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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 3, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En route McAllen, Texas
2:27 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: First thing, the President had a 14-minute phone call with Chancellor Merkel, aboard Air Force One. They talked about ongoing diplomatic efforts at the United Nations. She offered her help and support in dealing with interested parties, and also Germany's support of the wider war on terror. They also talked about the roles of Iran and Syria.
Coming up ahead on this trip, we are going to be stopping in McAllen. First there is going to be a review of -- the President is going to be taking a look at some rotary aircraft -- helicopters, in other words -- and also a boat that is used by the Border Patrol and Customs Service, in trying to patrol the borders.
Then we're going to move on to Mission, a 10-minute drive, where he's going to be in a skybox. A skybox is a device by which one is lifted up in the air; it's a surveillance device that allows Border Patrol agents to keep an eye on some of the more heavily trafficked areas in the border.
Then he will go to a nearby park and deliver a speech on immigration -- on immigration reform, concentrating largely on border security, but also reiterating the other parts of his comprehensive plan.
And that's it.
Q Does the President agree with General Abizaid's assessment today, that Iraq is in danger of civil war because of the recent sectarian violence?
MR. SNOW: I think what he said -- I think he specifically avoided "civil war." I think he said he was worried about sectarian violence, and also reiterated something we've talked about on a number of occasions, which is the importance of security Baghdad -- which is why, pursuant to General Casey's recommendations, you're going to see a little more of a troop presence in Baghdad, to try to suppress some of those. Obviously, sectarian violence is a concern.
Q I think he did say that he thought civil war was a possibility.
MR. SNOW: Okay. Well, I don't think the President is going to quibble with his generals on their characterizations. I think the more important thing that General Abizaid -- at least based on what I saw -- was saying that, again, it's very important that we go ahead and go in and secure Baghdad as one of the key things, because that is where people are tying to create broader sectarian strife with pretty large and visible acts of violence.
Q What's the status of a U.N. resolution and the negotiations?
MR. SNOW: Still working on it. We feel pretty optimistic that there's going to be something -- I can't give you an absolute timeline, if it's going to be this week or the beginning of next week. But as Secretary Rice said, a number of days and we think that, you know, things are on track for that.
And that's one of the things the President reported to Chancellor Merkel.
Q Did the President initiate the call to Chancellor Merkel, or the other way around?
MR. SNOW: The other way around, I think.
Q And was the primary topic the U.N. resolution?
MR. SNOW: The U.N. resolution and looking forward, yes.
Q Did they come to any agreement about what she should report back, perhaps, to fellow European leaders?
MR. SNOW: What the President was doing -- no, there was not a, "why don't you go report," because we're dealing with a lot of European leaders within not only the context of the various negotiations that have taken place, but within the U.N. Security Council. She was just trying to get an update to figure out where things stood, and he was telling her, and she was pleased with his reports of progress.
Q When is Secretary Rice coming to Texas?
MR. SNOW: Either tomorrow or Saturday, I think. Again, I defer to -- is it Saturday? It's Saturday.
Q And might we hear from her or the President? Has there been any more plans about that over the weekend or Monday?
MR. SNOW: At some point you will, yes. We'll let you know when we have a definite on it.
Q What about today? Might he talk to us today?
MR. SNOW: If you ask real nice. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: We don't have any planned press avails.
Q Is the President satisfied with what his members of his own party have done to try and reach a compromise on immigration, or does he think they should be working harder?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think everybody is working hard, and I think you're going to see -- there are very active conversations going on, not only with the White House, but also, you'll note, Republicans in the House and Senate I think are working towards something that fits the President's description of comprehensive reform. He understands the legislative process. It is not -- it doesn't always operate neatly, quickly or according to time lines. But it is moving forward.
Q Do you think the public hearings are constructive this summer?
MR. SNOW: No characterization of it. I think probably you need to ask the people who have organized them what they think.
Q Is there any concern that Republicans could pay a political price in November if they don't reach some sort of agreement before then?
MR. SNOW: You'd have to ask people who are running races. The President really is primarily concerned in getting it done. He wants it done quickly, but he also wants it done right.
END 2:32 P.M. EDT