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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 25, 2008
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Steve Hadley on the President's Trip to Russia and Germany
James S. Brady Briefing Room
3:40 P.M. EDT
MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. How are you?
Wednesday, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for Germany, and then go to Russia for the meeting of the leaders of the G8 countries. This is the President's first trip to Germany since Chancellor Merkel has taken office. It's his third visit to Germany as President.
Chancellor Merkel will host the President in Northeast Germany, specifically in towns which are in Chancellor Merkel's electoral constituency -- that's the district that she represents in the Bundestag.
Germany and the United States are working closely together on a range of issues that include Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the WTO-Doha negotiations, Iraq, Afghanistan, and development in NATO and in the European Union. The Chancellor is providing strong, principled leadership, and the President believes she is helping to strengthen a German-American alliance committed to making this world safer, more democratic, and more prosperous.
In Russia, the President looks forward to meeting with President Putin. The United States and Russia work closely together on a range of security issues and speak candidly on topics where our interests differ. I expect the President will speak frankly, but privately with President Putin about recent trends that raise questions about Russia's commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions.
As in Russia -- also in Russia, the President will participate in the G8 leaders summit. Russia, as chair, has selected three topics that it's made the focus of this year's summit: energy security, infectious diseases, and education. There are a number of other areas that the Russians have included on the summit agenda, such as security, democracy, intellectual property protection, and trade. We expect there will be good discussion and concrete action on these and other issues.
By the time the leaders meet later this week in Russia, we expect that Iran will have responded to the offer made by the EU3 that would provide Iran with broad political, economic, and technological benefits in return for practical guarantees that Iran's nuclear program will be solely for peaceful purposes. This offer by the EU3 has the backing of Russia, China, and the United States. We hope Iran accepts the EU3 offer, which would ensure, among other things, that Iran has access to peaceful civilian nuclear power.
I will now go through the President's schedule. President and Mrs. Bush will depart Andrews Air Force Base en route to Rostock, Germany on Wednesday morning. The President will arrive late Wednesday evening, and overnight in the town of Heiligendamm, on the Baltic Sea. There will be no official program that evening for the President or Mrs. Bush.
On Thursday, July 13, the President will participate in an arrival ceremony with Chancellor Merkel in the Old Market Square in the town of Stralsund. He will then greet representatives of the local community, who are also some of the Chancellor's constituents. Following the greeting, the President will meet and have a working lunch with Chancellor Merkel. The two leaders will also hold a joint press availability. After lunch, the President, Mrs. Bush, and Chancellor Merkel will visit St. Nicholas Church, a landmark to Northeast Germany's contribution to German culture and heritage. All the above events will be in Stralsund, Germany.
That evening, the President and Mrs. Bush will travel to Trinwillershagen for a casual social dinner hosted by Chancellor Merkel. Trinwillershagen served as a model agricultural cooperative for the former East-German government and demonstrates what life was like under communism. The dinner will also take place in the restaurant where the Chancellor was renominated for her seat in the Bundestag in June of 2005. During the dinner, the President will have an opportunity to visit with some of Chancellor Merkel's local constituents while enjoying German barbecue.
Friday, July 14, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart Germany en route to St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon arrival in Russia, the President will visit the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad. This monument commemorates those who defended Leningrad during the 900-day siege by the Nazis in World War II. Later, the President will meet with civil society leaders from across Russia. These leaders work every day to promote freedom, democracy and human rights, and to improve health by combating infectious disease in Russia.
That evening the President and Mrs. Bush will attend a social dinner hosted by President Putin and Mrs. Putin in Strelna, Russia.
Saturday, July 15, the President will meet with President Putin and the two leaders will also have a working lunch. That evening the President and Mrs. Bush will attend a social dinner with other leaders of the G8 nations.
Sunday, July 16th, the working sessions of the G8 begin. The morning will consist of the first G8 working session, followed by a meeting with Junior G8 delegates. These are a group of young people who represent each G8 country and who will be in St. Petersburg, holding their own summit. The leaders will then have a working lunch. That afternoon, the second G8 working session will be held, followed by the official G8 photograph. That evening the leaders participate in the G8 working dinner.
Monday, July 17, the President participates in a meeting, a working lunch, and a photograph with G8 leaders and other invited leaders. The invited leaders are expected to include President Lula DaSilva of Brazil, President Hu of China, Prime Minister Singh of India, President Fox of Mexico, and President Mbeki of South Africa. The President has met at least once before with each of these leaders.
Several heads of international organizations have also been invited. Those expected to attend Monday's meetings are the following: President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, as the chairman of the Council of the Heads of State of the Commonwealth and Independent States, or CIS; President Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, who is the chairman of the African Union; United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; the executive director of the International Energy Agency, or IEA, Claude Mandil; and the IAEA, or the International Atomic Energy Agency, director general, Mr. ElBaradei. Finally, the acting director general of the World Health Organization, Anders Nordstrom, has been invited, as has UNESCO director general Matsura.
Following the conclusion of G8 events, the President will participate in an embassy greeting in St. Petersburg, and then depart Russia en route Andrews Air Force Base.
With that, I'll be glad to take any questions.
Q What's your thinking behind the United States intending to send spent-fuel to Russia? And what meeting do you expect the two leaders to sign that agreement?
MR. HADLEY: What was decided actually some weeks ago was that we would begin negotiation of what's called a Section 1, 2, 3 agreement, which is Section, 1, 2, 3 of the Atomic Energy Act. This is an agreement that is required in order to do civil -- substantial civil nuclear energy cooperation with any country. We have over 20 of these agreements with countries, including China, Japan, European Union, South Africa, South Korea.
So what we've agreed to do is initiate negotiations of the agreement. It will take months to do. The agreement would facilitate Russian participation in things like the Global Nuclear Energy Project and the so-called Gen IV Initiative, to develop the next generation of civil nuclear power reactors.
So it's a framework that once it is negotiated, goes through the Congress, would participate -- would facilitate civil nuclear cooperation. So, Terry, we're at the very early stages of this. We basically just decided some weeks ago that we would enter into negotiations. It's going to take a fair amount of time, and again, the agreement would have to go to the Congress.
The issue of whether part of that agreement would involve cooperation and facilitation of spent-fuel being stored in Russia, that's an idea, as you know, that's been around for over a decade. It's something that we'll have to talk about, because in order to do that, there would have to be all kinds of technical details and safeguards worked out, and we have not made a decision to do that. We've made a decision to open negotiations on a range of cooperation, and the agreement that would be required if we're going to engage in that cooperation. That's really all we've done.
Q You said the President will speak frankly, but privately with President Putin about democracy and so forth -- why the decision to make it privately? Why not say it openly?
MR. HADLEY: Well, we have talked openly about it. I just did here. But I think one of the things you've heard the President say is that he has a good relationship with President Putin, and one of the reasons he does is because he thinks it is important for him to be able to sit down privately with President Putin and speak his mind, and for President Putin to feel comfortable to do the same. And he believes that is a prerequisite if we're going to have frank discussions about hard issues.
We have talked about the democracy issue publicly, but again, the President's view is in the details, generally, frank, but private discussions are a more effective way of dealing with these kinds of issues.
Q Is it a case where you need Russian help on North Korea and Iran, for instance, so you won't be as vocal on some of the other concerns?
MR. HADLEY: No. As the President said publicly several times, our approach to Russia is we have areas where it's in our common interest to cooperate, not just in the United States' interest, but in the Russian interest to cooperate. We cooperate in those areas where it's in our mutual interest, and we're very frank about those areas in which we disagree, and try, if we can, to find common ground in those areas, but are very frank. And that also goes both ways.
Q In anticipation of the G8 I've read a couple of articles that characterize U.S.-Russia relations as the worst they've been in several years. How do you characterize U.S.-Russia relations right now? Are they the worst they've been in several years?
MR. HADLEY: No. I think it's really -- I would characterize them the way I just did. We are cooperating on some very important issues, important to Russia, important to the United States: Iran, North Korea, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation. We've talked about opportunities for cooperation in energy security, and particularly developing nuclear energy that would be environmentally sound and secure and help particularly developing countries meet their energy needs. So we have a wide array of things on which we cooperate with Russia because it is in our mutual interest to do so. That said, we also have areas in which we disagree. And we have different points of view. And the President has been very clear that we have an ongoing, intensive dialogue on those issues.
So I think it's -- look, Russia is an important player in Europe. It's an important country in the world. And it is important that we engage on these issues in the way I described, cooperating in areas where we can and being clear where we disagree. And that's the kind of businesslike relationship you'd expect.
Q In your opinion, has Russia been backsliding on democracy?
MR. HADLEY: I would put it this way: What we would like to see is a greater effort by Russians -- they're going to have to decide to make these commitments and do these things, to build the institutions that we all understand to be characteristic of a stable democracy. They are things such as a free and independent judiciary, an independent legislature, modern democratic political parties, a free press, a vibrant civil society. This is the pattern of institutions that provide checks and balances on the center -- both at the federal level, between the federal and the local level, and between government and the private sector. That's what we've learned from our historical experiences, the best way to safeguard democracy. We would hope Russia would make the same conclusion and build some of these institutions.
They have, in the run-up to the G8, had a number of meetings with NGO organizations engaged in a range of activities in Russia. We think that's a good thing. There have been a number of meetings that they have had with the media. What we would like to see is this institution-building effort that I described, and that's one of the reasons, for example, to encourage this process, that the President has met with civil society activists when he was in Moscow in May of 2005, and he will be meeting with civil society activists when he's in St. Petersburg later this week.
Q This is on the topic of North Korea, the topic of the G8 summit. Today, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe, said that the country should consider whether its constitution will allow preemptive military strikes. I wonder if I could get your thoughts on that, and whether that's more about Japanese internal politics, or whether Japan, perhaps, is moving towards an effort to -- preemptive strikes against North Korea?
MR. HADLEY: Japan, obviously, was concerned about the ballistic missile launches here over the last week or so. You may remember there was a launch in 1998 of a Taepodong-1, which overflew Japanese territory. A number of these missiles came down in the Sea of Japan. Obviously, Japan has a security concern.
What it shows, I think, is that the situation in Northeast Asia needs resolution. We need to get -- we need to know where we are with respect to North Korea. What does that mean? It's the reason why we announced that we are not -- why the Japanese announced this morning that they are not pushing for, at this point, a vote on the Chapter VII Security Council resolution that has been tabled and put, as they say, in blue, ready for vote, in New York.
And the reason is because the Chinese have indicated that they have a delegation going to North Korea, and they want to test whether, in light of the reaction of the international community to North Korea's failure to come back to the six-party talks on the nuclear issue and its launch of these ballistic missiles, in the face of widespread concern by the international community, whether North Korea is prepared to take three steps: to return to the moratorium on ballistic missile testing; to come back to the six-party talks; but -- even more important -- to come back to the six-party talks with a commitment to implement the September 17th* joint statement, which was worked out in the six-party talks in September of 2005.
Why is that important? Because that joint -- in that joint statement, North Korea committed to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. And the other countries committed to a series of economic and security of other measures that provided a framework for going forward and providing a diplomatic solution to this problem. We need to know if North Korea is prepared to come back and re-engage in the diplomacy.
The Chinese have asked for some time to have this delegation go to Pyongyang and see if they can get affirmative answers to those questions. We think it's a good idea because we think the events of the last two weeks have shown that the issues need to be addressed.
Q The President said diplomacy takes time, but do you see some resolution before the G8 summit at the end of next week?
MR. HADLEY: We don't know. We think -- over the next several days, we're going to learn a lot. We're going to get some indication for what this delegation is going to learn. We don't have any particular deadline. We're going to monitor it every day and see what we learn. And we think, over the next few days or so, we'll get some clarification as to where we're headed.
Q The President talks about democracy at every turn, and the G8 is supposed to be a summit of the world's most powerful democracies. Why then is it sufficient for the President to talk only privately to President Putin about his concerns, when not so long ago, the Vice President did say Russia is backsliding, did say, they have blackmailed, and he made that clear that that is the view of the U.S. government, not only his own views. So why then is it okay for the President to only say that privately?
MR. HADLEY: I didn't say "only." I said "frankly, but privately." The point is he was talking about democracy today. What I wanted to make clear was it will be on the agenda for the private conversation between the President and President Putin. And as I said, the President feels that that is probably where he can be most effective in that discussion.
Again, I was talking heavily about democracy in Russia. Democracy is one of the issues talked about in the G8. And one of the things I think you will see is that in a number of the statements that come out dealing with issues, whether it's education or energy security, you will see, I think -- or the health issues -- you will see an approach to the issues that reflects what I would call democratic principles -- approaches based on transparency; on market solutions; on anti-corruption on stable, legal, and regulatory frameworks, and the like.
So I think what you're going to see is there will obviously be some discussion of democracy among the G8 and the work they can do to advance the cause of democracy. You know, for example, the G8 was very active in supporting of the Middle East Democracy Initiative.
Q -- Mr. Putin, do you think he will make any statement while on Russian soil that will be heard publicly?
MR. HADLEY: We'll see. It is interesting that he's meeting with civil society groups, a number of which have, as part of their objectives, the various kinds of principles I just described. So I think it will be very clear that our President believes strongly in democracy and, through what happens in the G8 and the events of his own program, I think will make that clear. And as I said, I expect that as they have in the past, he and President Putin will talk about that issue.
Q The Russians have laid out a somewhat explicit economic quid pro quo where they've linked U.S. approval of them joining the WTO to American firms being chosen for the Stockman gas project with Gazprom. Do you expect --
MR. HADLEY: Who has linked that?
Q Igor Shuvalov has done that publicly on two occasions, including a call a couple of days ago. Do you expect there to be a deal with the U.S. approval of them joining the WTO during the course of the summit? And do you expect an announcement of U.S. firms being allowed into the Stockman project also over the course of the summit?
MR. HADLEY: I can't comment on the linkage you talked about that the Russians are making. I can tell you where we are, which is that we have made a real effort to conclude the bilateral U.S.-Russia arrangement with respect to the WTO and Russian entry in the WTO. As you know, it then goes to an ongoing multilateral discussion, so there are more steps to go. But, obviously, concluding the bilateral U.S.-Russia agreement would be an important thing.
We are making an effort to do that, and have for several weeks now -- to try to do it in advance of the President being in St. Petersburg. Our trade negotiator, Ambassador Susan Schwab, is going to be going out here in the next couple days to see if we can close the deal. And we really don't know. Both sides have made movement. We think it's possible, but it's going to take a big effort, and particularly it's going to take further movement on the Russian side. So we're going to try, and I don't really have a prediction. It would be a good thing if we could do it.
Q Iran is widely expected not to be ready to give a final answer to the Europeans in time for the upcoming deadline. If this, indeed, happens -- I think over the weekend they said they need -- if this happens, would Secretary Rice be gearing up to move this to the U.N. Security Council when she meets with her counterparts in Paris on Wednesday? Or will they move --
MR. HADLEY: We've heard a number of statements out of Iranian officials about when they will be ready for an answer. We won't really know until we hear on Wednesday what kind of answer we get. One of the reasons why the meeting of the so-called P5 plus one foreign ministers is scheduled the next day in Paris is so that the foreign ministers can evaluate the Iranian response and see whether it is enough to move towards negotiations, or whether we need to reopen a process at the Security Council. And we'll have to see. It will depend really on the Iranian response. But we're in a position through that meeting for the foreign ministers to, if you will, make an initial determination. And then, of course, the leaders of heads of state and government for the G8 countries will be in a position to look at the issue later in the week.
Q Also, in the last couple of weeks, we've heard some tough rhetoric from some of the administration's biggest supporters, saying that the administration essentially has gone soft on its foreign policy in relation to Iran and North Korea. What do you say to that? How do you respond to that?
MR. HADLEY: Well, we'll see. Both of them have been in the Security Council with some pretty tough resolutions, and I think both of them are coming to the point where we will have some sense of the way ahead. So I would say that we have pursued a diplomatic approach. We have gotten a whole range of countries with influence on Iran and North Korea respectively to take a common position. We, I think, have had some pretty good success making these international issues where the international community is expressing its views both to Iran and North Korea. But in the end of the day, what we're going to need to see is the response of North Korea, whether it's willing to come back and try to -- and implement a joint statement that the North Koreans have already agreed to, and whether the Iranians are prepared to take a very generous offer from the EU3 and the prospect that if they suspend their enrichment program, we would join the negotiations. We'll have to see. I think the diplomacy has set it up well. We'll have to see what these countries decide.
Q Regarding WTO, you said that you're going to need more movement from the Russian side. Can you elaborate?
MR. HADLEY: I don't want to get into the details. There's been a list of issues. And I also want to salute both our negotiators and the Russian negotiators. There has been considerable progress over the last several weeks. There are several issues remaining, including two that are pretty tough. And it's going to take some movement in order to get there. And I really don't want to get into the details of the negotiations.
Q You can't name the issues?
MR. HADLEY: I don't want to do that. I want -- I don't want to do anything that might arguably prejudice our ability to get an agreement.
Q Can you say, in connection with that, why we haven't had a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia when we've had one with China? What has been the problem why we've not been able --
MR. HADLEY: One of the concerns that has been, really for almost a decade, has been Russian policy on Iran's nuclear program. And you may remember, at the early -- early in the administration, Russia was pursuing constructing Bushehr nuclear -- completing the Bushehr civil nuclear power reactor, and talking about additional reactor construction, without, really, any regard towards what we thought were the serious proliferation concerns. Since that time, Russia has adopted a regime with respect to those -- construction, which requires a number of very good proliferation safeguards, including that fuel supply to the reactor would have to be taken back to Russia.
Russia has come on board with the rest of the, as we call them, the P5 plus one -- the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany -- to endorse the common approach we have to Iran. And, finally, they made a very helpful and creative idea of suggesting an enrichment facility in Russia, in which Iran could participate from a management and financial, but not a technical standpoint, that would provide nuclear fuel to Russian -- to Iranian civil nuclear power programs.
These were helpful and constructive suggestions that put Russia pretty much on the same page with us on Iran, and eliminated a major barrier to being able to start these negotiations. On the other hand, we have also made it very clear to Russia that if those negotiations are going to be successfully concluded, and if an agreement is going to pass muster with the Congress, we will have to continue to be knit up on Iran, it's such an important issue.
Q Steve, a number of Russian critics have suggested it doesn't belong in the G8 -- it's not democratic enough, its economy is nowhere near G8 standards, there are bigger democracies, like India. What do you guys think? Does it belong there?
MR. HADLEY: Well, whether -- I guess what I would say is, there is a G8 meeting being chaired by Russia, to which the President is leaving on Wednesday. As we said, there are a lot of things that we have to talk about, one of which will be democracy; one of which will be energy security, for example. And those will be forums to try and address some of these issues, and some of the reasons critics give as to why, in their view, Russia should not be part of the G8.
Again, I've talked about our hopes for Russia, in terms of institutional structures to democracy, a set of principles that are market-based, transparent, that would govern energy security and would address some of the concerns that were raised here several months ago in connection with Russian supplies of gas to Ukraine and beyond. So these are issues -- the G8 forum gives us an opportunity to work these issues with Russia. But I think we've been very clear about some of the concerns that people have talked about publicly, and that we share those concerns.
Q The President has talked previously about dealing with issues of democracy privately with President Putin. Most of the Russia people we've talked to this week and human rights officials both say that the backsliding has continued; the situation is worse, not better. So, clearly, whatever he's saying privately doesn't seem to have much effect on Vladimir Putin, whatsoever. Is his approach to this being tempered somewhat by the extent to which we need Russia's help in negotiations with Iran, and also with North Korea, and also because of Russia's abundant supply of energy resources?
MR. HADLEY: No. We have -- and he has not felt at all constrained in talking frankly with Russia about -- with President Putin or anybody else about -- let me start again. The President has not felt constrained about talking to President Putin about democracy or any other issues where we don't see eye-to-eye because of the cooperation we have with him on other issues. And that is because the cooperation is not a favor Russia is doing for the United States; the cooperation is because it is in our mutual interests to pursue a common agenda in things like counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation. So there's no sense in which he has been constrained.
Can you give me the other part of your question?
Q I think you covered it --
MR. HADLEY: Okay, thank you.
Q What other bilateral meetings will he be having in Russia outside President Putin? Other world leaders --
MR. HADLEY: We are working that now, and it's a function, heavily, of availabilities, because the President is getting there a little earlier than some of the other leaders, and once people get in, the G8 agenda schedule is pretty packed. So we are working for a set of bilaterals. We don't yet know what we're able to do. When we are able to, we will notify you, Stretch -- I'm going to call you Stretch, because that's what the President does, if that's all right. (Laughter.)
Let me say one other thing. The President, when he meets with these Russian civil society leaders, he is very candid about his approach to President Putin. And one of the questions he asks them is, I think it's useful for me -- he says, I think it's useful for me to maintain a good personal relationship with Vladmir Putin so I can talk candidly about some of the issues you're raising with me -- do you agree with that? And I've heard him do it when he was there in May of '05. My guess is he will do it again. And what they tell us is, yes, it's important that you retain that relationship, but it is also important that you raise these issues with him.
I would also say that it is not just -- the United States is not the only country that has an interest in a democratic Russia. Russians, first and foremost, have an interest in a democratic Russia. But other European states do, as well. And one of the things I think we think is that too many times people look to the President to carry that water, when, in fact, other leaders need to be doing the same thing, because it's a classic case, the more a world leader hears from others the same message, the more persuasive it's likely to be.
That's all I've got. Thank you very much.
END 4:15 P.M. EDT
* CORRECTION: September 19th