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 Home > News & Policies > February 2005

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 23, 2005

Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the President's Visit to Germany
Landtag Electoral Palace
Mainz, Germany

4:07 P.M. (Local)

MR. HADLEY: I can talk a little bit about the meetings this morning. The meeting between the President and the Chancellor this morning in terms of the subjects that were discussed, they were pretty clearly covered by the two leaders during their press conference. I think what I can add was, they had a very interesting discussion about their impressions of key leaders. They had a good exchange about Vladimir Putin -- who the President is going to see on Thursday -- their assessment of where he is, what his vision is for Russia. They had a very good exchange about President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon in the context of the Middle East, and whether they had the commitment to the vision of peace that the President has talked about in terms of the two-state solution. Each of these men are terrific politicians and they exchanged, politician-to-politician, their assessment of these leaders, who are all facing important decisions. And it was, I think, a useful discussion for both.

The lunch was a very informal affair. The two Presidents and their wives had a very pleasant, I think, and enjoyable exchange, more personal than business. There was then the roundtable with a series of men and women in their 20s and 30s, a good exchange, questions and answers to the two leaders that went about an hour and a quarter -- scheduled for about an hour -- about an hour and a quarter. And that was an opportunity really for the two leaders to speak to the next generation. And a number of the questions that you'd expect came up there.

So that's the day. I think the characterization I would put on particularly the morning discussion was a very candid, constructive, helpful conversation among the two leaders, who clearly got on well and had a lot to say to one another, and a lot of listening to do, and a lot of listening was done on both sides. It was a very positive -- positive day for the two men, and for U.S.-German relations. That's what I would say.

Q What is your assessment of Putin, of what he is doing? And what was Chancellor Schrder's assessment?

MR. HADLEY: I'll try and kind of give you a step back. I mean, it's a complex relationship. Look, we have a very constructive relationship with Russia; we have to start with that. We have -- the two Presidents, working together, have solved a number of problems in the relationship and have also identified some important areas of collaboration where we are collaborating. Counterterrorism is one; you know about it. Counterproliferation is another. They are one of the core group of the Proliferation Security Initiative. That's one of the important accomplishments we thought we achieved in terms of bringing the two countries together to deal with the proliferation problem.

Russia has been constructive in connection with Iran. Russia is also a member of the six-party talks in terms of North Korea. We were able to deal with the ABM Treaty; we have the Treaty of Moscow, which both sides have agreed to lower their strategic nuclear arsenal. So this is a relationship that is constructive, that has common areas of endeavor, and has been able to solve problems.

It is also the case that we've had for a long period of time a dialogue, mostly private, but sometimes public, with President Putin and the Russian government about democracy and freedom, and their progress along that route. And President Putin has said publicly -- he said it again yesterday -- that his vision for Russia is for a democratic Russia. That's what he has said. He said that it has to reflect Russia's history and culture. Again, our President has said that we understand that democracy will not look the same in all countries, that it will reflect -- it cannot be imposed, it has to be found and fought for and developed internally, and it will reflect culture and history.

And I think it's important to say that for all the discussion there has been about Russian democracy, this is not the Soviet Union you're seeing. That is history. This is a different Russia. That said, one of the things we've also made clear, and the President was trying to make clear the other night, is when President Putin says that he's committed to democracy, people will, obviously, watch and see how that is manifested in actions. And one of the things we know, from being students of countries finding their way to democracy over the last 50 years, is you begin to see hallmarks of a democratic society -- countries that safeguard the press, that safeguard freedom of religion and rights of assembly, that respect minority rights, that have alternative checks and balances on the central government. Those are the hallmarks of democracy. And one of the things we will all be looking for is Russia, over time, moves, hopefully, towards democracy, as President Putin says he is. It's the way we begin to see m

And the last thing I'll tell you is, the President said that this ought to be part of the agenda that the United States is talking to Russia about, but also the European countries, as well, because, again, we're committed to common values and we all believe -- let me say one last thing -- that a free and democratic Russia is better for Russia, it's better for us. And I think the thing we hope Russia can understand is that in the 21st century -- everyone wants a strong Russia, but in the 21st century a strong Russia will come the way the strength of other states come, it will come through democratic structure. And hopefully that's something they will understand, as well.

Q -- German seat in the Security Council of the United Nations?

MR. HADLEY: In the conversations I've -- the question was whether the Chancellor raised the issue of a German seat in the Security Council. And in the conversations I was in, which I think is all of them, that did not come up. One of the reasons it may not have come up is the German position is clear and our position is clear; this is not an area where we've had any disagreements.

Q Steve, the President and Chancellor Schrder said today that they agree on the ultimate goal with Iran. Did they make any progress in agreeing on how things should proceed from here out with Iran?

MR. HADLEY: There was a good discussion about that. I don't want to lose the point that, as they said in their press conference, there is agreement that Iran needs to be non-nuclear, it needs to give up its nuclear ambitions, that it needs to begin to listen to its people. Obviously, we're concerned, and the Europeans are concerned, about Iranian support for terror. The President made clear we support the three-party talks. We also continue to make clear that these are talks that need to head to a solution, and that solution needs to involve the permanent cessation of enrichment and foreswearing of reprocessing.

There was a lot of discussion about where we go from here. And there's some ideas that have been floated around. You have seen some of them in the press, discussions about should there be a mix of carrots and sticks, and who should the carrots come from and what should they be. And, as I say, the President did a lot of listening. I think the Chancellor did a lot of listening. This has been an issue that we've talked about on every stop on this trip. And the President has really got to go back and think about it, quite frankly.

And let me just say one last thing. This will be an ongoing discussion. Condi is going to -- the Secretary of State is going to meet with her -- some of her counterparts on the margins of this March 1 meeting in London, and I expect this will continue to be a topic at that time.

Q There seems to be an increasing sense of urgency here. Was there any talk of a timetable or how quickly things need to move?

MR. HADLEY: There wasn't a -- look, everybody knows this is a serious problem, and we need to address it. But I didn't get a sense of an urgency or anything. I think there is time to do this in a thoughtful way, because we want these -- as the President said, we want this process to succeed.

Q You said the President needs to go back and think about it. Think about what, specific ideas, an agenda?

MR. HADLEY: I think he heard a lot of specific ideas about what the next steps would be. Some of it has come out in the press, and that's something that he needs to give some consideration to, and I think that's what he'll do.

Q Will the President tomorrow raise with President Putin any concerns about his treatment of the Baltics?

MR. HADLEY: Well, I think there's a general question that you see in terms of the Baltics, you saw it in connection with Georgia, you saw it against -- in connection with Ukraine, which is, Russia, over time, getting the right relationship between it and now neighbor states that used to be with Russia as part of the Soviet Union. And there are, obviously, issues that Russia has with all three of those states. And our general approach has been, and will continue to be, that these are sovereign states -- and I think Russia acknowledges that -- and therefore, these issues have to be resolved in a peaceful way, free of coercion. And that's been our policy. So I think there will be ongoing discussions, but I think the basic policy framework is pretty clear and, I think, largely shared with the Russians.

Q Back on Iran, the President did seem today, in answer to that last question -- an endorsement of the general notion of a negotiating process with some tactics in it that would include economic incentives. It does sound as if he moved a little, and then Chancellor Schrder certainly sounded as tough as I've ever heard him on Iran. Is there a sense that there's a coming together here -- am I reading too much into it?

MR. HADLEY: I think there's been a convergence. There is certainly convergence on the importance -- I think two things; one, I think there's a convergence on the importance of us being clear on the goals and wanting to make sure that the three countries, in discussion with Iran and the United States, really have a clear understanding of what the goals are and share them. And I think that's an accomplishment here. I think if there was some uncertainty about that going into these meetings, I think that has been resolved.

Second, I think that the -- and that resolve in that we have an agreement on what the goals are and the need to be speaking with one voice very clearly to Iran. I think there's a kind of stereotype out there that if you want carrots, you go to the Europeans; if you want sticks, you go to the Americans. And I think what they all agreed on was we have to be also clear that we're all on board in the tactics of play, that there will be some consequences if the -- if Iran does not give up its nuclear ambitions. And the question, of course, then becomes, do you go to the Security Council, what would follow from that. But also, as has been reported in the press is right, there was also a discussion about carrots and what should those be and who should provide them, because that's an issue, as you know, the Europeans have raised, and there was a good discussion about that, a good exchange on that.

Q Could I just follow up then and try to push you a little more on that?


Q Is that to say that the President wants a better sense of some sequencing here, not negotiation without a clear endpoint, but a coming together, a convergence, as you say, on what the end game is, what the goal is, and then maybe allowing some carrots along the way, as long as they're part of the negotiation sequence that has an endpoint and a consequence if they fail -- is that a fair reading?

MR. HADLEY: It's close. Let me re-say it because it's the way the President said it, actually, in one of these meetings. I think it's -- and I'm not quoting him, but I think my characterization of what he came here is he wanted to make sure we share the same goal and we're clear about that. And I think he got some clarity on that. Second, he wanted to emphasize the importance that we all speak to the Iranians with the same voice, and are all knit up, and I think he got some clarity on that. Third, since the Europeans are conducting this discussion with the Iranians, he wanted to have a clear idea of what their strategy was, where the talks were, where they were on the discussion and what was the European strategy. And I think he got some clarity on that.

And then, finally, the issue that has been raised is -- and as he said -- we support what the Europeans are doing, we want them to succeed, and the question is, how can we help? And there was a lot of discussion about what that might look like. And it's not just a question of the carrots and sticks discussion, but it's also a question of tactics -- what is the right approach, and what is right role for the United States that can be constructive and helpful. And I think he got some good exchanges on that discussion. And he will need to decide now where to take that.

Q Let me take one more whack at it. Is the President now open to the idea that the United States, itself, would offer carrots?

MR. HADLEY: I think where he is, is he's heard a lot of suggestions, had a lot of discussion, and he's, I think, going to have to go back and give some thought. He may have some views right now; he's a decisive guy. He hasn't shared them with me. But I think he heard a lot. He came here to listen and I think he's obviously got some ideas. But I think he wants to go back and think about it and talk to his national security team, not all of which was here.

Q Can I follow that, specifically? Stephen, you said -- let's stipulate that the goal is the same and that you want to speak with one voice. The question is specifically about carrots -- and the President sounded in the press conference like he was rejecting the notion that we need to offer incentives to Iran. He sounded very forceful on that. But now you're sounding like he wants to go back and perhaps entertain the possibility of incentives. Am I misreading it?

MR. HADLEY: Here's what I think I said. One, you heard what he said, and this is a President who says what he means. What I've been trying to say is, he wanted to be clear about goal, clear about single voice, he wanted to hear what the European strategy was. And obviously, he said, we want it to succeed and he wants to help.

He got a lot of discussions about where those discussions are going. A lot of ideas were presented. And that's something he's going to take back and think about it. Where he is, he told you where he was. I think his words are -- I was trying to describe what happened and what he heard.

Q He didn't reject any of these ideas that we should offer incentives?

MR. HADLEY: He was in a listening mode, listening to these guys, talking to them. You heard what he said at the press conference. That's where we are, so far as I know it.

Q Jacques Chirac was pretty direct yesterday in saying that Europe wants to end the embargo. Was Schrder as direct in the bilateral today?

MR. HADLEY: I'm sorry.

Q Chirac was pretty direct yesterday in the statement about wanting to end the arms embargo. Was Schrder as direct today, and where did that talk go?

MR. HADLEY: You know, there was good discussion yesterday about it in a number of the meetings. I think Chancellor Schrder was in one of the meetings where it was discussed. It didn't really come up today, I think mostly because it had been pretty well covered yesterday.

Q Either today, or perhaps your colleague can answer from yesterday's meeting at the EU, did the dollar come up? It seems to be a concern amongst the Europeans, the falling dollar.

MR. HADLEY: It didn't come up in the discussions. I think -- I think the President was -- wasn't he asked about it in the press conference? But it did not come up as a subject of the discussions with the Chancellor today.

Q Can your colleague answer about the EU meeting yesterday, perhaps?

MR. HADLEY: My recollection, again, was that the dollar did not come up in the discussions yesterday -- did not come up. This is not an area -- you know, this is an area where our policy is pretty clear.

We've got, what, about two more?

Q One more over here, please.


Q -- on multipolarity. The President spoke in his last interview in the States about his discomfort with multipolarity, the idea, et cetera. Mr. Fried brought it up again, said it's an 18th century, 19th century regressive idea. Did the President and Mr. Schrder, or the President and Mr. Chirac talk about the problems he sees in multipolarity?

MR. HADLEY: It didn't come up. It was interesting, the -- there was -- in the conversations that the President had with this group of men and women, 20 to 30, I think he used a phrase which, I think, was interesting. He said -- he was asked about American power. And he said, look, America has a lot of influence in the world, and he wants to use it to achieve important objectives, and he wants to have partners who can also use their influence towards the same objectives. And I think that's very much the way the President sees it.

This is an issue not of multipolarity or checking folks, because this is a situation where we have states that basically share common values and are trying to go in the same direction. And what he would like to do is have a situation where we're all using our influence in a coordinated way to achieving those objectives. I think that's how he sees the issue.

We've got about two more. One way in the back, and one second to the back.

Q What's the administration view of that Lieberman and McCain resolution calling on the President to push Russia out of the G8 unless Russia demonstrates a firm commitment to democracy? Are you aware of that resolution?

MR. HADLEY: I read about it in the newspaper -- I'm aware of it. And I don't really have anything to add to the answer on Russia I gave.

Q I just wanted to ask about the way the President is approaching the Putin meeting tomorrow. Listening to the roundtable, it sounded like it was kid-glove treatment. You know, we like democracy, but really anything you do is okay. Is he going to be forceful about it or --

MR. HADLEY: Well, I thought he was pretty clear about it in the speech he gave on Monday, and you all wrote a fair amount about it. And this is a President who is pretty clear and straightforward about what he believes and what he's going to say. I think you could -- you read it in the speech and you all wrote about it. I don't have a lot to add on that one.

Probably about two more, and then we'll go. Yes, ma'am.

Q I wanted to ask, is it fair to say that as a result of all this listening the President has been doing in Europe, that his -- he has a broader idea of the number and kind of options on the table in dealing with Iran?

MR. HADLEY: You know, I can't improve on the answer I gave because it's what he heard. Sorry.

Last one.

Q Can I just follow up about the dollar? The President has a strong dollar policy, and the Korean Central Bank announced yesterday that it was diversifying out of the dollar. Has the U.S. done anything to be in contact with Asian governments or Asian central banks or other central banks to impress upon them the President's commitment to the strong dollar? And do you buy into the argument that says, at some point, the extent to which China, in particular, buys dollars, makes the U.S. vulnerable to push-backs from Beijing if it's unhappy with the way in which the U.S. conducts national security policy?

MR. HADLEY: As you know, the Treasury Department does a lot of the issue with respect to the dollar. And we've been on the road; I don't know what the Treasury Department may have done.

I would be surprised, because there's -- there's no news about making adjustments in holdings. Banks do that. Our policy is very clear in terms of the strong dollar. We, obviously, have been concerned about the deficits, and the President has been very -- and the impact that can have in confidence in the dollar. And the President has been very clear that we're addressing that in terms of the tough budget he set up in the short-term, and then deal with the entitlement overhang in the long-term. So, policy here is pretty clear.

Thank you very much.

END 4:27 P.M. (Local)