For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 24, 2006
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En route Kennebunkport, Maine
10:40 A.M. EDT
MS. PERINO: Good morning. This morning the President spoke with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Lebanon and Iran. In his call with Prime Minister Prodi, the Prime Minister noted Italian efforts to help prepare for the deployment of the enhanced United Nations interim force of Lebanon -- the UNIFIL force. The President underscored that the United States is fully committed to UNIFIL's success and welcomed Italian efforts to achieve a rapid and robust deployment to southern Lebanon. He congratulated Prime Minister Prodi on Italy's offer of substantial forces for UNIFIL. The two leaders also discussed diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capability.
In the President's call to Chancellor Merkel, the two leaders discussed the situation in Lebanon and agreed on the importance of supporting an enhanced UNIFIL and in humanitarian efforts. The President and the Chancellor also agreed to continue to work together on diplomatic efforts related to Iran and the nuclear issue. Both calls lasted several minutes.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q Does the President agree with Merkel that Iran's response was unsatisfactory?
MS. PERINO: I said that the United States and the P5 plus one believe that their response fell short, but that the Security Council deadline has outlined and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1696 has the deadline of August 31st, and so the members of P5 plus one are going to be discussing and communicating amongst themselves, reviewing the response from Iran and then meeting on August 31st, as spelled out in that resolution, as well.
Q Do they have any sort of meeting of the minds, the President and Chancellor Merkel, on what would happen then?
MS. PERINO: I don't haven any further detail on their conversation, just that they did speak about it.
Q Is the President's position on Iran's response the same as it was yesterday, or has it changed any?
MS. PERINO: I don't have anything, any changes from yesterday, no.
Q What's the outlook for today up at Kennebunkport?
MS. PERINO: Outlook for today? I don't have anything else except for him arriving. If there is anything that is added to the schedule that would be a pool event, then that gets paged out and you all will know.
Q Why is it taking him so long to get to Walker's Point? I mean, that's, like, two-and-a-half hours.
MS. PERINO: The President does have a meeting today with families of the fallen, at the airport. I forgot to mention it, I'm sorry. Thanks, Josh.
Q Will you have any more readout on the families, who the soldiers were?
MS. PERINO: -- not have any further detail on that. So probably not today.
Q Do you know how many?
MS. PERINO: I don't know --
MR. DECKARD: It's five families -- I'll double-check.
MS. PERINO: It's five, plus or minus one. But at least five, I believe.*
Q The fallen soldiers were in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: I'll confirm.
MR. DECKARD: And the family of a sailor who died on September 11th.
MS. PERINO: I can check with the mil aide up front on that.
Q Any decision to perhaps revisit the President's position on federal funding for stem cell research, in light of this new development that was published yesterday in the journal Nature?
MS. PERINO: Hold on a second, Roz. The President is the first President to ever provide federal funding for stem cell research. Yes, he drew a line, an ethical line, in terms of taxpayer dollars to spend money on research that would use the destruction of a human embryo. He has been an aggressive supporter of other forms of stem cell research like adult stem cell and cord blood research.
This study today reported in Nature Magazine has not been reviewed by scientists and bio-ethicists yet, but it is one that the President believes deserves a good look. He is encouraged that there are scientists who are continuing to look for innovative ways to do stem cell research that would not involve the destruction of embryos. And so he is going to listen to folks after they have a chance to review the study, but it does hold some promise that they would be able to do that type of research without destruction of a human embryo.
Q -- this before the President makes any decision, he needs to see what the entire community thinks about this particular development?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think it would not be prudent for anyone to make a snap decision about a major policy before being able to actually read a report. So let's give it some time, but it's certainly encouraging.
Q -- on over-the-counter sales of Plan B?
MS. PERINO: As you know, that is an FDA decision and FDA will be making that, if they haven't already, later today. They have? The questions about how they came to the decision of what the next steps are would be referred to them. But you heard from the President on Monday -- he said that he agrees that minors should have a prescription. He appreciates that the FDA did an exhaustive review, that they recognize the critical distinction between minors and adults and the risks a drug like this can pose. The FDA made clear that it will insist on stringent conditions and restrictions on access to reduce both health risks and opportunities for abuse, especially to protect minors. I'm sure the FDA will follow through on that and make sure these important conditions are established and enforced.
Okay, thank you.
END 10:46 A.M. EDT
* Five families of fallen soldiers, three from Iraq, one from Afghanistan, and one killed on September 11th.