For Immediate Release
June 23, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
9:16 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning. Let me just quickly go over the President's morning. And then I'm going to turn it over to Secretary Thompson and Ambassador Tobias to talk about today's event.
The President did call Prime Minister Allawi this morning. The two leaders talked about the progress being made to build a free and peaceful Iraq, and the President reiterated our commitment to help the Iraqi people as they assume responsibility for their future and as they move forward on holding elections.
Q How many times have they talked, any idea?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can double-check that. I mean, they've talked on a few occasions, so I'll double-check that.
Q -- related to the Zarqawi threat --
MR. McCLELLAN: This was scheduled before. This was scheduled before that came out.
Then he had his usual briefings. The Freedom Corps greeter upon arrival is Pat McDonough. And for the past nine years, Pat has donated her services as a certified massage therapist to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. And then the President looks forward to making remarks -- well, first of all, he'll meet with, along with Secretary Thompson and Ambassador Tobias and Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator Joe O'Neill, individuals serving those who are living with AIDS and fighting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the faith-based -- through faith-based and community organizations in the Philadelphia area, as well as an individual living with AIDS.
And then he will give remarks to update you on the progress we're making on the emergency relief plan, as well as the domestic agenda to combat AIDS. And I'll turn that over to them in just a minute.
And then when we return back -- well, then he's got the remarks at the Victory 2004 event. And then this afternoon, when we get back to the White House, we've got the ceremony for the 2004 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
And with that, I'll turn it over to these two, let them give you an overview of today. And then you can ask them questions about today's event. Then I'll come back and take questions on anything else.
Q You will come back? Because we have other questions.
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand. But we'll let them go first and then we'll go to other questions you have.
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Thank you, very much. The McClellan brothers. The President really wants to do a lot more in regards to this fight on AIDS. He wants to do it not only internationally, but domestically, as well. And today he's going to announce that we're going to reauthorize $20 million that we have in the HRSA budget, and put it into the AIDS -- the Ryan White/ADAP program. For the waiting list, there are approximately 1,800 Americans that have AIDS that were -- that are not able to get the treatment. But the three main states are Alabama, North Carolina, and Colorado. And so we're going to use $20 million in another program in HRSA, and use that to purchase drugs and give it to these states that need it.
The second thing the President is going to announce is, is that he wants to reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and he wants to make some changes. He wants to make sure that there's more emphasis placed on treatment. And number two, he wants flexibility so we don't have to reauthorize money, that we're able to be able to use the Secretary's power to get the flexibility to get the money into the states that really need it.
And the third thing is, is to make sure that there's more accountability. And the third thing that the President is going to announce is the fact that we are going to push very hard for trying to get the liability bill through Congress, the medical liability bill. And that is the third one. Now --
Q -- push for medical liability, in other words? I'm sorry $20 million for the -- in the upcoming budget?
SECRETARY THOMPSON: No, $20 million right now, this year, right now, will be able to take care of the waiting list for the people living with AIDS.
Q Why do you need to reauthorize it? What has expired?
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Ryan White is going to -- is going to expire next year, so we're going to -- we're going to get the principles out there how we want to be able to get it reauthorized.
Go ahead, Randy.
AMBASSADOR TOBIAS: On the international front, in his State of the Union address in 2003, the President launched his President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for $15 billion, committed over five years. The centerpiece of that was a focus on 14 countries, 12 in Africa, two in the Caribbean, that account for about 50 percent of the infections in the world. The Congress has directed that the administration select a 15th country.
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll continue this. We've got to sit down. We'll continue this.
9:21 A.M. EDT
* * * * *
(Gaggle continued after landing)
10:12 A.M. EDT
MR. MCCLELLAN: Whatever your questions are.
Q Did you have a chance to look over this resolution, proposed resolution from Specter?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I glanced at it.
Q What do you make of it, and did the President talk to Specter about it?
MR. MCCLELLAN: It looks like they share the Presidents commitment to making sure that Saddam Hussein -- that Saddam Hussein faces justice by the Iraqi people for the atrocities that he committed. As you are aware, we will be turning over Saddam Hussein to face a tribunal of Iraqis.
Q Its just a resolution, but would the President get behind it?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, I havent had a chance -- I dont know if --
Q He wants the tribunal - he wants the indictments to be brought by August --
Q I'm sorry, could I get an answer to my question? Would he get behind the resolution?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, I haven't had -- you just handed me the resolution. I haven't had a chance to discuss it further. I dont know if they were able to discuss it on the way over here or not. So this is the first time I'm seeing this resolution. But it seems to reflect the President's commitment to making sure that Saddam Hussein faces justice by the Iraqi people for the atrocities that he committed.
Q And the idea of doing it by August, thats what he really wants. Is there any chance of doing that?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, obviously, we are discussing these issues with the interim government. First of all you have to have the transfer of sovereignty before you can turn over detainees like Saddam Hussein. And the tribunal, we expect, would be making a request at some point after the transfer of sovereignty. And we'll discuss those issues with them, but we would like to see him face justice as soon as possible by that tribunal.
Q Do you think it's possible to do it --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, I'm not putting a time frame on it. Those are issues we're discussing with the interim government.
Q But as soon as possible, does that mean in months, or are we talking next year?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not putting a time frame on it.
Q Can you find out whether the President talked to him about it, for us?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'll check.
Q Thank you.
Q Has there been a final sign-off on this deal in which we would retain physical custody, but the Iraqis would take legal custody of Saddam Hussein?
MR. MCCLELLAN: It's still being discussed. That's why I pointed out that, one, that we want to make sure that those in the former regime, including Saddam Hussein, who committed these grave atrocities against the Iraqi people, face justice by the Iraqi people. And so you've got this special tribunal that has been set up to try these individuals for those atrocities.
Q You saw these wire stories, though, out of CPA yesterday --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Yes, I've seen those, and those are discussions. And that's why --
Q But there is no final --
MR. MCCLELLAN: -- we're having discussions with the interim government. There hasn't been a request made by the interim government or the special tribunal yet for the handover, an official request made at this point, is my understanding. First, you have to have the transfer of sovereignty and have that government in place, and then there would be a request made. And we would expect that to be the first step.
Q But is the administration willing to hand over legal custody and maintain --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, those are issues that we're discussing with the interim government. Look, we share the same goal here, which is to see Saddam Hussein tried, for the atrocities that he committed, by a special tribunal of Iraqis.
Q Scott, does Bush plan to ask NATO for more help in Iraq at the NATO meeting next week?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Actually, this question came up yesterday in the briefing, and you heard the President talk about it at the G8.
One, where we are now is you have some 15 NATO countries who are already in Iraq with troops. And we appreciate their support in the coalition. The President made it very clear he didn't expect more NATO troops, because what we want to see is more Iraqi security forces. Those are the forces that we will see increased over time, because they'll be assuming full responsibility for their future. And so we're working with the Iraqi forces to train and equip them and get them in position so that they can provide for their security going forward.
In that context, the President said that, you know, we want to discuss a NATO -- a way that NATO might be able to help with the training of those security forces. And so that's something that will be discussed at the upcoming NATO summit.
Q Do you expect there to be any Iraqi representatives at the NATO summit?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll have to check. We've got a -- we'll have a -- I think we have a background briefing later today that was scheduled for foreign press that White House press will be included in. And then we'll have a briefing tomorrow by Dr. Rice. So we'll see if there's more, in terms of who is going to be at the summit at that point. I don't have the list.
Q In the conversation this morning with Allawi, did the issue of Zarqawi's direct to kill him come up?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, that's why I said that this call, when you asked me that on the plane, that this call was scheduled prior to that audio tape coming out --
Q But the call was done after --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and, you know, I think Prime Minister Allawi has made it very clear that he is determined to confront these terrorist threats that they face inside Iraq and defeat those terrorists.
Q -- but did he call him, Bush --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I gave this on the gaggle on the plane, I read it out. The President called Prime Minister Allawi this morning.
Q Would you mind checking whether that assassination threat came up?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, and again I want you to make sure that you understand that this call was scheduled --
Q I hear that.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and I think it may have come up. I think Prime Minister Allawi may have brought it up. But it wasn't something that was the purpose of the call. And that's why I said that Prime Minister Allawi has made it very clear that he is determined to defeat the enemies of the Iraqi people and these enemies of freedom.
Q So you don't know if there's any new effort to kind of redouble security around Allawi to prevent something like this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into a discussion of his security situation. Again, he's a very strong and capable leader and he understands the importance of confronting these security threats. And we will be there after the transfer of sovereignty to help the Iraqi people address these security threats.
Terrorists like Zarqawi want to try to shake the will of the international community and they have no regard for innocent civilians, and they will be defeated. We will bring him to justice.
Q On North Korea, can you talk about some of the proposals that you're offering?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you know, the meetings are getting underway here with the next round of talks. We're still pursuing the multilateral approach through the six-party talks. We have been discussing and working with South Korea and Japan on some ideas that we'll be presenting at these talks. And we will -- what we will be presenting is a practical series of steps to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program. And I think one way to look at this is to look at the Libyan model. A good faith action on North Korea's part would be met with a good faith response by the other parties.
So this is a plan to achieve a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program.
Q Is there any time limit on your offer?
MR. McCLELLAN: On the what?
Q Is there any time limit on your offer --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about when they respond to it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I mean, we'll be presenting this at the six-party talks and we don't expect an immediate response. All parties will go back -- we expect all parties will look at it, they'll go back to their capitals and they'll discuss it. But, you know, this is a plan for moving forward on dismantlement. And what you would have -- first, you would have -- it would have to have North Korea commit to the dismantlement of its nuclear program. And then you would have the parties agree to a detailed implementation plan which would require a supervised disablement of -- disablement, dismantlement, elimination of all nuclear-related facilities and materials, the removal of all nuclear weapons and weapons components, centrifuge and other nuclear parts, fissile material and fuel rods, and a long-term monitoring program.
So there would be a process that would involve a short preparatory period where they would, as part of their effort to dismantle their nuclear program, disable all their nuclear weapons and weapons components, to begin with. And then that would be followed by the permanent and verifiable dismantlement of their nuclear program.
Q And what would North Korea get in return?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we will work to take steps to ease their political and economic isolation. So there would be -- what you would see would be some provisional or temporary proposals that would only lead to lasting benefit after North Korea dismantles its nuclear programs. So there would be some provisional or temporary efforts of that nature.
Q If there's no deadline on when they could accept it, what is the incentive to Kim Jong-il not to avoid the outcome of --
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll see what their response is. Again, all parties are going to have go and look at these ideas and take them back to their capitals and discuss them. And we will see what their response is. But the way to look at this is to look at the Libyan model, so they can recognize that their good faith would be met by the good faith of the other parties in response.
But the first thing that has to happen, they have to commit to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear program. So that's the first step.
Q Are you talking cash, energy -- in terms of the short-term help?
MR. McCLELLAN: Non-nuclear energy assistance; and talking about some assurances on the security side, as well.
Q "Non-nuclear" meaning resume oil shipments?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, if -- that's what you're talking about.
Q U.S. --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're talking about other countries would be.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are the types of things. The way I would describe it as now. I mean, obviously, they'll be talking about these ideas.
END 10:23 A.M. EDT