|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 23, 2002
Press Briefing by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor on APEC Meetings
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
5:23 P.M. EDT
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. I'm going to open with a brief overview of the President's upcoming meeting with the President of China in Crawford, and the President's trip to the Asia Pacific Economic Conference. And then I'll be happy to take your questions.
President Jiang Zemin and his wife, Wang Yeping, will come to the ranch in Crawford on Friday, October 25th. And the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming them there. The two Presidents have met twice before -- at last year's APEC Summit in Shanghai, and when President Bush traveled to Beijing in February.
The two Presidents are scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m., for about 90 minutes. The President looks forward to a candid and constructive discussion on a variety of topics, including North Korea, Iraq, cooperation in the war on terror, trade, human rights, and religious freedom.
President Bush will then give President Jiang a tour of the ranch, probably in the truck that he often takes them in, and then a social lunch which will include Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Wang.
At APEC, Saturday morning the President departs Crawford for Las Cabos, Mexico. And at the summit, there will be 21 APEC leaders to discuss a broad range of issues including counterterrorism and trade.
At last year's APEC meeting in Shanghai, just six weeks after the 9/11 events, the APEC leaders issued a strong political counterterrorism declaration. The Bali bombings and other recent terrorist attacks in the Philippines and elsewhere underscore the need for close cooperation in the fight against terror. Just today, for instance, the United States is joining Southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia and other APEC partners, to ask the United Nations to designate JI as a foreign terrorist organization.
President Bush looks forward to working with APEC leaders on specific commitments to improve security for key economic infrastructures, trade, finance and communications against terrorist attacks. President Bush also looks forward to advancing the economic initiatives that APEC leaders committed to in Shanghai.
While in Mexico, the President will meet with several world leaders. The President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Fox of Mexico. He will hold a trilateral meeting with Prime Ministers Koizumi of Japan, and Kim of South Korea. That trilateral will focus with our two closest Asian allies on how our nations might move forward on a number of issues, but particularly on North Korea's admission that it is violating its commitments by pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
The President will have a working lunch with President Putin, of Russia. They will cover the full range of issues in U.S.-Russian relations -- including, of course, Iraq and North Korea; but also the war on terrorism; issues concerning Georgian-Russian relations; economic and energy ties.
The President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Megawati of Indonesia. He will again convey the sympathies of all Americans for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Bali and offer humanitarian assistance. The Presidents will discuss counterterrorism cooperation, both the progress made thus far, and the need for continued action. And they will discuss economic reform and Indonesia's peace process with the Aceh Province.
Finally, the President will hold a group -- a meeting with a group of the seven leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- ASEAN. This will be the first time that an American President has met with a group of ASEAN leaders since 1984. The meeting will have a broad agenda, including regional security -- regional security issues, counterterrorism and trade.
And now I'm happy to take your questions.
Q -- Jiang is a farewell visit. Are you convinced that he's going to give up power? And how do you assess the U.S.-Chinese relations at this point under Jiang's leadership?
DR. RICE: I think U.S.-Chinese relations are on a good footing. They are productive in a number of areas. They've been particularly productive in the area of counterterrorism since 9/11. I think that we have a good trade relationship and, indeed, there has been some progress on a number of difficult trade issues that the United States and China have. They have the task now of, together, advancing the WTO agenda, since China's accession. And, obviously, this is a huge economy with a huge population, and the President feels very strongly that America's engagement with China as it goes through this transition in which it is involved will be important to the outcome of that transition. So I think it's a quite favorable relationship.
Obviously, there are difficult issues, issues concerning proliferation. The Chinese have made some progress on the November 2000 memorandum that asked China to do a number of things -- finally passing, for instance, an export law that we think will help with proliferation issues. There is more to talk about on human rights and religious freedom, although there are some small signs of progress there, as well. So I think, by and large, the relationship is in good shape. The stewardship of the relationship has been good and the two Presidents have a good relationship.
I can't second-guess, or I don't really have a sense of what will happen in the Chinese succession, but we obviously stand ready to work with Chinese leaders as they emerge. But President Jiang is still the President of China, and he's been a good partner in a number of areas.
Q How close are you up at the U.N. to getting an agreement on a resolution from -- including from France and Russia? And is your timetable that you want at least the U.N. to act by this week, is there a time clock ticking now?
DR. RICE: We don't have a specific timetable in mind, Kelly. We are working with the Perm 5, and in fact now will start to work with the entire Security Council on a resolution. It takes time, but we don't have endless time. And the President made very clear that at some point the U.N. is going to have to step up and act in order to make Saddam Hussein comply with his commitments that he undertook to the international community.
But those talks are going on. I think we've made some progress over the last couple of weeks, and we'll see where we come out. The United States is very committed to having a resolution that will, this time, really deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein. That means it has to be a resolution that has a tough weapons inspection regime, that actually has a chance of disarming him, given his history of being able to deceive and cheat and hide from weapons inspectors. It must have some statement that consequences have to follow. And it has to hold him in what is clearly material breach. I don't think anybody can argue that he's not in material breach. There have been no inspectors in that country since 1998. That has got to be considered material breach.
So we're working it. The President had a phone call today with Prime Minister Blair. They had a good conversation because the United States and the UK, as you know, have been working very closely on a resolution that they could present together, and they had a good conversation about how to move forward. So I think --
Q -- close to getting, though, an agreement --
DR. RICE: Well, we will see. You know how diplomacy is; it waxes and it wanes. I would caution that we needn't look at every up and down in this. Let's see where we are over the next period of time, and we're making progress. But the President has been very clear about what we need in a resolution.
Q We often hear we're making progress. In fact, people have told me every day for two or three weeks, we're making progress. Could you actually identify some of the progress that we're making? (Laughter.) And second, what prompted us to decide and go to the entire Security Council without having gotten a consensus among the Permanent 5?
DR. RICE: I think there was just a sense that the Security Council members, even though the Perm 5 have vetoes, the Security Council members all have a vote on this resolution. They all have responsibilities. This has been a deliberative process. I think it is a serious process. Everybody who is involved in it says that it is a process in which people are really trying to work on the issues. And so it made sense now to bring others who are going to have to have responsibility here for a vote into the informal consultations that take place prior to any formal tabling of a resolution.
It would be undiplomatic to talk about where there is progress and where there is not because that is really the way that the diplomacy goes. But let me just say, I think that people are taking this seriously. They understand the message that the President delivered on September 12th to the United Nations, and so they have been discussions that have been serious and deliberative. We will see where we are in a few days.
Q The Russian -- this afternoon said that they absolutely cannot accept what they regard as the -- as they express it, the automaticity of the authorization of the use of force. Is there anything you can say to convince them that we do not regard this resolution as an automatic authorization of force, or to clarify what it is that is at the root of this argument?
DR. RICE: Well, I don't really know what is at the root of the argument. But the President has made very clear that there will have to be a tough test of Saddam Hussein's willingness to cooperate. If he is willing to cooperate and we can disarm him through the process that the U.N. puts in place, all the better. If, however, he is not prepared to cooperate, and if disarmament cannot take place in this -- by this method, then we're going to have to disarm him. And the President, I think, left no doubt that if we are unable to get the United Nations or the United Nations Security Council to do that, then he is prepared with other like-minded states to go ahead and act. Because we -- the one thing we cannot have is inaction. So while military force is not inevitable, inaction cannot be the answer.
Now, the U.N. is a body that is capable of meeting at any time to discuss the situation. And so the idea that we would somehow not have consultations with members of the Security Council or consultations with key powers I find a bit odd. Of course, if there were a change in the circumstances or something happened, you would expect that there would be consultations. And so I've never quite understood the automaticity argument. But I think that what the President has been saying to everybody is, of course, consultations and discussions would be expected if circumstances began to change.
Q -- an opportunity for consultations would be with Singapore and Mexico, which are also part of this whole Security Council that we're now consulting with?
DR. RICE: Yes, he absolutely sees it as an opportunity to talk with the other members of the Security Council who will be at APEC, and I'm certain that he will do that. Security Council membership is Security Council membership and it ought to be treated as such.
Q -- we'll see where we are in a couple of days. Is there a trigger point event for you, or is there something magical about that, or --
DR. RICE: No, we'll just see where we are and we'll see how to move forward. The fact is that you can expect that over this period of time, diplomacy is going to be going on. It undoubtedly will, as the President in his discussion with Prime Minister Blair today said -- Prime Minister Blair is at a European summit, and I am sure he will have consultations with a number of his European colleagues. The President is at APEC, and Mexico and Singapore are at APEC, as are Russia and China. So I think that what you can see is a kind of period in which there will be a lot of diplomacy around this. But, no, we're not establishing any specific trigger.
Q Reading the resolution as it was presented to the Security Council this afternoon, there's not a lot of language that's different here from language that France has rejected up until this point. And I'm wondering what gives you hope to believe that they may come around on this resolution.
DR. RICE: Well, we'll just have to see. We're going to talk about where there might be objections, we're going to see what differences can be bridges. But there are just a few things that are very critical to having a resolution that has a chance to lead to the disarmament of Saddam Hussein. It cannot be that you have a weapons inspection regime that is not strong, that continues to keep in place practices and methods that Saddam Hussein has clearly defeated in the past. It is important to state the facts. And the fact is he's in material breach. Everyone knows it. And so it's important to state that.
It is important to state that there have to be consequences. I mean, there are just certain things that we're going to have to be able to do in a resolution. And we're discussing with the French and now with others how to bridge our differences.
Q So you're not willing to change those words, material breach, or drop the paragraph that France objected to, and that is recognizing in the past the authorized member states were authorized to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660, which the -- which the French have read as prior justification, or existing justification to go to war, obviating the need for you to come back to the U.N.?
DR. RICE: John, I'm not going to negotiate here in the press room. The fact is we're discussing with the French and with others what the real concerns are here on both sides to see if we can find a way to bridge any remaining differences. But a resolution simply has to be tough enough and has to be clear enough that you might have a chance to get the job done. The United States has shown a lot of flexibility in trying to address the concerns of our partners over the last several days. And we believe that there are just some things that are going to be important so that Saddam Hussein doesn't get the wrong message.
Q A question and then a follow-up, if I could. But I assume from what you're saying that the diplomacy of this weekend would precede a vote before the Security Council?
DR. RICE: I have to assume so. Although, again, I think the timetable is one here that we just have to watch unfold. But we're already at Wednesday. And so things are unfolding. I think the fact that there are these opportunities for diplomacy is fortuitous.
Q And the second, if I could -- on North Korea -- just ask you, if you could update us on the status of the diplomacy aimed at putting an end to North Korea's nuclear program. What piece of that will rise to the President's level when he meets, particularly with Jiang Zemin and Putin? And what -- under what conditions will the administration resume some level of diplomatic dialogue with North Korea?
DR. RICE: Well, I think first -- first things first, and we really are in an intensive consultation phase with affected powers, and that means the regional powers, the members of the KEDO, as well as with the European Union, which has a number of relationships with the North Koreans. So, first things first. I think we need to consult. We need to see what common strategies we can employ to try and get the North Koreans to live up to their international obligations, to recognize that they cannot, on the one hand, say that they want to reenter the international community, or enter the international community -- I think they've actually never been a part of it -- or that they actually want to enter the international community, its economic benefits, its trade benefits, and on the other hand, brandish an illegal nuclear weapons program that is in clear violation of international obligations that they undertook.
And that's the basic argument that we are using and I think that is finding a lot of receptivity around the world. And so I think you would expect the Presidents to deal with this more conceptually than in the details of specifically what steps we might take. Obviously, Jim Kelley is just finished consultations. He'll come back. But I think you can expect the Presidents to deal with this conceptually; that is, recognizing that this is an opportunity, as the President has said, for the international community to stand up and act together on this particular issue.
Q One more question. One on Iraq. Is your observation that the Security Council consultations would be expected in the event of Iraqi noncompliance, a kind of pledge outside the four corners of the resolution, that the U.S. will talk again to the Security Council?
DR. RICE: It is very hard for me to imagine the circumstances in which you would not consult under the circumstances -- under such circumstances. And consultations would undoubtedly take place. So I don't think the President has any difficulty in saying to his colleagues -- whether it's President Putin or President Chirac -- that he would expect to consult should something happen.
Q And on North Korea, have you made the decision not to cut off fuel oil supplies because it might lead the North Koreans to restart that --
DR. RICE: We've made no decision. The fact is that this is a consortium that provides the fuel oil of which we are a member, KEDO. We have to consult others on this matter, and I think we don't want to get ahead of ourselves in taking measures until we've decided how we are going to structure the diplomacy about this. But obviously, the North Koreans have blown a hole in this agreement, and the fact that they've blown a hole in it, the fact that they have themselves said that it's nullified means that it is an agreement that is going to have to be evaluated. It's in very, very deep trouble and we have to look at what that means in terms of specific steps.
Q What is the status of the U.S.-Mexico immigration talks? And is Mexico emerging as some kind of key player on the Security Council referencing Iraq?
DR. RICE: Well, Mexico is obviously an important player because it's a Security Council member, and it's a Security Council member with whom we have good relations, the Presidents have good relations. By no means would we take anything for granted. We expect to talk to the Mexicans just as we're talking to other Security Council members, and to try to convince President Fox of the merits of our case. And I should say the merits of a case that allows the United Nations to live up to its obligations.
In terms of immigration talks, the Presidents continue to keep it on the agenda. The President fought very hard for 245I, and in the last session of Congress for a number of reasons we were not able to get it through. But it continues to be for the President an important issue. We will discuss it with the Mexicans, and there continues to be the channel that was set up with the Secretary of State and Foreign Minister, and the Justice Ministers, on the other hand, to try to work the issues.
One last question.
Q The President has often said that time is not on our side with Iraq. Do you feel a similar urgency with North Korea? And, secondly, you mentioned the intense consultations with the regional powers. To what degree will U.S. policy be guided by what Japan and South Korea want? Do they have veto power on our --
DR. RICE: Well, I don't think that one should ever think of consultations as somebody vetoing somebody else's policies. What it is is an opportunity to try and craft a common strategy for what is clearly a common threat. The regional powers in many ways have, if not as much, more at stake in the thought that you would have a nuclear armed North Korea on the Korean Peninsula. And so I think we have a lot to work with here, in terms of moving toward a common approach.
The question of Iraq and North Korea comes up in a number of contexts. And it is obviously the case that what we knew about North Korea and has now been confirmed by the North Koreans themselves is a very serious matter, and it is a matter that has to be dealt with and that cannot allow -- we cannot allow to languish.
We've always said that we were not going to have a cookie-cutter approach to our foreign policy problems. And North Korea provides opportunities, we believe, for a -- potentially a diplomatic solution, because of the stake of the regional powers in a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, because of North Korea's having to reach out not because of any philanthropic impulses, frankly, but because it is a regime that has deep economic troubles and is trying to deal with those troubles.
We believe that we have some leverage and methods in this case that we don't have in the Iraqi case, where for 11 years we have tried everything: sanctions, limited military power, we put Saddam Hussein's considerable resources -- Iraq is not a poor country -- under an oil for food program; he managed to go from illegal revenues of $550 million plus to $3 billion, illegal revenues that can fuel his weapons of mass destruction program. He is, after all, a regional actor that has been aggressive in his behavior, attacking his neighbors, using weapons of mass destruction against his own people. This is not to diminish the problem on the Korean Peninsula.
I should mention, of course, we have 37,000 forces in Korea as a deterrent to Kim Jung-il and his regime, a deterrent that has worked pretty well for 50 years. This is not the case with the Iraqis, which we were unable to deter in the last war.
Q -- you would not characterize North Korea as an imminent threat.
DR. RICE: I would characterize any threat of this case -- of this kind, any problem of this kind as serious. There is no doubt about it. I do think we have to look at the different conditions here. We are talking about a dangerous place, there is no doubt about that. The Korean Peninsula is a dangerous place. It is a place at which the United States has a substantial military presence that acts as a deterrent to certain kinds of behavior from the North. That does not mean that we do not want to deal with the problem and deal with it as expeditiously as possible. But we do believe we have levers on the North Korea side that we, frankly, tried with Iraq, but have not been able to make work in the Iraqi case.
END 5:45 P.M. EDT