print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
  
In Focus
News
News by Date
Appointments
Federal Facts
West Wing

Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 25, 2006

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

Play Video  Video (Real)
RSS Feed  Press Briefings
Play Audio  Audio

3:47 P.M. EDT

MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. I thought I'd try and talk a little bit about the visit today and what was accomplished, a little bit about the format, little color, little bit about what was accomplished. And then I'd be pleased to take any questions folks have.

It was a very good visit. The President, of course, had met Prime Minister Maliki in his visit to Baghdad. That was obviously a fairly short visit. This was an opportunity for the two men to sit down in a more relaxed setting and talk about the way forward in Iraq.

The two leaders started out with a one-on-one meeting. They then expanded it to a larger group. It went about 90 minutes. There was then the press availability, and then there was about an hour or so at lunch.

The one-on-one meeting was supposed to go 30 minutes; it went about an hour and 10 minutes, just the two ministers -- the President and the Prime Minister and a translator. And it was a very businesslike session. These are two men who, I think, see in each other someone who is aware of the challenges they face, are willing to set some priorities, and clearly want to see some action and some progress, some results from the initiatives that are being adopted.

The Prime Minister had an opportunity to outline his plan, going forward in Iraq, and the President made clear that he supported that plan, as he talked about publicly. I think the two men established a very good working personal relationship, clear the challenges before them, very resolute and committed to overcoming them, and sharing a real confidence that they can and will be overcome, and pledging to work together to do that. So I think it was a good session where the two really established the kind of working relationship that you'd want them to have.

There was a lot accomplished at this meeting. It's summarized in a fact sheet. You also heard the President and the Prime Minister talk a bit about it during the press availability. The things I would emphasize would be, obviously, Baghdad security, the priority the Prime Minister gives to enhancing security in Baghdad. The Prime Minister has been working with his Minister of Interior, Minister of Defense, and General Casey to develop a plan to go, as the Prime Minister said, into a second phase on the Baghdad security program. It will involve going much more on a neighborhood-to-neighborhood approach, going into a neighborhood, securing it, getting Iraqi security forces in place, working with the locals in the neighborhood to identify those who are purveyors of violence so that the security forces can go after those people, and then going neighborhood-to-neighborhood and expanding the control within Baghdad.

It's going to require some additional forces -- some additional U.S. forces, some additional Iraqi forces. And the Prime Minister is working with those two ministers and General Casey to identify just exactly what forces will be required to do that. But it's clearly a commitment that the Prime Minister has, and, of course, a commitment that the President has.

Separate from that, there was some discussion about strengthening the Iraqi security forces. That is in terms of equipment, mobility, protection -- that's an equipping issue. There's also a desire to strengthen the police forces, the national police and the local police, deal with some of the concerns about infiltration by various groups that have been talked about and that need to be addressed.

A lot of that will be done in the framework of what was announced today, this joint committee to achieve Iraqi self-reliance. This is to try and chart the way forward so that Iraqis can take more responsibility for security. That really goes, as you know, in two steps: Iraqi security forces first taking responsibility in an area for security with coalition forces very much in support; and then, finally, handing over control of those forces to the local political structures, the provincial leadership, for example -- something that was done in Muthanna province, that the Prime Minister talked about, and hopefully will be done in other provinces in the months ahead.

There was discussion, of course, about the international compact. I think you heard the Prime Minister is a strong supporter of that compact. The President undertook to go to other countries and encourage international support and participation in the compact. There was the talk about the young leaders program, to try and help train the next generation of Iraqi leadership through a fairly important exchange program with Iraqi youth. That was very much the substance of the conversation that the two men had.

At lunch the two leaders began with opening statements, and then the Prime Minister decided to turn the floor over to each of his ministers in turn, so they could report to the President the kinds of progress and plans that they had. As you remember, the President had an opportunity to meet a number of these ministers in Baghdad. They spoke to him at that time of their aspirations, and they had an opportunity to indicate some of the progress they have made.

The Oil Minister indicated that oil production is up; it's now about 2.5 million barrels a day. He believes that that will continue to increase through the end of the year. He talked about the additional steps that are being taken with Iraqi security forces to protect the pipeline, which is important for getting oil up to the north for export out of the north. He talked about the need, down the road, to upgrade Iraqi refining capacity, first by upgrading existing facilities, and at some point building additional capacity so that Iraq does not need to import refined products, but can make refined products in Iraq itself, and, therefore, cut down on the budget that is required otherwise to import.

The Electricity Minister talked about the increase in electricity production, which is now over 5,000 megawatts. They believe that will continue to go up. Obviously, security continues to be a challenge with respect to the electricity grid, and he talked a little bit about how they are dealing with those challenges.

There is also, again, an investment requirement here. One of the things that both ministers talked about is the need for greater investment in the infrastructure. And in the subsequent discussions with the Trade Minister and the Planning Minister, they emphasized the importance of foreign investment, of privatization and other tools that they will need to try and get a handle on these problems.

They talked -- the Minister for Human Rights talked about the situation and the challenges in Iraq today. The President had had an opportunity to hear from her in Baghdad. It was a follow-on conversation. As I say, it went about an hour and a very good opportunity to do a little back and forth.

As you know, U.S. Cabinet Secretaries are now beginning to go to Iraq and beginning an exchange with their counterparts. Commerce Secretary Gutierrez was recently in Iraq dealing with his counterparts. He's reported back to the President. Secretary Bodman was recently in Iraq, and, in turn, was able to entertain the Energy Minister here. So we are now beginning U.S. Cabinet Secretaries-to-Iraqi ministers to engage directly and see how we can support the plans that the Iraqi ministers have adopted.

And I think that's all I wanted to cover in terms of an opening statement. And I'd be happy to have any questions.

Q Steve, can you give us a ballpark figure on how many more troops we're looking at, U.S. troops going into Baghdad? I heard a couple thousand. Is there, like I said, a ballpark figure?

MR. HADLEY: There is some discussion about that. My understanding it's ongoing. I've heard some discussions of those numbers. I think it's something that is still being looked at. And the answer is, I think we don't know at this point.

Q Is it hundreds or thousands or dozens --

MR. HADLEY: I think we're going to let Ambassador -- Prime Minister Maliki deal with his ministers, deal with General Casey. And when he's ready and comfortable that there's a plan that will work, I think we're going to let him announce what those movements will be.

Q Will the overall number of American forces in Iraq be increased as a result, do you think?

MR. HADLEY: I think you heard from the President's statement today, what they're talking about is repositioning of forces in a way that more reflects the situation on the ground. Obviously, there's a security challenge in Baghdad that is a priority for the Prime Minister and the President. And I think what you're going to see is repositioning of forces to that particular requirement.

Q One final thought. You mentioned equipment. Is this something that's going to require a supplemental or something, or emergency bill to Congress? Or is there money to pay for all this equipment? And what kind of equipment are we talking --

MR. HADLEY: Obviously that depends on, once they decide what kind of equipment, what numbers, what requirements, when you get that definitized, then you can deal with the issue of funding.

There's obviously money in the U.S. appropriations for security. Also, as you know, this is a country that is exporting oil and it has its own money for making the kinds of investments it's going to need to have a brighter future.

Q The U.S. could not have a newer ally in that region than Maliki, and today he was asked his view on Hezbollah and he did not answer that question directly. In your private conversations, did you have any sense of why he did not more publicly state a view on Hezbollah? And should we infer that he does not share the President's view on that group?

MR. HADLEY: I don't know why you would infer that. He asked the question, and he gave the answer he gave.

Q I thought he ducked the question, clearly. But there's a legitimate follow here. First of all, is your understanding of his party's ties to Hezbollah -- what I've been reading in several accounts, which is that there is a working tie between his party and Hezbollah -- and if that's the case, does that present any problem for the administration?

MR. HADLEY: I've not seen any evidence of that. I don't know what you're referring to about that tie. And I guess I would say to you this Prime Minister has been very clear about the threat to terrorism -- threat to terrorism to democracy not only in Iraq, but more broadly. So I think this has been a guy who's pretty tough on terrorism, generally, because he's seen what it has done to his country. In terms of why he did or did not give the response he gave to that question, that's a question for him.

Q I assume you already gave us the color? You said you were going to give color from the meetings -- you gave it?

MR. HADLEY: You didn't like my color? (Laughter.) You missed it? Can I try it again?

Q I just wanted to make sure we heard it. (Laughter.)

The Prime Minister said that he talked about the national reconciliation plan with the President. Obviously, a controversial provision of that plan is proposed amnesty for insurgents who have attacked U.S. troops. Did the President have a response when he brought it up?

MR. HADLEY: The reconciliation plan has been out for a while, is something the President and the Prime Minister talked about in Baghdad. It came up in a general way in these discussions, but really not in a particular way, because, again, that's something that has already been launched and the two have had an opportunity to talk about. So it was discussed in a general way, not anything more particular.

Again, I have to say in the conversations that I was a party to -- they obviously had this hour and ten minute one-on-one session, so I'm answering based on the discussions in which I participated.

Q Okay. And just to follow up, there's obviously the area of controversy -- other major area of controversy about whether or not U.S. troops should continue to have immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts. Did that come up?

MR. HADLEY: In the discussions I was in, the reconciliation came up in a general way. That particular issue did not get raised. But again, I can't tell you what the two might have discussed one-on-one.

Q On the troops, how long are the American troops going to end up in Baghdad during this second phase? And are you disappointed that it's come to this, where you have to send American forces back in the capital?

MR. HADLEY: I think the first phase of the plan has not achieved all the results I think people would have liked. That's why it has been -- we have moved into a phase two, which has a different -- a little different operational concept, and which will have additional forces.

Obviously, they would like progress as soon as possible. Nobody likes the situation that's going on in Baghdad. At this point, I don't think they put a calendar on it because the program is still coming together in terms of its details. So I can't give you a calendar on it.

Q Will they be involved in sweeping neighborhoods, or what exactly?

MR. HADLEY: No, it's really going into an area, making sure that they have control of that area, establishing the local Iraqi security presence, primarily police presence, giving some reassurance to the population there that, in a way, the sheriff has arrived and it's going to calm down. And that will allow people to have the confidence to begin to indicate those people who have been the purveyors of violence in that community. That's the concept.

Q This will ping-pong around, but he had initially said -- the Prime Minister had said, when he announced his initial security plan, that we would not be targeting specific neighborhoods. That's almost an exact quote to that effect, that they didn't want to target neighborhoods, and if one read between the lines, I guess he didn't want to send a message there that any one group was being targeted. This would seem to have an opposite approach. So that's my first question -- do you agree with that?

And secondly, are these troops that will come into Baghdad leaving areas that the U.S. now thinks are secure enough to have a diminished presence, and therefore, what would that say about an eventual larger troop withdrawal?

MR. HADLEY: I think they are moving troops and what they have in mind is to move troops into areas that reflect the priorities. And obviously, the Prime Minister has put a priority on Baghdad. And so that is where, I think, the troops are going to move, both Iraqi troops and some of these additional U.S. troops. Again, the Iraqis are very much in the lead, and they will continue to have the preponderance of the troops.

I don't think anybody is talking about targeting neighborhoods. What you're talking about is moving into areas, beginning to stabilize those areas, reestablish a security presence and then move out from there. The goal, of course, is a stable Baghdad. Baghdad is a big place -- over 250 square miles.

Peter.

Q Steve, when the President met with Prime Minister Maliki the first time, five weeks ago, whenever that was, there was a lot of talk by him and by his aides about how much confidence he had in Prime Minister Maliki. This is the man who finally after all the Iraqi leaders was going to be the person who had the decisive leadership style to make things happen. Do we still have that confidence? Is there any room for reevaluation at this point?

MR. HADLEY: Yes, I think -- I know that he does. And he said that very publicly in the meeting. And part of it is, remember this government now has been in place two months, and it is already setting priorities, making decisions, setting out plans and trying to move forward. That's not bad. As you know, most governments take four to six months to get organized and get going. And I think you heard it from the President. That's why the President wanted to meet one-on-one with Prime Minister Maliki. And it was a very serious, businesslike session, because, obviously, as the President said, he wanted to know whether this was a man with a vision, this man had the commitment and the courage to carry out that vision, and whether he had a plan to do it, and had the requisite commitment and courage and optimism to get it done. And as the President said very clearly, his answer is, yes.

So I think it was a good visit, in that respect. It's why the President wanted to meet one-on-one. And I think you saw a good working relationship between the two. And this is despite of the fact -- and it's hard to capture -- all this conversation is through a translator. And that, as you know, is a bit of a handicap, in the sense that it delays the time and gets a little bit in the way of the kind of personal interaction. And I think in spite of that, the two men, as I said, established a very good working relationship. That's the color I promised earlier. (Laughter.)

Q Can I follow up? I have a follow-up. The discussion, of course, in the States is often centered around the idea of withdrawal, and there's been various scenarios floated in the papers and by the Pentagon. Do the events of the last five weeks change that dynamic, in your mind? Is it less likely today, for instance, than it was five weeks ago that we'll see a withdrawal by the end of this year or so?

MR. HADLEY: You know, if you go back to what the President said, at least in some instance, where he's talked about -- he said our troop presence will be dictated by events on the ground, and the person he will be listening to on those issues will be General Casey. And I think on some occasions, the President has said, depending on those conditions on the ground, sometimes we will be putting in more forces, sometimes we will be shifting forces out. And what you're beginning to see, I think, is exactly that.

What they're doing in this Baghdad security plan is moving forces into Baghdad to deal with the security challenge there. And that's what people are focused on, I think. That's what Prime Minister Maliki is focused on, and therefore, that's what we are focused on in our effort to support him. So I think the focus is less on the issue of withdrawal, and more on the issue of what is it going to take to deal with the security challenges that they face -- which right now have a priority on Baghdad -- and to get the Iraqi security forces to the point where they can continue this process of taking more responsibility, having responsibility handed over to them. And that's really been the preoccupation, obviously, of General Casey here in this point in time.

Q You say events on the ground. Obviously, the events on the ground, you just said yourself, have not been very positive in the last few weeks. Given that, should Americans tamp down any expectations they might have, not get their hopes up that there will be significant withdrawals, say, the next few months?

MR. HADLEY: I think we have to see how things go on the ground. And on the first point I would say, you know, there is a difference between Baghdad and the rest of the country, as the President said today. Obviously there is a security challenge in Baghdad; there's a lot of reasons why. A lot of it is sectarian violence, which is something that needs very definitely to be gotten under control. But on the other hand, as you heard today from the Prime Minister, at the same time they're talking about security challenges in Baghdad, they're talking about the hand-over of security responsibility to Iraqis in Muthanna.

So I think one of the things that's difficult about Iraq is it is a mixed picture throughout the country. And for Americans it's dominated heavily by images out of Baghdad. And you can understand; it's the capital city, it's 6 million to 8 million people -- it matters what happens in Baghdad, no question about it. But it is a country of 26 million and the situation is different elsewhere in the country. And what General Casey is trying to do, from a security standpoint, is really two things simultaneously: Make sure that we have a strategy and a disposition of forces that's appropriate to the security challenges we face; all at the same time, continuing the process of training Iraqi security forces so they can take more responsibility.

Q If I could just follow, because I know President Bush and Maliki were both asked, you know, why should Americans expect that this would be -- that the new security initiative be any different than the ones that had failed before. And the President said that obviously they need to be flexible to adapt to the conditions on the ground. What is it about Baghdad that specifically has been so difficult? Can you enlighten us about those conditions? I mean, it's been three years since the invasion, and the coalition has not been able to secure that city.

MR. HADLEY: I think two things. One, when Prime Minister Maliki was asked that question of what's different and why does he have more hope for the security plan, he gave an answer which basically said what is being done is by a unity government, elected by the Iraqi people pursuant to a constitution. And so he believes that the political context is different, and that will have effect.

In terms of what's happening in Baghdad, I think it's -- as you know, the terrorists, the al Qaeda have, for a long time now, tried to provoke sectarian violence in Iraq, and they have done that by attacking Shia and trying to provoke a Shia response. And for a long period of time now, despite casualties, the various communities in Iraq have shown great restraint.

Obviously, with the bombing in February of the Golden Mosque, that, in some sense, was a critical event, and it has touched off greater sectarian violence than we had seen before. And that's what is troublesome. And it is violence, in some sense, that various armed groups are trying to encourage in an organized way. There's clearly some that is going on in an unorganized way. You've now seen the emergence of death squads and armed groups on right and left, and they're doing great damage to the civilian population. That's really what is new. It's something that we've seen occur since February, and it is a new challenge. This isn't about insurgency, this isn't about terror, this is about sectarian violence. And it's a new challenge for the government. And they recognize that -- and it is heavily centered in Baghdad. And their belief is if they can get control on it in Baghdad, they can go a long way to dealing with this issue of sectarian violence, which, as I say, is heavily focused there.

It's a new challenge that we haven't had over the three years. It's a serious challenge, and the Prime Minister is taking it very seriously and is developing a plan to deal with it, both politically, in terms of his reconciliation initiative, and at the same time, having security forces which will say to people that if you continue the activity of these death squads, there will be real consequences.

Q Is that why over the last six weeks this operation that was announced by Maliki has been unsuccessful, that it hasn't produced the results that you'd like?

MR. HADLEY: It has not, obviously, produced -- it has not solved the problem. There was some discussion early on that it would probably be a phased operation. What we've really done, and what the Prime Minister has done with the Minister of Interior and Defense and with General Casey, is say, in phase two, we've got to do some things differently. And what they're developing is that plan for phase two because they want greater success than they got out of phase one.

Q Can I get back to the Hezbollah question? There's been some consternation on the Hill this afternoon that the Prime Minister did not, A, condemn Hezbollah in any way; or, B, recognize Israel's right to exist -- both obviously stances that are first what the administration has been pushing. Can you address whether that issue concerns you? And obviously, there are other members of his government who have had much more, shall we say, aggressive statements about what's going on there. Does that concern you, as well? We have now a Shia government in a region that is seeing increasing Shia-Sunni splits on this issue. I'm wondering if you're worried about where Iraq stands on this and how it might --

MR. HADLEY: Well, I think one thing you need to do -- and I can't do it as I stand here -- is look at what Prime Minister Maliki has said. I have not heard from him statements suggesting Israel does not have the right to exist. This is not -- we've not heard out of him what we've heard from Ahmadinejad. So I would -- I think one of the things you have to do is look what his statements are and what the record is. I don't know why he didn't -- what he has said publicly on Hezbollah. I don't know why he answered the question the way he did. I do know that he's talked -- he understands firsthand the corrosive effect of terror, and has talked about being an ally with the United States in the war on terror. He's been very, very clear about that.

I think one of the things that is very important is, as important as this issue is, and as important as Lebanon is, there's a real opportunity here, which I hope we don't miss, for the elected leader of the Iraqi people to come to the American people and do what he's done -- express appreciation for the sacrifice Americans have made of blood and treasure to try and bring democracy and freedom to Iraq. He expressed it today. He expressed condolences for families who have lost loved ones in that service. And it's an issue that is important to Iraq; it is an issue that is important to the United States. It's been an issue for Republicans and Democrats -- how to get Iraq right.

And now we have an elected leader of Iraq who has come to the United States for a period of four days and to explain his plan going forward. And I hope we don't miss -- that the administration, the press and the Congress doesn't miss the opportunity to hear from this man and from his cabinet what their plan is going forward, because it's terribly important that Iraq succeed in order to bring freedom and stability to Iraq, for what a democratic Iraq will mean for the region over the longer-term. And I just hope that this discussion about Lebanon, as important as it is, we don't lose the opportunity to hear from this man about his plan going forward on such an important issue.

Q Beyond increasing the troops in Baghdad, what tools are different to mitigate the sectarian violence? What is Prime Minister Maliki pulling from that is different, beyond the increase in troops?

MR. HADLEY: He said three things. One, he said he's in a different place now, as --

Q But this increased violence has happened in recent weeks since his government has been in place.

MR. HADLEY: Let me answer your question.

Q Okay.

MR. HADLEY: He said three things. One, he said it's in a different context with a unity government, as I outlined before, and as he outlined, elected by the Iraqi people. Secondly, he has launched a reconciliation initiative. It's about three or four weeks old. The reconciliation commission had its first meeting. So the second element is he now has a political strategy to bring reconciliation to the communities.

And, third, he believes that along with that political reconciliation effort there clearly has to be a cost for people who go around as death squads and murder innocent civilians. And he's also said there has to be a cost. And that means we need to have a different strategy in terms of Baghdad security, and additional forces and additional equipment. So he's basically saying there are three strands to this strategy and that's what he's pursuing and that's what he talked about today.

Q Real quick. Are you aware that the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq pledged $35 million to Lebanon for humanitarian aid today? And where is that money coming from?

MR. HADLEY: I don't know what account. You know, Iraq does have oil revenues; they're about 2.5 million barrels a day. So this is a country that has its own means. I think what I take from that is there is international recognition about the plight, the humanitarian plight among the Lebanese. The President sent Secretary Rice out for consultations in the region and then the meeting in Rome, which will occur tomorrow. And his first priority was, you need to address the humanitarian assistance, the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese -- through assistance, through humanitarian corridors, which she's talked about with the Israelis and which were announced today. And that will be a topic of discussion in Rome.

Part of it is there will be requirements for humanitarian assistance now, in the short run, for the suffering of the Lebanese people, and also reconstruction requirements in the long run. The Saudi government made an announcement today of a total of about $1.5 billion worth of assistance. We've announced about $30 million. Obviously, there will be more coming. The Iraqis have decided, moved by the plight of the Lebanese, to offer $35 million. I think it's a good thing. I hope the rest of the world, particularly countries in the region, step up to their responsibilities and help the Lebanese people and help the government of Lebanon deal with this very difficult situation.

Q Steve, with the number of attacks rising, and with the death toll rising, and in particular with the audacious nature of a lot of these attacks in Baghdad of groups of Sunnis pulling Shiites out, killing them in the street, and vice versa, there's a wide array of political leaders in Iraq that say a low-grade civil war, marked by ethnic cleansing in mixed neighborhoods, in particular, has already begun. The Prime Minister today, when he ended the press conference, said, with God's help there won't be a civil war, which was not a particularly inspiring statement when you listen to the words of it. Does the administration think a civil war has begun? If not, how much -- what else has to happen before you would look at it and say, there is a civil war now raging inside of Iraq?

MR. HADLEY: The President has been clear on that; we do not think a civil war has begun. But I think the point is, is there a problem? Yes. Is the problem involving sectarian violence? Yes. Does it need to have to be addressed if Iraq's democracy is going to flourish and the situation get stable? Absolutely. Is there a strategy to do that? Yes. Prime Minister Maliki has outlined that today. Are we supporting that strategy? Yes. That's where our focus is. We'll let others deal with the semantics. Clearly, there's a problem; clearly, it needs to be solved; and clearly, there's a strategy to do that.

Q Steve, a couple for you. Over the past few days, American officials have talked about a focus on the instigators of sectarian violence in Baghdad. Will U.S. forces be involved in targeting these instigators? What are the parameters -- what is an instigator? Is it somebody who says, I hate the Americans, they have to go, or is it someone who actually has to pick up a weapon and shoot an American? That's the first one.

The second one is, in two phone calls I think in three days last week, the President promised Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey to address the PKK issue and cross-border terrorism there. Did that come up in today's meeting, and what did they decide to do about it?

MR. HADLEY: Two things. In terms of PKK -- let me do your first part of your question. Death squads and armed gangs are going around murdering people, kidnapping people, sometimes in broad daylight. There has to be a consequence for that. People need to be held to account. They need to be identified, they need to be arrested, they need to be charged, they need to go through the judicial system, and then they need to be punished. And that's clearly part of the Prime Minister's strategy for getting this under control. There is a reconciliation piece, but there also is clearly a security piece.

As the President has said, people who engage in this activity have to be held to account if there's going to be stability. And that's what is the important element of the security strategy. And that's something that we are going to be supporting.

Secondly, the issue about PKK and Northern Iraq did come up. It came up in the discussions we had with the President and the Prime Minister. While the President and the Prime Minister were in their one-on-one session, I and other members of the President's staff met with the various ministers, and the Foreign Minister brought that up and we talked about it at length.

We have talked about establishing a trilateral framework between the United States, Iraq and Turkey to address these issues. We have already identified some steps that can be taken and that the Iraqis are going to take, which they, I'm sure, will be announcing in due course. We have communicated to the Turks that this is -- one, we recognize the seriousness of the problem, that Turkish citizens and Turkish security forces are dying as a result of the activities of the PKK. We left no doubt that we view it as a terrorist organization. We have proposed that it be addressed in this trilateral context. I think the Turks are comfortable with that. And there have to be concrete steps that we can take to show both Iraqis and Turks that there is a plan to deal with that problem. And it is something we have to address more aggressively. The President has made that assurance to Prime Minister Erdogan, and I think he was relieved. Now we've got to deliver on it.

Q Mr. Hadley, do you -- the President was saying that he and the Prime Minister had a frank exchange about Lebanon. Let me try this again. Did the President hear anything from the Prime Minister that made him believe that the Prime Minister agrees that Hezbollah is thwarting the march of democracy?

MR. HADLEY: I think the President gave a very good rendering of that conversation in his public comments at the beginning of the press conference. That is a good encapsulation of what I heard. Again, if there was more in their one-on-one, I cannot tell you.

Last question, sir.

Q I'm sorry to shift the spotlight to a different region, but in my region there are trouble spots, too. One of the trouble spots in my region is Georgia, the Republic of Georgia, where the government is moving the troops and the weapons into Abkhazia, a separatist region. Basically I --

MR. HADLEY: When you say the government --

Q The government, yes.

MR. HADLEY: Which government?

Q The Georgian government. Apparently trying to resolve the issue with the separatists by force. Do you -- what do you say to your friends in Tbilisi?

Also, in Ukraine, another friend of yours, there is a stalemate. You just referred to a government that's taken long to be formed. They have weeks, they've gone weeks without a new government. What is the preferred outcome there for the U.S.?

MR. HADLEY: Well, we've had a lot on our mind today with Iraq and the Middle East. A number of those questions we addressed when we were in St. Petersburg. Obviously, I think -- I don't have anything new on that. We obviously want to see the differences between Georgia and Russia resolved peacefully, and obviously we'd like to see a government in Ukraine supported by a majority of the Ukranian people. I don't have anything more for you on that.

Thank you.

END 4:25 P.M. EDT