For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 18, 2003
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Manila, Philippines
10:37 A.M. (L)
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go through the President's day and then jump into questions after that. The President, as usual, had briefings before departing the Ambassador's residence this morning. Upon arrival at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, the President will participate in a greeting to Embassy personnel. Then we will depart for the Rizal Monument, where the President will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor Dr. Jose Rizal who was a patriot, physician and writer, whose literary works inspired the Philippine nationalist movement during the Spanish occupation. In 1896, Dr. Rizal wrote a lengthy poem called the Ultima Adios, or My Last Farewell. And in his -- this was in his prison cell before being put to death.
Q Can you say a few lines?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the text of it appears on the monument. That's why I was pointing that out. It was his martyrdom that inspired the country. And later, revolution broke out and Asia soon had its first independent republic.
From there, the President and Mrs. Bush will participate in a welcoming ceremony with President and Attorney Arroyo at the Malacanang Palace. Then the President will participate in bilateral meetings with President Arroyo. We've got pool coverage at the end of the first part of that.
Q Got what?
MR. McCLELLAN: Pool coverage at the end of the first part of that, bilaterals. Never rule anything out. Just pool coverage.
Later, the President looks forward to making remarks to the Philippine National Congress. And as a reminder, he is the first American President since President Eisenhower to do so. The address is expected to be televised nationally in the Philippines. In his remarks, the President will talk about how the Philippines is a longstanding ally and valued friend, in fact our oldest ally in Asia. He will talk about our shared history and shared sacrifice for democracy. And the President will also highlight the importance of our efforts to fight terrorism and the Philippines' and President Arroyo -- the commitment of the Philippines and President Arroyo for their efforts to combat terrorism, particularly groups like Abu Sayyaf.
And the President will also talk about our military alliance and how the United States is prepared to support the Philippines as the government moves forward to modernize and reform the military and to make it more effective, make a more effective fighting force. And he will also herald the Filipino people in their commitment to democracy in the remarks. And then this evening, the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to participating in the state dinner hosted by President and Attorney Arroyo, again at the Malacanang Palace.
And, finally, I just want to make a couple remarks. This has been an important week for progress and success. The United Nations unanimously passed another resolution that will help broaden international support in Iraq even more, and sends the message that the world does have a stake in helping the Iraqi people build a secure, free and democratic future. We also -- Japan and Spain both have stepped forward with welcome and significant financial assistance to the reconstruction in Iraq.
Q Who? Japan and Spain?
MR. McCLELLAN: Japan and Spain both have announced financial assistance.
And finally, the Congress acted yesterday to pass the President's wartime supplemental, which will help us prevail on the central front of the war on terrorism, as we help the Iraqi people transition to a sovereign and democratic future.
And with that --
Q How are you going to get the Senate drop their insistence on some of the money being loans?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, you have the President's remarks today. The President has made it very clear that it sends the wrong message that we will work to remove that -- urge the Conference Committee leaders to remove that during the conference. You know, the Iraqi people are already saddled with debt from Saddam Hussein's regime, and we don't believe that they should be saddled with new debt. It sends the wrong message to the international community as well, as we are working to increase financial assistance from other nations as well, as we head into the Madrid conference.
Q On the walk-up to the war, several administration officials, looking beyond the war into postwar Iraq, including Wolfowitz, said that, in particular, the Iraqi oil industry was well equipped to help pay for the restoration of Iraq and the rebuilding of Iraq.
MR. McCLELLAN: Right.
Q Has the administration changed its view on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. We've stated that there's additional funding that will come from both the international community as well as the Iraqi people, in the form of their own -- to help with the reconstruction efforts. And we've always been very up front, as we knew what the cost would be, what our commitment would be for the United States, as well as what we needed from others as well.
Q Scott, the President held a meeting with senators last week and was pretty firm with them and they didn't listen to him. What more can he do --
MR. McCLELLAN: He also dropped by meetings with House members as well, and House members heeded his call. We will continue to emphasize that it sends the wrong message, for the very reasons he stated in his statement today and the very reasons I just stated to you all.
Q You say -- if a bill comes out of conference that says it has to be loans, will the President accept that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we believe it's important for Congress to remove -- remove the loans from the legislation and make this in the form of grants. It's important that we send the right message with this legislation and that we not, as I said, saddle the Iraqi people with additional debt.
Q Would he veto the bill if it came down that way?
MR. McCLELLAN: We're going to work to remove it as they move forward in the Conference Committee. We believe it needs to be removed from this wartime supplemental.
Q But you won't say he's going to veto it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think I've just addressed it. We're going to -- the President has made a very strong statement. He's met with some members to urge that this be in the form of grants. And we will continue to send that message as they work in Conference Committee.
Q How quick are you going to be able to establish this multinational force in Iraq now that this U.N. resolution has been passed?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, some of that -- one, we're in discussions with Turkish officials about their commitment. We're also in discussions with the Iraqi governing council on those issues. But I think Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice both said that, yes, that would come over time; that it's not expected to come necessarily right away. But we will continue to work to broaden international participation even more. And this resolution sends a clear message that the world does have a responsibility to help the Iraqi people transition to a secure, free and democratic future.
Q Scott, the radio address was recorded, right? The radio address was recorded? What was the subject?
MR. McCLELLAN: This month is all on Iraq, the progress in Iraq.
Q Scott, on Tuesday, the President apparently had a meeting with one of his officials in which he told them firmly, no more leaks and no more anonymous officials quoted in the paper. It was a Knight-Ridder report this week. Was there a meeting of such --
MR. McCLELLAN: I didn't see the Knight-Ridder report. I'm not sure what it said. What did it say?
Q That basically he sort of read the riot act essentially to a lot of the administration officials about no more leaks and no more anonymous officials being quoted in the paper.
MR. McCLELLAN: Where did this supposedly happen?
Q The White House, on Tuesday.
Q The story quoted an unnamed official.
MR. McCLELLAN: During what kind of meeting.
Q It was just a meeting --
MR. McCLELLAN: With administration officials?
Q Yes, top administration officials.
MR. McCLELLAN: When was our Cabinet meeting? That was last week. This was this week? I'll have to look at the report. I haven't seen it, I haven't heard anything like that.
Q The gist was you're all supposed to speak completely on the record now.
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard anything like that. But I'll look at it, I'll look at the report.
Q Are we going to hear from anybody today? Is there a briefing scheduled?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we're working to get someone over to the filing center, I think after the bilateral meetings and before the state dinner, a senior administration official.
Q With a look ahead to tomorrow, as well as --
MR. McCLELLAN: Talk a little bit about today and then touch on tomorrow a little bit.
Q So it won't be on the plane; it will be at the file?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it will be at the filing center.
10:47 A.M. (L)
* * *
11:21 A.M. (L)
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll add one thing. I looked into that last question. I read the report. So I just wanted to add to it -- on Knight-Ridder that you asked about, so we'll just close it off on the gaggle.
All right, I looked into the report about the Knight-Ridder article where it had an unnamed senior administration official saying that the President didn't want to see any more unnamed senior administration officials quoted in articles. And I can tell you that there is no truth to it -- only on the condition that I am an unnamed senior administration official.
Q Are you on the record?
MR. McCLELLAN: That was on background. (Laughter.)
11:22 A.M. (L) END