Excerpted Transcript (2:11 p.m. EDT):
QUESTION: Can I turn to South Sudan?
MR TONER: Sure.
QUESTION: I'm curious why the U.S. felt it necessary to explain over the weekend that it wasn't – and to reassure South Sudan that you weren't basically trying to take over the country.
MR TONER: Well, I think it was an effort to simply tamp down what was an unwarranted and un – or baseless rumor that somehow the U.S. was planning some military action in South Sudan. We felt it best simply to come out publicly and refute that as strongly as possible given, I think, the volatility of the situation on the ground and the sensitivity of the situation on the ground, that we want – we certainly didn't want any misperceptions or any rumors picking up steam among the people in South Sudan.
QUESTION: So the South Sudanese leaders had not asked you? Is that – these were just purely rumors or press reports, or --
MR TONER: Exactly. I mean, we were picking up from our folks on the ground these kinds of rumors that were being generated. I don't want to speak to who was behind them; I don't know. But we felt that they were getting enough pickup, if you will, enough legs, that we felt we needed to address them.
QUESTION: Has it – did it have anything to do with the 200 U.S. military personnel that were – that are – have been sent to South Sudan?
MR TONER: Well, and that was something – again, we tried to address that in the statement that we released yesterday, which is that we did send a small contingent on July 12th of U.S. military personnel that was sent simply to assist the embassy in bolstering its security and also assisting with the departure of nonemergency personnel. That's it. And so we wanted to make very clear that there was no other or ulterior motive to these military personnel being on the ground in Juba. And we just wanted to explain their presence to the citizens of Juba.