For Immediate Release
August 8, 2005
Press Gaggle by Trent Duffy
Aboard Air Force One En route Albuquerque, New Mexico
11:08 A.M. CDT
MR. DUFFY: Good morning. The President's schedule, he had his normal intelligence briefings. I have a world leader - excuse me, a hone call to read out. The President spoke to Mrs. Rebecca Garang this morning, right before 9:00 a.m., eastern. He offered his condolences on behalf of himself and the American people on the death of her husband, Vice President John Garang. He thanked her for the hope that Mr. Garang brought to the people of Sudan for a democratic, united and peaceful nation. He also thanked her for calling for calm in Sudan. The United States is resolved to continue supporting implementation of a comprehensive peace accord to honor her husband's vision.
We're on our way now to New Mexico, where the President will sign the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Traveling with us are Chairman Joe Barton, from the Energy Committee in the House; as well as Congressman Ralph Hall -- both from Texas. The President will make brief remarks, which you have -- he will be at the Sandia National Laboratory. He will tour the National Solar Thermal Test facility; it's operated by Sandia National Labs for the Department of Energy. It's representative of the history of Sandia, which has developed science-based technologies to support our national security. And if you want more on the event, I can go into it.
Senator Domenici will make the introduction. Secretary Bodman will be in the audience. Senator Bingaman will be there, as well. And Tom Hunter, who is the president and director of the lab will also be on the tour. Let's see, other congressmen -- Congressman Pearce from New Mexico will be in the audience, as well. That's all I have.
One programming note: tomorrow, for the economic briefing, I would anticipate it starting, just for planning purposes, starting at about 2:00 p.m., the briefing by Al Hubbard and Ben Bernanke.
Q When's the -- when's the pool out at the ranch?
MR. DUFFY: I'll get Josh to get that for you.
Q Will the United States recommend sanctions against Iran, now that they've started up again the uranium activities?
MR. DUFFY: I saw those news reports prior to taking off. As you know, the EU3 has made a proposal to Iran about this, and that the EU3 has made it clear that should this, in fact, be taking place, that it would be something that would be addressed at the IAEA Board of Governors, which is scheduled to start tomorrow. And that's what I have for you at this point.
The United States fully supports, as you know, the efforts of the EU3 in their negotiations with Iran about Iran's enrichment activities.
Q Are you troubled at all by their resumption, or you just - you don't know that for a fact?
MR. DUFFY: We've seen the news reports, and we'll have more to say later, obviously. I'd urge you to talk with the State Department when we get on the ground. But our position about that is well known, and we fully support the EU's efforts.
Q You mentioned Mr. Garang. Does the U.S. have any suspicions that his death might not have been an accident?
MR. DUFFY: Not at this point. The United States has dispatched experts from the National Transportation Safety Board. They're on their way to southern Sudan to investigate the cause of the helicopter crash.
Q Is that new? Did we know that? We do now.
MR. DUFFY: That's what I have for you. Anything else?
Q Is the President going to meet with the mother who lost a son in Iraq, that's been camped out in front of his ranch?
MR. DUFFY: The President has met with Ms. Sheehan last summer, and as we've said, the National Security Advisor, as well as the Deputy Chief of Staff met with her and other mothers for 45 minutes.
Q On North Korea, how disappointed is the President about the fact that they had to go into a three-week recess with no agreements made?
MR. DUFFY: We have made important progress in this round of talks. There is agreement among the five nations, a consensus that we need a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The break in the talks was prompted by the Chinese government, which gives the nations an opportunity to return to their capitals and talk about next steps. We anticipate a reconvening of the talks on August 29th,* so we believe there has been important progress and we're still optimistic that some agreement can be reached.
Q Why won't the President meet with her? I mean, she's camped outside -- I mean, is he at all worried that he's got this mother, someone who lost a kid in Iraq, she's camped out in front of the ranch, both -- I mean, from a PR side of things, but also the substantive -- listening to her -- I mean, why won't he meet with her?
MR. DUFFY: The President did meet with her in June of 2004; he's met with hundreds of families of the fallen. They are private meetings. And he was glad to meet with her at that time. We always mourn the loss of every life. And as I said, he's met with hundreds of families of the fallen.
Q Can we go back to the NTSB thing? Did they request that or is that something that we offered? Do you know how that came about?
MR. DUFFY: Let me see what I have on that.
Q Because that would indicate maybe that there is some suspicion there about that.
MR. DUFFY: I have what I have.
Q Trent, on Ms. Sheehan, what was the White House's message to her in the meeting with her over the weekend?
MR. DUFFY: As I said and reported, that Mr. Hagin and Mr. Hadley listened to her concerns.
Q Did they -- what was their response to her? I mean, did they welcome her concerns, did they --
MR. DUFFY: It was a private meeting. As I said on the wire call, she suggested and expressed on more than three occasions that she was very appreciative for them coming out.
Q Scott, what's the -- Trent, sorry -- what's the agenda for Thursday, the National -- the Defense Secretary, Secretary of State foreign policy meeting?
MR. DUFFY: It's the President's annual meeting of his foreign policy team. They will review all the items on the President's foreign policy agenda.
Anything else? Thanks.
* (The week of August 29th.)
END 11:15 A.M. CDT