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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 9, 2008

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino, National Security Advisor for Regional Affairs Judy Ansley, and Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs Dan Price
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Ljubljana, Slovenia

12:05 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Hi, everybody. We're on our way to Slovenia. And I'm going to give a -- I have one announcement for you, and then I brought back Judy Ansley, who is Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Regional Affairs, and Dan Price, Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs. These two people are the President's point people on the EU-U.S. summit, and so they can provide you an overview -- Judy will provide you an overview, and Dan will talk specifically about the significant number of economic issues that are going to be in front of the President and the other leaders for tomorrow's activities.

One announcement is that today President Bush will announce his intention to nominate Michael Donley to serve as Secretary of the Air Force. He will also announce his intention to designate him as Acting Secretary of the Air Force. Mr. Donley has over 26 years of experience in the national security community, including service in the Senate, White House and the Pentagon. During his career, he has been involved in strategy and policymaking at the highest levels, and is a recognized expert in national security organization, planning and budgeting. He currently serves as Director of Administration and Management for DOD. Early in his career he served as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management, and as Acting Secretary of the Air Force. The President is confident that Mr. Donley has the experience and knowledge necessary to help ensure a smooth transition at the Air Force. And I believe DOD will have more for you or for your counterparts back home.

Let me turn it over to Judy and Dan, and then I'll follow up at the end if you have any other questions.

MS. ANSLEY: The President's trip this week coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, which highlights the United States role in supporting the transition to a prosperous Europe, which is increasingly whole, free and at peace. The EU is truly a partner for the U.S. now in confronting a whole series of global challenges, and advancing freedom and prosperity around the world.

The agenda for the summit covers a broad range of global issues. At the summit tomorrow we expect that the leaders will talk about ways to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, ways to support democracy in Lebanon, ways to advance peace in the Middle East and support the Israeli and Palestinian peace efforts, ways to support -- best support Kosovo's independence and continued development.

On Latin America, it will be a discussion of how best to promote democracy, particularly in Cuba. And Georgia, they'll discuss ways to reduce tensions in the separatist region of Abkhazia. And on Afghanistan and Iraq, we discuss ways that both the EU and the U.S. will continue to support these new democracies, because there's a broad range of these efforts that we're already working with the EU on, and the President's hope is to advance further along on these efforts.

There will also be a whole series of economic issues that we'll be discussing with the EU, and I'd like to turn that over to Dan Price right now, on the economic issues.

MR. PRICE: My name is Dan Price. I wanted to address some of the economic development and other global issues that will be on the agenda of the U.S.-EU summit. First item will be receiving a report from the Transatlantic Economic Council, which is chaired on the European side by Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, and on the United States side by me.

We will be presenting a report to leaders on the accomplishments of the TEC to date, some of the challenges that it is facing, and some issues that it will be addressing in the future. And we will be receiving guidance from the leaders as to the priorities for the TEC for the coming year. The United States is committed to ensuring that the TEC remains true to its mandate of fostering transatlantic economic integration, and in this regard we believe it is essential that both sides honor and fulfill commitments made in the TEC to fulfill those high objectives.

Second, we will be addressing the need to maintain openness in our investment climates. One of the deliverables of the TEC is a joint statement to present two leaders underscoring the importance of hope and investment, not only to the prosperity of Europe and the United States, but to global prosperity. The U.S. administration unequivocally supports international investment in the United States, and is equally committed to securing fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment for U.S. investment abroad.

We will also be discussing the Doha Round. The United States and the European Union are working very closely together to achieve an ambitious outcome in the Doha Round. The leaders will be discussing how we can further these efforts, how we can not only ensure our joint continued commitment to an ambitious outcome, but as well and importantly, encourage advanced developing countries that benefit greatly from the global trading system to step forward and to contribute to strong market opening outcomes in agriculture, industrial goods and services.

We will also be discussing at the summit the issue of food security, and how Europe and the United States can work more closely together not only to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of getting food and non-food emergency supplies to the hungry and those presently in need, but how we can align our development policies to better increase productivity, agricultural productivity in the developing world, crop yields in the developing world; how we can work together on the infrastructure challenges that contribute to food insecurity, such as distribution systems, field to city, port systems, irrigation systems. And again, we will want to be ensuring that our policies and actions are coordinated with the U.N. task force that has recently been set up.

From the United States' perspective, an important aspect of dealing with the issue of food security is ensuring that the developing world has available to it the most modern technologies and agricultural techniques, including access to biotechnology and seeds that are drought-resistant, insect-resistant, and will boost yields in the developing world. We have a challenge in this respect in that many on the European side still resist biotech. We have moved to the point in the biotech discussion where it must properly be viewed through the humanitarian lens. And so we are hopeful we will find common ground on this issue, as well.

Sticking with development, we will also be talking about global health issues -- in particular, the need for the European Union and the member states to honor commitments made in the G8 in respect of health; in particular, HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and polio. From the United States' point of view, and we believe from the leadership provided from the Japanese president -- presidency, it is critical that the G8 demonstrate that it is accountable and it is fulfilling the commitments that it has made.

The President will also be seeking support for two new initiatives in the area of health: one in the area of increasing the number of health workers in Africa, and the second in seeking funding commitments to address the problem of so-called neglected tropical diseases. These are seven significant diseases which together afflict close to a billion people. One of these diseases alone accounts for 25 percent of primary school absences in sub-Saharan Africa. These diseases are treatable and beatable by medicines that are available today. The United States has committed $350 million over the next five years. The estimates are that this is a billion dollar problem, so we will be seeking support in Europe for this initiative to carry forward in the G8.

Q What are the diseases -- just an example or two?

MR. PRICE: One is schistosomiasis. The other -- another is hookworm. Another is river blindness. These are diseases of --these are diseases that are horribly debilitating, as well as disfiguring and disabling.

Let me move on to climate. The President will be discussing in the U.S.-EU summit the importance of addressing climate change on a global basis and dealing with the challenges of energy security. The President will be encouraging his European counterparts to join us to ensure a successful outcome of the major economies leaders meeting, as well as the G8 meeting, in the area of climate.

As you know, there will be a meeting of the leaders of the major economies, those countries that together constitute 80 percent of energy consumption and 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. There will be a meeting of these leaders on the last day of the G8 in Japan. We look forward to working with our European counterparts and others in the major economies process to advance the U.N. negotiations.

We are looking towards a leaders declaration which will hopefully reflect agreement on a long-term emissions reduction goal and reflect commitments by all major economies to make their mid-term plans and goals binding as part of a new international climate agreement.

We are also looking through the major economies process for agreement by this group to advance tariff elimination on clean energy goods, services and technologies. The major economies leaders meeting at the G8 provides a unique opportunity to lend our collective political weight to progress in the U.N. negotiations.

And I'll stop there.

Q What does -- how will the significant increase in the price of oil impact the meetings over the next couple of days, particularly in the EU?

MR. PRICE: Well, as you know, the rising energy prices have a very, very significant effect not only in the energy sector, but in broad economic sectors, as well. The rising energy prices are perhaps a principal cause of the food insecurity problem which we face today. So we will be dealing with rising energy prices when we talk about food, and certainly when we talk about climate change rising energy prices underscore the even more pressing need to explore alternatives to hydrocarbons, to deal and push forward plans to expand nuclear; deal with alternatives and renewables, as well.

Q Is there anything in the short term? A lot of that is long term, particularly nuclear energy. Anything that can be done in the short term to address and ameliorate high oil prices, such as OPEC --

MS. PERINO: What I would say in terms of -- you've heard the President talk about this issue for several years and that promising short-term fixes is not responsible. There are some things that we could do to try to signal to the market. For example, if the Democrats in Congress would allow some votes on what Republicans have wanted to do, which is to unlock the natural resources in our own country in environmentally responsible ways so that we could start to at least wean ourselves off the foreign dependence that we have.

In addition to that, the President is on these -- on the point that Dan made about the tariffs and removing those tariffs and allowing that clean technology to be able to get not only to -- between the Europeans and the United States, but all around the world, to address efficiency issues, right, because you want people to be able to continue to grow their economies, but in ways that use less fuel to do so. The issues of supply and demand are out there, and demand is not abating and supply is not increasing, at least by not as much as we need in our country.

So there are some things we can do there. The President expects this issue to come up. I think that you were able to hear his statement or get his statement before he left in which he talked about how he will be discussing with his counterparts

the issue of high oil prices, the importance of improving technologies in order to increase efficiencies, and also -- and looking for alternatives so that we can find clean-burning ways to fuel our economies, which are important for the consumers of our countries, the producers of our countries, and certainly is the best way to fight global poverty.

In addition, you said -- you saw the President reiterate our position on the strong dollar, and he expects this issue to come up, and it's appropriate and right for the President to reiterate what our policy is.

Q Do you expect the U.S-EU summit itself to produce any kind of statement on any of the climate issues or any of the technology issues that you just brought up?

MR. PRICE: Yes. We expect there to be a declaration coming out of the U.S.-EU summit, which will touch on a variety of the issues that both Judy and I have discussed. There will be a section on that in that declaration on climate change and energy security, as there will be on many of the other economic and development topics.

Q Can you give us any kind of, you know, preview of what it might say?

MR. PRICE: No. (Laughter.)

Q Are you actually putting proposals on the table? Are you putting new proposals on the table, or are you -- rehearsing arguments that are familiar to us all -- on climate change, in particular?

MR. PRICE: Well, I don't know if they're familiar to all of you --

Q So there are no -- they're out?

MR. PRICE: Yes, I mean --

Q I mean, there's nothing new that you're proposing?

MR. PRICE: Nothing new that we're proposing? What we are doing is -- I think, if you're familiar with the climate discussions between the United States and Europe, then you are also familiar with those arguments.

Q But you're not putting forward a new argument -- or, there's no new proposal other than that's -- what we've already heard about previously?

MR. PRICE: Again, it's kind of hard --

Q It's my accent partly.

MR. PRICE: No, it's not the accent --

Q Has anybody a translator?

MR. PRICE: -- heard about previously.

Q The discussions, which took place in Washington, is there -- basically, is there anything which takes us further forward than what we've already heard?

MR. PRICE: No, I think that there is a growing recognition, not only in the United States, but in Europe, as well, that in order for a new international climate agreement to be accepted, it's got to be both environmentally effective and economically sustainable. In order to be environmentally effective, it's going to require actions and commitments not only by the developed countries but by the major emerging economies, as well.

I think there is growing recognition of that. And I think there are efforts on both sides, both on the European side and on the United States side, to do what we can to ensure that that future agreement, come Copenhagen 2009, is one that is truly effective and comprehensive.

MS. PERINO: Last ones to those guys.

Q Judy, can I ask you -- over the weekend, Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman said he didn't think that a solution on Jerusalem could be reached by the end of the year. He said Middle East peace would be one of the topics. If that's true -- if a settlement on the final status of Jerusalem can't be reached, what does that do to the President's goal of having the definition of a Palestinian state by the end of his term, if you can't -- if that part of it can't be worked out?

MS. ANSLEY: Well, I think that the President's goal has been to get a state defined and to have the main principles of what that state will look like defined. I mean, Jerusalem is going to be a difficult issue, and I think that it has always been our thought it would be one of the last issues that would be resolved, but that doesn't mean that you can't define a state and have a goal for the two parties to be looking at and to shoot for.

And also, I think one of the things that will be discussed is, how can the EU and the U.S. help the institutions of this burgeoning Palestinian state develop? That's something that we've been working on, and the EU, in particular, has been working on the security side and helping the Palestinian institutions. So I think that you can still make advances even if you don't have all of the pieces in place.

MS. PERINO: Anything for me?

Q Do you expect the -- in the summit a combined statement as part of the declaration to include a renewed call for OPEC to increase oil production?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware of one, but we'll let you know.

Q Another on the dollar since you --

MS. PERINO: -- OPEC to increase production was the question, and I said I don't know of one.

Q And on the dollar, this is the first time the President has said a strong dollar comment in many, many months. Is this a new effort for the White House and the administration to talk up the dollar when it hit a six-week low, I believe, the other -- today?

MS. PERINO: Again, I believe that -- the President believes that this is an issue that will come up. We have a -- he has a policy for his administration that we believe in a strong dollar. He believes this is an issue that will come up with the EU leaders, and he wanted to make sure that people -- you know, make no mistake about it, this is what the President's position is.

Q Is that something that might be, you know, included in a joint declaration or whatever?

MS. PERINO: Doubt it. No, this is -- that's a United States policy, and this will be a joint meeting, so.

Anything else?

Q Just on the biotechnology thing, are you actually calling for the exportation of biotechnology to developing world countries?

MR. PRICE: Well, I wouldn't put it that way. Right now poor farmers are discouraged from planting biotech crops that are appropriate for their environments because markets in Europe are closed because of the continued stubborn and unjustified resistance to the products of biotechnology.

MS. PERINO: Okay? Thanks, guys.

END 12:27 P.M. EDT