For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 3, 2003
Press Briefing by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor, on the President's Trip to Africa
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
3:40 P.M. EDT
DR. RICE: Good afternoon. First, I'd like to provide a brief
overview of the President's upcoming trip to Africa. And then I'll be
happy to take your questions, as usual.
Africa is a continent of challenge and promise. The President is
committed to helping African nations meet these challenges and fulfill
that promise with policies and initiatives designed to extend liberty,
prosperity and peace on the continent. As one of only two U.S.
Presidents to visit Africa in his first term, President Bush's trip
next week to Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, and Nigeria is
emblematic of this commitment.
The President and Mrs. Bush will depart the White House on Monday,
July 7th, for an overnight flight that lands them in Dakar, Senegal, on
Tuesday, July 8th. In Senegal, the President will meet with President
Wade, with whom he's met several times before. President Wade is a
solid and progressive leader of West Africa's longest standing
democracy and someone that the President admires as a statesman in the
region. The President and Mrs. Bush will visit Goree Island, where the
President will deliver remarks and tour a slave house with Mrs. Bush
and President and Madam Wade. The President and Mrs. Bush will then
depart for Pretoria, South Africa.
On Wednesday July 9th, the President will meet with President
Mbeki, of South Africa, on a wide range of bilateral issues, as well as
regional issues. They will then join Mrs. Mbeki and Mrs. Bush and
other guests for a lunch. Later, the President and Mrs. Bush will join
U.S. Ambassador Hume for dinner with South African and U.S. business
The next morning, the President and Mrs. Bush depart Pretoria en
route to Gaborone, Botswana. The President will meet with President
Mogae, participating in a welcoming lunch with 500 of Botswana's
leading citizens. He will then visit a Southern Africa Global
Competitiveness Trade Hub Exhibit, where he will meet with -- among
others -- several women entrepreneurs. The President and Mrs. Bush
will also visit the Mokolodi Nature Reserve and then depart for
Pretoria, where they will overnight.
On Friday, July 11th, the President and Mrs. Bush will depart for
Entebbe, Uganda, where they will meet with President Museveni, to visit
the Taso Clinic that is an AIDS clinic, and a patient support center,
where he will give remarks and then depart for Abuja, Nigeria.
Saturday morning, President Bush will attend a briefing on HIV/AIDS
programs and meet with mothers who are benefiting from the
mother-to-child transmission prevention programs that the United States
The President will then meet with President Obasanjo and deliver
remarks to participants in the African/African-American biannual summit
that was first organized by the late Reverend Leon Sullivan. The
President and Mrs. Bush depart Nigeria for Washington.
I'm happy to take your questions.
Q Regarding Liberia, President Bush has said several times that
Charles Taylor must leave now immediately. Can you clarify -- is
Taylor's departure an absolute precondition before sending in any U.S.
forces? Or is there a possibility that U.S. forces could go in while
the details of his departure are being worked out?
DR. RICE: What the President is saying is that until there is --
until Charles Taylor is out of politics, there isn't going to be any
stabilization of the situation in Liberia. It doesn't matter what kind
of force you send in, it doesn't matter what you try to do, his leaving
is a condition for the parties coming to a stable peace and beginning a
So that's the point. I don't think we want to speculate on
timing. But the fact of the matter is, Charles Taylor needs to leave
because Charles Taylor is the problem. And Charles Taylor is, by the
way, not just a problem for Liberia, he's a problem for the region.
One of the reasons that the President is concerned about the
situation in Liberia is that Charles Taylor has been a source of
insurrection and insurgency in surrounding countries. And the efforts
to make stable places like Sierre Leone, in which the British are
involved, are extremely important to the stability of West Africa. So
Charles Taylor is a problem on a number of fronts.
Q Dr. Rice, as the American public is expecting U.S. troops to
go into Liberia, what does it say to the American public that this is
the second person that President Bush has asked to step down besides
DR. RICE: Well, first of all, the President has made no decision
on what approach and tactics the United States is going to use to help
the United Nations and the regional powers deal with this very
difficult situation in Liberia. That is still under consideration. As
the President said earlier today, he wants to make a reasoned decision
about what is going to be most effective in dealing with the situation
But the President calls them as he sees them. There wasn't any
doubt that Saddam Hussein was a menace in the region, not to mention a
menace to his own people. And Charles Taylor is a menace to his own
people. But he is -- and by the way, there are lots of regional
leader who also are very concerned about Charles Taylor -- and not
just his activities in Liberia, which have been heinous and have driven
the country into the situation that it's in now, but also his
activities in the region.
Q Dr. Rice, during the 2000 campaign, the President said he
would be judicious in the deployment of troops. As he considers this
option, one among many, in Liberia, how would he define the national
interest there? He said during the campaign that it needs to be in our
vital interest for troops to be sent. How would you explain that to
the loved ones of troops who may be sent in harm's way in Liberia?
DR. RICE: Well, again, Terry, I don't want to get out ahead in
terms of what the President may or may not do about forces. He's
considering his options. The President does believe that Liberia and
the stability of West Africa is important to U.S. interests. This is a
region that is only beginning to make some progress on being more
stable. It is a region that is vital to -- its stability could be
vital to progress on the continent, to which the President has devoted
a lot of time and energy. He wants to see that go forward. There is a
humanitarian situation there that needs to be dealt with.
And I think that we've also recognized since 9-11 that one wants to
be careful about permitting conditions of failed states to create
conditions in which there's so much instability that you begin to see
greater sources of terrorism, for instance. And so, that's one of the
It's also, of course, the case that we have a historic relationship
with Liberia that is unlike our relationship anyplace else on the
continent. And the President said all the way back in 2000 -- I do
remember, I was there -- that some of the conflicts that had gotten
out of hand in Africa -- like Rwanda, which ended up in the great
humanitarian disaster there -- that you have to try and act with
the regional powers, and you have to try to act with the world not to
let something like that happen.
So there was never a sense that you simply stand back and say, we
aren't going to touch a situation like this. The President believes in
trying to be proactive. There is a political process that's being
contemplated by the regional actors. And there's a cease-fire that
needs to be secured. And so how we do that -- and I just -- again,
how we do that is still at issue. But that the President is committed
to trying to do it I think is very important.
Q Dr. Rice, if the President orders troops to Liberia, what's
the -- of the troops? How long will they stay? And will the troops
take offensive action against the -- forces in Liberia?
DR. RICE: Well, thank you for the question, but I don't want to
speculate on a decision that the President has not yet taken. The key
to regaining stability in Liberia is to, first of all, have the source
of the problem not there. That's Charles Taylor. It's also a matter
of the regional powers and the political actors in Liberia coming to
some agreement on a political process moving forward that could make
for a smooth transition to a new government in Liberia.
So there's a lot of work that still has to be done on the
diplomatic side. Colin Powell has been very active with the United
Nations, with Ghana, with Nigeria, in trying to create the political
conditions that make sense. There was a meeting today of ECOWAS, which
we attended, which looks at what the regional powers may be able to
contribute to that stability, but I think it's premature to try to get
into questions of mission.
Q Dr. Rice, can you conceive of any circumstances in which the
President would send in peacekeeping troops before Taylor steps down?
Would it be enough, for example, for him to agree to a timetable, and
then a peacekeeping force would go in to assure that?
DR. RICE: Well, Randy, I don't want to try, again, to speculate on
exactly how all of this unfolds. But what's very clear, and what the
President has been stating very clearly and what Secretary Powell has
stated in all of his diplomatic conversations, is that there is not
going to be a stable situation, I don't care what you try to do,
there's not going to be a stable situation with Charles Taylor there.
So that's what we're concentrating on, and I think we have to look at
the details of how this will unfold.
Q -- describe the meeting in Senegal with West African
leaders? What's that about?
DR. RICE: The one that he'll do in Senegal? It's West African
leaders that are from small democracies. It's a chance to talk to --
very often when people talk about Africa, they talk about the
humanitarian disaster. While we're obviously trying to deal with those
problems, through the famine relief efforts that the President has
made, the billion dollars we spend on famine relief, the $200 million
that we've requested for emergency famine relief, the $15-billion AIDS
package with $10 billion of new money, a great proportion of which
would go to Africa because you have 12 of the 14 hardest hit countries
there -- it's not that we don't recognize the tremendous humanitarian
challenges in Africa, but it's also important to celebrate those
countries in Africa that are trying to do the right thing. And Senegal
is one of those places. The countries that will come together with
President Wade and President Bush in Senegal are also countries that
are trying to do the right thing.
And if you notice, the Millennium Challenge Account, which
increases over the next several years U.S. assistance by 50 percent, is
really aimed at having worldwide, African, Latin American, other
partners who are committed to good governance. And so when you go to
Africa it's important to also celebrate the good things, and that's
what the meeting with Western African leaders will be.
Q You talked about, obviously -- everyone has talked about
the importance in Charles Taylor leaving, but can you enlighten us on
the diplomatic discussions that you all are having in order to make
that happen? Obviously, he's someone who has been indicted for war
crimes. Is there any discussions about immunity or --
DR. RICE: I'm not going to go into the specifics of what's being
discussed with Charles Taylor, except to say that I think there is
broad agreement that he has done nothing to help his people and he's
done a lot to hurt his people and to hurt the region. So let's see how
it comes out. There are very, obviously, sensitive discussions going
on right now, and I don't want to get into details of them.
Q -- the United States is absolutely committed to, to having
him in a position to be tried for war crimes?
DR. RICE: The United States is committed to trying to build an
environment in Liberia that's stable. And he has to leave. The
circumstances of that, we'll see. The work that's being done by
regional leaders on this is extremely important.
Q Dr. Rice, is there any reason to believe that offering a
$25-million reward for Saddam Hussein will work any better than
offering a $25-million reward for Osama bin Laden?
DR. RICE: Well, first of all, I think the reward language says
either for him or for word of what happened to him. We still don't
know whether he's alive or dead. And --
Q Information leading to the capture, is what it says.
DR. RICE: Well, or to information leading to what may have
happened to him before. We will take information on him, in general.
Look, there's no doubt that it would be a very, very good thing to get
Saddam Hussein and his sons, if they are still alive. And obviously,
there are people in Iraq who worry about their continued existence, if
they are continuing to exist. But I'm glad you asked the question,
Bill, because I do think there's a tremendous difference between Saddam
Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden sits in a cave and issues fatwahs as some kind of
mystical figure. Saddam Hussein ruled the old-fashioned way: secret
police, prisons, torture chambers, an army, territory, oil wealth.
This is not somebody who can manage the Iraqi -- a repressive Iraqi
government from someplace in a village. He rules by the old-fashioned
way. And the people of Iraq should be assured -- reassured -- by
what the President said the other day, the United States isn't going
anywhere, the coalition isn't going anywhere. We're not going anywhere
until there is a stable environment in Iraq for the Iraqi people to
pursue a more prosperous future.
And the remnants of resistance that are there -- I hate to even
glorify it with the word resistance -- the remnants of the thugs and
crooks that looted their country and oppressed their countrymen will be
rooted out and they will be taken care of. And really in that sense,
it would be a very good thing to have Saddam Hussein. But he's not
ruling Iraq, and he won't ever be ruling Iraq again.
Q Just a quick follow -- if we knew what had happened to him,
would that stop this continuing insurrection?
DR. RICE: I don't know, because what he did was to pass out a lot
of favors to people who now stand to lose those favors, because Iraq
will be a society that's based on equality and a society that's based
on merit. And so there are some people who, with or without Saddam,
are probably feeling that they're going to lose now that he's been
But the President was very clear the other day -- whatever forces
are trying to make it difficult for the United States to create the
conditions in which -- the coalition to create the conditions in
which the Iraqis can emerge and prosper, they can just forget about
it. It's not going to happen. And the forces that do things like
sabotage oil production or sabotage electrical supply are not hurting
the coalition forces. They're hurting the Iraqi people. And they're
the same forces that have been doing that to their countrymen for the
last, nearly 30 years. And so maybe it's not surprising that they're
still willing to do it to their fellow Iraqi citizens.
Q A quick follow on Liberia. Can you give us a sense of how
the discussions on a possible deployment are going on? Is the U.S. in
direct contact with Mr. Taylor? Or is the U.N. taking the lead?
DR. RICE: The United Nations is taking the lead in the diplomacy.
The United States is in direct contact with ECOWAS, in fact, was
represented at the meeting of the ECOWAS leaders earlier today. And we
are in direct contact with the United Nations.
Q I wonder, Dr. Rice, if I could follow Dana's question.
DR. RICE: Sure.
Q Are the discussions so sensitive that you cannot voice an
opinion about whether or not Mr. Taylor should face a war crimes
tribunal? And also, in a radio interview yesterday, he accused the
President of acting like the President of the world in trying to push
out a democratically-elected leader. Do we not feel the election that
brought him to power, the most recent one, was legitimate?
DR. RICE: I think people know the history of how Charles Taylor
came to power. I also think people know the history of what Charles
Taylor has done to his people. And I think everybody knows that
Liberia, for instance, since 1990, has basically had no
infrastructure. This is somebody who's done nothing to build it. This
is somebody who has murdered and looted and really put the country in
extremis. So the President is simply voicing what a lot of people in
Liberia are voicing, not to mention most of the political movements in
Liberia are voicing, which is that it's time for Charles Taylor to go.
Q And the question of --
DR. RICE: I'm not going to get into details of what the
conversations are like with Charles Taylor at this time.
Q Dr. Rice, are you concerned, especially now you have so many
questions about Liberia, that with the President's decision
forthcoming, that it's actually going to take away from the original
goal of this trip, which obviously is to highlight this first of its
kind AIDS policy?
DR. RICE: That's, in part, up to you. I sincerely hope that
people will focus on this tremendous positive agenda that this
President has, over the last two-and-a-half years, developed for
Africa. It's broad. It is a positive agenda. It deals not only with
the humanitarian issues like AIDS and famine relief, but it deals with
trying to bring the potential out in Africa -- something like AGOA,
the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is doing amazing things
for African products so that markets are available for those products,
and therefore, supporting poverty alleviation in small villages in
If you look at the Millennium Challenge Account, which I can tell
you, sitting with these leaders when they come to see the President,
they're all making -- going to make their case as to why they should
be Millennium Challenge Account recipients. And those are criteria
that speak to good governance. It speaks to investing in the health
and education of your people. It speaks to the importance of open
economies and free markets. It speaks to rooting out corruption, which
has been one of the great killers of economic activity in Africa.
And of course, it's a broad agenda on education and on
counterterrorism cooperation. This President takes seriously Africa,
African leaders, and the potential of this continent to be a fully
contributing continent to world growth and prosperity. And I hope that
that's the agenda that really does come through.
Q Dr. Rice, can you confirm anything about talks being
underway authorizing a U.S. resolution to use force in Taylor's
DR. RICE: Secretary Powell is simply exploring at this point what
needs to be done on the diplomatic side. But there are no formal
Q Okay, and a follow-up to that, Mr. Taylor in various
interviews has said that he needs three months to leave. We've heard
45 days to leave. The President as recently as this morning said,
"now." How do you reconcile that?
DR. RICE: I don't think that we can. We can't reconcile it.
There are a number of people talking to Charles Taylor. The point to
him, though, that's being made by everybody is that in order for this
country to move on to a new phase, in order for his country to have
political stability, he's got to leave.
Q Dr. Rice, one on Iraq and one on Liberia. First, Liberia.
It sounds, if you're saying that the work of the countries in Africa,
other African leaders, is vital to what's going on right now, as if the
approach that you're using with Charles Taylor is similar to the
approach that's being used with North Korea. You're trying to get
regional players who perhaps know him a little better to influence his
actions. Is that fair to say?
DR. RICE: Well, it's fair to say that the President has a view of
all of these issues that the United States needs to partner with the
countries and the leaders in the region in order to make this work and
in order to make it stable.
We've talked about the fact that Taylor has to leave. We've talked
about the fact that the political parties are going to have to come
together around a transition mechanism to a new government. That's
going to have to be supported by the regional leaders, as well. One of
the problems in Africa is this tendency of people to -- in outside
countries, to play factions and to arm factions and the like. That
also has to stop. And so it's important that there be regional buy
into any solution. And in that sense, I think that the -- it's just
an approach that the President uses.
Q And on Iraq, the number of U.S. casualties that we're seeing
since the President declared the end of major combat operations, is
this the number of casualties for U.S. troops that you expected to see
happening at this time when you launched this war?
DR. RICE: Look, any casualty is one casualty too many, whether
we're in major military operations or what we're doing now. But the
fact of the matter is, when the President declared major military
operations over, he talked about the dangers that still were ahead.
He's talked numerous times about the pockets of these Baathists and
others who are trying to be determined not to let their fellow Iraqi
citizens have a new and better future. And so we knew that it was
going to be a dangerous time. I don't think anybody spent time trying
to say, well, how you define dangerous. But that it might be possible
that we would take more casualties, I think everybody understood.
Q Dr. Rice, why is the President so reluctant in sending troops
to Liberia, while you have 140,000 U.S. troops in harm's way in Iraq?
DR. RICE: The President is simply considering what options are
going to resolve this situation in Liberia. There's a diplomatic piece
of this. There are questions about what methods, what kinds of forces,
whose forces, what role the regional actors can play. And we're just
putting the whole picture together. And the President is going to take
a decision when he takes a decision.
But an American President is always reluctant to have forces go
anywhere. But he hasn't made a decision. He's trying to -- as he
said today, he wants to make a reasoned decision about what's going to
Q You mentioned the President's agenda for Africa. Next week,
while he's there, the House Appropriations Subcommittee is very likely
to fund both the Millennium Challenge Account and the AIDS initiative
at levels far lower than he has sought. How badly is that going to
undermine that agenda, and what is your message to Congress as they --
DR. RICE: Absolutely. The message to Congress is that the
President requested funding at the levels that he thought necessary to
get the job done. And we are actively, all of us, actively engaging
with the Congress to try and get full funding.
I think the President's commitment is clear to everyone. He has
laid out initiative after initiative. These two very big initiatives
are in many ways cornerstones, along with AGOA -- AGOA and other free
trade agreements throughout our hemisphere, as well as Africa and Asia
-- these are the cornerstones of the part of American foreign policy
that seeks to make the world better.
Now, it's very often the case -- particularly for a President who
has had to face the war on terrorism and the associated conflicts that
have been a part of that -- it's very easy to just focus on American
power. But American power has always had two parts. It does try to
make the world more secure, and we're trying to do that in a number of
ways. But it also has always been committed to values and to trying to
make the world better. And these initiatives, plus trade and the words
that we use about values, are the core of reminding the world that
America is a country that is also devoted to the betterment of people.
So the President is hoping that the Congress will fully fund his
initiatives. He just yesterday announced Randall Tobias as his AIDS
Ambassador. We're ready to go. We're working very hard on how to
stand up the Millennium Challenge program. And so, it's time for
Congress to fully fund it.
Thank you very much.
Q One general question?
DR. RICE: Yes.
Q But what's the source of the President's commitment to
Africa? It surprises some people that a conservative Republican from
Texas has committed a humanitarian, economic, and now, perhaps,
security level to Africa. Where does that come from?
DR. RICE: The President is -- as President, understands that
America is a country that really does have to be committed to values
and to making life better for people around the world. But that's what
the world looks to America to do. It's not just the sword. It's also
the olive branch that speaks to those intentions.
And the President, from the day he was elected, has had a real
interest in people and leaders and countries that have a struggle, that
have difficulties in front of them, but are willing to take those
struggles and those difficulties on in an aggressive way.
Many of the African leaders that he met -- and he's met 22 of
them -- but many of the African leaders that he's met have impressed
him as people who, under very difficult circumstances, are trying,
finally on this continent, to make steps toward making life better for
their people -- people like President Wade, for whom he has enormous
respect, or President Mogae in Botswana, who's done a great deal to
make this economy better. They have struggles. Botswana has
extraordinarily high AIDS infection rates among its population. On the
other hand, he's been impressed with Uganda, which has been able to
reverse that trend.
And what you see in his commitment to Africa is a desire to take
the potential that is there and to work with people who are committed
to making that potential. He'd be the first to say, you can't do it if
you don't have leaders in those countries who are also committed. But
he's been very committed to it.
On AIDS, from the very beginning he's said to those of us, I want
to try to do something on this. And I think he was impressed with what
Kofi Annan said to him about AIDS. He was impressed with what Bono
said to him about AIDS, what the leaders, like Museveni, were saying to
him. He's wanted to do something about that because he's said that a
great country cannot let this pandemic continue and not try to
And then, finally, of course, Africa is a part of America's
history. You know, Europeans and Africans came to this country
together -- Africans in chains. And slavery was, of course, America's
birth defect. And we've been trying to deal with the consequences of
it every since and to bring about reconciliation. The President on
Goree Island is going to have a chance to talk about that experience,
but also to look forward to the tremendous contributions of African
Americans to this country.
So America is a country of immigrants, but, of course, our
experience with Africa has this other piece that wasn't exactly an
immigrant experience. And yet it is the motherland, of course, a
source of cultural pride for a substantial part of America's
population. And the President cares about that.
Q Why not an apology for slavery?
DR. RICE: Thank you very much.
Q Why not an apology for slavery, Dr. Rice? Why not?
DR. RICE: The President is going to talk about and acknowledge
what has -- what slavery has meant to Africa and has meant to
America. But there is plenty of blame to go around about slavery.
He's going to look forward to the tremendous contributions that we've
made, and he's going to look forward to how to help Africa finally
realize its potential.
END 4:10 P.M. EDT