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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 20, 2004
Background Briefing on the President's Bilateral Meetings
Hyatt Regency Santiago
2:40 P.M. (Local)
MR. McCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. We have two senior administration officials here to give you readouts of the President's meetings this morning. The first one will be on the President's meeting with -- or lunch with President Putin. And then, after that, we will get into the President's meeting with Asian leaders.
So I'll turn it over to our first briefer now, and the way I'd like to do this is, he'll give you a readout of the meeting, and then if you have any questions about the President's meeting with President Putin, go ahead and ask them. Then we'll shift to the other briefer.
Q Could I ask you before you leave, is Secretary Burns going to the West Bank --
MR. McCORMACK: I'll check for you, Terry.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much. As was just said, the President had lunch with President Putin today. It lasted for slightly over an hour. It was continuation in this very long series of warm meetings between the two Presidents.
Basically, the President started out by looking back where they have been over the past four years, agreeing that we had developed a framework for moving forward U.S.-Russian partnership over the next four years; that there was going to be greater focus on building this relationship in the second term for both Presidents.
Let me run through briefly the highlights of the discussion on a number of issues. First, North Korea. There was some back-and-forth on North Korea. I think we can say, coming out of the discussion with President Putin that certainly there is a consensus, that we're speaking with one voice on North Korea. There's an agreement on the goal, which is a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, and we agree on the approach, the six-party talks. And Putin is certainly committed to working with the United States and the other partners in that framework.
A great part of the discussion was focused on the latest political changes inside Russia and the issue of democracy. The President raised this, noted the concerns that we've had about checks and balances, about the centralization of power inside Russia, and asked Putin to give his own explanation of what was going on and why these steps were being taken inside Russia.
Basically, Putin went through a very long and detailed explanation of the logic, the political, historical logic behind his latest proposed changes to the Russian political system; went back deep into Russian history, the Stalinist period, and made the point that what the Russian government was trying to do at this point was to develop a democratic style of government that was consistent with Russian history and the unique problems that Russia faced as a multiethnic society on a large landmass.
There was a lot of back-and-forth, the President asking questions, underscoring his concerns and wanting to know exactly how this would move forward to, or help develop a democratic Russia. I think, at the end, what we can say is we had a very good discussion on this issue with President Putin. We've laid the basis for further discussions of this as we move forward. And, as I said, I think it was a very open and frank discussion of the nature of the issues facing the Russian state.
The two Presidents also had a discussion on Iraq. It was focused primarily on the issue of Iraqi debt. The President made the point that we are moving -- or very close to an agreement on Paris Club. He wanted to work with the Russians so that we could get the substantial debt reduction that we're looking for -- 80 percent right off, with no claw-back provisions. And Putin also said that he was prepared to work with the United States, the other members of the Paris Club, as we review this issue in the next hours and days.
Finally, there was some discussion of a number of regional issues, focused largely on Russia's periphery. Basically, the point was that this is an area where the United States and Russia are going to interact quite actively over the next several years. It's an area in which we need to have open channels of communication, and each side needs to have a good understanding of what the goals and strategies of the other side are so that we can, to the extent possible, work in the same direction and de-conflict situations where there might be differences of opinion.
That was basically it. If there are any questions?
Q So the President expressed his concerns about the changes in government, the centralization of power in Russia; Putin gave his explanation. Was the President satisfied with the explanation Mr. Putin gave, and are his concerns now allayed?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as I think I said, we had some back-and-forth on that, the President asking questions, Putin giving his answers, his explanations. We've got a basis for a further discussion. We will continue to look at this issue and discuss it with our Kremlin counterparts, and I'm sure it will come up in future discussions between the two Presidents.
Q At any point, did the President say that he thought that returning central power to the Kremlin was, itself, either anti-democratic or a bad idea? Or did he not express his opinion on the issue?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He referred to the statement, you remember that he made during the election campaign in September, about his concern about checks and balances within the Russian system and the over-centralization of power.
Q Did the President raise Iran's nuclear program with President Putin?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, he did. Basically, I think here again we're on the same page as far as the goal is concerned. President Putin made the point that nuclear cooperation will not go forward without Iran signing the additional protocol for the IAEA, and also the protocol on the return of spent fuel. But they both agree that they need to maintain the pressure on Iran and that, clearly, both agree that a nuclear Iran is not in our interests; we need to work to prevent that from happening.
Q Did the issue of the proposed auction of that core element of the Yukos Oil Company come up?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It did not come up.
Q Did the President raise the issue of this new Russian nuclear weapon that he's talking about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That did not come up.
Q In the context of the six-party talks discussion, did President Putin say that he thought it would be helpful if the United States would have a new sequencing proposal and perhaps make some security assurances and economic incentives simultaneous with the North Korean --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that did not come up. Or, at least, it wasn't said in that way.
Q Excuse me. Did you just say that the U.S. and Russia agreed that a nuclear Iran is not in either of our interests?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's right, that a nuclear -- that both understand that we need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and that we're working together in that direction.
Q But not nuclear energy?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, not -- that's not what we said. It was nuclear weapons -- excuse me.
Q Can I follow up on John's question? You said that it wasn't discussed as sequencing, but earlier you said there was some back-and-forth on how to go forward with the six-party talks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They talked some about the tactics of how to move forward within the six-party talks. But I think the important point is that they agreed on the objective and they agreed that they need to work through the six-party talks in pursuing that objective of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula.
Q Did either leader suggest timing for a next meeting?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, they didn't.
Q What sort of tactics?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't want to get into the details of that, but they did go back and forth on how to approach this.
Q Did President Putin agree to make a statement urging North Korea to come back to the talks?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I won't go into that.
Q Regarding the Iranian issue and the recent Iranian movement on the Iranian conversion, was there any exchange on this? Did the Russian President say any assessment on the recent movement by Iranian conversion issue?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't understand the question.
Q Iranian recently converted some --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They didn't get into the details of that. They did agree that, as I said, we needed to work to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Q Did the President ask anything specifically from Putin on that particular point? I mean, Russia is Iran's chief supplier of nuclear materials?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What he asked is that we continue to maintain the pressure on the Iranians, certainly within the framework of the IEA, to ensure that they did not obtain nuclear weapons.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Bush had four bilaterals this morning with leaders from East Asia, with President Hu Jintao of China; Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan; President Roh Moo Hyun of the Republic of Korea; and finally, with the new President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Each was about between 30 and 45 minutes. And I'll just go through briefly some of the main points before questions.
With President Hu of China, President Hu offered President Bush his congratulations and noted the accomplishments and strengthening of U.S. -China ties in the first four years of President Bush's first administration. As always, the two leaders talked about the Taiwan situation. President Bush told President Hu that he is a man who tells you what he believes, and that he's not changed his position, it's consistent that the United States has a one China policy, it's based on the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, and that we oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo.
President Hu appreciated this. He also -- President Hu also noted that Beijing understands the importance of what we're saying about dialogue.
On North Korea, President Bush said that the six-party talks offer an opportunity for the major powers in the region to speak with one voice to North Korea about eliminating its nuclear weapons program. President Hu agreed, and he reiterated China's core position that there should be no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula; that the six-party talks is the right forum to address this issue and that this won't change. And he further explained that China is talking with the North Koreans to make it clear to them that it's in their interests to come back to the six-party talks and address this issue.
On economic issues, President Hu was quite forthcoming and initiated the conversation. He reiterated China's commitment to follow through on various agreements and discussions we've had under a series of bilateral forums: the JCCT, or Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade, the joint economic committee. And President Hu, in particular, singled out two issues that he was going to pay more attention to. One was intellectual property rights, and the second was on exchange rates. And he said -- he reconfirmed China's intention to move to flexible exchange rates that are responsive to market demands.
The President appreciated that. The President also noted for President Hu that for the United States and for the President, in particular, human rights and religious freedom remain important. In that context, he mentioned the Dalai Lama dialogue with the Vatican, in particular. President Hu expressed pleasure that the U.S.-China talks on human rights are picking up towards -- with an eye towards resuming full dialogue on human rights issues.
With Prime Minister Koizumi, as you all know a very good friend of the President's, Prime Minister Koizumi, of course, offered his congratulations, said he stayed up until 2:00 a.m. in Tokyo watching the results of the U.S. presidential election.
On North Korea, Prime Minister Koizumi reiterated his very strong conviction that the six-party talks must move forward and are the right place for dealing with this, and encouraged -- or told the President, now there's an opportunity with four more years to put some real momentum in the talks. He, Koizumi, told the President that he has told Kim Jong-il when he, Koizumi, was in Pyongyang in May, that North Korea will be much better off without nuclear weapons than with them -- because with them, North Korea's future is not terribly bright. And Prime Minister Koizumi said the six-party talks are the place where we can all speak with one voice to make this very clear to the North Korean leadership.
On the transformation of U.S. forces and U.S. military presence in Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance, Prime Minister Koizumi returned to a theme he discussed in New York, at the U.N. General Assembly, when he met with the President, and he said he's committed to continuing to work with us to reduce the burden on Japanese localities, especially in Okinawa, from U.S. bases, while strengthening deterrence. And he, Prime Minister Koizumi, believes that technology offers opportunities to do that. And the President completely agreed and expressed his belief that as we do this, we always must remember that the U.S. forward presence is critical for stability in the region. And Prime Minister Koizumi concurred with that completely and said that we would continue having talks between the Defense Department, State, Defense Agency and Foreign Ministry in Japan. We've had those talks intensified since the two leaders met in New York, and the progress is good and they're both pleased with it.
On Iraq, Prime Minister Koizumi said that Japan has exactly the same goal as the United States and that the President could leave the decision to him on what Japan would do, but Japan would do its role. And the President said he's pleased to do that. And the reason is because we've not had to ask Japan to play a role in Iraq; Japan, under Prime Minister Koizumi's leadership has determined its role and acted accordingly. And we, therefore, have pledges from Japan for $5 billion in reconstruction assistance. Japan was the first country to make such a major commitment, and, of course, over 600 Japanese forces on the ground.
On the economy, the President said on the record what he said to Prime Minister Koizumi; he reiterated his commitment to a strong dollar and he assured Prime Minister Koizumi that in his upcoming contacts, in the President's upcoming contacts with the Congress, he would work to reduce short- and long-term deficits.
President Roh, President Roh Moo Hyan of Korea -- President Roh also offered his congratulations and reviewed some of the progress over the last four years and said it was really quite remarkable how strong the U.S.-ROK relationship has become when you look at some of the things that the two leaders have accomplished, including the decision to realign U.S. forces -- not just reduce them, but replace forces -- smaller numbers, but much more capable; to move the Yongsan Garrison out of Seoul; and President Roh's decision to send 3,700 troops to Iraq, the third largest contingent after the U.S. and the UK. And the President, of course, thanked him for this, agreed that the U.S.-ROK alliance has done some important things, and praised President Roh for his leadership on all of these, and expressed particular appreciation for the significant Korean role in Iraq.
On the economy, the President reiterated the same message that he had given Prime Minister Koizumi.
On North Korea, the two leaders noted that often this debate is portrayed in binary terms -- either you give Kim Jong-il what he wants or there will be an attack. And they both agreed that the situation was complex and there's a much more effective way to deal with it, and that together they had built the approach and it was the six-party talks. President Roh reiterated his conviction that the six-party talks will work and that it's the right place to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, particularly with five voices speaking together.
It was a good discussion, and President Roh also agreed that all the parties who are meeting with the President here can convey to the DPRK that they are better off if they give up the nuclear weapons, that there are opportunities for them.
The final meeting was with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, who congratulated the President, and the President congratulated President Yudhoyono, who won the first direct presidential election in Indonesia with -- actually with 10 million more votes than the President got here. It's a very large country and it was a very large turnout.
President Bush told President Yudhoyono that he shares President Yudhoyono's commitment to reform, to economic growth, to respect for religion. They talked a bit about energy and the importance of investment in the Indonesian energy sector, and the real potential for Indonesia to return to a net exporter of energy, and the importance of working together to have a good environment for that.
President Yudhoyono initiated a discussion of the killings in Tomika, in Papua, and expressed his commitment to catch the accused killer of the Americans there, Anthonius Uamang, and said that he'd instructed his police and his authorities to go after the guy and get him. The President appreciated that, and noted that a fuller U.S.-Indonesia relationship, which we want -- including military education -- was important and would be possible as we make progress on some of these concerns.
The President also talked about the importance of working with Indonesia and helping with education and making sure that Indonesians have opportunities for exchange and education in the U.S. And the President explained to President Yudhoyono his commitment to work on the Middle East peace process, which is important for the Indonesians.
That is the thrust of it, and I'm happy to take questions.
Q Did President Hu or anyone else say that North Korea was interested in returning to the talks, or give any indication of when they might return to the talks?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All three -- all three of the North-East Asian leaders -- Hu, Roh and Koizumi -- in various ways expressed confidence that North Korea would come back to the talks. And President Hu, in particular, believed that, based on Chinese interactions with the North Korean leader, that he would come back, that he had told the Chinese that he knows the six-party talks are the way to move forward. So the Chinese were, in particular, optimistic about this. Nobody said when. Everyone agrees, all the five parties -- the U.S., Japan, ROK, Russia and China -- that we're ready to go; that we -- the U.S. has a proposal on the table, it has the right ingredients, we're ready to talk. All the parties are ready to go with the next round.
Q In the discussion on the yuan, was there any specifics discussed -- you know, specifically, like, for instance, China moving to a crawling peg, which would relieve some pressure? Or did they just make some verbalizations about a commitment?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was a clear commitment, but it was not a commitment that got into the tactics of how, exactly, they would move towards what President Hu said they would do, which is, you know, a flexible exchange rate that reflects the market factors.
Q You said that there was agreement that the U.S. proposal has all the right ingredients to it. I'm wondering if there's been any evolution in that agreement from June until now that you could tell us about.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, we put forward a proposal in the third plenary session of the six-party talks, which was in June, which we developed in very close consultation with the ROK and with Japan and in discussions with the other parties. We figured out what they thought needed to be in it and what we all thought we needed to see, in terms of a transparent and irreversible elimination of the nuclear program, the whole program -- and put together a concrete proposal of how we would do this. It has -- the proposal has in it movement on issues of importance to the DPRK, discussions on security assurances, energy cooperation, assistance with dismantlement, sanctions issues. But it also requires the DPRK to make a strategic decision to eliminate once and for all and completely and verifiably their nuclear weapons programs. And that strategic decision has to be evident very early on in the process, in the form of opening up all the facilities, declaring them. But then there would be a phased series of steps.
And in the talks, all the parties have agreed there should be a phased series of steps, it should be transparent, it should lead to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. So all the ingredients are there. Nobody in any of these meetings talked about changing those sequencing or those tactics. That's a topic for discussion in the talks. Everyone agreed the North Koreans needed to come to the talks. And we have no intention of, having put forward a serious proposal that was well-received in the talks at the time, we have no intention of negotiating with ourselves and trying to continually reinvent it just to get the North Koreans to show up. They need to show up.
Q And can I just follow? I know you said timing is not specific, but is there a reason to expect the talks could be before the end of the year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's possible. It's possible.
Q I know Hu invited the President to come to China. Would that be next year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes -- you mean next calendar year, in 2005? Yes. And President Hu also asked President Bush to come to China, and President Bush invited President Hu to come to the United States.
Q They would both happen next year?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They didn't say when, but that was the intent of each invitation I think.
Q The President appeared to be intent on shoring up this united front against North Korea today. Is there any indication that any of the member parties were wavering in any way?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Certainly not in the discussions with President Hu, Prime Minister Koizumi, and President Roh. Nobody said, you have to be more flexible; nobody said, you have to rearrange the sequence of your proposal. I'm certain there will be a lot of tactical discussions in the talks, but that's the place to do it. We put forward a serious proposal.
You would not have the sense that this coalition or this effort has any wavering to it at all on the key issues: the six-party talks are the way to go; this has to be done multilaterally with all parties invested in the result and committing to it; that North Korea has to give up all nuclear weapons programs; that the other parties can do things that would help North Korea with its various problems if it makes a strategic decision -- all those key elements were reaffirmed in all of the meetings, and in most cases, by the other party bringing it forward and expressing their commitment.
Q But the President felt a need to check, nonetheless, I assume.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, this is something that a number of the leaders discussed with the President, that an important message coming out of this APEC meeting -- and each of the parties is in a position in their own way to convey this to the North Koreans -- is that all five who are here are ready to go and that there's enough on the table for North Korea to show up and start seriously talking about this. And that is going to, I am confident, be clearly conveyed back to Pyongyang by all the parties who met with the President.
Q Can you tell us whether or not, if in any of the meetings on North Korea, there was any discussion of estimates of how many weapons the North may have produced in the two years since this same group turned out its call for the North to abandon all of its weapons? And also, specifically, was there any discussion of the Iranian program, which the Chinese in the past have expressed some doubts about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not to that level of specificity, but in all the meetings there was a general agreement that all programs, all nuclear programs had to be eliminated.
Q Was there any discussion of the number of weapons or the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. You mean like a sort of analytical comparison of notes? No.
Q There was not. And were these meetings based on any backup material in which each of the leaders would have come to an agreement because of prior briefings, any information the U.S. might have provided that would have created an underpinning of assumptions along those lines?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In our discussions with the other parties -- I'll speak for the ones I handled, with the Japanese, the Chinese, the Koreans -- there's no questioning about the diversity of the North Korean program, that there's a plutonium element, a uranium element, and no question that all have to be eliminated. That's certainly is very much the currency of the discussion of this among the parties -- except North Korea, which continues to deny -- having once acknowledged it, they now continue to deny that they have a uranium enrichment program. But in the leaders' meetings today, they didn't get to that level of detail.
Q Has the U.S. estimate changed in any way since the last time these folks all met?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not to my knowledge, no, no it is not.
Q -- conversations about the dollar, did the President -- was he specific at all about what steps he would take, or any timetable to try to reverse current trends?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm going to leave specific questions on the dollar to the Treasury Department, beyond what the President said on the record, which, of course, you have.
Q The Chinese President said that China and the United States should jointly work together to solve the problem of Taiwan independence. Did President Bush respond to that idea, and what was the U.S. position on that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President reiterated his consistent policy on this, and I mentioned it earlier, and he also assured President Hu that he, President Bush, is aware of the sensitivities of this and is going to make certain that the signals are very clear from our side about our position.
Q Just to follow up, President Hu said in the closing remarks that President Bush is opposed to Taiwan independence. Is "opposed" the right choice of word by President Bush? Did he really say that, use that word?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What President Bush says in the meeting is what I -- consistently -- is what I read to you earlier.
Q Did he say, do not support, or opposed --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What I read you earlier is consistently what the President says.
Q Did Hu agree to do anything specific about North Korea? Did he agree to put some pressure on North Korea to make a statement of any kind?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He made it very clear that he and his people have been and will continue to convey to the North Koreans the key points that he said to the President, that there has to be an elimination of the nuclear weapons, six-party talks, and that North Korea is going to be better off if it chooses that path.
Q Did they -- in any of the meetings, did they discuss the removal of some portraits of Kim Jong-il from public places in North Korea? Did they have any interpretation about that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q Including President Bush, regarding the tactics on North Korea, anybody raise the necessity to increase the pressure against the North Koreans, including President Bush or Koizumi, or whoever?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In the very broad and general sense, that all of the countries speaking with one voice makes it clear to North Korea that the path for them -- the best path for them in the future is to give up nuclear weapons.
Q Also, is it possible to clear up, could you elaborate more on the Chinese optimism, what the basis and what the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the Chinese have had some senior-level visits to Pyongyang in recent weeks, and have reported that the leadership in Pyongyang says that it still is prepared to participate in the six-party talks. When or how or who -- w-h-o, who -- they did not say.
Q In the talks with the Chinese leader, was there any talk about the shared space program that NASA announced this week that Chinese and Americans are going to be sharing --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that didn't come up.
Q According to President Hu, China opposed to the arm sales to Taiwan again. How was the President's response to that? And also, did the President raise some concern about the China military expansion?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The arms sales didn't come up.
Q Concerning the transformation of U.S. forces in Japan, did the Prime Minister or President Bush mention about a time frame of negotiations?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not specifically, but there was a discussion about the importance of both of them working on this together and not leaving it for their successors -- in other words, they would take this on as a mission and instruct the Defense Department, State, Defense Agency and Foreign Ministry to keep up the talks. And there have been a series of meetings and discussions since the meeting in September between President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi. And those have been very productive.
Q But no specific time frame?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. No.
Q There was some talk that the North Koreans didn't show up in September because they were waiting out the November election and hoping for bilateral talks. Did that come up at all in these meetings? Did people say, well, now that that's done, there's a greater chance of North Korea coming back to the table?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, in most of these meetings, either explicitly or sort of as subtext, that theme came out. There was a sense from the President's counterparts that the election result means that the North Korean strategy to run out the clock doesn't work anymore and that they had to get serious. But, you know, they each in different ways sort of touched on that theme -- some more explicitly than others -- but it was certainly a subtext in many of the meetings.
Q Who was more explicit, if you could say?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll leave it at that for now. What that w-h-o? (Laughter.)
Q Any indication they're now waiting for 2008? (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not that we've heard.
Q Did President Bush raise with the South Korean President his comments the other day during his speech about the U.S. should be more flexible?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, he didn't. The President didn't raise it. President Hu explained his philosophy on a lot of this and said that it's not his view, that he's not trying to signal to the United States something in his public speeches, but, rather to make it clear that the talks need to resume.
Q So he said that he wasn't criticizing U.S. policy --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's not exactly what he said. But I'll stick to what I said earlier.
Q Is it your interpretation that he was criticizing U.S. policy?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. It wasn't, actually. Having read the transcript and having been in many meetings with him and heard other things he and his government have said, that's not how -- that's not how many of us in the government read it. He is trying to convey a sense of urgency and importance to moving forward with the talks, but not directing it at any one country, certainly not at us.
Q You said that there was mention that Japanese effort on Iraqi reconstruction. Any specific mention about Japanese defense force in Iraq and their potential withdrawal in the future?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no specific discussion, just the President expressed his very sincere and deep appreciation for the Prime Minister's leadership across-the-board on Iraq.
Q So just general --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right.
Q The President -- his commitment on strong dollar, but he didn't say today that the exchange rate of dollar should be determined by the market. Does this mean a change of policy?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's a very good question for the Department of the Treasury. (Laughter.)
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:13 P.M. (Local)
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