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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2001
Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One En Route Concord, North Carolina
9:55 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: What I want to do is just give everybody a time line of events that took place this morning concerning China.
And I really won't be able to get into that many details beyond this -- I hope you can appreciate that, just until our men and women are out, I'm just not going to get into much detail about other matters.
Here's what took place.
At 10:30 p.m. last night, the President called the National Security Council to receive an update on where things stood.
He was told that our government had been talking with the Chinese government about logistics, which the President took as an encouraging sign; but he was also advised that no meeting had been scheduled at that time, between Ambassador Prueher and Chinese officials.
And that was the state of play when the President went to bed last night.
At 12:45 a.m., Richard Armitage, from the State Department, called Condoleezza Rice to say that the Chinese wanted to receive the final text of the letter, and that Ambassador Prueher would be called in for a meeting -- which was a sure sign that --
Q Was this a meeting with the Chinese?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct.
Q Who was called in, Prueher?
MR. FLEISCHER: Prueher. And that was a sure sign that this matter was on its way to being resolved.
Very early this morning, Prueher went in and met with Chinese officials, gave them a copy of the signed letter and received verbal assurance that our men and women would be released.
Q What time was that?
MR. FLEISCHER: That was between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m, this morning.
The President arrived in the Oval Office at 6:50 a.m., this morning. He had earlier spoken with Condi, at 5:40 a.m., where Condi informed the President about how events were moving and that it looked like the matter was going to be resolved.
The President said, good; leaned over and told Laura that, it looks like the matter is going to be resolved.
Q I understood they were in bed?
MR. FLEISCHER: He said he leaned over and told Laura.
And then Chinese state television announced that the matter had been resolved.
Q What time was that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Probably right around 6:30 a.m. Condi called the President back to report to him that Chinese media said that it's been resolved. The President said, "that's great." And he and Condi reviewed plans for the rest of the day. And that's the time line there of the events.
Q At 6:30 a.m. Rice called him back to say?
MR. FLEISCHER: Around 6:30 a.m.
MR. FLEISCHER: State television has said, the matter is resolved.
In other words, the Chinese government itself now has said to its people, on state television, that the matter is resolved, the men and women -- the servicemen will be sent back to America.
Q You said at 6:50 a.m. he went into the Oval Office?
MR. FLEISCHER: Correct.
Q And anything after that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Then the events are, as you know, we released a statement from the Press Secretary and the text of the letter at about 7:10 a.m., 7:15 a.m., I think. Staff met with the President, talked to the President about what he wanted to say at 8:25 a.m.
That's where matters stand.
Q Is he very much in contact on the logistics, actual, you know, getting the plane?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, he's monitoring it and being informed about what plans are shaping up for the logistics of bringing back the men and women.
Q -- be able to help keep us up to date on it?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll do my best. We'll see. Again, we're not going to say an awful lot while our men and women are there.
Q Can you tell us on background?
MR. FLEISCHER: No. Our men and women are still on the ground over there.
Q Ari, who's going to participate in this April 18th meeting?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's the kind of thing I'm not going to get in to.
Q Did the President approve the letter that Prueher delivered?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's been the topic of discussion back and forth between the United States and China for many, many days.
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course.
Q Did he see it before it went over?
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course.
Everything in there he approved.
Q Do you know if that April 18th meeting, the topic of the future of reconnaissance planes --
MR. FLEISCHER: That's the kind of thing I'm not going to discuss as long as the men and women are still there.
We'll have more information -- on all questions -- but the men and women are on the ground still.
Q And how -- what kind of time frame are you looking at for them leaving China?
MR. FLEISCHER: State had addressed that.
Q Days, hours?
JOHNDROE: We're about to land, sorry.
10:02 A.M. EDT