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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 15, 2006
Press Briefing on President's Participation in 61st United Nations General Assembly
Via Conference Call
1:35 P.M. EDT
MR. JONES: Good afternoon, everybody, on this lovely Friday. This is Frederick Jones, spokesman for the National Security Council. We have with us today two senior administration officials who will talk about the President's travels to the U.N. General Assembly coming up next week. I know you'll be interested in those who officials are -- I'll tell you after we've finished our official portion.
If we could, gentlemen, please feel free to start, and then we'll take your questions after a short opening.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks very much, Frederick. I think we should start out with what the general themes of the President's visit to the U.N. General Assembly will be this year. Essentially, it is -- the whole visit is structured to show that the freedom agenda remains central for us, and the U.S. is engaged around the world to support people yearning to be free.
Because they know that freedom will defeat them, terrorists, tyrants and traitors to humanity are doing all they can to stop the expansion of freedom. The Middle East is the central battleground and the President will describe his vision as a positive vision for that region, in very clear terms. And while military and police activities are needed against terrorists, the ultimate weapons are justice, freedom and opportunity. So the President's side events and bilateral meetings will demonstrate America's determination to promote these goals.
I think that you all have the schedule for the week ahead. The President's activities will start with him making remarks at a conference that the First Lady has organized on global literacy. It's the first White House Conference on Global Literacy. She's got First Ladies and education experts from countries all over the globe attending that, and the President is going to drop by to re-emphasize the importance that literacy has, particularly in people's ability to achieve strong economies and prosperity.
He will have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This is important, aside from the substance of what they will discuss, I think to demonstrate Malaysia is a democratic country with a moderate form of Islamic government and the idea here is Malaysia is a very good demonstration of how Islam and democracy are fully compatible concepts.
The President will meet with the President of El Salvador also on Monday. Again, they have -- you know, obviously, there are bilateral and regional issues to discuss, as well as El Salvador has been one of our allies in the Middle East, as well. But part of what comes through from that meeting I think is the fact that if you think back 20 years, El Salvador was a country that was torn by factional strife, there were death squads, it was an insurgency, lots of violence and a lot of people saying it was impossible to have democracy in a place like that. And flash forward to the last 10 or 15 years, and you've had a very successful democratic country where people who were former combatants have managed to reintegrate into what is a very prosperous, successful society.
The President also will be meeting with the President of Honduras, which again has gone through experience of a transition from military dictatorship to democracy in much the same period as El Salvador did. Again, there are regional issues that are likely to be discussed at that occasion.
The President will meet also with the President of Tanzania. Tanzania is -- their President was democratically elected. It's an emerging democracy in Africa, but there are serious concerns about terrorists using its terrain. And so the President will engage with President Kikwete on the challenges of fighting terrorism in East Africa.
We will have -- then on Tuesday, the President will meet with President Chirac of France. We would anticipate them discussing a series of issues related to the Middle East and surrounds, namely Lebanon, Sudan, Darfur, and, of course, Israel, Palestine -- Palestinian issues.
The President will then go to the U.N., itself, and meet with the President of the General Assembly, President Khalifa. She is -- her election as President of the General Assembly is significant because she's the first Muslim woman to have served in that post. And she comes very well prepared, having been in a leadership role in her government in Bahrain.
He also will pay a similar courtesy call on Secretary General Annan. And as you can anticipate, they have many items to discuss on the agenda, including Lebanon, Iran, Sudan, and an overall vigorous, international effort against terrorism.
The President will then make his remarks at the General Assembly. And I think he's got -- will be making a speech that focuses on all of these themes, but in particular will lay out his positive vision for the Middle East, the bright, democratic future that we see for the Middle East in contra-distinction to some who have almost a backward-looking vision for that region.
He will then participate in the Secretary General's luncheon, meet with the President of Iraq. And I think you can imagine the issues on the agenda there -- again, how to strengthen democratic institutions in a country that is weak. This is an overall theme as you look back -- if you want to look at the speech, when we look at the Middle East, you see countries that are either under the rule of regimes that deprive people of their freedom, or you have a number of countries that have freedom but are extremely weak in their democratic institutions.
So I think the President is laying out a vision there and it then comes through in these bilaterals, where he will be making clear how both -- what we need to do to work together to help countries -- to help people in countries that don't have freedom achieve their freedom, and second, how we work together with the democratically-elected governments in places like Iraq and Lebanon, and so on, to help them strengthen their democratic institutions, so that they can be successful free countries.
And then, finally, the President will return to Washington on Wednesday.
I think, unless my colleague wants to add to that, maybe that's enough at the top, and we could go to questions, Frederick.
Q Hi, it's Olivier. I have a couple questions for you, actually. One is, the First Lady's office said yesterday that they were not -- the United States is not especially optimistic about getting a resolution on Burma at the U.N. What's the status of that? Second, today in the press conference the President seemed to suggest for the first time that actually the United Nations should impose a peacekeeping force for Darfur over the objections of Sudan. And is that something that we're going to hear again at the United Nations? Is there a formal proposal? I guess those are the two questions I have.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, first, well, on Burma, the First Lady will be holding a side event focused on Burma where we'll have experts coming in to discuss the problem in Burma, and so on. So this should get a lot of people together and increase the energy on that.
I think, in terms of U.N. action on Burma, the first step is to get Burma on the agenda of the Security Council. So before you start talking about a resolution, step one is you have the get at least nine countries to vote in favor of putting it on the agenda. And we're reasonably optimistic that that will happen in the not-too-distant future. So exactly what the sequence of that will be, I wouldn't want to predict -- in other words, whether it will get on the agenda before next week or not, I'm not sure. But that's moving forward at the same time we're taking the measures that the First Lady has put together to increase international attention on Burma. So we're positive on that topic.
And what was the second part?
Q The Sudan comment from the press conference today, the idea of imposing a U.N. --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The resolution that passed in the Security Council a week or so ago authorizes or establishes an expanded security force for -- or expansion of the existing security force so that it would be able to cover Darfur, as well. In other words, they already have a U.N. mission in Sudan for the north-south matter, and this would go on.
So the question -- there's been this issue of whether or not you have the consent or the agreement of the government. The way we understand the resolution that was passed, it isn't dependent on the agreement of the government of Sudan, and we think we ought to move forward to get that force up and running as quickly as possible. Now, obviously, ideally and in practical terms, you'd much rather do it with the consent, rather than over the opposition of the government, so those efforts continue, as well. But I think that's what the President is reflecting, is that we don't see the government of Sudan having a veto power over whether the U.N. puts a peacekeeping force there, or not. The Security Council has authorized it, and we want to see that move forward as rapidly as possible.
I should mention, too, that I -- before we go on with the question, that I missed an event. The version of the schedule I had didn't have it on it, but it's an important one, it's a democracy roundtable that the President will be participating in. Last year, he met with approximately 25 other democratic leaders. And in that event, actually, they launched the U.N. Democracy Fund. But mostly it was -- what they did was discussed how countries, democratic countries, both old, established democracies and new democracies could work together to help promote and strengthen democracy, the institutions of democracy around the world.
This year, he will be meeting again with a similar group, but the focus -- they will also have in the room several NGOs from around the world who are active in democracy work and will be focusing on not only what NGOs do to help promote democracy, but what obstacles are being placed in their way, and then what democratic countries working together can do to support them. So that's another important event that I wanted to mention.
I'll now move on to the question. I'm sorry for the interruption.
MR. JONES: And that's on Tuesday.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Correct.
Q When you mentioned his meeting with President Chirac, you said Middle East, Lebanon, Sudan, Darfur, Israel, Palestinian -- but you didn't mention Iran. Is he going to be discussing the possibility of crafting an Iran resolution at that time? Is he meeting with other leaders on the Iran issue, in the democracy roundtable or in these other fora? Is he going to be talking about the U.S.'s efforts to promote human rights, democracy in Iran?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, in the democracy roundtable, this is more broadly what's going on around the world, so it's not focused so much on particular countries. But, yes, in his overall speech, his main address in the General Assembly, Iran will certainly be one of the factors there. Again, the positive future we see for the region and how Iran can be part of it, and calling attention to the negative features of the current situation in Iran.
When I mentioned the list of things he was likely to be discussing with President Chirac, I didn't mean to imply that that was exclusive -- (laughter) -- it was exemplary and I would certainly imagine that Iran would be a topic in that conversation, as well as in others that he would have at the U.N. And does my colleague want to add? He's more expert on this than I.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I would have just said exactly what you said. You can get a little taste from David Ignatius' column, which came out I think today, of the President's view of Iran and the potential of the Iranian people to be part of the positive vision that he has for the region.
Q Hi, there. I just wanted to follow on the Iran issue. I'm actually wondering if there are going to be any low-level, even, contacts with Iran? I know there are no presidential-level contacts or any kind of bilaterals, but is there going to be anything on the staff level, anything directly with Iran membership?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's a long answer. No. (Laughter.) There won't be any contacts. We don't have contacts with the Iranians, and we're not going to have it, unless and until they suspend their enrichment-related activities. If you want me to go on at length about that I can, but basically, no.
Q And do you know anything more about this Tuesday event, because I do not see it on the week ahead, and we can get back to Fred on that if that's necessary.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Tuesday event, the democracy roundtable?
Q The roundtable, yes.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know why it isn't on the week ahead. That is what I was going on, and I say, it's my event, so -- (laughter) -- I said, gee, why isn't it there? But it is -- as I was describing it, we want to keep -- it's part of the idea that we want to keep the focus on the Freedom Agenda worldwide. The Freedom Agenda isn't something just for the Middle East. The Middle East is kind of the main battleground in that struggle right now, but it's only because -- I think if you go back a couple of years, when the President made his speech at the National Endowment for Democracy, and said, look, for 60 years we sort of exempted the Middle East from the same efforts we were making elsewhere in the world, and it's no longer exempt. So in one sense it's maybe a little bit behind where we were in the rest of the world, but what we're doing there and elsewhere is fully consistent.
So I think what you'll have is, these will be heads of state or government from -- I think the total is about 25 democratic countries, as I said, both established democracies and newer democracies. And then we've got, I think, five or so non-governmental organizations from all around the world that are working in this field -- organizations that do things like train election observers, or defend people who are being persecuted for political views, or in one case, work with governments, as well as with NGOs to try to get legal regimes in place that make the work of NGOs easier, rather than having obstructions to them.
So the idea there is simply -- this is really bringing it down to the nuts and bolts level, saying, okay, how are we doing around the world, do we have problems. And we know that many of the NGOs are having increasing problems with repressive regimes trying to cut them down, and the real question is then, what can democratic governments do to help those organizations and the people they represent to be successful. But it's a kind of open effort now to -- it's an open discussion of how we can make those efforts go forward.
Q Hi. We've heard the President talk at length about his vision of spreading democracy to the Middle East. Are there any new twists this time, or is it pretty much the same or an extension of what he said before?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Why don't I let my colleague comment on that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, okay. I think that many of the elements you will have heard before, but this is the attempt of the President to put forth a kind of a comprehensive vision, tying together all of the different arenas in the Middle East and explaining how he understands them to be -- to fit together. As my colleague said, we have two kinds of states in the region. We've got those that are -- those in which there's an absence of freedom, and we have those in which, I would just say, weak states in which we need to help them build the institutions of freedom. And the three cases would be Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority -- of states that need our assistance.
And I think, in a way, he'll be saying, you know, the international community needs to come forward to help Middle Easterners realize their desire for freedom. He would say that very much what we are seeing across the region is a struggle for freedom. There are states, like Iran and Syria, that sponsor terrorism and they do so in order to stop the region from reforming and allowing people to realize their desire. He'll have in each case -- Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority -- I think he will have very concrete suggestions about the path forward for realizing his vision of freedom and role that the international community can play in that.
I don't want to preview for you right now exactly the steps that he's going to suggest, but in terms of what is going to be new, I think that's where you should be looking. You should be looking at the comprehensive vision, and then the immediate steps.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I want to jump back in, too, and make a comment. Earlier I declined to predict, on Burma, whether we'd have the First Lady's conference first, or get it on the Security Council agenda first. I now can predict it, because I'm told that the Security Council just agreed to put it on the agenda, by 10 votes in favor. So there has been some progress as we were on the phone here.
Q Yes, hello, thank you very much. Any mention or focus on North Korea? There doesn't seem to be much talk of Asia in what you've mentioned so far.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Obviously, North Korea is another state where, to say the least, freedom is lacking. But I think the focus of the President's speech is going to be on the Middle East, as we mentioned.
I would not be at all surprised if the topic of North Korea comes up in some of the bilateral discussions that he has. Certainly it's one of the topics that will undoubtedly come up in his discussions with the Secretary General. But we don't have meetings that are focused on that, on that topic.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I just jump in here and say that it's a pleasure, Guy Dinmore, to hear your voice, because you caused me an enormous amount of pain with those stories about that guy, Nahavandian. I don't know if you remember that.
Q Oh, yes, indeed. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. I spent hours and hours trying to track all that down. It was horrible. And everyone -- I kept saying this is wrong, this is a lie. And people kept saying, no, he's actually quite a reputable reporter. (Laughter.)
Q Yes, he had lunch just around the corner from the White House. You could have joined him there.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: But, no, we don't do that. (Laughter.)
Q Apparently not. You're missing a lot.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay.
Q Yes, thank you. Two questions. One, going back to Darfur, there had been, I guess at the time of Assistant Secretary Frazer's trip to Khartoum, the idea that -- or the offer from the President to even meet with the President of Sudan to work out the entry of a U.N. force into Darfur, and, obviously, Sudan is not on the bilateral agenda. I'm wondering what happened to that, if anything.
And the second question, the official who spoke to us originally, talking about the President's remarks at the General Assembly, said that those remarks -- that the President would lay out his democratic vision in contra-distinction to some who have an almost backward-looking vision. And I would like to be clear on -- to who that might refer to?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think I was the one who made that statement. First, on Darfur, without going into -- let's just say that it would be one thing to say if another leader was agreeable to a peacekeeping force and had made clear that they were prepared to do that, then there would be a reason to sit down and talk about the modalities of accomplishing that. But when you've got somebody who is saying that they're totally opposed to it, there's not much to discuss, in terms of modalities. So whatever signals you were getting during Assistant Secretary Frazer's visit along those lines I think were on the premise that there would be some -- a willingness or agreement to work with and facilitate the deployment of the force, rather than a publicly stated opposition to it.
On the dark vision, I think you can look at the terrorists and those who support them, who have a vision of a Middle East with women oppressed and cut out of life, with non-democratic governments keeping people under their thumbs. It's the vision of the jihadists. It's the vision of almost a medieval approach to life. Whereas I think the President's vision is very positive.
I think it's the difference between saying -- there are those who want to say Islam requires that kind of backward-looking government, and people like the President who say, look, we've seen in other parts of the world -- I mentioned Malaysia, one of the countries that he's going to be meeting with -- that the concepts of democracy, social justice, prosperity and so on are not incompatible with the religion or with the culture of the Middle East, or for that matter, other parts of the world. So it's in that sense the distinction to that negative vision.
Q Yes, I was going to ask about North Korea, but while I'm on here, is the President planning any events for Wednesday morning? And, particularly, will he join his wife for the Clinton Global Initiative?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think we have anything to announce at this point, David. We will have to wait and see about Wednesday and any additional -- anything additional to add to the schedule.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And you said North Korea, again.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think he's good with the earlier answer.
Q Good afternoon. I have a question on the succession of Kofi Annan. There's been this recent straw poll, yesterday. How is your interpretation of the result of this straw poll, and how do we go next from there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think there have been two straw polls now. And I should just make clear, this is an innovation that is sort of designed to help move the process along, but the straw poll is not binding, it's not indicative that everybody who might be considered as a candidate has been considered in the straw poll. It's been expressing -- what it is, is members of the Security Council expressing encouragement or discouragement to people who have announced themselves as candidates, or who have been nominated by governments as candidates for the job. And so the results are what they are. But it's a dynamic process and this will go on for some time before we get down to cases, I think, in terms of an election.
As you know, the General Assembly has to vote on the nomination after the Security Council finishes with it, as well, so there's a lot of steps left here.
Q What kind of criteria would the United States want to be applied to a future Security General?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think -- and I believe the President and Ambassador Bolton have both made comments on this -- our sense is we should be looking for the best possible person. We know there's a tradition of regional rotations, and so on, and we don't want to exclude anyone from any part of the world. But our sense is, we shouldn't be looking at it as an entitlement for our group or another, but rather as, let's look for the absolutely strongest possible leader.
People have pluses and minuses in any kind of job. But I think what you're looking for in this is somebody who has strong political leadership skills, strong management skills, people who can bring people together. You can guess as well as I, but we don't have some kind of bright line litmus test of somebody has to have a particular position on this issue or that. Our sense is we're looking for, like, the best athlete for the job. And there's some very good candidates out there participating.
Q You don't have somebody you're rooting for, so to say.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, we don't have anyone we're championing at this point. And it's early in the process still. We'll see how that develops over the rest of the year, rest of the summer.
Q Good afternoon. The President talked today about being concerned about any stalling, with respect to Iran and actions to try to stop their escalation of any nuclear capabilities. Should we expect the President in his remarks to urge the member nations to do something more explicitly? Is he going to call out Iran in a more provocative way than we've heard of late?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I wouldn't expect that. I mean, obviously, things are fluid. And we could see changes in this fluid situation before the speech is given. But at this point, I wouldn't expect it. The goal of the speech is really to lay out the broad vision and not to get down into the nitty gritty of discussions between the United States, the EU3, the Russians and the Chinese and that sort of thing about the nuclear issue.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think I might mention, too, when you were asking about, well, is this topic or that topic going to be covered in his speech, unlike last year where we had -- where the President was speaking at a high level event that was put on immediately prior to the General Assembly, the speech time was doubled from the norm. We're back to the norm this year, so we're at 15 minutes. And I think what we're signaling to you here is that instead of doing a kind of laundry list of every issue around the world and making a comment about it, that it's a speech that's focused on a comprehensive vision for the Middle East.
And so the fact that he doesn't delve into particulars, whether it's Iran or North Korea, on what's going on in the Security Council or something, obviously that doesn't mean we don't think those issues are important, or that we're not going to be working, continuing to work on them behind the scenes. But it's a different style of speechmaking than the one where you go through and say, in this country we want to move this resolution; in that country we want to follow up with this force recruitment or whatever. Those, as my colleague says, those are the kind of details that will be there to implement the broader vision.
Q Should we expect him to have any discussion of how America is viewed by other countries around the world, given the debate that's happening with how detainees are treated, and so forth?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I don't think that -- I wouldn't anticipate him getting into those kinds of issues.
Q Thank you very much.
Q Will there be discussion of -- not within the President's speech, but by administration officials, about further sanctions or hardening of sanctions against North Korea? And, also, is there any discussion going on about the U.S. withholding its U.N. dues to express dissatisfaction with reforms going on in the United Nations?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: On the first one, let me just say that generally, I think you've seen the pattern of how -- and I think we've been pretty successful in the U.N. over the last few weeks and months on a number of fronts, whether it's Sudan, North Korea, and others - Lebanon -- of getting resolutions passed with large majorities, calling on other countries to do things that the international community thinks they need to do to either end threats to peace and security or prevent them from coming to pass.
I think if you go back a few years, the President was pretty clear that the credibility of the U.N., though, is following through on things like that, and that means the credibility of the member states. So we're following in each of these cases a very sort of methodical approach -- let's first get everybody to agree what the benchmarks are that we're saying to one of these regimes that they need to do, and next you give them some pretty clear guidance as to what is likely to befall them if they don't do it, and then you need to follow through and take steps on that.
So you could look at each one of these and see where we are in the progression, but it's not a case of jumping from right into sanctions or other measures like that until we've worked through the process.
On U.N. reform, I think our sense is that there have been important accomplishments on the reform agenda, not nearly as much as we would have liked to have seen, or still want to see. I think, as Secretary Rice and Ambassador Bolton have made clear, that reform isn't a one-time deal, it's a sort of never-ending evolution -- or revolution.
We've seen some real progress, particularly on accountability issues during the year, getting an ethics office set up, getting standards for receipt of gifts and financial disclosure by U.N. employees, much better accounting systems, the independent oversight board. So from the standpoint of being able to assure that -- or guard against corruption, guard against conflict of interest, those kinds of issues, we've actually had pretty good success thus far.
Where we've still got room to move forward, and we want to see some real movement forward, is in going through and reviewing what is it that the U.N. is doing. We've got mandates, as they call them, that have been given by the General Assembly to the U.N. staff over a period of 60 years; some of them have produced offices and bureaus and programs that are exceptionally effective and useful and a good expenditure of money. Others may have been a good thing to do at one time, but have outlived their usefulness. Others are very, very -- are not producing good results.
So our desire is not that we have some particular ones that we want to -- you know, we want to favor this, and be against that, but it's to go through a process of really evaluating these and trying to be sure that resources get put where they're going to do -- where they're going to be used effectively and to good ends, and that ones that are not good uses of money, that those monies get shifted over to places where they'll be better spent.
On that, we've made some progress in the sense that the staff at least has started to inventory what mandates were out there. People didn't even know -- this was one of the problems we were up against -- they didn't know what it was the U.N. was doing, or what the employees were charged with doing. So at least the knowledge base has improved over the last year. But we have had a lot of resistance to moving forward on that.
Withholding of U.N. dues is a big step. I think you know there are different legislative proposals on that, on the Hill. It's certainly a step you can't rule out if there isn't any forward movement on reform, but our interest here is in getting reform, not in what the consequences would be if we're not successful in that effort.
Q Thank you. Hello. If you can tolerate one more question on Iran, though not on the President's speech on Tuesday. I'm interested, sir, in the degree to which the President hopes to use his bilaterals and his group meetings at the U.N. to advance the diplomatic track toward sanctions on Iran, an effort that seems to be flagging in Europe and certainly with the Russians and the Chinese. How much is he going to focus on that, and what does he plan to say and do about it next week?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It will be -- certainly when he meets with President Chirac he will discuss it. When he meets with any of the major players, Iran is always going to be near the top of the list because it's a priority of American foreign policy. As I said before, it's not the focus of what he's doing up there next week, but it is a priority right now and so it's bound to be up at the top of the agenda in a number of his discussions.
I'd take issue a little bit with the way you describe it as -- the effort as flagging. It's not quite moving, I think, as fast as we had hoped a week or two ago, when we were suggesting that we'd have a sanctions resolution before the UNGA event, but I think that all of the major players are talking about sanctions within short order. That effort hasn't stopped -- none of those who have been saying that they were for sanctions are now against them. So I really think that the coalition is holding together. So the question -- there are some differences about timing and approach, and that sort of thing, but nothing major that really requires attention.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me jump in on this, too, not on the particular topic of Iran. But one thing I wanted to mention is that, unlike last year, where you had virtually all of the heads of state from around the world, or heads of government in New York, this year actually it's much, much fewer countries who are represented at that level. Many of the key players in some of these dramas we've been discussing are not there -- in other words, the President's counterpart is not there, but they will be represented at the foreign minister level or other levels like that, and you're going to have Secretary Rice and other senior officials in New York for a couple of weeks. There will be a lot of activities at their level that may not be going on at the presidential level, simply because the appropriate counterpart at his level isn't in New York this year.
Q Thank you. And, briefly, just to follow, does the President see next week as an opportunity to make any gains diplomatically on moving toward the sanctions through his efforts next week?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think just as my colleague said, the number of people that he'll be meeting with who are key players on the issue is limited. Off the top of my head, I can only think of President Chirac. And so I wouldn't expect the President to be seeking to deliver that next week.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Or at least not in New York. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not in New York. Yes, I was --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- phone calls or via a ministers --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And through other channels of our diplomacy is through the State Department, but this isn't the focus of the President's activities.
Q Thank you.
Q I think the question, actually, just got answered, because I was going to ask if there would be some kind of five-plus-one level, high-level, that is presidential level meeting up there. But I guess from what you're saying is that that is not planned. And if it does happen, it would happen maybe at the diplomatic, State Department-type level, if I understood you correctly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Exactly.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And that's simply because if you look at the participants, most of the -- with the exception of President Chirac, I don't think any of the other P5 members are there at the head of the state level.
Q Yes, but do -- I realize it's just not your --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Or the plus one. (Laughter.)
Q Right, right. But I realize it's not your -- technically not your bailiwick, but you do expect it to happen then at the, say at the foreign ministries/Department level?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would put that to the State Department to see what they've got planned.
Q Sure, sure.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, Secretary Rice has a very full program that's -- she's going to be there more time than the President will be. And so I think you can ask them and get an idea of just how broad our reach is going to be.
Q Sure, that's fine. Okay, thanks.
Q I'm sorry for the repetition. Same thing with Iran and North Korea. I was going to ask about the P5 plus one meeting. And I think you just said the foreign minister level would be meeting on North Korea. Can you elaborate any on the meetings that would happen on North Korea or Iran, maybe, lower level?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think we've already kind of covered --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, and steered you over to the State Department, too, so we don't want to be trying to brief on the meetings that the Secretary will be having.
Q Okay, thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, another bite at the apple.
Q Exactly. Well, nice -- nice work on that Burma vote. (Laughter.) That's how our --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, since you asked, we thought we better move fast here.
Q And I appreciate that. But in the meantime, something else has happened, which is that Mark Malloch Brown has come out and said that the United Nations is going to ask the African Union to extend its presence in Darfur through to the end of the year, and that there will not be a blue-helmeted U.N. force of an extended nature there before then. Is that your understanding, as well? Is that satisfactory?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I had not heard his statement.
Q Well, it happened --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Minutes ago.
Q -- about a minute ago.
MR. JONES: A little difficult for us to spot in the breaking news.
Q Fred, you need to time these better.
MR. JONES: I'm sorry our speakers are focused so intently on the questions here that they have not had an opportunity to glance at the computers. But we'll see if we can have something for you on that later.
Q That would be great. Thanks, Fred.
MR. JONES: Okay, getting ready to wrap up here. Let's take one more.
OPERATOR: There are no more questions in the queue right now.
MR. JONES: There you go. How about that for timing. All right, thank you, everyone. I'd like to end the formal portion of this briefing now, if I could.
END 2:24 P.M. EDT