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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer October 23, 2002 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Did the Turkish President express any concerns about the use of its airbase for a potential attack on Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: John, you would have to leave it up to the Turkish officials to characterize any remarks that the Turkish President made.

QUESTION: Ari, what happens if the Security Council fails to reach an agreement on a new resolution against Iraq?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, let's see what happens at the United Nations. No one is going to know what the outcome of any vote at the United Nations Security Council will be until members of the Security Council raise their hand and vote. And there is movement in New York. We'll see ultimately where it takes us, but the diplomats are earning their salaries and are working very hard on the actual language now.

QUESTION: Do you all have any deadline? Are you looking at this week for the U.N. to either reach some consensus, or are you planning to take this resolution to the full council?

MR. FLEISCHER: They are hard at work in New York, and I think the best way to describe where they are is the end is coming into sight, but it's not here yet. They have some amount of time left, but not a lot. And the President knows that, and I think the U.N. knows that, too.

QUESTION: -- some amount of time left, what that means?

MR. FLEISCHER: I would not hazard a guess on it. The U.N. is a very deliberative body -- and this has probably been the most deliberative debate of the United Nations Security Council in the history of the United Nations. It's been a thoughtful debate, a deliberative debate and a lengthy debate. It's coming to an end, but it's not here yet.

QUESTION: And I have one more. Not to go over the language, what you're willing to accept or not, but are you all at the point where you feel like you've negotiated enough, that you've made enough compromises that your position is pretty set on what United States will support in a resolution?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think that everybody clearly understands that the American position is a position that's shared by many -- and we'll see if it's shared by all -- is that there must be a tough inspection regime, that there must be consequences if Saddam Hussein fails to honor the previous United Nations resolutions, and that there must be a finding that Saddam Hussein is in material breech, as the United Nations has previously found.

QUESTION: Is the U.S. calling a full Security Council meeting for this afternoon?

MR. FLEISCHER: There is movement and that is not ruled out. There very well may be additional action broadened to the E-10 beyond the P-5 -- in other words, to all 15 members of the Security Council. Any such announcement will come out of New York.

QUESTION: Does that mean that there has been or has not been agreement reached between the U.S. and France?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, while there is movement which is, in and of itself, a good thing, it is impossible to say whether or not movement will yield to agreement. The process is moving forward and we'll see ultimately if that process leads to agreement. It does not necessarily mean that everybody yet agrees. That's why I said that there is only one way to know if everybody agrees, and that's when they raise their hand.

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