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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 24, 2002
Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One
En route Charlotte, North Carolina
8:53 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll go through the President's schedule, then I'm going to tell you something very quick.
The President today is campaigning in three states to support campaigns in North Carolina of Elizabeth Dole for Congress, Robin Hayes, Cass Ballenger, as well as Carolyn Grant and the rest of the North Carolina Republican ticket.
In South Carolina he is here to support Congressman Lindsey Graham's campaign for the Senate; former Congressman Mark Sanford's gubernatorial campaign and the South Carolina Republican ticket.
In Alabama, the President is going to support Congressman Bob Riley's gubernatorial campaign, and State House Minority Leader Mike Rogers' congressional campaign and the Alabama Republican ticket.
And then he will arrive at the Bush Ranch later this evening.
On the matter of the sniper, which I know everybody is keenly interested in, all comments are going to be issued by law enforcement personnel. Anything to report will come from them and I will have no further comments on it.
Q -- this morning?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President received a briefing this morning.
Q And that was --
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not at liberty to get into anything that was discussed.
Q Is he hopeful?
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I'm not going to say anything beyond -- the law enforcement community will be the appropriate place to say whatever needs to be said.
Q Who briefed the President?
MR. FLEISCHER: He had his regular briefing this morning with the FBI.
Q Any word --
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't know who specifically was in there.
Q Is the President encouraged --
MR. FLEISCHER: It usually is the Director, but I just didn't observe it this morning.
Q Can you characterize whether the President is encouraged with what he heard in the briefing?
MR. FLEISCHER: Ann, I'm not going to say anything what I said.
MR. FLEISCHER: President Bush called President Putin this morning to express America's support for Russia in this hostage take-over. He said that the United States was prepared to help Russia with whatever Russia needed, and this is a time of solidarity between the United States and russia.
Q Did Putin tell him he wouldn't be going to the APEC meeting?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President knows there are reports that President Putin will not be able to go the APEC meeting, but President Putin did raise it. And the President is totally understanding.
Q You called it a hostage-taking situation and not a terrorist situation. I mean, is that a significant --
MR. FLEISCHER: It's clearly terrorist. No difference in where -- just hostage taking by terrorists.
Q Has the President spoken to John Negroponte and what's his understanding of the state of play at the United Nations on the Iraq resolution?
MR. FLEISCHER: No real shift in anything since Dr. Rice's briefing yesterday. The talking is continuing, now the draft has been circulated among 15 nations and we'll see where events lead. There will be more talking today in New York.
Q When do you think is the earliest that the Security Council might be asked to vote?
MR. FLEISCHER: I couldn't hazard a guess.
Q But it's not today or tomorrow, it would most likely be next week?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I think it's unlikely today or tomorrow.
Q Is the end still coming into sight?
MR. FLEISCHER: Unquestionably the end is coming into sight.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, we'll see. One of the most important topics they will discuss is what to do about the situation in North Korea. China has no interest in seeing a nuclearized Korean Peninsula. The President is looking forward to the meeting. President Jiang is looking forward to riding in the pick-up truck.
Q Are you suggesting that there might be an agreement between China and the United States on North Korea, on how to handle that?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll see, Ron. But it's one of the important issues they're going to discuss; we'll see. And as well as the meeting with China, of course, is the next day, the President is going to meet with the Prime Ministers of South Korea and Japan. So in some ways this is very good timing for diplomacy.
Q Has the North Korean situation changed at all, the schedule for the visit? I mean, I know that they were going to have a 60- or a 90-minute meeting before and then a lunch? Any plans -- is it going to be a bigger meeting now, other people coming in because of what the President and President Jiang -- has this --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the meeting between the President and President Jiang is going to be the same.
Q The same.
MR. FLEISCHER: Going on tomorrow at the ranch?
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, yes. No, no change to it. The one we do have a hole to fill now with a lunch that was going to be scheduled with President Putin. And we have yet to determine what we will do with that hole. We'll keep you informed about what it will be. We just don't know yet.
Q Are we going to see are we going to have any kind of chance to question the Presidents on Friday?
MR. FLEISCHER: Tomorrow? Yes. Yes, there will be a press avail in the early to mid-afternoon.
Q Is it pool only?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, it is pool only.
And I'm working right now on a briefing. Tomorrow, you can anticipate a briefing. We haven't yet nailed down exactly who yet, but there will be a briefing, as senior as possible, in probably about an hour or so after the news conference tomorrow between President Bush with President Bush and President Jiang. That way, reporters can, given the realities of Crawford, get the tape back to the filing center, file it, let reporters see it who aren't at the pooled event. And then, shortly thereafter, we'll have a senior official available for questions.
Q Let me make sure I understood you. You said it's a pool event only, the news conference?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
Q You have to be pool to go to a news conference?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's how all events are at the President's ranch, as you know.
MR. DICKENS: It's a press avail in front of the governor's house, just like the last five or six we've had.
MR. FLEISCHER: This is a time for solidarity and understanding with Russia. We will continue to work with Russia on Iraq and on the U.N., but this is a serious issue for Russia, for the Russian people, and the President has stressed his support and solidarity with the Russian people and the Russian government this morning.
Q What help could you offer Russia in solving this crisis?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, we'll see. We'll see what, if anything, Russia asks for. But the purpose of the President's call was to offer support in a difficult time for Russia; it's a serious matter.
Q -- terrorism
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, Ron was asking me earlier. Yes, this is terrorism.
Okay, thanks everybody.
END 9:01 A.M. EDT
Addition to the Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Columbia, South Carolina
10:32 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: In the President's briefing this morning, he was advised of the latest facts pertaining to the sniper. He did not receive any characterization of what those facts may or may not mean.
Q He did not receive any --
MR. FLEISCHER: -- characterization of what those facts may or may not mean. He was briefed on what the facts are.
Q Can you describe his reaction, Ari?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's all you need to know. That's all I can say to you.
Q The guy who was arrested on the White House lawn this morning after you guys left, he made it halfway to the house.
MR. FLEISCHER: All the information is its just a fence-jumper. We're still looking. We're still talking to the individual. If there's anything to be added or updated, I will or the Secret Service will. But I wanted to be sure to correct the record on something that has been reported.
Q Is the President expecting any updates during the day?
Q Is that on the record?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, that's all on the record.
As events warrant. (In answer to "expecting updates" question.)
END 10:34 A.M. EDT