For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 20, 2001
Press Briefing by
A Senior Administration Official
on the President's Bilateral Meetings
the Portman Ritz-Carlton
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
1:22 P.M. (Local)
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. We have a senior administration official here this afternoon who will be able to go ahead and give you a readout on the President's meetings with Prime Minister Mahathir and President Koizumi.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. The President had a very cordial 15-minute meeting with Prime Minister Mahathir. He had exchanged letters with him, following a phone call earlier this month, during which Prime Minister Mahathir said he had more ideas to share. And so he sent a letter to the President, and the President responded to the letter recently. And during the meeting, they discussed some of the ideas in the letter where Prime Minister Mahathir shared his thoughts on the current situation.
The President expressed appreciation for the letter earlier this month, and they discussed how both Muslims and the American people share common values of freedom, love of religion, and family.
Prime Minister Mahathir shared Malaysia's experience in dealing with communist insurgents over a 42-year period, and more recently, with their Islamic terrorists. And both of them -- they discussed generally Indonesia and expressed support for President Megawati.
On Prime Minister Koizumi, they had a very -- they had an interesting exchange of gifts. The President followed up on the baseball toss theme and had given a gift, a signed glove by Cal Ripken. But the Prime Minister's gift was a -- let me get the right word here -- from the Yabusame archery, "from the back of a galloping horse," had given an arrow and a large bow. But the arrow was one with a bent fork at the top, which is used for launching an attack, making noise, symbolizing the mark at the start of combat. And the box in which the arrow was in, Prime Minister Koizumi had written by his own calligraphy the words, "The arrow is to defeat evil and bring peace on Earth."
The Prime Minister explained to the President the constitutional restrictions that Japan had on the use of force, but also said that he hoped to see legislation pass the Diet next week -- it had already passed the Lower House, it will pass the Upper House next week, which will allow the Japanese to use the self-defense forces in a supporting logistic role.
They talked about the rehabilitation of Afghanistan, and Japan expressed an interest in doing -- in being part of that. And the President said he would welcome a role for Japan in that area. And the President expressed strong support, continued support for Prime Minister Koizumi's economic reforms and his leadership in that area.
I'll take questions.
Q Was it written in English or Japanese?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In Japanese, in calligraphy, yes.
Q Did Mahathir specifically call on the President to stop the bombing or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, he didn't.
Q How did that part of the conversation go?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, they -- he didn't -- they didn't get into a specific discussion. It was a more philosophical discussion about how they have shared values and shared interests. One thing that the Prime Minister said was -- let's see -- he said that most Muslims wouldn't do terrible things, but there are a few with extreme views who have decided to take action and this is totally unacceptable.
Q So you think that it's a sign of Malaysia --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, Malaysia is being supportive. The President expressed appreciation for support of what Malaysia has done in information-sharing and other areas of support. It was not contentious, at all. It was very warm. I would say this is now their -- they had an exchange of phone calls. They had one phone call, exchange of letters and this meeting, and I think they've developed a feeling of being able to communicate with each other, which is --it was a very good meeting. Prime Minister Mahathir has a good sense of humor, which the President appreciated, and I think they got along well.
Q Was there any discussion at all about the possibility of an Islamic force moving into Afghanistan after --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, there was no discussion about that.
Q When the Prime Minister was talking about fighting the communist insurgency more recently, what, exactly, was he talking about? Suspending civil liberties and that kind of thing?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, what he was mentioning was that it takes time, that it takes a long time to do. And he also said that one of the things they had to do in overcoming the communist insurgency was they had to go to the region and find out what the people needed in that area.
Q Did he talk about the authoritarian nature of his regime and how that helped in battling the insurgency?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q He did not, but did the President ask him about that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q With the Japanese, was there any discussion of additional funds pledged for the reconstruction?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was a discussion about reconstruction in general terms, but there was no mention of money. There was an appreciation for what Japan has already done in providing support for Pakistani refugees, but there was not a discussion specifically about money for Afghan -- just a desire to be involved in developing the strategy and the process for Afghan reconstruction.
Q Did Japan suggest that it might be willing to give some funds later?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Japan wasn't specific about what its role would be, but they said they wanted to be involved in it. And the response was that we welcome that and that we would get together and consult about that. I believe Japan is sending a senior official to Washington next week to talk about it.
Q For just reason.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q When was the first time he ever communicated with Mahathir?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was -- I can get you the exact date if you want. It was a phone call earlier this month, when the President placed a call to Mahathir after the 9/11 incident.
Q And they have not communicated before that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And they have not communicated previous to that.
Q In either of these meetings, was there a discussion of the reports of ground troops today?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think there was a question in the President's -- before the Koizumi meeting there was a question by the press about it. You should be able to get the readout answer on that. But that was --
Q But in either meeting, with either of the leaders?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q Was the military campaign discussed between the two? And I do understand the Prime Minister said afterwards that both agreed to disagree on that. He's also reported --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Prime Minister Mahathir, or Prime Minister --
Q Mahathir. And he's also reported to have said that there would never be a total resolution of the terrorism problem until there is a solution to the Middle East conflict. Does that accurately reflect the discussions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the Prime Minister did mention that he believed that the resolution of the conflict in the Middle East would be important in resolving terrorism over the long-term. But he didn't say it was the only problem; he mentioned it as one of several problems.
Q And on the military campaign, in general?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: With Mahathir? The President spoke in general terms about he was continuing the campaign, that it was going well, and that the United States had no intention of targeting or of causing civilian casualties, was very sorry about that when it occurred, was making every effort to prevent that from occurring. But I don't want to imply by that that the Prime Minister asked about that, because he did not. The President just made that point.
Q Did Mr. Bush make any comment on the legislation that the Japanese Diet is now --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He said he appreciated what the Prime Minister was offering, and he understood the fact that, while there couldn't be combat forces, that each country -- in Japan's case -- would make a contribution in a way that Japan could do. And he appreciated that and he appreciated the fact that there was an effort being made -- the Prime Minister reported to him that this legislation was going to pass. He didn't say it would pass, but that it has passed the Lower House and expected it to pass on the Upper House.
Q Does the President feel that Japan is doing all it can under the constitutional restrictions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, he does.
Q Was the whole discussion on terrorism and economy of Japan, or did they touch other issues, such as Okinawa and other things?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They didn't talk about Okinawa. Terrorism, economy. I think that was -- I don't think there was a discussion of anything else. So it was the war on terrorism and -- including the part which I mentioned about Afghanistan.
Q Did it end up lasting the full hour, or did it go longer?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It went until about 12:25 p.m. So I think maybe five minutes short. It started at 11:40 p.m, so it went about 45 or 50 minutes. The Prime Minister kept apologizing for taking the President's time, but the President was happy to continue talking to him. But the Prime Minister was anxious not to waste the President's time.
Q I don't know whether you want to deal with this on deep background, or background, but you have the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea here. Relations between Japan and those two are not particularly good. Are they using this as an opportunity to mend some fences?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I can't really speak to what their individual agendas are, but I would say that the President felt that, from what he had learned, that the Prime Minister had made -- had been making good progress in his relations with China.
Q Can you describe a little bit more about the arrow -- are you literally talking about a --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, it's a bow that would be used in -- from horseback, firing. And there is a Japanese archery association that acquired this arrow. And it's a rather large arrow with hawk's feathers. And the point of the arrow has a forked tip, which whistles when it's fired, announcing the start of an attack. And on the box which holds the arrow was this inscription, which translated to English says: "The arrow to defeat the evil and bring peace on Earth." And that was written in calligraphy by the Prime Minister.
Q But it's an antique? Is it old?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know. I can't answer that, because I don't know. My impression was that it is old, but I don't know that for a fact. I mean, it was -- the note I have said that it was acquired through a private association which has preserved the bow and arrow. But I'm not sure that it was antique or not.
Q And this is an ancient Japanese --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Archery. It's called Yabusame, and it means "archery from the back of a galloping horse."
Q How was he informed about the two troop deaths today? Do you know -- did Condi tell him, or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know the answer to that.
Q Did he talk to either about extra steps he wanted them to take to seize assets or to track assets of al Qaeda?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. No. Both -- you mean, are you talking about Mahathir or the --
Q Either one.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Either one? No, he didn't talk specifically about that. Both countries have made steps in that direction.
Q Back to the bow for a second. What other gifts were exchanged so far? Between the Chinese, the President --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not aware -- these were the only gifts that were basically exchanged in person. There are no other gifts that have been exchanged person-to-person. The President and the Prime Minister have exchanged gifts back and forth since they've started meeting. And they really do have a genuinely warm relationship and it was -- I think it was obvious, I mean, the Prime Minister puts a lot of thought into the gifts he gives the President. I believe this is a gift he intended to give the President if he were to have gone to Tokyo.
Q Did the Prime Minister Koizumi or President Bush mention about sending self-defense troops to any specific area?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. The Prime Minister said that they would be sending -- the legislation would allow the self-defense forces to be used in a logistic support role. Did not mention any specific areas or locations.
Q Can you say a little bit more about what was discussed about China?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was no discussion about China, other than a brief mention that the President had an impression that the Prime Minister's discussions with -- visit here previously went well, that he'd made a positive impression.
Q Did they specifically discuss the intelligence gathering by the self-defense forces?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q Did they discuss the timing of the President's visit to Tokyo?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President said he would like to visit when the opportunity arises, as soon as it does. But he didn't mention any specific time.
END 1:37 P.M. (Local)