available on the open market everyone, Ms.Harf said Chlorine could be used, in a variety of ways. It can be used as a chemical weapon. In the past, she said, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has determined that this was delivered from helicopters. It has also been stated the past that only the Syrian military possesses the capability to use helicopters in such attacks.

Ms. Harf went on to assert that it’s the Assad regime that bears the overwhelming responsibility for the humanitarian disaster in Syria and in the region, and Assad often presents this false choice between his regime and terrorist groups like ISIL. And that’s certainly not how the US sees it. She refused to give credence to his comments – pointing to ‘his actions over the last many, many months’.