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Summit Press Briefing Excerpts

Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, November 18, 2002 (Full transcript)

     Fact sheetNATO Summit Trip

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. Let me just start off with a world leader phone call the President had this morning. The President spoke to -- the President and Prime Minister Rasmussen had a warm and constructive call reflecting the close relationship that exists between the President and the Prime Minister.

The President congratulated the Prime Minister on his leadership in advancing the European Union accession process to its culmination at the Copenhagen summit in December. Both expressed pleasure at the prospect of a successful NATO summit this week. And both leaders agreed on the historic and strategic importance of advancing Turkey's evolution toward the European Union and the importance of the Copenhagen summit in that regard.

Break in Press Briefing

QUESTION: Scott, what kind of support would the President like to see from the NATO allies on Iraq? A statement of support, we'd like to see pledges of military support, both?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it was expressed. We may see that. I'm sure it will be discussed, but again, the primary purpose of the NATO summit is to talk about enlargement, robust enlargement around NATO, transforming NATO to meet the threats of the 21st century, and the new relationships that we have with countries like Russia. So that's the primary purpose. Let's let the meetings take place and then we'll go from there.

QUESTION: What I'm getting at is if one of the purposes of the new NATO is to face threats of the 21st century, and the President has identified Iraq as one of those principal threats, why is he not asking the Alliance to formally commit to military action to enforce what he thinks needs to be enforced?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's let the meetings take place. I think that NATO countries understand the importance of disarming Saddam Hussein and disarming the regime in Iraq.