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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 1, 2003
Correction: Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
August 1, 2003
PRESS BRIEFING INDEX
President's daily schedule 1
Judicial nominees 1-2; 3-4; 10-11
North Korea 2-3; 6-7; 12-13
Saddam Hussein 4-5
Cuba 5-7; 15
Economy 7-10; 11; 13-14
Child tax credit 11-12
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
____ For Immediate Release August 1, 2003
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:24 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. All smiles, last White House briefing for a little while, from this White House. The President had his usual briefings this morning, then he held a Cabinet meeting. This was his 19th Cabinet meeting since taking office, and you have his remarks from that meeting.
Let me talk about a couple of other things before we get started. First of all, we applaud the Senate for acting on a number of important priorities before they recessed. Senate Majority Leader Frist worked to make sure that the Senate passed a Chile and Singapore free trade agreements; energy legislation, so that we can reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy; and an emergency supplemental for disaster relief in fighting forest fires.
Senator Domenici, in particular, has received bipartisan recognition for his tireless efforts to get the energy legislation to conference, where we will work closely with members to pass a good, comprehensive energy bill that increases our energy independence and reduces our dependence on foreign sources of energy. We commend Senator Domenici for his work.
One statement by the President. "This week a minority of senators continued to filibuster highly-qualified judicial nominees who enjoy the support of a majority of senators. These obstructionist tactics are unprecedented, unfair and unfaithful to the Senate's constitutional responsibility to vote on judicial nominees. These highly qualified nominees have stellar records that represent the mainstream of American law and values, and strong bipartisan support from those who know them best.
"Instead of allowing up-or-down vote, a minority of senators have been filibustering Miguel Estrada for nearly five months, and Priscilla Owen for three months, and are now obstructing the nomination of Bill Pryor. The failure to hold votes on these nominations not only is inconsistent with the Senate's constitutional responsibility, but also has caused extended judicial vacancies that are harmful to the American judicial system.
"Every judicial nominee should receive an up-or-down vote in the full Senate, no matter who is President or which party controls the Senate. It is time to move past the partisan politics of the past and do what is right for the American legal system and the American people. Let each senator vote how he or she thinks best, but give the nominees a vote."
Again, that was a statement by the President, and we will distribute that shortly.
One last item I'd like to get to, before we begin. We want to wish Patsy Wilson the best. She will be missed here at the White House, but she is continuing with Reuters and will be on, I guess, somewhat of a new/old beat for Reuters. And we just -- as the President said, we will miss you here. And we wish you the best, and I'm sure we will see you down the road.
Q Thank you.
With that, I'll let Patsy -- if you have a question -- start off.
Q Sure. Scott, can you rule out the possibility of bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea? I mean, are the talks -- the discussions over the table, you don't consider those bilateral talks? There will be no bilateral talks with you two, alone?
MR. McCLELLAN: We have been very clear in our position that this next round of talks, which appear to be on their way, need to be multilateral talks. It's important to have the countries in the neighborhood at these meetings. They are ones who are directly affected by this. They are the ones who understand the importance of a nonnuclear peninsula. And it's a positive development that North Korea has agreed to this multilateral approach, that the bilateral approach that previously was pursued did not work. North Korea did not abide by its obligations in its agreement. And so we believe it's very important that those in the neighborhood also be at these meetings. There is always the opportunity during these meetings for North Korea or any other party to talk directly to another party while these meetings are going on. But we continue to pursue a multilateral approach.
Q And, secondly, where do you think the talks will take place? In the region, or in the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think all the details and the timing, those are issues that are still being worked out. We're in close consultation with all the countries that will be involved. And we'll continue to be and work out those details. But what's most important is that once that process is established, that all of us work closely together to make sure that North Korea, once and for all, in a verifiable and irreversible way, end its nuclear weapons program and move toward a better and more normal relationship with its neighbors and with the international community.
Q How can you say, in the President's statement on the judicial nominees, that vacancies are created? I thought they had confirmed, they say, what, is it 140?
MR. McCLELLAN: There still remain a number of vacancies in our judicial system.
Q Not as many, apparently, though. I mean --
MR. McCLELLAN: And it still is an issue.
Q What do you find the merits of the argument on --
MR. McCLELLAN: We need to get these people in place.
Q We're talking about three vacancies here.
MR. McCLELLAN: And look at these nominees we're talking about, too.
Q How can you talk about vacancies that are created when you're talking about three nominees?
MR. McCLELLAN: Every nominee -- and these are highly qualified nominees. These are individuals that have strong experience, they understand the importance of interpreting the law, not trying to make law from the bench.
Q Put aside that argument. How can you claim that it creates --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it's very important that every member, or every nominee --
Q -- vacancies, when you're talking about three people?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that every nominee get an up-or-down vote. That's the responsibility the Senate has --
Q I understand the argument and I'm not arguing --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's a responsibility that they need to let go through.
Q -- with the substance of the statement, only the assertion that it creates vacancies.
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a number --
Q Three. Three, I think.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, there are a number of vacancies out there in the judicial system. We're trying to move forward as quickly as possible, and the Senate has been holding up these --
Q What do these three nominees have to do with the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me finish. The Senate has been holding up these nominees for a long period of time. And they need to move forward and give them an up or down vote. We need to put aside all the past -- the politics of the past needs to be put aside, and people need to let these nominees be voted on. These nominees enjoy some strong support.
Q I'm not questioning the thrust of your argument.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I would submit to you that if they are voted on, that they will be -- the Senate will approve those people.
Q There will be three less vacancies, yes, but only three.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, there are many more vacancies than that in our judicial system, Bill. I totally disagree with that.
Q Scott, there's a new Saddam Hussein tape, purported to be his voice, played today, suggesting that a strike back at the Americans might be imminent. Do you think these tapes, several tapes now, are, in fact, the voice of Saddam Hussein? And what is the administration doing to, if not to locate him, to find out where these tapes are coming from?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, I'm not sure if there's been an update on the latest tape, to whether or not our intelligence community has had a chance to analyze that. The previous tapes they have stated are likely -- they've stated that it's likely it is Saddam Hussein. But let me remind you, Saddam Hussein is gone, his regime is gone from power. He is no longer in power. And we will continue the search for him. We will find him and he will be brought to justice.
He was a leader of a very brutal and oppressive regime, and we have made it very clear to the Iraqi people that that regime is not coming back. And by finding him, that will be further assurance to the Iraqi people that the days of fear and torture and oppression are being replaced by hope and opportunity and freedom.
Q But don't you find this incredibly frustrating and problematic that these voices keep coming?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, look, Saddam Hussein is out of power, his regime is gone. There are certainly remnants of the former regime and loyalists to the former regime, foreign terrorists in Iraq that seek to do harm to the Iraqi people, that seek to do harm to the coalition forces and that seek to prevent a free and democratic Iraq from coming about. But our forces are on the offensive and they are going after these dead-enders, and they're going find them, and they're going to defeat them. They will not be back.
And we appreciate all the sacrifices that our forces are making to bring about a free and democratic Iraq. A free and democratic Iraq is going to lead to a more stable and peaceful Middle East. And it's going to make the world a safer place. It's going to make America a safer place. This is a very important and noble cause that we are involved in, and that our troops are doing an outstanding job carrying through.
Q Governor Jeb Bush has now said on camera, apparently, that he believes that the administration's decision to send back those 12 Cubans last week was a mistake, that he disagrees with the President. What is the President's position? Does the President agree with the decision that was made apparently by folks on the ground, the Coast Guard?
And then a follow-up to that. Governor Bush also indicates that a change in administration policy toward Cuba is in the offing. Can you comment on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, our policy toward Cuba has always been very clear. This President has always stood firmly on the side of the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom and democracy and freedom from an oppressive regime. The President has been very clear that the sanctions that are in place need to remain in place until Cuba has free elections, freedom of speech, and until Cuba frees political prisoners. So this President has stood stronger than, I submit to you, any other in terms of supporting the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom, in their struggle for democracy.
But our policy toward Cuba is clear. Our policy is one of a safe, orderly and legal migration. This relates to the whole wet feet/dry feet policy that is there. We expect that policy to be implemented and carried out in a consistent way. But our views and our support for the people of Cuba in their struggle for freedom is very clear.
Q So he disagrees with his brother. Has he talked to his brother about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that they've had a conversation. As his brother noted, that they had not, about this specific issue. But there are many issues where the President and the governor agree. And I think there are very few where they disagree. But one thing that we do agree on is that there is a very oppressive regime and that we stand together in our dedication to helping the Cuban people realize freedom and realize democracy.
Q Scott, you made clear earlier that there will be no inducements to get North Korea to set aside its nuclear program. But the administration has said for a long time that if -- and I know it's a big if -- but if North Korea is a responsible player, in your view, than the door would be open, perhaps, for more humanitarian aid, perhaps to economic aid, perhaps even to diplomatic relations down the road. When is that threshold? Is it simply when they enter into an agreement, or would the administration say we need six, eight months to watch to see if you mean it this time?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that it's very clear to North Korea that if they end, once and for all, in a verifiable and irreversible way, their nuclear weapons program, that they stand to realize a lot of benefits from the international community. But they need to take that step first. I think it's jumping ahead before they take that step. And one of the reasons we are pursuing this in a multilateral, diplomatic way, is because all parties have an interest in seeing an end to this nuclear weapons program in North Korea. All parties have an interest in a nuclear-free peninsula, a safer peninsula.
Q But the President says they broke their word last time.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right.
Q So would he want months or years of proof before he's willing to believe it was a deal this time?
MR. McCLELLAN: It has to be verifiable and it has to be irreversible. And that's what we'll work with our friends and allies in the region, as we move forward on multilateral talks.
Did you have one other? You can have one more.
Q He saluted President Hu's leadership in helping bring this situation about. And they obviously had a conversation on Wednesday. When they discussed North Korea, did the President at all discuss the new administration report that suggests China continues to view -- for all the economic cooperation -- continues to view the United States as its long-term threat and continues to aggressively build ballistic missiles, not only capable of reaching Taiwan, but a longer-range missiles, capable of reaching Japan and U.S. troops stationed in Asia?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our position is very clear on that issue. The purpose of the call was primarily to talk about the situation in North Korea, one that we are working together on. The President thanks the Chinese leadership, thanks President Hu for helping to bring this about.
On the issue you brought up, we have made it very clear our concerns about Chinese increasing their weapons. And we've made it very clear that we stand firmly committed to the Taiwan Relations Act. And we will be there to help Taiwan. And what we want to emphasize is that those parties -- Taiwan and China -- need to have a dialogue on this. They need to talk about these issues together, to pursue a peaceful resolution to these issues.
Q Before the latest tax cut passed, the administration produced a study that said that it would create something approaching a million jobs by the end of next year. Given the news this morning that the economy continued to lose jobs last months, even as the unemployment rate went down a little bit, do you stand by that? And do you believe that by the end of this President's first term, the economy will on net have created more jobs than it lost during his presidency?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me tell you what I know, that the latest tax cut that was passed, those benefits are just now beginning to be realized. The withholding tables really have just -- are just beginning to be realized in terms of people's paychecks, where they're receiving more money in their paychecks. The child credits have just gone out. These are going to be a big boost to the economy, that will put more money in people's pockets so that they can spend that on a good or service, which will lead to more jobs, as the President likes to point out.
And I would go back to some of the numbers that have already been put out in terms of where we are today. The President touched on this a little bit about how we've had a declining economy in 2000. There was a recession, and then we had a national emergency with the September 11th attacks. We had some corporate CEOs who did not tell the truth. And we had the constant focus on the lead-up to war.
The action that we took enabled us to make sure that unemployment was reduced by a rate of nearly one percentage point; that there was an increase in the number of jobs by as much as 1.5 million; that it increased the GDP by as much as 2 percent because of action that we took to get more money back into people's pockets and provide relief. And those numbers are from the Department of Treasury.
Make no mistake about it, the President is not satisfied, because there are still people that are looking for work that cannot find work. And the President will always stay focused on the economy. There is more that we can do. Congress took some steps -- the Senate, just yesterday -- in passing the free trade agreements with Chile and Singapore. It's important to expand trade and open markets to American producers and American products. It's important to move forward on this energy bill. That's also something that will improve our economic security, a comprehensive energy bill that reduces our dependence on foreign oil. And it's important to continue our efforts to stop abusive lawsuits.
So there's more that we can do -- we need to pass the reemployment accounts. And that's where we'll continue to keep our focus.
MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, did you have one? I'll come back to you, Mike.
Q Scott, yes, I want to follow-up on Dick's question. September 11th was two years ago. The recession was over quite some time ago. The war in Iraq is months behind us. In this most recent jobs report, half a million Americans voted with their feet and gave up looking for a job. Why isn't that not an indictment of administration economic policy?
MR. McCLELLAN: We did talk about the recent unemployment numbers. And I talked about that earlier today, about how they did go down, but there were job losses and there are still too many people looking for work. And that's why the President remains focused on making sure -- the first thing we did was get the economy growing again. We had one of the shortest and shallowest recessions in history because the action that we took got the economy growing. I just pointed out the number of people that are still working because of the action that we took. So we're acting to address this.
But this is a President -- let me remind you, this recession was something that was inherited. It happened when he came into office. And we are working to address that. We're getting the economy growing. It's not growing fast enough, but yesterday's GDP numbers were positive news. The inflation rate continues to be at low numbers, that's positive; manufacturing up, housing starts up. There is some good economic news out there, but there is more to be doing.
There's more to do and the President will not be satisfied as long as people are looking for work. That's why this President is acting, that's why this President put forward proposals and passed proposals to get the economy growing and we're getting people back to work. And a lot of these benefits are starting to be realized now.
Q But half a million Americans have given up -- that's not a vote of no confidence?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q A half million Americans have given up now. That's not a vote of no confidence?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I mean, you're going into some of the details of the latest numbers. I think economists can go more into that, in terms of the GDP. What we're focused on is the policies that will get people back to work and get people working. And that's the action we took. Again, reduced unemployment rate by nearly 1 percent, increased the number of jobs by as much as 1.5 million because of the action we took, that otherwise this wouldn't have happened.
Q Scott, regarding the President's urging of respect for every individual and to welcome those with good hearts, you were questioned 16 times yesterday --
MR. McCLELLAN: Is that all? (Laughter.)
Q -- I counted them -- all with regard to only one alternative lifestyle, which is homosexuality. And my question, does the President mean respect and welcome for only this one alternative lifestyle, and none of the others? And I have a follow-up.
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President has been very clear that we ought to treat one another with dignity and respect. He believes that we ought to treat everybody -- that everybody ought to be treated with dignity and respect. He's very clear on that, and that is a view he has long held.
And let me keep moving because --
Q No, no, this one has to follow --
MR. McCLELLAN: I've got to get --
Q I won't see you for a whole month --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry. Mike.
Q A whole month, this has --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll try to come back if I can. Mike. Mike.
Q In the President's remarks this morning, he said that some people said he should not have acted, that he should have let the recession get deeper so the recovery would have been more pronounced. Who was saying that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that, you know, this goes back to conversations that people have said publicly and that -- I don't know the specific person, though; I couldn't tell you. Again, I've been up here for about three weeks, I couldn't tell you that.
Q A lot of voters consider this democratic strangle hold, the filibuster, un-American, unconstitutional. What can the President do, and Senator Frist, to unblock this strangle hold?
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the judicial nominees? Well, we're going to continue urging them of what their responsibility is. It is a minority of senators who are blocking these nominees from receiving an up-or-down vote. One way or the other -- you know, senators can vote however they want, but they should be allowed to vote. We've put forward nominees, the President's responsibility, that are highly qualified and they're well respected. And those who know them best have the highest regard for these nominees.
So it's time for the Senate to act. We'll continue to urge them to act on these nominees and fill these vacancies.
Q Scott, first of all, on what are you basing that 1.5 million figure on, of jobs --
MR. McCLELLAN: These are Treasury Department numbers, and we put these out --
Q Do you have any outside analysis --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we've put these out previously.
Q Okay. Is there any outside analysis, outside of what the administration has determined, that leads you to come up with that?
MR. McCLELLAN: There is always lots of analysis, but the Treasury Department has put these numbers out and you can check with them about more specifics. These were previously put out numbers.
Q And, secondly, you used the phrase this morning, "jobless recovery." Does the President believe we are in a jobless recovery?
MR. McCLELLAN: What his focus is on is to make sure that we don't have a jobless recovery. The economy is growing, and we need to continue to act to make sure that people are able to find jobs -- people that want jobs are able to find jobs.
Q Scott, there has been some upbeat economic news in the last couple of days, but, nonetheless, the President doesn't get to fulfill the entire tax agenda because he leaves town with a slam-dunk in his face from Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert in the form of not allowing a vote on the child tax credit for people on the low rung.
First of all, how does this sit with the President and what can he do when it --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President believes they need to act on that. The President believes that Congress should act and pass that. He's been very clear in urging action on that.
Q Does he feel that he's been betrayed by members of his own party?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to continue to urge Congress to take that important step and to expand the child credit. He believes very strongly in that effort.
Q On North Korea, you said this morning -- and I think you said again just a little while ago -- that within the context of the six-party talks that are apparently going to happen, there could be a direct conversation between North Korea and American officials, so long as it's at the table and the other parties are present..
Was that view communicated to the North Koreans, to the Chinese, before yesterday's announcement?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know. I mean, I think you'd have to talk to the Chinese about direct conversations they've had with North Korea. We appreciate the help that China has been in helping to move us forward in this multilateral approach.
Q I'm asking what we said to the North Koreans, to anybody, for that matter. Did we communicate --
MR. McCLELLAN: Our view is what we said publicly. Our view is very clear to the North Koreans, that we're pursuing a peaceful, diplomatic solution, but it needs to be a multilateral approach. It needs to be a multilateral forum, because of the importance of including these countries in the neighborhood. They are the ones affected. If we're going to move forward on substance, they need to be there.
Q Do the North Koreans know that there could be direct conversations with --
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I think we've always said there's always an opportunity for anyone to talk to another person that is sitting at the table.
Q Do you think that played any role in their acceptance of the situation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I'm not going to speak for that regime. You'd have to talk to them about that.
Q Also on North Korea. Scott, you said earlier, there could be some benefits accruing to North Korea from the international community. Are there circumstances under which this President would extend full diplomatic recognition to North Korea?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I think we're jumping way ahead of where things are right now. North Korea -- we have a lot of concerns with North Korea, in terms of proliferation, in terms of drug trafficking, in terms of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. So there are a lot of concerns that we have with North Korea. The purpose of these talks is to get them to once and for all end their nuclear weapons and the pursuit of that, those weapons.
Q I know you said timing is a detail to be worked out, but is this foreseen in the coming weeks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think there's been a lot of talk about, something should happen soon. We certainly are ready to hold talks sooner than later. But I'm not going to put a time frame on it.
Q And our representative, again, would be Kelly?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, let's let the details be worked out, and then we can have more information from that point.
Q Scott, was the President saying that he actually, consciously took actions to make the recession shallower, but shorter, knowing that the recovery would not be as robust?
MR. McCLELLAN: We acted to address the recession. We acted to make sure that the economy came back to a path of growth.
Q But my point is, the President said, we could have had a deeper but shorter recession -- I probably didn't say it right in my question. We could have had a deeper but shorter --
MR. McCLELLAN: And said, more people would have been hurt, more people would have been looking for work.
Q So did the President actually take actions to have that kind of --
MR. McCLELLAN: He's focused -- he's focused on creating an environment for job creation and economic growth. That's what his focus has always been. We got the economy turned around and growing. And we're continuing to focus on the importance of --
Q Did he do something, implement any policies --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- getting people who are looking for work, back to work.
Q -- that would make this recession shallower?
MR. McCLELLAN: Did he implement policies that would make it shallower and shorter? We implemented policies to get the economy growing as soon as possible. It's not growing fast enough. We want to continue to grow it --
Q What did he do?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- we want to continue to have it grow faster. Well, we've acted three times on jobs and growth packages.
Q Are you talking about tax cuts, alone?
Q I'm not done. I have another. Are you still --
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I talked about more. There's more to do. I pointed out that there's more we can do to improve the economic security of the American people.
Q Based on the actions he did take, the stimulus package, are you still predicting a half million jobs to be created this year?
MR. McCLELLAN: There have been numbers put out there that are based on what we've passed, and those numbers are readily available for you. I don't have those -- I don't have those numbers in front of me.
Q But you're not --
MR. McCLELLAN: But we took action to help people have an opportunity to get a job. And that money is just getting back into people's pockets from the most recently passed jobs and growth package --
Q And the tax --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- so that they can spend it on goods and services. And, yes, we are putting ourselves in position to where there will be an environment for job creation and economic growth. I think there are already steps being taken in that direction if you look at number of areas.
Q So you are predicting that the --
MR. McCLELLAN: I got to keep going because --
Q -- the package that the President signed --
MR. McCLELLAN: I got to keep going, got to keep moving.
Q -- would create a half million --
Q Scott, I wanted to ask about Cuba again. Does the President support the action taken by his own administration, which was to send those people back to Cuba?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President expects that the policy -- or expects the policy to be implemented and enforced in a consistent way. That's what the President believes. And that policy is clear, and those actions are taken by those who are responsible for implementing that policy. And if you have further questions about the details of that, I think you need to talk to the appropriate people about that.
Q There were negotiations --
Q Scott, on Liberia?
Q But just to follow up. So it was consistent with the policy?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I was informed -- I was informed that's not the case.
Q That there were not negotiations?
Q It was consistent with the policy to send those people back, is that correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q It was consistent with the policy the President supports --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the specific details, you need to talk to the appropriate people who are responsible for implementing -- or for enforcing that policy.
Q Can you clear up what you just said, though, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go to Ben. I'll try to get back to you.
Q Scott, aside from enjoying a summer buzz, how does the President view this summer vacation, his month-long break? Is it a chance to recharge his batteries after a tough --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think the President of the United States ever gets a break, as you're referring to. It's always been an opportunity for him to go home and spend some time at home. But it's also a time when he continues to focus on the important priorities of the American people, when he continues to focus on fulfilling his responsibilities. It's also a time when he likes to get out into the heartland for an extended period of time and talk with American people, get outside Washington, D.C., talk about his agenda, listen to what's on the minds of the American people. So this is a great time to get out into the heartland of America, away from the bubble of Washington, D.C. -- even though we enjoy being here with you all.
Q Also, aside from the August 9th donor maintenance event, is he going to be entertaining big donors at the ranch over the course of --
MR. McCLELLAN: What I have, in terms of any activities related to the campaign, is the information I gave you out earlier this week. And details beyond that, I think you ought to talk to the campaign. Obviously, we will update you from Crawford if there's anything to update you on.
Q Scott, on Liberia, is the President still confident that ECOWAS will have peacekeepers in Liberia by Monday? And if that's the case, will the President then make a decision early next week regarding sending in U.S. troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's been some assessments done on the ground in Liberia by some of the folks you're referring to. There were some productive talks yesterday in Ghana with the heads of state of ECOWAS, and there was senior-level U.S. representation there. We do expect the ECOWAS foreign ministers to continue to have further discussions today, and we're actively participating in all the military and political planning that's taking place in the region, as you talked about.
The President has made it very clear that we want to participate with ECOWAS and support ECOWAS, and we're in constant discussions to determine the extent of that participation. And we want to --
Q But ECOWAS announced it will --
MR. McCLELLAN: We've already provided funding to the vanguard force, which I think is what you're referring to, so that they -- it will helpful to get them in there. I think, beyond that, there's ongoing discussions about the components of what --
Q Is funding --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- of what our participation will be. But we continue to remain actively engaged with ECOWAS and trying to get that vanguard force, hopefully will get in there very soon. We continue to make it very clear that Charles Taylor needs to leave, that there needs to be a cease-fire in place, people need to pull back from the fighting and get focused again on the peace talks in Accra. So that's where things stand right now.
Q Is funding the only thing the administration will do for that first vanguard force, then, that arrives by Monday? Just funding?
MR. McCLELLAN: If there's anything to update you on, we will do so at the appropriate time. We continue to be in close contact with all those West African nations, and we continue being in close contact with the U.N., as well.
Q Scott, Connie hasn't got a question.
Q Scott --
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, I'll do one more. Connie, and then I've got to go. I'm sorry about the schedule change today.
Q No, a follow-up. One follow-up. That's all. You gave this person six, Scott.
Q Scott, I realize the U.S. can't be a peacekeeper all over the world. Does the administration expect U.N. troops to participate with more corrupt, dictatorial regimes? Would you like to see U.N. troops go in, in Congo early, or other places where there are horrendous acts being committed?
MR. McCLELLAN: We always work very closely with the U.N. in terms of addressing the different situations across the world, and we will continue to do so.
END 12:54 P.M. EDT