For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2003
Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer Aboard Air Force One En Route Aqaba, Jordan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Aqaba, Jordan
9:13 A.M. (L)
MR. FLEISCHER: The President called the Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait this morning from the hotel. He had been invited to Kuwait. The President said he appreciated the invitation, regretted he was unable to go at this time, thanked Kuwait for their role in helping to liberate the people of Iraq.
In Jordan, here's the schedule. The President will meet with the King of Jordan at 10:00 a.m., that will be pool coverage at the top. He will meet with the Prime Minister of Israel at 10:55 a.m., that's pool coverage at the top. He'll meet with the Prime Minister of Palestine -- Palestinian Authority at 12:05 p.m., pool at the top. And then there will be a trilateral meeting at 1:20 p.m., with pool at the top.
At 3:00 p.m., the three leaders will gather to make statements. That's pool, also. And then the President will depart Jordan at approximately 4:00 p.m. for a flight just under three hours to Doha, arrive at Doha, nothing on his schedule right now.
Q Will there be questions at the three-way?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll see how they play it.
Q Ari, what is the President's objective for today's meetings?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President's objective in today's meeting is to follow through on the already two meetings that have taken place between Prime Minister Sharon and Prime Minister Abbas, to help them to start implementing the road map. The President is encouraged as a result of the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh and he wants to take that encouragement to Jordan and build additional progress based on it.
The President is particularly encouraged by the strong statement that the Arab leaders made about fighting terrorism and drying up the sources of funding for terrorism. The involvement of the Arab nations early and often is an important element to making peace in the Middle East.
Q Ari, are we going to get a similar hard statement from Israel on something that the Arabs are looking for?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, of course, Israel announced yesterday the freeing of additional prisoners. There have been encouraging statements made by Prime Minister Sharon recently. And we look forward to working with both parties to begin implementation of the road map in more detail.
Q So there's an emerging, kind of an equal exchange-for-exchange of views in certain commitments? Everybody is on equal footing?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President believes, as he said yesterday, that Abu Mazen -- I'm sorry, Prime Minister Abbas, as he is formally named -- that Prime Minister Abbas is genuine in his commitment to working for peace. He has always believed that about Prime Minister Sharon. And that's one of the reasons that this is an important moment, a hopeful moment, a moment that has progress attached to it.
The problem is this is the Middle East, and progress can often be derailed. Nevertheless, it's a good beginning.
Q Do you know of any snags coming up?
MR. FLEISCHER: No. I mean, I think there -- it's just the usual area that's rife with violence and difficulty.
Q Are we going to get an official statement about the plans for after the summit?
MR. FLEISCHER: I got it -- that was a reference to a breakfast tray that was almost falling. (Laughter.)
Q Scrambled eggs? (Laughter.)
Q Are there any announcements about what's going to happen after the summit, specifics, more specifics about the coordination group or the implementation group?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you'll hear some when you hear the joint statements at 3:00 p.m.
Q Ari, do you really think that either of these guys are going to be able to make the concessions necessary to please the other side? Are we really going to be able to get --
MR. FLEISCHER: It's not a question of making concessions to please the other side. It's taking actions to satisfy their own needs. This is not about doing something only because the other party called on you to do it. It's about doing something because the people of Israel want it to be done and the Palestinian people want it to be done. The Palestinian people are also the victims of terror and killing, because it is their state that dies with every terrorist attack. And the purpose of this is to give life to a state, not death to a state.
The people of Israel, of course, suffer directly with the casualties of the terrorist attacks. The economy of Israel suffers with the difficulties of making a more lasting peace.
Each leader has his own country's interests at stake, or his own people's interests at stake.
Q But if the Arabs aren't happy with what Sharon says and the Israelis aren't happy with what Abbas says, does that not leave us at square one?
MR. FLEISCHER: Where we are today is the Israelis are working with Prime Minister Abbas. Prime Minister Abbas is working with the Israelis.
The biggest change in the last year is that the Palestinian people are now led by a man who is interested in achieving peace, genuine real peace, and cracking down on terror. And coming out of Sharm El-Sheikh, the new Palestinian Prime Minister knows that he has the backing of his powerful Arab neighbors to help achieve peace and crack down on terror. That's very helpful to the new Palestinian Prime Minister.
Q The Arabs said they wanted simultaneous action. They want the Palestinians and the Israelis to move forward together at the same time. Is that doable? Is that going to come out
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, you're already seeing early signs of that. Israelis are releasing revenues to the Palestinians that are the Palestinian revenues. We've seen the Israelis release prisoners. We're seeing Prime Minister Abbas make a genuine commitment to fight terror in all its forms.
What's important now is to have a real crackdown on terror, a dismantlement of terror, along with a cease fire. All these are important, concrete actions.
Q Is the cease fire something that is sought and acceptable by the White House, even though the Israelis are skeptical because they think that might give the groups time to regroup?
MR. FLEISCHER: Clearly a cease fire is helpful and important. It also must be part of a crackdown and a dismantling.
Q The President showed a lot of informality in his style, meeting with the leaders yesterday. Did he talk about that in the context of meeting with them -- the other leaders today? Is he going to apply the same formula?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well you have a different meeting today, because you have three one-on-ones. So it's already rather informal to begin with. Those one-on-ones are a different nature.
But what the President really thought was productive about Sharm el-Sheikh was that change in format an the last second, where the leaders just got together by themselves, it is the best way to get down to businesses, it is the best way to engage, and the best give-and-take to get the keenest understanding of each other's positions. That informal air is, in the President's judgment, conducive to good diplomacy.
Q Ari, did the President know that the cameras were on when he was talking to Abu Mazen and talking about the Israelis?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, he did not.
Q So he thought he was having a private moment?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct. That was along with the other series of logistical issues yesterday, that was not in the plan, not agreed to. There were a host of issues that I'm happy to talk to the White House press corps about.
But I think it's very important for people to understand how and why those developments happen. Because the people in press advance and the people in the White House press office work very hard to help the White House press corps.
Q How does the Arab and Egyptian TV getting in and the U.S. press corps not --
MR. FLEISCHER: How what?
Q Like Al Jazeera and the Egyptian TV cameras getting in and not the U.S. press corps?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
Q What was the President's reaction when he found out he had been that that was televised?
MR. FLEISCHER: He didn't have any particular reaction. He said what he meant.
MR. FLEISCHER: No. I mean, we released the transcript of it, too, after we realized it was public. He said what he meant.
Q How are we going to get a readout of today's meetings? What's the -- are you going to have a briefing?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, we'll figure it out one way or another. I mean, we always do it, so we'll find a way. Obviously, we provided a lot of briefings yesterday. Of course, you have the Secretary's statement, the National Security Advisor on record. As I'm sure you've noticed, we've had a lot of senior people come to the back of the airplane. We always figure it out and we will again.
Q Is the King of Jordan going to participate in any of the meetings, besides the first one with the President?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
Q All of them or --
MR. FLEISCHER: No. The meetings are exactly as I laid out. You have these three one-on-ones and then you have a bigger forum -- and you have it in the press schedule. Then you have the bigger forum when there's a trilateral meeting. I don't think the King of Jordan is in the trilat, though.
Q That was my question, the King of Jordan. He's not listed --
MR. FLEISCHER: -- trilat. If he were, it would be called
Q A quadlat.
MR. FLEISCHER: Very good, a quadlat.
Q You're saying he'll be at the statement at the end?
MR. FLEISCHER: Pardon me?
Q You're saying he'll be at the statement at the end?
MR. FLEISCHER: Okay.
END 9:24 A.M. (L)