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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 18, 2006

Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Steve Hadley
Thang Loi Hotel
Hanoi, Vietnam

     Fact sheet APEC 2006

2:35 P.M. (Local)

MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. I thought I might recap a little bit of the day so far. The President now has, of course, gone into the formal sessions of the APEC forum meeting. This morning he had a bilateral meeting with President Roh of South Korea. I think Tony Snow has read out that meeting. It was a very constructive meeting; discussion about the status of the free trade agreement negotiations between South Korea and the United States, discussion of war on terror issues -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon; and of course, a discussion on North Korea. And I would just refer to the statement that was made by the South Korean President after that meeting. I think it summarizes where the two leaders ended up as a result of their conversations -- his statement, and then, of course, the response of our President.

There was then a meeting between the President and the leaders of seven of the 10 ASEAN countries -- these were the seven leaders of nations that are both members of ASEAN, but also members of APEC, and therefore, were here for this meeting.

The President thanked the leaders for the strong statement that ASEAN had put out on North Korea that was just a few days before North Korea indicated it would return to the talks. He thanked them for that effort. There was a -- in the President's comments, he emphasized the importance of trade to the prosperity and stability of the region; emphasized the importance of a free trade agreement for the Asia Pacific, which is an idea that is being discussed now at the APEC meeting. The President believes it's a very interesting idea that should be seriously discussed among the leaders of APEC.

He talked about the cooperation on avian influenza, that has increased considerably over the last year among the countries of ASEAN, with the United States; the importance of prevention, but, at the same time, the importance of being prepared to plan and deal with an outbreak should it occur.

The President talked a little bit about the challenges for democracy in the region and, of course, the importance that Thailand find its way back to constitutional democracy, and that the countries of ASEAN put on their agenda dealing with Burma and getting the junta that is in charge there to move in a positive direction towards giving their Burmese people an opportunity for participation in their government and greater freedom.

There was a fairly extensive discussion among the leaders. A number of leaders emphasized the importance of their bilateral ties with the United States and reported on the status of those ties. There was an expression from a number of leaders of the importance of strengthening U.S.-ASEAN ties, and to build on the enhanced partnership that was announced last year in the meeting between the President and ASEAN.

One of the ideas that was talked about -- about how to strengthen ties between the United States and ASEAN -- was an idea to mirror the business dialogue that accompanies ASEAN -- that is to say, a forum of business leaders from the United States and ASEAN countries that meets with leaders of those nations on the margins of meetings such as this -- to maybe have an equivalent exchange program with students from the United States and the various ASEAN countries. There was a sense among a number of leaders that enhancing exchanges between the United States and ASEAN at all levels was an important feature of that relationship going forward.

There is an opportunity to feature this relationship next year, which will mark the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations, a discussion about how to mark that event next year; also a discussion about alternative energy sources. This is a priority for a number of nations and a consensus that ASEAN needs to, in its relations with the United States, make that a priority and to build on some of the APEC initiatives that will be discussed here over the next two days, including those involving biofuels.

There was a recognition of the importance of inclusive institutions in Asia. That's one of the things that is so important about APEC. It is both Asian nations and, of course, Pacific nations, whether on the East or the West, and includes the United States.

And finally, there was a discussion, of course, of the ongoing terrorist threat, and the importance of supporting moderates against extremists as part of an effort to deal with the terrorist threat, and also, of course, the emphasis on using freedom, trade and economic development to build just societies in the region.

The President had lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Abe. They met one-on-one for about 20 minutes at the outset, and then joined the rest of the delegation for lunch. This was the first meeting between the President and Mr. Abe since his becoming Prime Minister. In the lunch sessions, the President complimented Prime Minister Abe on the strong start of his administration, and he had in mind his trip to South Korea and to China to strengthen Japan's ties with both of those countries.

There was a discussion of North Korea, a lot of which occurred in the private session between the two leaders, but the President indicated that he and Prime Minister Abe saw eye-to-eye on the North Korea issue. North Korea has choices. There is the hope, of course, that North Korea will make a positive choice to give up its nuclear weapons. There was a recognition that in order to encourage North Korea to make that choice it had to be a mix of both negative incentives, or pressure, and positive incentives, and there had to be some consequence for the decisions North Korea would make.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of the abductee issue in the ongoing dialogue between Japan and North Korea. There was some discussion of both Iraq and Afghanistan. The President assured Prime Minister Abe that the United States would not leave Iraq until the job is done, as the President has said so many times. The President thanked Prime Minister Abe for his help in Afghanistan, particularly the contributions that Japan is making to completion of the Ring Road in Afghanistan.

There was discussion of a number of other issues -- the importance of APEC as an inclusive forum for dealing with issues in Asia; Security Council reform in the United Nations; a discussion of the importance of Doha and the Doha Round. Finally, both leaders reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance and the President reaffirmed the traditional American defense commitments to Japan.

There were a couple light moments in the discussion. One was a discussion about the contribution that may be made to the Japanese economy by the signing to a contract by the Boston Red Sox of a Japanese pitcher, a man named Matsuzaka, at an estimated $51 million, which is -- the President complimented the Prime Minister on that; and also a poignant moment -- the Prime Minister presented a picture to the President of his grandfather and the President's grandfather playing golf with President Eisenhower in the waning days of the Eisenhower administration -- interesting familial touch for the two leaders.

After the lunch with Prime Minister Abe there was a trilateral meeting between President Bush, Prime Minister Abe and President Roh. Good conversation among the three. I think there was a consensus of the need for the three countries to work, and the three leaders to cooperate together to meet the challenges -- economic and security -- in northeast Asia. There was agreement that this trilateral framework of consultations between South Korea, Japan and the United States at various levels was a useful device for coordinating our approaches to various issues; reaffirmation of the trilateral vehicle, if you will.

There was a little discussion about common values that unite these three countries and the need to discuss, as part of the agenda we have among the three, how to spread those values in Asia. There was, of course, some discussion about North Korea, the need to use both pressure and incentives to try and get North Korea to make the right choice on its nuclear program; the need for coordination among the three, and also coordination with the three with China, if we're going to achieve a positive result. I think there is a sense that while there is patience required, there was also a shared view that we must not let North Korea use the six-party talks as an instrument for delay.

That's, I think, the best -- that's a fairly fair summary of the scope of the discussions. Tomorrow, the President has more meetings of APEC. On the margin of those meetings he has a meeting with President Hu Jintao of China, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. With President Hu, I'm sure the agenda will include the issue of North Korea, the strategic economic dialogue that has been established between the United States and China that is headed up by Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson. There will be, I'm sure, discussion of Darfur, human rights, and other issues.

With President Putin, there will be, obviously, a discussion of WTO, which the United States and Russia have reached -- or will be at the point of reaching agreement on a bilateral WTO agreement between the two. There will be discussions about, I'm sure, counter-proliferation. As you know, the United States and Russia are cooperating on the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and a number of other counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation activities. I'm sure there will be discussion of Iran, the Middle East and regional issues.

And I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Q In any of these contacts --

MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry, let me mention one other thing that I left out today. The President went to the Joint Command that is responsible for the search for POW/MIA remains. It was a very good briefing he received on the status of that effort. It is really a cooperative effort between the United States and Vietnam. It is producing results by being able to close cases of persons whose loved ones were killed here during the Vietnam War.

And that's it. Sorry, Terry.

Q In any of these contacts here has anyone asked about the impact from the elections and the President's -- the loss of the President's party in Congress?

MR. HADLEY: It's come up. These are -- a number of leaders are people who the President knows well. They are politicians. They have known situations -- they have been in situations in which -- like what he is in. He, of course, reassured them that, in terms of the foreign policy of the country, he was firm in his views and would be continuing that foreign policy along current lines. He also, of course, indicated that there were some opportunities here to make progress on some important issues for the country, and he's, of course, talked publicly about that. So he didn't say anything to these leaders that he hasn't talked about publicly to the American people as he's assessed the outcome of the elections in November.

Q Did it seem to you that any of them were concerned or were looking for reassurance?

MR. HADLEY: I didn't have any sense of that. It didn't seem to have any impact on the discussions, the substance of the issue, so I don't think it was a source of concern by anybody. They know the President to be a very strong leader, a man of conviction, a man of principle, and I think they know where he stands on the issues and understand the role the President plays in foreign policy under our system.

Q Could you say who raised the issue, which of the leaders?

MR. HADLEY: I can't. Actually, I don't -- I couldn't give you an accurate list. It was raised maybe a couple instances -- not a big theme, quite frankly.


Q You mentioned that you don't want North Korea to use the talks as an instrument of delay. But isn't that what they're doing by not taking steps so that the talks can resume?

MR. HADLEY: Well, that's why -- what we've said is, of course, that we're pleased that North Korea has indicated they want to come back to the six-party talks, but we've also said for some time that they cannot come back just to talk. They need to come back, indicate they're prepared to implement the September 19, 2005 agreement, and there needs to be concrete steps toward the implementation of that agreement.

Now, what those steps will be is obviously something that will be discussed among the five of the six-party talks. It's something that will have to, obviously, be part of those negotiations. But I think that's why it's important that when they return it is with a commitment to implement and a commitment to take some concrete steps to implement that agreement.


Q Two questions, one on North Korea and one on Vietnam. Just to follow on your North Korea thought here for a moment, so far we haven't heard any suggestions from the administration about what would constitute concrete steps that the North Koreans show. And understanding that you have to negotiate all this out, can you give us some examples of what you're thinking of? Some of those that we have heard elsewhere have been suspending production of the five-megawatt reactor, suspending production of the reprocessing center, allowing the IAEA back in for inspection. Are these the kind of things you have in mind? Do you have something different in mind?

MR. HADLEY: Those could be. There are others, as well. I'm not affirming that those are on the list, but generically those are the kinds of things one might think about. But, obviously, at this point it's something we'd like to work out with our other parties and colleagues in the six-party talks, rather than talk about publicly.

Q Would it be safe to say, though, that what you are looking for is something that will basically suspend the production of new materiel that they could use for additional weapons?

MR. HADLEY: It is safe to say that we're looking for some concrete steps. What those steps would be is something that will have to be worked out.

Q And one question on Vietnam. As some of us who were here on the previous trip the President took to Vietnam, when President Clinton came, I guess was at the very end of his presidency -- have been struck a little bit by the difference in tone. It was a different time, of course. But he was out much more in public with the Vietnamese. I know the President went today to a POW/MIA center. I think President Clinton went out to one of the sites where they were recovering -- and so forth, and it was something that whole villages turned out for. I was wondering whether you are concerned at all that the Vietnamese people are not seeing President Bush in their midst quite as much as they might like?

MR. HADLEY: Well, if you'd been part of the President's motorcade as we've shuttled back and forth over the course of the day --

Q I have been in some, yes.

MR. HADLEY: Well, as you can tell, we're in the midst of the Vietnamese people all the time. It's been -- one of the things I think the President has enjoyed is the people hanging out of windows and going up and down the streets. You know, one of the things that's nice about this is the streets have not been cleared, but there are folks coming and going. And the President has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles.

I think one of the things the President has talked about and one of the messages he will take back is the friendliness and openness of the Vietnamese people. And he's seen it by the interactions he has had, by the waves of hands on the streets, the number of people -- whether they are office workers or hotel workers or restaurant workers -- who, when he leaves an event, come up and want their picture taken with the President. So I think he's gotten a real sense of the warmth of the Vietnamese people and their willingness to put a very difficult period for both the United States and Vietnam behind them, to look forward. They clearly believe -- and we see it from the conversations with their leaders -- that U.S.-Vietnamese relations, good U.S.-Vietnamese relations is a piece of Vietnam's vision for the future of the country and how to get there. They clearly believe that relations with the United States can make a contribution to that. And I think you've seen the broadening of that relationship over the years.

So I think the President has a very good sense and will go back to the United States and tell the American people that these are a people that are very open to and solicitous of good relations with the United States. And he'll also go back and say that this is a good place for American business to look, because the vitality and dynamism of this economy is truly remarkable. They have made very smart economic steps with respect to economic reform.

I guess the other thing that's handicapped a little bit, of course, is he's here for the occasion of the meeting of ASEAN. And we've tried to -- given as much time as we can in what is already an eight-day trip, which is a pretty long time for the President to be out of the country -- we've tried to build in as much of a bilateral program as he can. But I think he's got a good feel for the people and I think that that will be the message that he'll take back.

I might, if I can, reach out and take one issue that I know there's been a lot of discussion about, and that's this issue about South Korea's role with respect to PSI, the Proliferation Security Initiative. It's an interesting issue. You know, PSI is an organization of about 80-plus countries that have agreed to a set of principles and agreed cooperatively to try and interdict and disrupt trade in weapons of mass destruction or the equipment associated with them. It operates under -- consistent with international law, under national authorities. There's a sharing of intelligence. There is interdiction, some of it options on the high seas, some of it in ports of transit, to try and interrupt that trade before it gets to its point of destination, and into, particularly, the territorial waters of the point of destination where interception becomes much more difficult, for obvious reasons.

So that is the framework. And obviously, it is nuclear and weapon of mass destruction trade -- land, sea and air, generally. It obviously has application to those countries that are seeking those kind of technologies.

What South Korea has said is that they are not prepared to formally join PSI, and the reason has to do with some understandings they have with respect to -- that arise out of the fact that in this case, a very unique situation, South Korea and North Korea share the same peninsula and have certain arrangements with respect to that and that apply to territorial waters of those two countries.

But short of that, they have made clear to us, they've made clear in their public statements, that they fully support U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, that they will cooperate to ensure that equipment related to weapons of mass destruction does not get into North Korea and does not get out of North Korea. They said that they will, on a case-by-case basis, cooperate with the PSI countries as part of that effort, obviously focusing on the high seas, and that they will be participating in exercises and other things.

So we don't view this that somehow South Korea has rejected PSI. What we believe is that South Korea has actually embraced the objectives, as the President said today. He, I think, said clearly that he -- that South Korea accepted the principles and objectives of PSI, and that they will be cooperating on a case-by-case basis with it. So we think this is actually a positive affirmation of South Korea that they are participating in the effort to interrupt the trade in and out of North Korea, and to put some pressure on North Korea in aid of a diplomatic solution.

Other questions.

Q Are the United States and its partners in the North Korean -- the six-party talks -- do you agree on what the package of, you said, negative incentives, or pressure, and positive incentives ought to be? Is there agreement on that?

MR. HADLEY: I would say that there is, and what I would point to you, of course, is the Security Council resolutions that have been adopted, which indicate -- and 1718 being the most recent -- the consequences that are there for North Korea for its failing to do what the international community has asked it to do, which is to give up its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. And in terms of incentives, those are, I think, suggested pretty clearly in the September 19, 2005 document.

Now, the President and other leaders have said very clearly that if North Korea will make the right choices, there are positive things that will flow and that will result in a better life for the people of North Korea. So I think the framework is pretty well laid out. What we need is North Korea to come by and begin negotiating in the context of that framework.

Q So if the pressures are agreed to and the incentives are agreed to, and you all want to get back to the talks and you all agree that North Korea shouldn't view the talks as a delaying tactic, what are you talking about behind closed doors with China and South Korea?

MR. HADLEY: A couple things. One, is to make sure that -- continued, sort of, reaffirmation of that. Now that we have the prospect of North Korea coming back to the talks, there is -- what do we expect of that first round of talks when we say it has to result in concrete steps, what does that mean. And how do we get North Korea commitment to those steps so that the return to the discussions will be successful and result in a positive step.

The other thing is I think there's also some discussion about coordination of the pressures -- how is it best to approach North Korea with a package of pressures and incentives so that they will come to talks in a constructive way.

Q The Prime Minister of Japan addressed the question of his plans for nuclear -- possible exploration into nuclear weapons, that has come up --

MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry, who are you talking about?

Q The Prime Minister of Japan, whether he addressed that with the President?

MR. HADLEY: Say it again, whether he addressed what?

Q The question of Japan getting involved also in nuclear weapons, as a response to the current developments. And whether there has been any talk about strengthening military cooperation in the region in a more formal setting.

MR. HADLEY: He did not discuss that in the sessions in which I participated. He has been public in statements on that issue, so in some sense he's staked out his position very clearly. The two leaders did, of course, reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-Japanese defense relationship. As the two leaders indicated, as part of that they are going to look at how we can expand cooperation in the area of ballistic missile defense. So that certainly continues to be an item of discussion. As you know, we have over the last two years developed a plan for repositioning our forces in Japan in a way that will enhance the deterrence capability and reduce some of the impact on the Japanese people.

So this defense relationship is very complex, ongoing; in some sense gets adjusted all the time. The purpose of the leaders was to reaffirm it, to reaffirm the defense commitments the United States has made to Japan. And as you saw today, the two leaders indicating that in the area of ballistic missile defense they want to step it up a bit.

Q Today in the photo op, the President -- the photo op with Prime Minister Abe, the President specifically mentioned how he felt comfortable with Prime Minister Abe's style. And I was just wondering, going into this meeting was there some concern about -- since he were so close with Koizumi, was there some concern about the new Prime Minister's style? And how did that -- how is he looking at the differences between -- now that he's met him -- Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Koizumi?

MR. HADLEY: I don't think there was any concern. You know, Prime Minister Abe was a pretty known quantity, he had been chief of staff to Prime Minister Koizumi. A number of us had worked with him in connection with a number of issues, including the North Korea issue. So I think this is a man who's a pretty known quantity. I think the President was simply saying what -- he was not surprised to have that reaction, but thought it was useful for the people of both countries for him to say clearly, as I think Prime Minister Abe said clearly, that the two men like one another, like each other's styles, and will be able to work well together so that the close relationship between the President and Prime Minister Koizumi will clearly continue under Prime Minister Abe. That was the message the President was trying to send.

Q The photo that Prime Minister Abe gave to the President, had the President seen that picture before, or what was the --

MR. HADLEY: I don't know. He seemed quite surprised by it and quite touched by it. He did not indicate that he had; I can't rule that out.

Q -- it was President Bush and Abe's grandfather?

MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry?

Q It was President Bush and -- Prescott Bush and Prime Minister Abe's grandfather?

MR. HADLEY: That's correct.

Q At the time that his grandfather was also serving?

MR. HADLEY: I don't know if it was at the time he was serving. I cannot answer that question.

We done? Okay, last question.

Q I understand there's a discussion --

MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry?

Q I understand there's a discussion about the resolution or statement out of APEC leaders about North Korea. And what kind of content reform does the United States want, the resolution or statement about North Korea to be? And would you be disappointed that the leaders failed to come up with a kind of statement?

MR. HADLEY: There is a statement. I think it's pretty well agreed. There are a couple form -- there are a couple sort of issues remaining dealing mostly with the form, not the substance of that statement. I think we're pleased with that statement, and I think it will be a good contribution to the diplomacy.

Thanks a lot.

END 3:07 P.M. (Local)