print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > July 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 21, 2001

Background Briefing by
A Senior Administration Official
on G7-G8 Meetings
Filing Center
Genoa, Italy

6:35 P.M. (Local)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I want to begin by briefing you on about four or five different issues that arose today.  We had some important deliverables, I think, coming out of this summit now, this, of course, being the second day of it, so I wanted to highlight those for you and leave the many other issues that were also discussed to questions.

     Just to orient you again, recall the central focus of the summit, of course, is poverty alleviation.  The President has made it a priority of U.S. foreign policy; he believes strongly about it.  It's in essence, the international extension of leave no child behind.  He believes that there's an enormous amount that can be accomplished if the developed and the developing world work together in a partnership.  But that's a partnership that requires the developing countries to first put in place the policies and the foundation for ensuring the development works.  But, in turn, the developed countries have a duty to make sure that those countries have the tools to make good on the promise of economic growth and development.

     And that kind of genuine partnership of mutual responsibility and also mutual respect is something the President feels very, very strongly about. And it was visible both last night and this morning -- last night when the G8 leaders held their so-called outreach event with the African leaders, as well as leaders from Bangladesh and from El Salvador.

     There was a lot of discussion about the needs of the developing world, ranging from hunger to tools to fight infectious diseases; tools to help educate their people; issues about how to take advantage of digital opportunities, things we take for granted.

     And after hearing that discussion last night, the leaders then got together this morning, the G8 leaders, of course, and agreed on a couple of things.  First they agreed to forge a new partnership between the G8 and Africa, focusing on these key issues of development -- issues the President's talked about passionately:  education, health care, trade, and hunger, among other things.  In particular, they welcomed the so-called new African initiative, which was presented to them in outline form last night by many of the leaders.  It's based on the same principles that the President has espoused, namely principles of responsibility and ownership.

     The leaders further agreed to develop concrete action plans addressing all of these key issues with those action plans being completed by the time of the next summit in Canada a year from now.

     The President, of course, as you know, has made Africa a priority of his administration.  He's met with over a half dozen of the major African leaders since coming into office.  Secretary of State Powell recently returned from Africa to view firsthand the devastation caused by AIDS, recalled that the President appointed a high-level task force on the international implications of AIDS, and actually AIDS generally, both domestically and internationally.  It's cochaired by Secretary of State Powell and Secretary of Health and Human Services Thompson.

     And, of course, the President came out early in support of the global HIV fund.  He laid out the principles on which the fund has now been formed.  He put forward the first so-called "founding contribution" to the fund of $200 million.  And today, I can announce that the U.S. is contributing an additional $100 million, for a total contribution in FY'01 of $300 million to the global fund, with $100 million coming from our FY'01 emergency supplemental.

     One of the things we also talked about last night was trade with the developing nations.  And you will recall that the first day of the summit, the G7, focused on what they could do to launch a new global trade round. But all of the leaders recognize that opening markets alone isn't enough. What you have to make sure of is that these developing countries have the tools to take advantage of an open global trading system.  The President's made that a priority in our African Growth and Opportunity Initiative. We've recognized that despite the market openings that have occurred, there's a lack of capacity in these countries to exploit the opportunities that the trading system presents them.

     And so, what you'll see in the G8 communique when it's released is a commitment by the G8 leaders to work harder to ensure that these countries have the capacity to take advantage of trade, capacity meaning adequate customs systems in place, help with implementing the legislation required to join the World Trade Organization, a whole myriad of activities that help them take advantage of an open global trading system.

     The other thing that we talked about at some length also was foreign aid.  There was a lively discussion of foreign aid and the role of foreign aid with countries and noting what they were doing with respect to their aid programs.  And in that context, the President at one point emphasized very strongly that aid is important, but we can't lose sight of the fact that what the United States, for example -- just the United States alone, for example, imports from the developing world about half a trillion dollars a year in goods.  That half a trillion dollars is about nine or 10 times all of the foreign aid provided by all of the countries in the world -- the point being that there's a lot that we do that has a much larger impact and potentially much more profound impact than aid.

     And in addition, there are a lot of other things that we do, non-trade things, that while they're not counted in aid, serve many of the same purposes; peacekeeping, for example, being one of them, as well as various types of disaster relief.

     We talked about another issue that both the nations last night raised with us and that have been a subject of the G8 discussions for the last year since the Okinawa summit, namely this whole question of how do we ensure that the developing countries are able to take advantage of the digital opportunities that many of us take for granted now with the explosion of the Internet.

     The Okinawa summit created something called "the digital opportunities task force."  That task force has now come up with a series of action plans.  And they were developed, interestingly enough, in a unique combination between not just governments, but the private sector and foundations.  And those action plans address a variety of issues, including how digital opportunities can be addressed in the areas of education, health care, et cetera.

     It is a tough issue that both sides struggle with, trying to figure out how to integrate information technology into our, for example, development assistance, and at one point, the discussions can tend to get untethered in some ways from the reality of actually how you get things done.  And the President said, look, there are some very practical things that we can do.  And he gave as an example the centers for teacher training that we're setting up in Latin America, and that are one vehicle for addressing education problems in Africa.  And as you know, he's instructed the Secretary of State and the Administrator for the Agency for International Development to come up with a comprehensive education strategy for Africa, focusing on teacher training.

     And his point was, look, you can bring teachers to centers of teacher training, provide an Internet portal at those centers, allow them to access global best practices.  That's a practical application of information technology to development needs.  And as you know, one of the President's passions is how do you bring the power of markets to the needs of the poor; how do you do that in trade, how do you do that in information technology, how do you do that in a variety of areas.  Health care is another one where we can disseminate health care information using the Internet.

     In the later session in the morning, we turned to the issue of the environment and had a lively discussion of climate change.  And in that discussion, there was a focus on what the G8 could do collectively -- there's a very real sense that the G8 is an opportunity to do positive things.  The new partnership with Africa is one of those.  And so there was general agreement, in fact, I would say there was a consensus, certainly, that it's a serious problem and that it requires a global solution, and that we should be working together as the G8, and as the President has suggested to address the problem in ways that ensure growth for all, as well as protection of the environment.

     And as you know, the President has committed the administration to engaging internationally on this issue.  And we're participating constructively in the ongoing discussions now in Bonn.  And I believe it was yesterday we announced that we had agreed with the Italian government to engage in bilateral discussions focused on research and technology, the development of new technologies.  We had a recent high-level dialogue with Japan which will continue.  And we'll be scheduling one with the European Union, as well -- all as part of this effort to engage internationally on the issue of climate change.

     The luncheon session covered regional and political issues.  The Middle East, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia -- FYROM -- Korea and also touched on Africa again.  And there will be, I believe, a statement issued on most of those topics later on in the day -- or in the evening.

     Happy to take questions.

     Q    The Canadian Prime Minister just said that the Americans would have a plan as an alternative of Kyoto, or a supplement or amend Kyoto, by the meeting in Marrakesh in November.  Is that true?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  What the President has said and what he said on his June 11th announcement in the Rose Garden on climate change was that we had launched a series of initiatives on science and technology; we had launched the national energy plan, which we believe will have a potentially dramatic impact also on greenhouse gas emissions, but he acknowledged in that statement that more needed to be done, and that he was instructing the Cabinet-level task force to explore alternatives consistent with a set of principles that were laid out, and we're continuing to do so.

     Q    That didn't answer my question.  Have you committed at the G8 to provide something tangible by the time of Marrakesh?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  What we have said is that we are proceeding with our analysis.  We're going to try and come up with -- we're looking at a whole series of different approaches, and we're doing that with all the effort that we can.

     Q    So the Canadians are wrong?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  As I said, I did not -- in the sessions that I attended, there certainly was not a notion that any particular proposal would arise by a particular date.  But we continue to work very hard, and we understand the need to come up with new ideas when we're doing so.

     And at the same time, we're working in the conference in Bonn and as many of you know, that conference not only addresses the issue of the Kyoto protocol, but also the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which we're a party.  And we're negotiating in Bonn on those issues as well.

     The President made it very clear that the United States takes this problem very seriously, and we are continuing to explore ways of effectively addressing the issue, and he made it very clear that we have a commitment to working cooperatively with countries on this issue, and to working with our G8 partners on this issue.

     Q    On that point, do you expect some sort of statement in the final statement, some reference in the final statement to an agreement on working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'm sorry, do I expect a statement in --

     Q    Do you expect a reference in the final statement to everyone agreeing on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would be surprised if we didn't, because certainly the consensus is that we are all in agreement on the goal.  There is no question that we are all in agreement on the need to address, to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We're all agreed that it's a serious issue.  We're all agreed that it's going to take a global effort to do so.

     Q    Did anyone mention the problem of future summits, discuss the difficulties that some of the leaders had expressed independently about meeting and attracting so many protesters, and whether or not the next summit should be in a remote area of Canada, that sort of thing?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, that topic did not come up today. In principle -- the dinner discussion, which really is a very open-ended one this evening, is to address potentially issues of future summits and sort of a forward-looking kind of discussion.  But I can't guarantee that it will address those.  It will be a free-wheeling and rather open-ended one without an agenda.  Today, there were a lot of issues to get through, in principle.  And, in fact, they covered a lot of territory.

     Q    Can you give us a sense of the nature of the dialogue?  It's been reported that there was a real lengthy give-and-take between the President and President Chirac on the global climate change.  And, also, you seem to be saying, you know, there's a real consensus on -- that this is an issue, but some of the Europeans are talking privately and saying it was clear the U.S. is here, the Europeans are here, there's a real split, there's no way to get around that.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, first of all, as I said, the discussion was a good one.  I mean, the leaders who are getting to know each other -- but the very first foreign leader, I believe, that the President met shortly after being sworn in was President Chirac.  I think they enjoy the discussion, they enjoy the give-and-take -- I know that the President certainly does.

     And beyond enjoying it, he takes it seriously; he listens.  It's -- in many ways the number of people is right for a dialogue.  It's hard to have a dialogue with more -- we've got eight people now who are getting to know each other in that room.  And everybody in that discussion -- nobody is silent on these issues or on the issue of aid, or on the issue of trade, or on the issue of Africa.  So it's a good and constructive discussion, I think.

     Q    -- some Europeans are coming out at these same meetings and they're saying there's a real split, the U.S. is here, the Europeans are there, and, you know, there's no way around that.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The U.S. position on the Kyoto protocol is clear, and nobody is focusing on anything other than what can be done together to find common ground.  I mean, that's the -- the focus of the discussion and the focus, certainly, of U.S. efforts here, the focus of our discussions with Japan, explicitly, were to explore areas of common ground and areas for common action.  That's what we're doing with the Italians; that's what we're going to be doing with Japan; that's what we're doing with the European Union.  You'll recall that in Sweden we agreed to a high-level dialogue -- that will be scheduled soon, as well.

     And we're talking also with a lot of developing countries.  We recently announced a debt-for-nature swap with El Salvador.  The Salvadoran President Flores was present last night, spoke eloquently about the need for open markets and education and other issues.

     We're very engaged, as you know, in our own hemisphere on the issue of climate change.  So the President said on the 11th of June that he intended for his administration to stay engaged internationally on this issue.  In fact, I think -- I don't have it in front of me, but I believe he not only said, I not only intend to engage, I intend to lead.  And he and the administration certainly are engaging actively; the President here with his G8 colleagues and our delegation in Bonn, as well as the high-level dialogues we have initiated with a whole series of countries.

     Why don't I take one in the back?

     Q    According to the Japanese government's explanation, the President said he will keep options open about the Kyoto protocol.  And the Japanese government seems to be interpreting it as a possible change, possible positive change of the U.S. position on this issue.  Do you agree with that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don't want to get in the issue of how to interpret it.  What I can simply repeat -- and I think it speaks for itself -- is that the President, on June 11th, when he made that announcement, made it quite clear that he was asking his Cabinet to explore approaches.  And so long as those approaches were consistent with the principles he had articulated.  And that's what the administration is doing, and certainly, the dialogue we're having with various countries is a wide-ranging one.

     Q    Coming in to the summit, you mentioned that the administration didn't have anything in particular in mind in terms of more money for the global AIDS fund.  Now, I guess there's $100 million more money coming. Did the President come up with that when he was here?  If so, what was his thinking?  Where did this come from?  He was going to give more money as the fund proved its success.  Has it proved it in the space of the last couple of days?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  If you don't mind, I would love to get back.  There were discussions involving the supplemental, and I wasn't involved in those.  I was aware that there was discussions about whether that was an issue that ought to be incorporated in terms of the health fund.  But, you know, I don't mean to say that -- let me put it this way -- $200 million, $300 million from the United States is a founding contribution.  Over $1 billion from the G8 collectively; more coming in from other countries.

     We know that this is not a one-time donation problem, was the point; that this is an ongoing problem and it's going to take a sustained effort. But the only way to ensure sustained giving is to show sustained results. And it's not that we're hesitant to put more money in, but we want to make a very valuable point, which is that if we're going to establish this fund, let's do it right.  We think that's been done so, because it's followed the principles the President articulated, namely that it be a public-private partnership.  Very important that it includes several layers of accountability.

     There was a discussion yesterday about how we can make the international financial institutions more accountable.  It's something that all of these leaders are very sensitive to.  I mean, they've got billions of dollars going into these institutions, and there is an increasing desire to see a return on that investment.  And so, now we've established a global fund.  We know that this is a huge problem and it's going to take us a multiyear sustained effort.

     The President wanted to make sure that if the G8 was going to do that, we did it in such a way that we gave ourselves the best chance of success. And that was by building in not only a layer of financial accountability by ensuring that there was an effective fiduciary agent for the fund, but a layer of medical and scientific accountability that would review the grant proposals and test them against evidence-based, proven best practices, and say those are the kinds of programs we're going to fund, that's the way we're going to be able to show not only our countries and our taxpayers that this thing is showing results, but even more important, when we get back together with these leaders from Africa or elsewhere -- because, keep in mind, the fund is global, it's not just focused on Africa -- we're going to have to show them that we made good on the promise.

     So what the President is saying is, look, as this thing proves its success on the ground in infections prevented, in lives saved, in orphans cared for, you bet we're going to be ready to contribute more.

     Q    The Chirac-Bush meeting, can you tell us more about missile defense?  What was the position of Chirac?  Was it very hard?  Was he interested in what the President is talking with Putin --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would love to, but I'm told it's the topic of the next briefing, so I'll leave it to the next person who does this.

     Q    You were asked this yesterday, but I wonder if after another day you might have a better sense --


     Q    No, I didn't say that.  Has anybody, whether President Bush or a member of the U.S. delegation, commented on or discussed the idea of a change in format in the G8, making it smaller, how it's arranged, because of the mayhem that ensues?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There's been no discussion, per se, of that.  And as I say, the discussion all along, not --has nothing to do with things that have occurred, but for months and months it was always planned and, frankly, rather traditional, that the final dinner be sort of a look ahead, and that topic may come up there.

     What I can tell you is this:  The United States all along has wanted to make some changes -- not precisely along the lines that you're alluding to -- we think that summits ought to be an opportunity for the leaders to build relationships, and to speak out on and act on and show leadership on a few key global issues.

     The truth, we tend to think that the summits tend to cover too many issues.  And what we've been looking -- what we've been trying to do, to the extent that we've had the ability with respect to this summit, is have the sessions a little bit more unstructured, so that instead of sitting there and hearing some sort of canned statement, you're getting a real dialogue.  And the good news is that's, in fact, what we're getting.  Every session that I've attended has been one in which there has been an enormous amount of give and take and back and forth, which has been great.

     Q    Can I just say -- so not just focusing in on fewer issues, but maybe making it smaller?  Because what I've been hearing was --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, we have -- the United States has had no discussions about that.  And, as I say, I can't warrant for what is or isn't going to come up tonight.  It's our own -- in part, our own doing that it be an open-ended discussion tonight, and we think that's a productive way to do it.

     Q    On the Italian part, after the meetings, a spokesman of the Prime Minister has suggested that next year it should be institutionalized, meetings with the unions, with association of industrialists, -- and religious associations, and so on and so forth.  This seems to complicate, rather than simplify the meeting.  What is the American position on this?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We haven't had time to give it any real thought.  Clearly, one of the efforts here -- and the outreach event is part of it -- is to do precisely that, reach out.  Those of you who were at the Quebec Summit of the Americas saw a different kind of outreach event, where ministers met with representatives from various NGOs.  There was, I thought, an interesting discussion there with about 30 different NGOs.

     Here we've had the outreach event with the leaders not only from the developing world, but also from the major international institutions. Clearly, there is an effort being made to reach out.  It is, in fact, what poverty alleviation is all about, in terms of the partnership that we want to create with the developing world.  But beyond that, there are all sorts of ideas floating around and I can't give you any particular view on that one.

     Somebody way in the back.

     Q    President Chretien, at his briefing a few minutes ago, said two things:  one, that the Americans will present a new plan on climate change by the time of the Marrakesh meeting.  Secondly, he also said he wanted much smaller summits.  He said he wanted much smaller summits, without large delegations.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He wants -- pardon me?

     Q    Smaller summits without large delegations.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Two different -- I think the small is a different point.  Did he say fewer countries, or just smaller delegations?

     Q    Smaller delegations.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, again, that's the first I've heard of that.  I can't give you a U.S. reaction on it.  I can tell you that in the room there is only one or two people per country at any time, and that's either the leader, or the leader plus the sherpa.  And again, as I say, the discussions have been an enormous amount of give-and-take, and a productive amount of give-and-take, I thought.

     Q    What about on Marrakesh --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think I already answered that question.

     Q    Are you unaware of the administration working on something with a deadline by Marrakesh, or if the President has made any comments to other leaders that that was his goal?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  As I say, A, I think I've answered that question; and B, we continue to look at approaches based upon the principles the President outlined in his June 11th speech.

     Q    Are you saying it's impossible that the President has articulated any deadline with other leaders?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I was not in -- I think you're going to be briefed on these -- all these questions are referring to the Chirac bilateral, and I was not there, so --

     Q    No, he indicated that it was the Canadian Prime Minister.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I thought he said Chirac.  I'm sorry.

     Q    No, Chretien.

     Q    Could you check on that for us, because that's a -- it was a very specific statement by the Canadian Prime Minister that there would be a specific American alternative proposal by Marrakesh.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We can get back to you on that.  And again, I was not in those bilaterals.  What I can tell you is that in the meetings, the President made it very clear that we are working very hard on our analysis.

     Q    Yesterday, you said so far you hadn't had these discussions, but it could happen.  Did you talk about the dollar in light of the talk on the trade and everything -- exports?


     THE PRESS:  Thank you.

     END  7:06 P.M.