The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 2, 2003

Background Briefing by a Senior Administration Official Via Telephone on the G8 Meetings

June 3, 2003





12:05 A.M. (Local)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: (in progress) -- I'm sorry, I gave a brief introduction. I was waiting for questions.

Q The question from Dow Jones was, they had heard out of the summit from other delegations that the President had reiterated the strong dollar policy. And the question was, can you elaborate on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What you heard is absolutely correct. The President simply stated that the administration is for a strong dollar, that we've had a consistent policy in favor of a strong dollar and that that hasn't changed. The great majority of the discussion focused on the actions, though, that each country was taking to strengthen and grow their own economies. And the President described in some detail the jobs and growth plan, and listened to what the other leaders were doing in terms of addressing structural reforms in their economies, and made the point that it's in our country's interest if Europe and Japan succeed. And one of the best things that could happen to the U.S. economy is for Japan and Europe to grow their economies and grow them faster.

Q What happened with the AIDS initiative? I'm reading on the wires that the Europeans agreed to match. Can you just give me the details on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know the details yet. We hope they do. As you know, our initiative triples our commitment to fighting the AIDS pandemic globally -- $15 billion over five years. The President described the plan, noted that it focused on the most afflicted countries, and urged, as he did in his Krakow speech and in the Coast Guard speech that was predeparture -- urged that the Europeans and other large donors make a similar commitment.

Q Back on the economy, two questions. One is, was there a discussion of deficits and concerns about rising deficits? And secondly, was the President, by citing the jobs and growth package, trying to encourage Europe and Japan to cut their own tax burdens on their citizens?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The issue of deficits did come up, but there was a general recognition that there was a case to be made for short-term deficits in the context of an overall growth plan. And as I say, the leaders were generally extremely supportive of the decisive action that the United States has taken.

The second part of your question was about what again?

Q The second part of the question was, was the President encouraging Europe and Japan to cut taxes?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, he didn't give them policy prescriptions, specifically. He did urge them to take similar decisive action. Their problems, as you know, are largely structural in nature, and most of them talked about the kinds of challenges they face, from pension reforms and labor market reforms, the challenge of an aging population. And when the Chairman's summary comes out tomorrow, I think you'll see a list of these various structural issues that they're trying to take on.

But the President simply encouraged action; didn't prescribe it.

Q Did the President tell the leaders, as reported by Prime Minister Berlusconi, that the U.S. would not invade Iran?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I actually don't recall that conversation per se. Iran was talked about in the context of proliferation. He may have said, as I recall, something that that kind of speculation was not warranted. But the focus of the discussion was on the proliferation threat posed both by Iran and by North Korea, specifically. And as I say, the statement on proliferation singled both of them out, noting in particular that with respect to Korea, that they needed to take action to visibly, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantle any nuclear weapons programs, and they also called upon Iran for full compliance of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The President reiterated that, as well, in the meeting, itself.

Q One more on the dollar. The Canadians said that the President said that the dollar's value is up to Alan Greenspan. Did the President say anything about Greenspan, link the dollar to him in any way?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President simply said that he -- he underscored that he had announced that he was going to reappoint -- decided to reappoint Alan Greenspan, and that that was an important signal, and did not link Greenspan to the dollar per se in any way.

The discussion, as I recall, had to do with in simply underscoring that we have an independent central bank; they make their own decision on interest rates. As you know, the European Central Bank, I believe, meets shortly -- it's speculation about what they're going to do.

Q A question about the global partnership. You described it's a significant step forward -- a bunch of countries, including Switzerland and Sweden, have joined up. I'm puzzled, what's significant about that, and can you elaborate about what the main things you decided on that, on the global partnership?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We think it's significant for a couple of reasons. It is a global partnership. It was never intended to be G8 donors only; of course, that's the way it was launched in Kananaskis. It was never intended to be a G8 donors only. Currently, it's focused on Russia, though the former Soviet states are also a central recipient of this kind of assistance. As you know, our own program operates in countries beyond Russia.

And so the whole notion of making a true global partnership, broadening it beyond the G8 to other donors was an objective we had always had. We're thrilled that it occurred just in the space of 12 months here, and that a significant number of new donors come on board. It adds momentum. That, together with some new projects that people have committed to or are beginning carries the whole initiative forward, broadens and deepens the participation. We do think that that's a significant step.

MR. MCCORMACK: All right, this is Sean. Thank you very much for your time and we appreciate you taking the time to do this. Bye.


END 12:16 A.M. (Local)

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