The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 28, 2004

Press Briefing on Iraq Transition
Background Briefing by a Senior Administration Official
Conrad Istanbul
Istanbul, Turkey

11:30 A.M. (Local)

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning. This is a background briefing of senior administration officials, and I'll just turn it over to the senior administration official to give you kind of -- White House and administration perspective on today's events.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good morning, everybody. I will start by discussing -- obviously, you received the news by now. So as the President has said, and as the administration has said going back over the course of the last several weeks, and particularly after the new Iraqi government was formed, that our goal was to move as quickly as possible to enable the new Iraqi government to assume as much responsibility for the day-to-day affairs of the Iraqi people as possible. We also said that we expected the enemy in Iraq to continue to try to inflict harm and violence on innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as the multinational forces on the ground.

As you have witnessed, and as the world has witnessed, the new Iraqi government has moved at warp-speed in taking control of its own government. The ministries were being handed over on a very robust pace, based upon their capabilities. Thursday of last week, they assumed control of the last ministry, so all the ministries, as of last Thursday, were under the operational control and day-to-day affairs of the new Iraqi government.

Prime Minister Allawi, himself, has demonstrated his capabilities as the new Iraqi leader in charge of this government, his determination to fight the terrorist enemy within his country, and his eagerness to assume control of his control in order to improve the lives of the Iraqi people, as well as to continue to fight the terrorist threat within his country.

The administration has been in communication with Baghdad for several days -- I would say over a week -- about the concept or the idea of handing sovereignty over ahead of schedule. This was based upon two factors, one, were they ready, and, B, taking into consideration the security environment in the country. Prime Minister Allawi strongly advised us that today would be the right day to do it. He made a final decision last night, based on my understanding, and which was communicated, obviously, to Ambassador Bremer, which was then communicated to the administration. The President was informed during the day that these conversations were going on. Obviously, he knew about the possibility of this happening for several days, but he received confirmation that Prime Minister Allawi was making the recommendation to do so ahead of schedule.

And the main reason that Prime Minister Allawi gave is that he believes it would strengthen his hand in dealing with the terrorist threat in his country and that it would demonstrate to the Iraqi people that the -- and to the world, that this new government is capable, willing, and ready to run their country, to improve the daily lives of the Iraqi people, and to improve the security environment in their country.

So the President was pleased with the news, because it does demonstrate that this new Iraqi government was ahead of schedule and fully capable of taking charge, that it shows a seriousness of the new Iraqi government has in focusing on the terrorist threat. As many of you know, this -- the multinational forces, in particular our forces, are in Iraq to help them fight this enemy. That relationship was borne out and the agreements made between the Iraqi government and the new -- and the multinational force, also memorialized in the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed. As we talked about the deliberations today, the international community, once again, is demonstrating its support and commitment to the new Iraqi government by providing training of security forces through the NATO Alliance.

So these are positive developments, and today's news is great news for the Iraqi people. And President Bush is pleased with the work and sacrifice made by all those members of the coalition who have helped bring this day about. He is particularly thankful, and thankful on behalf of a grateful nation, of the work of Ambassador Bremer, who has, through his tireless work, has helped make the daily lives of the Iraqi people better.

So with that, I'll go ahead and answer questions. Terry.

Q Is there any link between the timing of this and the NATO summit? Is there any kind of relationship between all the world leaders gathering here and saying that they're going to provide this addition -- or take a bigger role in Iraq, and Iraq taking this step on its own?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, Prime Minister Allawi has already made it clear about his request for assistance by the NATO Alliance. And the President, obviously, has been pleased with the progress that's been made on that front in heeding the call of the Iraqi government.

But the specific timing, the specific day of this was Prime Minister Allawi's call based upon his comfort level with, like I said, one, his ability to take full control and operate the government on a daily basis, which they've demonstrated by already taking control of the ministries. And secondly, did he believe this would help strengthen his hand or improve his position, vis a vis, the terrorist threat in his country, and he strongly believed that it does. So that's why we went forward on this day.

Q On that point, I want to get to your second -- one clarification. So when did the President actually hear, when was he informed?


Q Yesterday. So Allawi made the final decision to do it last night --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Last night, yesterday, yes.

Q But the President was --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And NATO was kind of -- it was made yesterday, and they all said, well, we'll wake up tomorrow morning, everything's fine. Condi Rice spoke to Ambassador Bremer, who spoke with Allawi. Allawi continued to believe that today was the right day. He essentially made the decision, though, the night before.

Q So yesterday afternoon, the President gets word that this is going to happen tomorrow --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Late yesterday afternoon, yes.

Q Okay. On the security point, can you be more specific, what does the Prime Minister believe the early handover does to strengthen his hand? I think he made reference to some legal changes. Might he impose martial law? Is there anything that he's discussed with the administration, with commanders on the ground, about security issues?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, he has -- I'm not going to speak on behalf of the Prime Minister. I will say that he believes by sending a powerful signal not only to the Iraqi people, but also to the terrorists, that one of their, obviously, significant, inspirational incentives for attacks on June 30th was because it was going to be the day of the handover. That doesn't suggest that there still won't be violence. As we said, even, that there was going to be -- we predicted violence on the day of, and then days after that, as well. They are now going to change their sights, probably, and try to focus on the elections. And we know that this doesn't detract us from having to focus on removing the terrorist threat.

Having said that, the Prime Minister, I'm sure, in the next -- in the hours and days to come, will demonstrate the steps that he's going to take to handle the security threat. They are still going to have -- my understanding is, and I will let them clarify, is that they will still have their -- the Iraqis still want to have a ceremony on the 30th, so I believe that is still to take place.

He -- other steps that he's wanted to take, I don't believe there has been any decision or has he intimated any decision about martial law. But he has to make assessments based on what is the best way to protect the Iraqi people. And obviously, the multinational force is there to work with him in that score.

Q Have U.S. commanders been informed of any changes after this handover became official, with regard to security that was ordered by the Iraqi government?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, obviously General Sanchez was aware of this decision and was fully supportive of the decision. I do not know of any new operational commands that are going out. I think that's because the Iraqi government and the multinational forces were already working in concert with each other to focus on the threat. You only have to look at the situation in the South, dealing with Sadr, or look in Fallujah and other aspects of the country, to demonstrate that the relationship was already working, which, again, made all the more sense to go ahead and officially memorialize what was already happening on the ground, and that was that the Iraqi government was making decisions and working with their -- with multinational force.

Q Is it possible that the decision was made early because Allawi felt the need to implement the martial law terms earlier than the 30th?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, again, I don't -- I have not heard any decision made on specific security that he's going to take. He does believe, like I said, that it's going to strengthen his hand in dealing with the terrorist threat. That will, I'm sure, take all kinds of different -- he will take different types of actions. Whether one of those actions involved curfews or things like that I don't believe have been decided and it would not be appropriate for me to suggest here.

Q Two questions. First, there was a moment, I was told, when the President and Prime Minister Blair checked their watches today and looked at each other. Did you see that, and can you confirm that they were --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They knew when it was happening. Many of your news organizations participated in the actual event. I believe it was -- they reported it was at 10:26 a.m. The President was aware this morning when he left for the NATO summit from the hotel that it was underway. The Prime Minister and the President obviously spoke about it last night when they saw each other for the first time here in Istanbul. And as I think has been reported, the two of them will probably have comments to make on this when they meet at their bilateral meeting later this afternoon.

Q Will you respond to an analysis that's already been raised that this is -- this very modest ceremony is, in the face of the insurgent activity, is a kind of panic move, that it represents an effort to wrong-foot the insurgents and terrorists, and it kind of shows they almost have the upper hand?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it's quite the contrary. I would say that demonstrating to not only the terrorists, but to the Iraqi people that this government is ready, this government is ahead of schedule and this government is committed to fulfilling their hopes and aspirations. The fact of the matter is most critics are saying, no, it's going to be after June 30th, you ought to push the date back. But what this new government has demonstrated is that, in fact, they were fully ready to take control.

And Prime Minister Allawi knows better than most about the threat his country faces, and it was his judgment to believe for tactical flexibility, for all the reasons that he will have to discuss himself, that he believed that this would strengthen his hand against the enemy. No action by the enemy will shake the will of this government or the multinational coalition. The horrific acts that we have seen in the last days, whether it be the innocent bombing of civilians, or the brutal, horrific killings through beheadings of innocent civilians, demonstrates that this enemy will go to great lengths, but they also, I think it demonstrates, they know they can't beat us from a military standpoint. They know they can't overcome the strength of the Iraqi people, the Iraqi security forces and multinational forces. So they are trying to shake our will and to undermine the determination and commitment of the civilized world. And I believe, and I think, and the Prime Minister strongly believes that this demonstrates that there is confidence, there is a new Iraqi government that is able and willing to fight them. And the fact that we were able to do it ahead of schedule I think speaks to the leadership capabilities of the new government.

Q Is it the administration's position that this also, the early turnover strengthens the ability to, in the discussions, perhaps get more resources from NATO allies, a stronger commitment? Is that going to be part of the ongoing discussions in the next couple days?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think that the discussions that are going on here in Istanbul are relevant to whether sovereignty was going to be handed over today or two days from now. I don't think that changes the dialogue or the perspective. We hope and think that it's an encouraging step, but I don't think that would change substantively what the Prime Minister has called for, and what NATO is working to accomplish, and that is provide security training to Iraqi security forces. So that is what was requested coming into NATO, and that is what it appears will come out of NATO, regardless of the day that sovereignty was handed over.

Q You said no decisions have been made, but Allawi has definitely floated the idea of martial law, so can't you speak generally about what the United States thinks of that approach?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It would not be appropriate for me to speak about something, about a decision that has not been made about security forces, about what position multinational forces would take on the ground. They are working hand-in-hand on determining the best way to confront the terrorist threat in their country. We will continue to work with Prime Minister Allawi on that. But I'm not going to speak to a hypothetical. If a decision is made, we will comment at that time.

Q Why was the ceremony held under this cloak of secrecy then? Were you afraid of sabotage?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, we have said all along that we believe that the terrorists on the ground were going to do everything they can to, literally and figuratively, blow up the handover of sovereignty. And it's clear today that that hasn't taken place, that the sovereignty was handed over, it was enthusiastically received by the new Iraqi leadership based on their recommendation. And again, this gets back to what the President has said, what we have said from the podium, what other people have said, is that they're calling the shots. And this was a shot he called, and we were glad to oblige.

Q Beyond his remarks with Prime Minister Blair this afternoon, does the President plan to address the American people anytime soon, today or Wednesday, or whenever, about the significance of this moment?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, he will address -- the entire world, including the American people will hear from the President today about his thoughts on today's transfer of sovereignty. If there's any other scheduling update, we'll let you know.

Q The Iraqis have made clear that they think getting Saddam Hussein in their custody, showing him on TV, starting a trial would be very important to sort of demonstrate that they're in charge. What are -- and they've indicated that they expect him within a couple of days. Do you have plans, do the Americans have plans to turn over Saddam and any of the other deck of cards people in American custody within days, anytime soon? Do you have a schedule on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the Prime Minister has worked with Ambassador Bremer on that very point over the course of the last several weeks and months. And I will leave it to the Prime Minister to make an announcement about those changes. But we have made it clear that that is the intent. As far as the schedule of any sort of legal proceedings will have to be thought through because it's very complex, a very complex legal case. But he will -- the Iraqi people and the new Iraqi government will help determine the process in which Saddam Hussein will be brought to justice. So I can't speak to specific days or hours of when that transfer will happen, but I'll leave that to the Prime Minister. But it will happen. And we have worked closely on this measure to make sure it happens in an effective way.

Q Will it not happen before the trial process is actually set up, they have their court set up? In other words, would you not turn him over to custody until the trial is ready to take place?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think this is a matter of semantics as far as -- I'm not sure -- a trial has not been set, but legal custody will be given, my understanding is, to the new Iraqi government. As far as the modalities of how, when and where, and how he will be held in custody is obviously still being worked out.

Q Do you know how the President and Prime Minister Blair informed the other NATO leaders about the transfer? And then I want to follow on Terry's question, because security seems to be the key thing for the Iraqi government. Allawi indicated that elections might not be able to be held in January if there's not security. And they can't even secure a 20-minute transfer of sovereignty ceremony that was planned for. So how is --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You're basing a presumption that -- you're presuming that a transfer of sovereignty could not have been done secure on Wednesday. We're not suggesting that at all. It could have very well, easily have been done. What they are -- they said is them taking sovereignty, not because a ceremony would be disrupted, but because he believes having actual control, legal control over his country will strengthen his hand to confront the terrorist threat in his country, and that it sends a powerful signal to the Iraqi people, themselves, that this new Iraqi government is willing and able to do that and are ahead of schedule. We think that's a positive development.

As far as the President and the administration notifying coalition members through the course of the morning about Prime Minister Allawi's decision, I can't speak to it directly because I wasn't over there, about how it was communicated to members of the alliance who were not members of the coalition. I'm not sure exactly how that worked. We'll have to brief you later on that.

Q Sir, is it true that President Bush wanted to invite Prime Minister Allawi to the NATO summit, and that some members of the alliance opposed it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not at all. President Bush wanted Prime Minister Allawi to be in Baghdad working on taking over sovereignty. We did believe, I think, people -- the new Iraqi government believe, and people in Baghdad believe, having representation here was important, and that's why the Iraqi government is represented here today. But there was never a desire or recommendation by the President to have Prime Minister Allawi attend personally.

Q What assurances can you give that what was transferred today was full and complete sovereignty? Are there any issues that the Iraqis might make a decision on that the U.S. would not accept?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, legal transfer of sovereignty happened just hours ago. The international media was there to witness the actual transfer of sovereignty. And that means, as the President has said, and others, they're calling the shots. There are issues in which the Iraqi -- the new sovereign Iraq government -- Iraqi government will have to work on with multinational forces. But that's the case in any country, whether it be Afghanistan or elsewhere, where there's a multinational force at the invitation of a sovereign government. But as far as control, it is in the control of the -- of the new Prime Minister and his new government.

Q What does Paul Bremer do next? We understand he has left the country.


Q What does Paul Bremer do next? We understand he has left Iraq.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I was told that he was going to catch up on his rest. So I believe that would be the case. He is -- but my understanding is, as we know, officially, his job is done. And when -- it was always expected, when his job was done, that he would leave the country. So that, in fact, has taken place.

Q You said that this will strengthen, or Prime Minister Allawi believes this will strengthen his hand. But his security hand is still U.S. forces, or coalition forces, is it not?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not entirely. We, obviously, play a strong role in helping him defend his country. That's why we're there, that's why the multinational forces are there. He has a growing Iraqi security force that is becoming better each day. It is not near where he wants it or where we would want it, as far as being able to confront the security threats in his country. The intelligence services under Iraq's control is getting better each day. But no question about it. That is exactly why the multinational force will stay there, to help the new Iraqi government meet its goals. But what is strongly felt by the Prime Minister and others is that strategically and ultimately, to have a successful Iraqi security force, there has to be an Iraqi chain of command. There has to be -- the guy on the street, the guy who's at the door of the suspected terrorist has to feel he's getting his orders all the way up the chain of command to the new Prime Minister, that they have a continuous chain of command of Iraqis.

That's what we learned in Fallujah early on; that's what we learned from the lessons that are learned. And that's what General Petraeus and his team have concluded based on their assessments, that they've really got to build up not only the specific operational capabilities of the Iraq -- of the guy on the street, but also the chain of command issues. But we are there, we are there to help them until they can do it themselves.

Q Is this about a specific threat that the administration or the coalition forces found out about regarding the handover ceremony on the 30th?


Q Or is it about the ability of the new Iraqi government to impose martial law themselves in the next few days?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, we have been warning for days and weeks that we believe that the violence would only escalate as we get near June 30th. And we also made clear that we felt that violence would continue after June 30th. And nothing has changed that assessment. In fact, they are demonstrating that that is their design. But again, the new Iraqi government believes that it will have a strengthened hand in dealing with the security threat. The actions and decisions he makes have not been decided. He will make those decisions on his timetable.

And part of dealing with the security threat on the ground is gaining the confidence of the Iraqi people. They are going to be some of the most critical foot soldiers in this battle against the insurgents. They're the ones who know what's happening at the end of their street. They're the ones that know what's happening at their business. They're the ones who know what's happening in the dark allies behind their houses or in their neighborhoods. And if they feel that they now are answering to a new Iraqi government, any little bit helps when you're fighting such a ruthless enemy. And he believed this very important signal and very important legal transmission of authority will help them in that regard.

Q Can I just follow up on that? But since the largest security force on the ground is still the coalition force, any discussion about the imposition of marital law will have to be discussed from a very -- kind of minute by hour-by-hour basis with the Americans on the ground, does it not? I mean, they're going to be the ones actually --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are dealing with them on a daily basis on security threat. We've demonstrated that in different parts of the country. As far as the steps that are going forward, those will be discussed, and when there's something to announce by the Prime Minister, he will announce it. And if there are any components that involve coalition forces, we will explain it at that time.

Q So it's fair to assume that this was done more to keep the bad guys off balance.


Q It's fair to assume that this was done more to keep the bad guys off balance than anything else.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I didn't say that. I said that it was a combination of things. One, in fact, is that they are ready. Why would you hold back something when they are ready to have it, when they are ready to assume control?

Q What difference does two days make? Come on.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, and I also said -- let me finish my sentence, Bill -- that they are also very -- he believed that it would improve his hand on the security -- on facing the security threat. And the security threat is obviously increasing up to the day of June 30th. Is it going to prevent every act of terror? No. And I don't think anybody has tried to claim that. But does he believe it can help him, whether it just be -- I mean, if it just saved a handful of Iraqi lives or multinational forces' lives for this action today, then it was worth it. So he believed strongly that this was the right move at the right time. And they were ready.

So we were pleased by it. It demonstrates the competency of the new government that they were ready. Remember, all the critics, months ago, were saying, you're never going to make the June 30th deadline, you're going to have to push it back, you should push it back, just push it back. And, in fact, what they're demonstrating to the Iraqi people and to the world is, no, we're ready, and we're ready ahead of schedule.

Q What do you expect Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush to talk about at the meeting this morning? And how much are they going to be willing to say to us afterwards? Is it going to be more like a joint press conference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We're working out the specifics of it, but they will definitely have something to say. The bilateral meeting gives, obviously, an opportunity for the two of them to talk about a wide range of issues -- first and foremost, obviously, Iraq, the participation of NATO that they are here working on. But there are a lot of other bilateral issues, as well, about the war on terror that they will discuss, Middle East peace process, I'm sure. So I'm sure it will be wide-ranging, but they will specifically comment publicly about this specific case. In what form, and all that, where and how, we'll keep you updated. We're working those details out.

Q -- perhaps just a spray, a photo op?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, I'll keep you updated on that.

Q Bremer gave Allawi and the President a letter from President Bush requesting resumption of diplomatic relations. What other steps are you taking to formally recognize the government in Iraq? Are you doing it at the U.N.? Are you doing it here at the NATO summit? What are the legal -- what are the next legal steps in terms of the United States declaring this -- recognizing this government?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not an expert in all those things, but I know, obviously, one point is Ambassador Negroponte will be arriving shortly -- I don't believe today, but he will -- in the coming days, he will present his credentials to the new Iraqi government, for example. I know that -- if there's -- we will work to try to get some other details if there are any that are relevant.

Q -- especially the U.S. role in terms of where you want to do this -- U.N., NATO -- what organization --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Obviously, the embassy is a critical, big step, and it's one that's been worked on over the last several months, standing up that new embassy, much like other countries will, as well, presenting the credentials of the new ambassador will be important. And we'll do so. And if there are any other specific measures we'll be taking, I'll let you know.

Q Have you heard a response to the letter, a formal response to the letter? I mean, obviously, they --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think it was rejected.

Q Right.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, my understanding is that it was reciprocated.

Q Will you release the text of that letter?

Q Now that sovereignty has been transferred, isn't there a lot of pressure in the administration now to come up with a clear exit strategy? When will that happen?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as I stated earlier, the clear mission of the multinational force, and in particular, the United States military is to help the new Iraqi government stabilize a country, deal with the security threat, and help improve the lives of the Iraqi people.

As we said, one of the primary missions within that -- primary goals within that mission is to build up the Iraqi security force. That's why it's dominating the talks here in Istanbul today. It is ultimately the answer to the long-term success in Iraq is that the Iraqi people themselves can take care of themselves, protect themselves, and provide for their fellow citizens. It would be inappropriate to put a specific timetable or day on that. It's going to go as fast as possible. As the President said, we're going to keep in there as long as necessary, but not a day longer. And we're there at the invitation of a new sovereign government who wants our help, has asked for our help, has asked for the entire world's help, and we'll be there to give it.

Q Do the events today change the calculations for returning to Washington as scheduled? Wouldn't the President like to be the first head of state to visit the new Iraqi sovereign government?


Q No changes yet?


Q Has issues surrounding the location of the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad been all worked out, or is some of that still being discussed?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I know it's something that has been discussed in the past. Whether there's been final resolution -- I do believe that the new Iraqi government understands the security environment and why those decisions have to be made. As far as the long-term resolution of that, I'm not sure. So I can't answer definitively on that.

Q I have two questions. From now, are the military commanders to Iraq reporting to the American commander or to the Iraqi government? And

second question, beside the British, were other allies from Iraq informed in advance of the handover --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The first question, I believe, are multinational forces answering to their own commanders, or not the Iraqi --

Q -- the national commanders, the non-American national commanders are reporting to the American commander, or are reporting to Iraqi authorities?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, they're going to be working -- there's a specific agreement that has been outlined between the new Iraqi government and the multinational force, which includes, obviously -- is led by an American commander. And that relationship going forward, as spelled out in detail both in letters and agreements, that they will work hand-in-hand on offensive sensitive operations. They will work closely with the new Iraqi security forces. There will be times, obviously, where the multinational force will have to share in the burden or take the burden in certain operations, but it will be in direct consultation. And we've demonstrated that. This is not a theory that we're advancing, it's in practice already, both in how we're dealing with threats in Fallujah, how we're dealing with the threat of al Sadr. So that is already operationally taking place. The transfer of sovereignty will make that official, but the operational differences will be very little.

And the other question?

Q Beside the British, were all the allies informed in advance of the handover today? Were they informed in advance?

Q The world leaders, how were they presented --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, the other coalition members who have forces on the ground were notified this morning, I believe that we reached out to them. Again, I'm not sure, specifically, what maybe the Prime Minister and the President did at the actually NATO lunch.

Q Was it through the breaking news there were announced, or were they informed before --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The people who have troops on the ground were informed prior, they made efforts to do so.

Q Did Secretary Powell reach out yesterday to foreign ministers --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know who was tasked with which country, but I know the Australians, the Japanese, the South Koreans -- that would be logical. But I don't know specifically who made what call.

Q What is the President's schedule for Wednesday?


Q Is he going to have a turkey dinner? (Laughter.)

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Any other questions? Thanks.

END 12:02 P.M. (Local)

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