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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, January 10, 2003 (Full transcript)
QUESTION: One more thing that Mr. Elbaradei said on Iraq, which is that the U.S. is still not giving enough actionable intelligence information to them to help them with their search in Iraq.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, Secretary Powell has made clear the United States will and is providing information to the inspectors to help them to do their job; will continue to be in communication with the inspectors about the exact nature of it. But they're receiving a tremendous amount of information now, and we think it's going to be very helpful to them in doing their jobs.
QUESTION: Thank you. And happy -- (laughter.) Ari, there are published reports that Russia is sharing intelligence with Iraq. Is this why the President is not releasing that what he says is evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't have anything on confirming or any indication of that report. I have not been provided any information on that.
QUESTION: Can I just go back to Iraq? You said that the U.S. is proving some information to the inspectors, but they did say publicly today that it's not enough, that they need more. Why withhold anything?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, the amount of information being given, as Secretary Powell has said, is quite substantial, and we believe it is very beneficial and it is increasing. It increases also with the ability of the inspectors to receive more of it. The more secure their ability is to maintain the information as new equipment arrives to help them to do so, the more information they receive.
QUESTION: But they're saying today that they want more of it, they're ready for more of this information --
MR. FLEISCHER: And we will always continue to have open channels of communication direct between the United States and the inspectors to help them to receive information.
QUESTION: But there -- are you not, in effect, delaying their ability to do their jobs by withholding any information from them?
MR. FLEISCHER: Their ability, I think they will also tell you, is growing, to receive information as a result of their acquiring additional information on the ground to help them to do their jobs. You always have to be mindful that when you put anybody in Iraq, you are putting them in a position where the Iraqi regime would like to listen in and find out everything they possibly can about what any visitor to Iraq is up to. As every visitor of Iraq will tell you, they have to have the tools and the resources to make certain that they -- their communications can be secure. And the inspectors are doing their job, receiving additional resources as they, themselves, ramp up.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about this meeting with Iraqi opposition leaders? Who is going to be there, and what's he going to talk about? Is he going to talk about the level of U.S. support for these groups? And is there any change anticipated in the support we're giving these groups?
MR. FLEISCHER: Okay, the meeting -- number one, this is a group of Iraqis. It's three Iraqis, three leading intellectuals who have met before with Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Their names are Kanan Makaya, Rend Franke and Hatem Muchlis. We'll give you the spellings on those. And they are all people who have a real concern about the future direction of Iraq, to make certain that Iraq can be free again, that Iraq can be democratic. And they all see a different future for an Iraq that is whole and that is transformed from the current tyranny of the Iraqi regime.
QUESTION: This will not be -- this will be sort of general talk about the post-regime-change Iraq, rather than specific things that some of these opposition groups can do?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct. This will be a generalized conversation with the President of the United States.
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