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Excerpts from the Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer October 27, 2002 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Is the President disappointed with what seems like the lack of progress on the diplomatic front, with regard to Iraq and with regard to North Korea, vis-a-vis the meetings over the weekend?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, certainly on North Korea, you had two rather important statements, one comes from South Korea, Japan, the United States, and the other was an APEC-wide statement, with Russian support, all calling on North Korea to dismantle their nuclear weapons program. These are rather strong statements. In diplomatese, it doesn't get much stronger than what they did. So the President is gratified to have the strong, multilateral support of APEC, as well as the neighboring countries.

QUESTION: How about Iraq? What's the latest on Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: With the United Nations?


MR. FLEISCHER: As Secretary Powell said yesterday, this will be a key week. And we will see what happens in New York. This is the United Nations chance to do some good, or this is the United Nations chance to fail.

QUESTION: How would you assess the chances right now?

MR. FLEISCHER: I would hesitate to guess. I think that typically what happens in cases like this is once it is known that the vote will take place, the day leading up to, if not the hours immediately prior to the vote are when people really start to take firm positions. And people will at that time know. Leading up to that final moment, there is always interesting diplomacy, interesting public statements versus private statements. But the President went to the United Nations with a clear charge on September 12th. It remains to be seen whether the members of the United Nations Security Council have heard that speech, and intend to change their ways, or whether the United Nations Security Council will once again fall into an acquiescent slumber.

Break in Press Briefing

QUESTION: Ari, the President was strongly criticized today by Senator Lieberman, who had been one of his strongest supporters on Iraq policy in the Senate. Senator Lieberman said, "The distance and negative reaction of some of the allies like the French speaks to the fact that the Bush administration didn't bring our allies in early enough." Is the President disappointed that Senator Lieberman is being this critical?

MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, I think the facts prove that as a result of the President's efforts, the allies are more focused on Iraq than they have been in 11 years. So it's just the opposite. For 11 years, the United Nations slumbered. And this President is the one who is waking up the allies.