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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 2, 2005

Press Briefing with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

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en Español  En Español

     Fact sheet Summit of the Americas

3:00 P.M. EST

MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. Tomorrow the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for Argentina, where the President will participate in the 4th Summit of the Americas. The President and Mrs. Bush will make subsequent visits to Brazil and Panama.

At the summit, the President will join 33 other democratically elected leaders in the Western Hemisphere to address common 21st century challenges. In particular the summit will focus on creating job opportunities especially for the hemisphere's poor, creating conditions to achieve sustained economic growth through greater trade and development, fighting poverty, and strengthening democratic governance and institutions.

The President was pleased to accept President Lula's invitation to visit Brazil. This is a return visit for President Lula's visit to Washington in June of 2003. Brazil, obviously, is an important regional and global democratic partner of the United States, and the two countries have a shared commitment to democratic principles.

The President is also looking forward to his visit to Panama, a strategic partner of the United States. We share with the Panamanians the goal of creating a hemisphere that is democratic, secure and prosperous.

Let me outline briefly the President's schedule, and then I'll be happy to take some questions. As I noted earlier, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Washington tomorrow, Thursday, November 3rd, for Mar del Plata, Argentina.

On Friday, November 4, the President will meet in the morning with the leaders of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The leaders will discuss the recently approved Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

The President will then meet with the host of the Summit of the Americas, President Kirchner of Argentina. The two Presidents will participate in a joint press availability after the meeting. On the conclusion of the press availability, the President will then meet jointly with the leaders of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. And that will be followed by a bilateral meeting with President Lagos of Chile.

On Friday afternoon, the President will participate in the opening ceremony of the summit, followed by a group photo and the first plenary session. That evening, the President and Mrs. Bush will join other summit leaders for a formal dinner.

On Saturday, November 5, the President will begin the day by participating in the 2nd and 3rd plenary sessions, followed by a closing ceremony and lunch for the heads of state and government.

After lunch, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Argentina for Brasilia, Brazil.

On Sunday, November 6, the President will have breakfast with Brazilian business leaders, followed by a roundtable with young Brazilian leaders from a variety of walks of life. The President will then meet and have lunch with President Lula. After lunch, the President will deliver remarks at the Blue Tree Park Hotel. His remarks will focus on democracy and its link to economic growth.

After his remarks, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Brazil for Panama City, Panama.

On Monday, November 7, the President will begin by meeting with President Torrijos. After their meeting, both Presidents will participate in a joint press availability. Later in the morning, the President and Mrs. Bush will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Corozal American Cemetery. There are nearly 5,200 people interred at that cemetery, individuals who served either in the U.S. Armed Forces or contributed to the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Panama Canal.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the President and Mrs. Bush will tour the Miraflores Locks, the first set of locks on the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. The President will then participate in a roundtable on Panama's future, followed by lunch with President Torrijos. Prior to departure, the President will join Panamanian youths to talk a little baseball.

The President and Mrs. Bush will depart Panama on Monday morning, arriving back at the White House that evening. If the schedule changes, we will, obviously, notify you through the press office. And I'd be pleased to take any questions.

Steve, please.

Q What's the U.S. position on Hugo Chavez using oil revenues to make friends in the region, while at the same time talking about having a nuclear reactor built in his country?

MR. HADLEY: Well, he's raised the issue of the nuclear reactor in a number of different forms and with a number of different countries. So far he hasn't done very well in terms of getting any takers, and I think that's because people recognize that it would be problematic for Chavez to be in the nuclear business, if you will.

In terms of his efforts to gain favor and support by using his oil revenues, he's made a number of different proposals. So far they haven't gotten a lot of traction. There are a lot of business and technical reasons for that. I think the thing that's important, though, is to look at what is going on within his country. And one of the concerns we have is both economically what is happening to Venezuela, which at a time of record high oil prices, one would expect to see a lot of progress against poverty and a lot of increased prosperity. We're not seeing that. We're actually seeing some deterioration in the economy. And also, of course, we're concerned about what Chavez is -- the status of democracy within his country. So we have -- we, obviously, have these concerns.

Q Why is his economy deteriorating like that?

MR. HADLEY: That's a good question, and it has to do in some sense by his own stewardship, his attitude towards foreign investment, his attitude towards private property. There's obviously been some confiscation of property and the like. But, look, this -- I think the thing I want to say is this trip, this summit is not about Hugo Chavez. I mean, you ask me these questions -- we've had some longstanding concerns about the policy for his government. This is not new news.

The purpose of the summit is for democratically elected leaders to get together and reaffirm the fact that there is really a shared vision for the hemisphere that is based on democracy and free markets and free trade as the best way to get the benefits of those principles down to enhance the prosperity and the livelihoods of the people of the hemisphere.

There's a common commitment to those principles, and the message the President will bring is there's time to convert that commitment into concrete action, to take the kinds of steps that will enhance the well-being of the hemisphere, and that is good government, fighting corruption, investing in people in terms of education and health care, and then using the power of free markets, free trade and private investment to really enhance prosperity.

That's the focus of this trip; that's the focus of this summit. It's, for the President, an opportunity to engage with the hemisphere and reaffirm the common commitment to that vision. And that's why the President is going, and that's what he hopes to accomplish while he's there.

Q Can I ask you a quick one on another subject? Why does the administration feel it's necessary to maintain a network of secret detention centers around the world, out of sight of the Congress and the American people, and out of reach of American law and values?

MR. HADLEY: There have been some press reports this morning that have touched on that subject. And as you can appreciate, they raise some issues about possible intelligence operations. And as you know, we don't talk about intelligence operations from this podium.

Q Don't they also raise issue of our values and our reputation in the world?

MR. HADLEY: Right, and I think the President has been pretty clear on that, that while we have to do what we -- do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorists attacks and to win the war on terror, the President has been very clear that we're going to do that in a way that is consistent with our values. And that is why he's been very clear that the United States will not torture. The United States will conduct its activities in compliance with law and international obligations.

And in some of the issues involving detainees and the like, as you know, where there have been allegations that people have not met the standard the President has set, there have been investigations, and they have been of two forms. There are over a dozen investigations that have been done in the Department of Defense to find out what has been going on. Two things have happened as a result. There have been revisions of procedures and practices to ensure that the standard the President set is met; and then there have been investigations, prosecutions, and people punished for the failure to meet those standards. So we think that, consistent with the President's guidance, we are both protecting the country against the terrorists and doing it in a way that is consistent with our values and principles.

Q If I could just press you on that, how do those self-correcting mechanisms that affirm our values and our laws, how do they work if the sites are secret to begin with?

MR. HADLEY: Well, the fact that they are secret, assuming there are such sites, does not mean that simply because something is -- and some people say that the test of your principles are what you do when no one is looking. And the President has insisted that whether it is in the public, or is in the private, the same principles will apply, and the same principles will be respected. And to the extent people do not meet up, measure up to those principles, there will be accountability and responsibility.

Q Can we go back to what you were talking about with a nuclear reactor in Venezuela? You said it might be problematic. That wasn't what the President said yesterday. In fact, he said, maybe it makes sense to have a nuclear reactor there. Can you expand a little bit on why that might be problematic, and why the President didn't bring those concerns up yesterday?

MR. HADLEY: I didn't hear it the same way you did. I mean, look, this is something that President Chavez has pursued with a number of his neighbors. It's not a matter of -- he hasn't asked us for it. Obviously, our view, of course, has been well-expressed, and it's not particular to Chavez, that nuclear power is a very useful way, in a way that is economically sound and environmentally sound, to deal with energy challenges. That's the position of the administration; that's the position of the President.

Obviously, there are also proliferation risks associated with nuclear power. That's one of the things we have concerns about with respect to the Iranian program. And we would expect that any kind of nuclear power program, for any country, would be done in such a way to respect those proliferation concerns. That's all I was trying to say. That's the framework in which we view.

Nuclear power programs, peaceful nuclear power programs, are something in which the President obviously has been very clear and he supports. On the other hand, we are also very clear on the issue of proliferation, that we want to make sure that nuclear power is handled in a responsible way and does not contribute to concerns about proliferation and ultimate nuclear weapons. That's the framework in which we look at it, and that's the framework we would hope other people look at it.

In terms of Chavez approaching his neighbors, that's obviously an issue that -- with he and his neighbors. It is interesting that while there have been press reports, it is an issue that is still in debate and there's been some concern.

Q But can I follow up on something he also said yesterday?

MR. HADLEY: Sure.

Q He said that -- he acknowledged that the FTAA has stalled. And I'm wondering if you consider that it's completely dead, or if there will be efforts to revive it in Argentina?

MR. HADLEY: It's still something we'll work on. Obviously, it has not moved as quickly as we would have liked. And that's one of the things the President will talk with President Lula, because the United States and Brazil, in some sense, are co-leading that effort.

But I think the point the President made, which is the right one, is, we have a bold free trade agenda, and it's something we pursue on a bilateral basis, on a regional basis, and in terms of a global basis. And we pursue all three of those at once. Obviously, we would like to move forward on the FTAA. It has not moved as quickly as we would like. And the President was pointing out there, of course, is another opportunity which also ought to be a priority, and will be a priority in the President's conversations with President Lula and the other leaders, which is the opportunity at the end of 2006 to conclude the Doha Round.

The President has made some bold proposals in the area of eliminating agricultural tariffs and trade-distorting subsidies. He's challenged the Europeans to join us in that effort, because if we can make progress on the agricultural issues, then we can go to other countries and say, we need, now, progress and freer trade in terms of services and non-agricultural industrial products. And the result of that will be greater trade, not only among the parties to Doha, but, of course, one of the great beneficiaries will be the less developed countries who can use the opening of markets, particularly for agricultural products, to enhance their own economy.

So as I said, we're -- the President has a bold free trade agenda. We pursue it bilaterally, regionally, and on international basis. And Doha is an important opportunity, and the President will be talking to people about it during this trip.

Q Follow-up.

MR. HADLEY: Can we limit it to one follow-up? Because I want to try and get -- I'd like to get through everybody if I could. It would be a first, but -- sir.

Q On September 9th, 2002, you met in Washington with Nicolo Pollari, the head of the Italian Intelligence Agency, SISMI. According to the Italian daily, La Republica, Mr. Pollari came to the meeting to discuss an alleged attempt by Iraq to purchase uranium from Niger. Is that claim false?

MR. HADLEY: We'd looked at this issue. We had both looked at our documentary record -- I have -- we have talked -- I've searched my own recollection; we have also talked to other people on the NSC staff at the time who might have a recollection of that meeting. I can tell you what that canvassing has unearthed. There was a meeting in Washington on that date. I did attend a meeting with him. It was, so far as we can tell from our records, about less than 15 minutes. It was a courtesy call. Nobody participating in that meeting or asked about that meeting has any recollection of a discussion of natural uranium, or any recollection of any documents being passed. And that's also my recollection. I have very little recollection of the meeting, but I have no recollection there was any of that discussion, or that there was any passing of documents. Nor does anybody else who may have participated in that meeting. That's where we are.

Q Can you say what you did discuss with Mr. Pollari?

MR. HADLEY: I told you I have very little recollection of the meeting, and it was in the order of a courtesy call, getting to know a person who is going to be a colleague going forward. And you can tell that from the relative briefness of the meeting. And I think what the Italian authorities have said is very consistent with what I just said.

Q This is the President's first foreign trip since your counterpart in the Vice President's office was indicted on charges stemming from the outing of a CIA agent and his alleged lying about it to federal prosecutors. I wonder if you can tell us how that impacts U.S. credibility abroad, and the ability of the administration to press its foreign policy initiatives in international fora like this summit?

MR. HADLEY: Look, the President -- sorry, let me begin again. Scooter Libby is a fine person and he has served the President and the Vice President well. There is now an indictment, and he is entitled to the benefit of the presumption of innocence.

At President, in any administration, makes foreign policy, and it's particularly true in this administration, the President makes foreign policy. And it is the President who is going on this trip, and he will be bringing his foreign policy with him and will be talking about it with countries in the region. So we who staff him are privileged to do so, but there have been staff changes before; I'm sure, in the normal course, with attrition, there will be staff changes in the future. What matters is the President's foreign policy continues to go forward, because he continues to carry it forward. And that will be the case, and that's what people will see in this upcoming summit.

Q Was there any consideration given to meeting with President Fox, a bilateral meeting? If so, why didn't that happen? And will immigration and border issues sometime, somehow, come up in the discussions on the sideline, with Mexico?

MR. HADLEY: There's a limited time on these things to do bilaterals, and a lot of considerations go into who you do a bilateral with and when -- things like when was the last time the President had an opportunity to sit down with the person; is the President going to have an opportunity in the future to sit down with the person. You sort of take all of that. Are there issues that need to be worked on a more urgent basis. You sort of put all of that in the mix, coming up with a decision about who you have a bilateral with, or not. I wouldn't put much stock in it, since it does reflect the kind of considerations I described.

The issue of immigration, obviously, is an issue that's on the minds of the President. As you know, he's been talking about some proposals he has in mind to try and strengthen the border to the south, but also to pursue some kind of temporary worker program. There's been discussions about that. But I think the focus of the summit, which is really going to drive the agenda, is this issue of jobs -- jobs, and the issue of that is the way it can alleviate poverty and advance economic well-being. And I think that's going to be the issues that are going to dominate the summit.

Argentina is the host; Argentina has taken a strong hand in forming the agenda, and we will, obviously, want to support that. And the President will make a contribution on those topics.

Q The President is going to meet with President Kirchner. Would you tell us which are the issues the President would like to discuss with him?

MR. HADLEY: Well, we'll see when the two men get together. There's a lot of staff memos saying, Mr. President, you should raise this, that, and the other, but in the end of day, these are two strong leaders and they will talk about what they want to talk about. There's a lot of talk about -- in terms of Argentina. People forget Argentina is the one non-NATO ally in the hemisphere. We do very good work with Argentina in terms of counterterrorism, counternarcotics. They are with us in the war on terror. There are a lot of issues that can be addressed. And the other course is the main focus of the summit, which will be talking about how we can work together, Argentina and the United States, to advance a common agenda of democracy, free markets, and alleviating poverty. And I think that will probably be the focus of their discussions.

Q -- free trade?

MR. HADLEY: I'm sure that will be -- the issue of trade, obviously, as I mentioned before is going to be a subject, I think, at all the stops.

Q Have you or any member of your staff met with Italian intelligence officials elsewhere, outside the White House, or at any other time, when the question of Niger and uranium was discussed? And if not, can you tell us how the fake documents came into the possession of the U.S.?

MR. HADLEY: I would, obviously, in answering a question like that, want to check records and all the rest. I can tell you my recollection. My recollection is, no, not here, not anyplace else. I asked that question on the documents to refresh my own recollection. My understanding is that they came to the State Department after the NIE of October 2002. But again, I don't want to mislead you; that's the answer I got from a staff person a few minutes ago to refresh my memory.

There is -- suffice to say they didn't come to me -- they didn't come to the NSC. And we can try and get a more precise answer. But my understanding is that they came to the State Department. They were then shared with the CIA, and I think it's pretty much in the public record as to what happened with respect to those documents.

Q Came via -- how did they come to the State Department?

MR. HADLEY: We can try and get you an answer on that. I mean, I think this is actually quite out in the public record, but let me see if we can get an answer for you on that.

Q Do you have a readout on the President's conversation with Prince Charles and whether the subject of Islam came up?

MR. HADLEY: I have not talked to the President since he had lunch with His Royal Highness, so I don't know the answer.

Q Is the President going to be carrying with him any financial packages that he might be offering to the -- at the summit that would help the economies of the countries involved?

MR. HADLEY: Well, obviously, there's ongoing assistance that we provide. I think the big focus of this, and the big opportunity to enhance prosperity in the region, of course, is the trade agenda, because, as you know, through free trade and private investments, the leverage you get in terms of economic growth and enhancing prosperity really dwarfs the impact of specific aid programs. So I think the President will focus on the big opportunity which we have to contribute to prosperity, which is advancing the trade agenda, bilaterally, regionally, and also with respect to the Doha Round, which is, as you've heard the President on this, he believes is an enormous opportunity to try and advance the well-being of the hemisphere and the globe as a whole.

Q Do you know -- President's speech on democracy -- as you know, a lot of the democracies in South America have -- they have not delivered the economic prosperity that people had hoped a decade or so ago. Is he going to address that in his speech? Is he going to acknowledge that there's been some failures here?

MR. HADLEY: I think what you'll hear him say is what the facts show, that there has been -- the commitment to these principles has resulted in fairly sustained economic growth. That's the good news, expansion of GDP and the like. But it is also the case that poverty levels in many of these countries are unacceptably high. And one of the things he will be talking about is what are the combination of policies that can ensure that these principles get translated into better -- more prosperity and welfare for the people.

And I think one of the things he will bring with him is the formula that he has developed that is reflected in the Millennium Challenge Account, that concept. That is, we kind of know what the formula is that works. It is good government, non-corrupt government, investing in people in terms of health care and education, and then being open to the power of free trade, free markets, and private investment. That's the formula that works. And one of the things he will do is to talk with his counterparts in the hemisphere about how we can take these principles and turn them into practical measures that will, in fact, not only enhance growth, but also will reduce poverty and result in a better life for the people in the hemisphere, because that's -- these are the right principles, but they need to be turned into action. And the vehicle of that are the kinds of principles and programs I mentioned.

Q Can I follow up on a leak investigation question? You worked very closely with Scooter Libby for almost five years. He vanished on Friday -- he was gone. How has that affected your job and changed what you do? I mean, you obviously worked very closely with him on foreign policy, hand-in-hand.

MR. HADLEY: He -- as I said, he's a --

Q I mean, you, specifically, the substance of what you do every day.

MR. HADLEY: I worked with Scooter very closely. He served the President well, he served the Vice President well, and I will miss him as a colleague and as a friend. He -- the Vice President has appointed David Addington to be his Chief of Staff and John Hannah to be his National Security Advisor. These are people that I have had the privilege of working with over the last four or five years -- David Addington in a prior incarnation. These are people who I know well, who are very capable at their jobs, and who will step forward and serve the Vice President in the way he needs to be served. And I look forward to working with them as colleagues.

Q I'm from Russia, so obviously I'm interested in your recent -- to Russia and the development in the cooperation with Russia. Basically to focus on the subject of this briefing, though, I may ask you whether you cooperate with the Russians in dealing with some of the -- in the Latin America? The Cubans, for instance, or maybe the Venezuelans that we've just heard references to. And also, if you could say anything about today's meeting between the Vice President and the visiting Ukranian Prime Minister, since you work so closely with the Vice President's office?

MR. HADLEY: I did not sit in on the meeting with the Vice President. I generally don't sit in on his meetings. And I have not -- members of our staff usually do -- and I have not received a report from them about how the meeting went.

We have a lot of issues with respect to Russia, issues with respect to the war on terror, and proliferation and all the rest. We have had occasion to talk about other issues with respect to the hemisphere, but those issues were not the subject of my recent trip.

Q The U.S. agenda seems to be quite different from the Latin American agenda. -- to improve relations with Latin America in the Summit of the Americas, any unofficial initiatives to improve relations with Venezuela?

MR. HADLEY: Well, I think the agenda actually is pretty well shared, in terms of the objectives -- democracy, freedom, economic prosperity, and alleviating poverty and advancing the welfare of the people of Latin America. That's a terrific agenda. And it is going to be the subject of the conversations the President has. And the President believes there's some opportunities to move that agenda forward in the way that I've described. And that's what he'll be talking to the leaders of the country about.

Q I'm sorry to bring up the unpleasant fact that the last President who went to Panama was in 1992, the first President Bush, and the meeting ended badly when there were street demonstrations. Now street demonstrations have been announced again in Panama, and in Brazil, and in Argentina. And I wonder if concern about that has been part of your planning for this trip?

MR. HADLEY: Not concern -- particularly with respect to big meetings like the Summit of the Americas, we have learned to expect that big meetings tend sometimes to attract big crowds of demonstrators. The issues vary. Sometimes it's issues about globalization, issues about large international financial institutions, and sometimes bilateral issues such as activities in Iraq. This has become a feature of the landscape. So I think it's not a surprise. And I don't think it's going to get in the way of the conversations among the leaders and the addressing of the agenda that I just described. I think the President is enthusiastic about going and about sitting down with the leaders of these countries, and working what he believes is a very bold agenda to work together to advance the cause of prosperity in the hemisphere.

MR. JONES: We have time for one last question.

MR. HADLEY: Yes, ma'am, last question.

Q Actually, I have a question about the next visit to Asia, and especially China. You know the Hong Kong Chief Executive visited the White House last week, and right now -- inaudible -- What is your comment on the political reform in Hong Kong, both in Hong Kong and mainland China?

MR. HADLEY: Well, we will have an opportunity to talk about this more going to the trip to Asia. The President, obviously, as you know, has a broad commitment to the advance of freedom and democracy, for all the reasons you've heard him say; that it is over the long-term what human beings deserve and expect, and it is the route in the end to stability and prosperity and the success of a society. Those are the principles that he's articulated. And that's a message that he's -- he takes everywhere he goes.

Thank you very much.

END 3:28 P.M. EST