The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

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

Background Briefing
By Senior Administration Official
on the President's Bilateral Meetings
with President Chirac of France
and Chancellor Schroeder of Germany
Filing Center
Genoa, Italy

7:19 P.M. (L)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good evening.  I wanted to give you a briefing ON BACKGROUND on the bilateral between President Bush and President Chirac and Chancellor Schroeder.  Each of the meetings was 40 minutes long.  They discussed regional issues only.  In the meeting with President Chirac, they discussed the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, China and touched very briefly on Korea.  In the meeting with Chancellor Schroeder, they discussed Russia, China and Iran.  And I would be glad to take your questions.

     Q    Was there any mention for the dollar policy in any of these bilaterals -- the strong dollar policy?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There was no mention at all of the strong dollar policy, no.

     Q    Are you aware whether it came up in those two discussions, whether the President had made a commitment by October to have an alternative to the Kyoto Treaty?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It did not come up.  There were no climate discussions in either bilateral.

     Q    No discussion at all on missile defense?


     Q    No discussion at all on missile defense?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There was no lengthy discussion on missile defense, no really substantive discussion on missile defense.  In both discussions, they talked about Russia, but not in connection specifically with missile defense.

     Q    Did the ABM Treaty come up?

     Q    You said not missile defense, in connection to what?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The discussion revolved around Russia's place in the world, the importance of Russia to the trans-Atlantic relationship, the importance of bringing Russia into the relationship, the importance of continuing to talk to Russia, and talk with Russia as a partner -- it was done in that respect.

     Q    In the photo op, the President did with Schroeder that he would explain to the Chancellor his strategy on global change.  Now, you're saying they didn't discuss it?  Did they run out of time?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  They did not discuss it.  They did not discuss it.

     Q    Can you explain why?


     Q    Why would he tell us that he was going to explain it and that he would get to it?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can't explain it specifically, but they spent a lot of time on each of the foreign policy issues that I mentioned.

     Q    Did they talk on Iraq about any kind of alternative or what strategy would be in terms of U.N. resolution that's stalled --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  They did not talk about the U.N. resolution with regard to Iran, no.

     Q    I said Iraq.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Oh, Iraq, excuse me.  On Iraq, the focus was on -- with Chirac, on thanking him for working together on the Iraq resolution, but there was no discussion of what to do next.

     Q    On Iran, it's curious that Iran was a subject of both of them. What was the nature of the discussion?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The nature of the discussion was on the importance of -- on the importance of Iran -- of understanding the leadership issues in Iran; trying to understand how Iran's decision making-process was working.

     Q    Can you be a little bit more specific?  I mean --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It was a discussion of the difficulty of the -- the difficulty that all of us see in how decision-making is done in Iran between among the various leadership groups in Iran.

     Q    Did they come to any agreement?  I mean, are they working together on anything?  I mean, they just talked about all these different topics?  But did they --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think, just to step back a minute, in the context, of course, they've been meeting with each other for a day and a half now.  So they've had plenty of opportunity, which they each mentioned in the press events, that they have had plenty of opportunity to talk with each other, both formally, about lots of issues, and informally, at the various social events, and in between the social events.

     So they focused on really talking about some of the issues that they haven't spent quite as much time on.  So I can't say that they -- in both meetings, the atmosphere was extremely cordial.  In both meetings, they said, we really need to stay in touch with each other about these things. But there was no specific agreement to do x or y.

     Q    Did President Bush ask, or did either leader offer an impression of Vladimir Putin?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There certainly was discussion of -- there certainly was discussion about the leaderships in each of the countries that I've mentioned.  But I don't think I really want to go into the details of how the discussion went.

     Q    Can you say whether specifically -- because Bush will often do that, asking the leaders, what do you think about Vladimir Putin?  You can't confirm that he did the same thing --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He did do that, yes.

     Q    The President said he was looking forward to making his case on missile defense in these two meetings.  Did he do that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He didn't say that specifically, no. He did not.  It was much more general, about how -- about how the relationship is developing.

     Q    Was there any discussion on oil prices?


     Q    The President made the point of recently, after the conversations with Tony Blair, he made comments that seemed to be directed toward Chirac and others, those who he says that dismiss the idea of missile defense out of hand, or he said in a complimentary way that Tony Blair had not done that.  Did he bring up any of those specifics?


     Q    Were there any particular bones of contention that came up in the discussions?  Did they disagree over anything?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Not during the discussions, no.

     Q    Did they talk about the future of the summits, how to deal with protestors, how to deal with groups that have questions about the summit process?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There was no discussion during the meetings; it was addressed before the Chirac meeting.

     Q    Can you expand on that, and if not, can you tell us in what context Korea came up?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It came up in the context of simply, what do you think about it.  It was about a two-sentence discussion.

     Q    What about expanding on -- you said there was no discussion during -- of the future of the summits during their meeting, but before?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think you'll get the text of the way it was discussed, or you have the text already.

     Q    Oh, you mean at the photo op?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  At the photo op, right.

     Q    Can you tell if, over this 80 minutes of conversation the President had, what you thought were the most interesting things, juicy things, news?  (Laughter.)

     Q    We want juice.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  In each meeting, I think it's fair to say that there was particular concern expressed about the Middle East, with quite a bit of discussion of how to resolve this dangerous issue.  But I'm not sure I can give you juice on it.

     Q    Any discussion of the observers?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There was no discussion of observers.

     Q    What can you tell us about the discussions surrounding China and Korea, please?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Korea, it was simply, what do you think about Korea.  And the reply was extremely short.  On China, the discussion was about, in one instance, in the instance with the Chancellor, it revolved around the importance of having resolved the issue with the plane as well as it was done.

     Q    Was it their intention to severely limit the discussion points of this meeting, so they wouldn't disagree?  I mean, is that why they didn't get into any of the issues that, clearly, both sides care about and where there is disagreement?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No, there was -- it was simply -- it was simply a discussion of each one could raise any topic they wanted, and those are the topics that came up.

     Q    I mean, can you understand how we might think it's curious that if the President has been critical of Chirac because of his lack of enthusiasm for missile defense, and Chirac has been critical of Bush about missile defense, that neither one would bring up this issue at a time when they're meeting together, one-on-one, all the way over here in Europe?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, part of the issue, of course, is that they've been talking -- as I mentioned earlier, they've been talking about so many of these other issues for so long, they knew they only had -- it was scheduled for 30 minutes in each case.  Each one had other meetings that they were going to, there was no question about that. So they limited it to the issues that they particularly wanted to talk about.

     Q    What did the President say to Schroeder about missile defense?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He didn't say anything to him about missile defense.

     Q    Of the topics that you mentioned, which ones did specifically President Bush bring up?  And maybe you could do each meeting?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'm not sure I can do that right quick.  In the meeting with Chirac, they basically both brought up the Middle East, almost simultaneously.  The President -- President Bush brought up Iraq, that was one sentence, thanked him for his help.  The President also thanked President Chirac for his help in the extradition of Ira Einhorn.

     The President brought up Russia, President Bush.  President Bush brought up Korea with President Chirac.  President Bush asked about Iran. And that was it for the meeting with President Chirac.

     With Chancellor Schroeder, the President brought up Russia, to start with.  The President brought up China.  The President brought up Iran.  And that was the end of the meeting.

     Q    What did the President say about Russia and China?


     Q    I'm sorry, what did the President say about Russia and China?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think I've addressed that already, but I'll try it again.  They talked about the importance of bringing Russia into the West, the importance of staying in close touch with Russia, the importance of not allowing Russia to fail, the importance of working together, the importance of making sure that Russia understands that Russia has no threats from the west, no threats from NATO, no threats from either country, that the threats are from terrorism.

     Q    Getting back to missile defense for a moment, is this a subject that they have been discussing in other settings over the last couple days, or is it the case that the President wanted to wait and get into it with Putin tomorrow, knowing sort of where things stand with Schroeder?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I honestly can't tell you if it came up in some of the side conversations.  Because as far as I know, in any of the side conversation, there was either nobody there or maybe only one other person whom I haven't debriefed.

     Q    The second part of the question is, he said clearly that he wants to talk to the Russian President about it tomorrow.  Is it your sense or can you give us some guidance on whether he's doing that at the exclusion of discussing it with others at this meeting, or did he come here willing to talk about it with anybody --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He certainly is willing to talk to his NATO allies and G8 colleagues about it, but it was not raised.

     Q    What about this all this "idle chatter" that the President said he's having with Vladimir Putin?  Do you have any information on that you can share?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He said he had idle chatter with the leaders.  I don't think he said with Putin.

     Q    Yes he did specifically say with Putin.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I don't know.  I'm sorry.  I only heard the "all leaders" part.

     Q    Can you tell us whether the question of weapons proliferation came up at all in the discussion?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It came up only in the context of the importance of making sure that Iranian weapons proliferation would not be permitted.

     Q    Neither Schroeder nor Chirac were interested in what President Bush will tell tomorrow to Putin?  Nobody asked that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Neither of them asked that question specifically, no.

     END  7:35 P.M. EDT

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