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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 18, 2005
Press Briefing with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on APEC Summit Meetings
Busan, Republic of Korea
6:55 P.M. (Local)
MR. HADLEY: Good evening. I thought I might go through a little bit of the day the President had today, give you a little bit of the highlights, and then answer some -- give you a preview of tomorrow and answer whatever questions you've got.
The President had a meeting with President Putin. They talked a little bit about the state of the relationship between the two countries, noted that there's been an intensification of exchanges between the two sides. The two Presidents have met probably three times in the last six months. Secretary Rice was in Moscow; I've recently been in Moscow. So there is an intensive dialogue between representatives of the two governments and between the two Presidents, and both expressed satisfaction with that.
They talked about the need for progress on the WTO round in December at Hong Kong, and the need for a successful conclusion to the Doha process. And they talked about the challenge of Iran's pursuit of and intentions to achieve a nuclear weapon capability, and compared notes on the latest efforts to try and get Iran back into a negotiated framework in which it will reassure the world that it's not pursuing a nuclear weapons program and give up on a permanent basis enrichment and reprocessing, and how to try and achieve that.
There was some discussion about Syria and a reaffirmation of the need for Syria to -- the Syrian government to cooperate with the Mehlis investigation, and also with the importance that the Syrian government stop threatening or interfering with Lebanon.
There was some discussion about North Korea, a review of the status of the six-party talks, some sympathy expressed for the need to address human rights and the flight of the North Korean people as a part of that process. There was -- they talked about the war on terror and recent progress in the war on terror, the challenged posed by avian flu, and a little discussion about Iraq. So it was a discussion about the broad range of issues in which we are engaged with Russia.
The President then had a meeting with the members of ASEAN who are here at the APEC summit. There is a statement that was issued at the conclusion of that meeting that talks about an enhanced partnership between the United States and ASEAN, a variety of areas in which the United States will be able to cooperate with ASEAN. There was a affirmation of the importance of success in the Doha Round, which, of course, is something that is -- the World Trade Organization negotiations, and the impetus that can be given to that progress here at the APEC summit.
There was an emphasis that it is important to proceed on trade as an effort -- as an element of a more prosperous world and as an element, also, of raising people out of poverty. But it was also recognized that there are other elements that are required in order to achieve progress. We need to deal with the issue of terrorism. There was discussion about cooperation on the war on terror, progress in the war on terror, and a mutual reaffirmation of the commitment to succeed; discussion about energy security and the need to, over time, move beyond a hydrocarbon economy; cooperation -- the need for cooperation on avian flu.
There was also a discussion about Burma and expression by a number of members in the meeting of the importance that Burma move forward on the road map to democracy, which was set out some time ago -- the need for progress on that, which we have, to date, not seen.
The President made clear to those in the meeting that the United States remained engaged, and would remain engaged, in Southeast Asia; that it was an area of strategic importance to the United States. He expressed concern about the plight of various peoples in distress: the people in Pakistan struggling to recover from the earthquake, the people of Burma and North Korea.
I think what was noteworthy, of course, was the participation of Vietnam in this discussion. The President of Vietnam indicated the support of his government for the range of issues that were discussed at the meeting, and it's an indication of how far we've come in that relationship from 30 years ago.
Finally, there was a meeting that the President had with President Fox, Prime Minister Martin, and President Toledo. It was an opportunity for the four of them to review progress on seeking freer and fairer trade. They all agreed that this meeting at the APEC summit is an opportunity to advance the prospects for the Doha Round, how important that is. They restated their approach -- their support not only for progress at the global level, but also at the regional level, and the importance of, therefore, continuing to try and find a way to go forward with a free trade agreement of the Americas, as well as various bilateral negotiations.
There was, today, the first meeting of -- or what they call the first retreat of the APEC summit. There was strong support from all the speakers. The format, basically, is introductory remarks by four designated speakers -- the President was one of them -- and then an opportunity for other heads of state and government to comment. All of them did so in this first session. There was strong support for the opportunity that is presented in December in Hong Kong to move forward the Doha agenda of free and fair trade to enhance prosperity. There was a recognition that in order to achieve success, everybody needs to do its part, or their part. And for countries like the United States and Europe and Japan, it is progress in the agricultural sphere to get rid of tariffs, barriers and trade distorting subsidies, but that this progress and commitment needed to be matched among other countries for a commitment to move towards freer and fairer trade, open markets on the issue of industrial products and services, as well. So, a recognition that for success we have to be ambitious and everyone needs to do their part.
There was also recognition that prosperity was going to depend, as well, on cooperation in the fight against terror, dealing with things like avian flu and energy security. These are issues that will be addressed more tomorrow. I think it was an evidence of the success of making APEC a forum not only to talk about trade and economic issues, but also to talk about security issues -- a direction that APEC took about a year ago, and was reaffirmed today in their conversations. There was a complementarity between security and prosperity.
Tomorrow there will be a second meeting, or second retreat. The focus will be on human security. There will be an opportunity to discuss more broadly the issues of energy security, the challenge of avian flu, the challenge of dealing with disaster preparation more generally, and, of course, continuing to work on issues and initiatives associated with counterterrorism and the handling of the challenge of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There is in process a series of statements that will address these issues and will contain some initiatives on several of these areas.
There will be -- after the second retreat tomorrow, there will be a lunch among the leaders. There will be then the usual family photo opportunity, and then a leaders statement. The leaders will then get together and assemble, and President Roh, on their behalf, will present to the public the statement that reflects the deliberations and discussions that they've had.
And that's really the President's state today and what he's looking at in terms of tomorrow. And I'd be pleased to answer any questions.
Q Did you sense any level of frustration with Russia in regards to Iran's enrichment program?
MR. HADLEY: No. Russia has provided, as you know, a -- has taken the lead in a couple respects that have been very constructive. One, as you know, they are talking, and have for a number of years been talking to the Iranians about completing the Bushehr reactor, and as you know, this is not new news. They have reached an agreement with the Iranians for a number of steps that would reduce the proliferation risk that that reactor would represent, the most important of which being the take-back of fuel -- that Russia would supply the nuclear fuel that would power the reactor, and once the fuel was spent, it would be then returned to Russia.
In order to try and get -- to move forward on the getting Iran back into the negotiations and a framework whereby Iran, while retaining its right to enrichment and reprocessing, would, nonetheless, find it in its interest to give up that right in terms of its own territory, the Russians have been pursuing an interesting idea which would be to construct an enrichment facility in Russia in which Iran would have management and financial interest, but not a technical interest. And it would be then the facility which could supply reactor fuel to the Bushehr reactor. It would give Iran a sense that it would have an assured fuel supply for its civil nuclear power program, because it would have management participation and financial participation in the venture, but it would have it off-shore in Russia, rather than in Iran.
This is an interesting idea. The Iranians, probably not surprisingly, initially, have said, no, this is something that they want as a sovereignty exercise to have on their territory. We think it's an area for further conversation. So that was the focus, the things, the steps that Russia has done that have been very constructive in trying to lead Iran to a different path.
Q Perhaps I wasn't clear. I meant, did you sense any frustration on the Russians' part in their dealings with Iran? Weren't they guaranteed by Iran that they wouldn't enrich, and then they turn around a week later, started? Are the Russians getting frustrated with Iran?
MR. HADLEY: Well, you know, this has been a difficult discussion and I think there's some frustration that the EU 3 -- the UK, Germany, and France -- have in dealing with Iran right now. We certainly have some frustrations. But they were very focused on a problem-solving mode. And the Russians -- President Putin talked about Igor Ivanov, who had just been in Iran, and gave a bit of a report. You know, they -- I think the notion is, yes, it's difficult, but we're going to keep at it and they're going to keep pushing this idea.
Q And if I could, sir, while I've got your attention, just one more quick question. What can you tell us about host TV in China pulling live coverage of the President's visit? Was that in direct reaction to the speech he gave in Japan?
MR. HADLEY: I don't know what -- I'm not aware of what you just said.
Q Steve, was the administration blind-sided by the announcement today that South Korea intends to pull a third of its troops out of Iraq? And if so, what do you make of -- is this an affront to President Bush that it occurred while he's here?
MR. HADLEY: The President had a good discussion with President Roh, who made it clear he remained committed to the mission in Iraq, and that North -- that South Korea remained committed to providing troops to that mission. So they had a very good discussion about this yesterday.
And so what do we know? We know that they remain committed to the mission. We know that they need to seek here, shortly, an extension from the National Assembly in order to keep the forces there. Now, I know there have been some press reports of some comments that have come out of the Defense Ministry. I just got off the phone before coming here, and the Foreign Minister has just made a statement to the South Korean press, and he has said that -- as I understand, I'm getting the second hand -- that South Korea remains committed to the mission of trying to support the Iraqi people as they fight terror and build their democracy; that they are seeking an extension from the National Assembly so that their forces can remain in Iraq to support that mission; that they will be taking that issue to the National Assembly next week. He made clear that the issue of their force levels in Iraq would be a decision made based on the progress that Iraqi security forces are making and taking in training, and taking more responsibility for security in the evolution of the political situation there and the military requirements and the progress towards stability.
So what the Foreign Minister said just a few minutes ago puts South Korea's decisions in the same framework that we're making ours on, basically that the force levels needs to reflect a capabilities-based approach, and that that will depend on the political evolution and the security evolution.
In the debate that they have next week, I'm sure you're going to see a discussion about what should be the mission of the forces, what should be the composition of the forces, what should be the force level. We have that debate in the United States every time Congress turns to this issue. I'm sure you're going to see it next week, as well. But I think what's important is that the Foreign Minister has just gone out, made clear their commitment to the mission, clear their commitment of the government to continue troops there, and to the kind of capabilities-based assessment that we have said ought to be the framework for dealing with issues about force levels.
Q Could I just follow -- could you clarify, did President Roh actually tell President Bush in their meeting, did he give him a heads-up that this announcement was coming that they may reduce those levels, that that's what they were considering?
MR. HADLEY: I think the question is -- I don't think there's an announcement. I think what the press is reporting is some statements by Defense Ministry spokesmen about the question of force levels. So what I have, in terms of authoritative statements, is the one just made by the Foreign Minister. And what the President heard from President Roh is what you would expect. The President expressed thanks for the commitment that the South Korean people have made by keeping -- by deploying forces in Iraq, expressed his appreciation for that. And what President Roh said to the President is, we remain committed to Iraq, it's important to bring democracy to Iraq, and we will continue to provide troops to that mission.
Q But he didn't say, I may not have the votes to keep the troop strength where it is?
MR. HADLEY: Not at all. Quite the contrary. He was pretty confident that the mandate would be extended.
Q And he didn't say that he -- that the Defense Ministry would, in fact, be briefing lawmakers about a 1,000 troop reduction? He didn't give him a specific heads-up on that?
MR. HADLEY: He didn't, and I don't know what the nature of that briefing was. I mean, I know what's reported in the press. And again, when you go into one of these situations, is there a lot of discussion about missions and force levels and all the rest, and are there people doing a lot of planning? Sure. It goes on in our government, it goes on in their government. But I think what we have now is a statement of intention by the -- by this administration.
Q Steve, can I take you back to Iran for a minute? At the beginning of your briefing, you, I think, said that both men were convinced that Iran has a nuclear weapons program --
MR. HADLEY: No, I --
Q -- or at least I -- that you referred to their weapons program. Is President Putin, at this point, persuaded that Iran's ultimate goal is to build a weapons program?
MR. HADLEY: I think what I said is that the two men expressed the concern that we all have -- they have, the Russians have, the United States has, the EU 3 have -- that based on the fact that Iran had a nuclear program undisclosed for 15 years, held covertly, not disclosed to the IAEA, in violation of safeguards agreement, we all have concerns about the nuclear intentions of Iran. That's why we're in this negotiation; that's why we're talking about trying to get them out of the business of an enrichment and reprocessing capability. We all have that concern. And we also share the concern, and the two Presidents share the concern, that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is a destabilizing thing for the region.
Q On that point, Russia was among the countries that was recently briefed on the warhead information that the U.S. had. Did they indicate either in this meeting or in any other meetings you've had with them that they found this persuasive, or not?
MR. HADLEY: Well, as you know, David, as we've talked about in the past, there have been reports about that. There's obviously -- that's classified information. I don't talk about it here. One of the things I can say generally is, we've been trying to share with countries who are taking the lead on the issue of Iranian nuclear aspirations, if you will. We have shared intelligence with them because we think it's important that we all have the same data. And that's been useful to do. So I think I've got to leave it at that.
Q Did the subject didn't come up specifically enough that he indicated that whatever data you have shared with him has changed his view in any way?
MR. HADLEY: That particular subject was not discussed.
Q And one last thing, just on that point -- just finishing the loop on President Putin on this. You said that they've made this offer. And by virtue of the fact that President Putin was involved in the discussion, should we construe that if the Iranians took the offer on the table by the Russians that they would bring the enrichment out, that that would be acceptable to President Bush as a solution?
MR. HADLEY: We have talked to the Russians about this, and we have supported their proposal. It has been something that the Russians have been talking to the EU3 -- the U.K., France and Germany -- who are taking the lead in the negotiations with the Iranians. They also support it. We think it's a good avenue to explore, and we've said so.
Q Good avenue to explore --
MR. HADLEY: Good avenue to explore --
Q -- or acceptable to President Bush --
MR. HADLEY: If we didn't think it was acceptable, we probably wouldn't encourage it to be explored.
Q On the Putin meeting real quickly -- sorry -- you didn't mention the NGO issue. Can you describe what conversation there was on that?
MR. HADLEY: This is an issue with a legislation that is pending in the Duma that regulates non-government organizations. This is an issue that we have raised with the Russian government officials in the past. Secretary Rice raised it when she was in Moscow; I raised it when I was in Moscow recently. It was a subject of discussion today. And as I say, that legislation is still pending, and I'm confident it will continue to be a subject of discussion with the Russian government. That's really all I can say on it.
Q What was the President's message on it?
MR. HADLEY: That's really all I can say, Peter.
Q Why is that?
MR. HADLEY: Because it's a confidential discussion between the two leaders, and sometimes there are issues which can more be -- productively be discussed outside of public view.
Q Two -- the first is, the Iranian compromise is a good avenue to explore -- the Iranians have rejected it. What's the next step on that?
MR. HADLEY: Well, they've had a spokesman come out and reject it and insist it is a matter of sovereignty, they want this on their own territory. We think that doesn't end it, and that this will be an issue that we will return to with the Iranians, certainly now, and maybe again, as this issue unfolds going forward. So we think it remains to be a -- it remains a good idea and is a potential avenue out that respects Iranian sovereignty, and says, yes, we know you insist that you have a right to these facilities, but countries can decide that it's in their interest to take other alternative arrangements. And we hope that over time Iran will see the virtue of this approach, and it may provide a way out.
Q The second one, on Burma. The Southeast Asian leaders -- some of their aides are saying that they told the President that they agreed the situation is not great in Burma, in fact, it's bad, but they think that rather than isolation, rather than pressure, they'd like to see some constructive engagement. What is the United States' position on that?
MR. HADLEY: Well, they have -- our position is that the Burmese government ought to do what the Burmese government said it would do, by progress down the democracy road map, and that the problem is we have not seen that progress. I think the other leaders who spoke it on agreed, and they undertook in their various conversations to be speaking with the Burmese authority about it. And they suggested that other countries in the region who might have interest -- have influence with the Burmese government should pick up and make this an issue in their dialogue, as well.
Q You said you were going to look ahead to tomorrow. Let me ask, on the eve of the arrival in China, do you have any indication of any movement by China on issues like IPR?
MR. HADLEY: I don't have anything in the last 24 hours. We, of course, hope that that's one of several issues that we can make progress on, if not at the meeting, itself, then in the weeks that will follow, because, obviously, they will be subject of discussions between the two leaders.
Q Do you think that Congressman John Murtha is out of the mainstream with the Democratic Party with regard to Iraq? He is somebody I assume that you know pretty well in terms of his position on defense issues. Do you think he's out of the mainstream?
MR. HADLEY: He's a veteran, a veteran congressman, and a great leader in the Congress. On this issue, the President believes he's wrong. And it was interesting that just two days ago the Senate of the United States, in voting on the Levin amendment, had an opportunity to reject the position of deadlines or immediate pullout of troops. So we think it's the wrong position. We do not see how an immediate pullout contributes to winning the war on terror, bringing stability to Iraq, how it makes America, the United States more secure. It doesn't seem to achieve any of the objectives that we have. And so we simply believe that the Congressman is wrong on this issue.
Q Did the President have a brief meeting with the Representative of Taiwan? And if so, is the President concerned that his praise of Taiwan democracy in Kyoto would implicate his talks in Beijing with the Chinese President?
MR. HADLEY: No, and no. He did not have a meeting with the Taiwan -- any Taiwan representative, so far as I'm aware. And the President's speech was a speech about democracy and freedom, which is an agenda that he has had, and has talked about almost in every region and in every forum. And the point he was making is that the success people see in Asia, in terms of economic prosperity and stability, is a result of the commitment that was made 40, 50 years ago to democracy and freedom, and the progress of democracy and freedom in the region in that period of time, and what it has done for the people. And he went through a series of examples, and Taiwan is clearly one that has moved in the direction of democracy and freedom and greater prosperity for their people. South Korea is another, Japan is another. There are other examples. And he wanted to make the obvious point that in the way that progress -- that democracy and freedom have brought stability and peace in this region, it can do the same thing in the Middle East.
And that's one of the things that's at stake in Iraq, and why an immediate pullout of troops would jeopardize our interests. So that's -- it's a theme that I think didn't surprise the Chinese to hear the President talking about freedom and democracy.
Q Were you the administration official who talked with Bob Woodward about the identity of a CIA operative?
MR. HADLEY: I have seen press reports that -- and only press reports -- that Bob Woodward has talked about, I guess, three sources from the administration that he had. I've also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources. As you know, there is an ongoing investigation of this matter. We have all, at the White House, been instructed to cooperate with that investigation, as we are requested to do so, and to not talk about it. And that's all I can say.
Q The South Korean government wants the return of wartime -- South Korean Defense Minister has mentioned about the issue last Tuesday. Did the President discuss this issue --
MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry, I missed the first part of your question. What issue?
Q Wartime --
MR. HADLEY: Oh. That issue really did not come up, or it came up sort of inferentially in the following way. One of the things that the two Presidents noted was the range of bilateral issues that had been -- some of which of longstanding -- that have been resolved here. And a lot of those issues centered around the reposturing of U.S. forces in the Korean Peninsula, which both, taking advantage of technology and what we learned over the last 10 years, allows us to actually increase the capability of forces while moving them out of areas so they're less intrusive on the South Korean people, and sometimes easier for the men and women over here in uniform.
And they celebrated the resolution of the issue and a lot of issues associated with that. The issue of the efforts to further strengthen the U.S.-South Korean relationship, to recognize the increased capability of South Korean forces, and of South Korea to take more responsibility for its own security was talked about. And in that context, there are a number of issues that we have been engaged, discussing on. That is one; there are a number of others, as well. They're being discussed at the appropriate levels, and the two Presidents basically just noted the importance of continuing to make progress on these issues, but they didn't talk about them in any detail.
Q What did the President and Mr. Putin discuss on Iraq?
MR. HADLEY: It wasn't a -- it was not a lengthy discussion. One of the things we've been anxious to do is to get Russia to find ways to be supportive of what the Iraqis are doing, and they talked about a couple of ways that might be done. I can't talk about either of them right now from the podium. But I think they both recognize the importance of progress in Iraq. And again, we're trying to find ways in which Russia can contribute to that progress.
Q Should we expect the President tomorrow to use the Osan speech to respond in any way to Congressman Murtha or other Democratic critics of the Iraq policy?
MR. HADLEY: I think you can expect the President to pay tribute to the men and women in uniform serving in this theater and the importance that they continue to serve in helping maintain stability here. I think you can expect he will talk about Iraq, and talk about our strategy in Iraq, and the progress -- the elements of that strategy, and the progress we're making, and the importance for us to continue to remain committed to that strategy.
I think there will be -- you know, he, obviously -- the debate in the United States that we're having has sort of been commented on over here, but I think he will -- he's outside of the United States -- I think he'll probably focus on the way forward in Iraq and explaining to these men and women in uniform the way forward in Iraq and on the war on terror, and how Iraq fits into the broader framework of helping to win the war on terror.
Thanks a lot.
Q Does that mean he's dropping the -- reference that he's been pursuing for the last week?
MR. HADLEY: No. It's -- I'm just talking about the speech he's making tomorrow, outside the country, to men and women stationed in Seoul.
Q -- just drop it for tomorrow's speech, though, right?
MR. HADLEY: No. I'm trying to answer the question, which is, what do you think the focus will be of the speech? The focus I think will be of what I just said.
Q But that will still be in there, right?
MR. HADLEY: We'll see what he says tomorrow. I've said all I can say.
MR. JONES: Thank you.
END 7:27 P.M. (Local)