The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 1, 2005

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

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Press Briefing
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12:58 P.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. The President was pleased to address the leadership conference that was hosted by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives this morning. Faith-based and community organizations have a proven record of helping those in need and transforming lives for the better. We are making important progress to level the playing field, so that faith-based and community organizations can compete with other social service organizations on a level playing field.

The President is focused on results, and how we can best help the greatest number of those who are in need. And he's pleased that a growing number of faith-based organizations are participating in the grant process, and that there is an increasing amount of grants going to faith-based organizations.

This afternoon, the President looks forward to meeting with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to discuss the progress we made in Europe on our shared priorities and our common agenda.

And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.

Q Scott, his meeting with the congressional leadership, what's President Bush going to tell them about where he is on this idea, signing on to the EU-3 negotiations to provide incentives for Iran to give up its nuclear program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think he'll give a summary of his trip. And one of the areas where there was important progress was when it comes to Iran. I think you heard Secretary Rice speak earlier today when she talked about how there was a clarity of purpose and a clear unity of purpose coming out of those meetings with our European friends. And that unity of purpose is focused on getting Iran to abandon its ambitions for a nuclear weapon, and making sure that Iran does not attain a nuclear weapon.

In terms of anything beyond that, obviously, I'll be there for the meeting and if there's anything else to share, I'll be glad to do that. But the President had some very good meetings last week; he's continued to think through some of the ideas that were discussed about how we move forward together to achieve that shared goal of making sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. We are all on the same page on that, and sending the same message to the Iranians.

Q Will the President accept the idea of Iran having a peaceful and commercial nuclear program for electricity generation, or is he still insisting that they shut down that program?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, our concern has been that they are interested in developing nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. And Iran has certain international obligations that they have committed to. We want to see them live up to those obligations. We, and the international community, want to see them live up to those obligations. That means coming clean and fully cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and fully complying with those international obligations. Ultimately, we want to see the permanent end to Iran's reprocessing and enrichment activities. That will be a key to make sure that they are not developing nuclear weapons.

Q I get the idea, though, that if they do come clean about reprocessing and enrichment, that you may give them a green light to go ahead with a civilian nuclear program.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've expressed how we don't think they really have a need for nuclear energy, because of their vast amounts of oil and gas resources. But they've also entered into an arrangement with the Russians for supplying -- for getting nuclear fuel for one of their plants. And we've addressed that issue yesterday, when it comes to that. What we want to do is make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. And the international community is firmly behind those efforts.

Q Scott, is he going to talk about arms sales to China? Because when he was in Europe, he mentioned to the different leaders he met with that Congress had an important say in this and they would have to persuade our Congress. It wasn't quite clear to me what he was talking about. And will this come up, and what was he talking about?

MR. McCLELLAN: I expect it may well come up. We do have concerns about any attempt to lift that embargo. The President talked about that last week. Europeans have said that they have a way to address our concerns. We are waiting to see what way they're going to address those concerns to see if they can address those concerns. We had a good dialogue last week on this issue, but our concerns remain, and Congress has an important role to play in this, as well.

Q Is there any particular legislation that's pending that the President might support?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think members of Congress share our concerns about the arms embargo being lifted. And so that's something that I expect they might touch on in this meeting.

Q The Deputy Secretary General of the IAEA just came out and said a number of things, including the fact that Iran is still building a heavy-water reactor that they said they shouldn't build. They're blocking a second investigation of their equipment. And Iran, apparently, just said that they still do intend to make nuclear fuel. So given all of that, is the President still considering signing on to economic incentives?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I don't know that I would characterize anything at this point. The President had meetings with European leaders. They talked about some ideas for the way forward. And I think you need to wait until any decision is made before you start characterizing it, because then --

Q You've characterized it, that it's --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've not characterized it that way.

Because then we --

Q -- that it's not incorrect --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've not characterized it that way.

Q So he's not considering --

MR. McCLELLAN: What the focus here is, is on Iran's behavior and Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. That's where the focus should be. And we all have a shared goal. What we are doing is talking about how we can support the efforts of our European friends to resolve this matter in a diplomatic way. We support the efforts of our European friends to get Iran to abandon its ambitions for a nuclear weapon. And we're talking -- we've been talking with them about the best way forward to strengthen their diplomatic efforts. And that's where the focus is and that's where it should be. It's on Iran and Iran's behavior. And Secretary Rice has continued to have discussions in London, where she's meeting with many of her counterparts.

Q You just talked about Iran's behavior, but they are saying that they don't intend to yield on something that you are saying is critical to any kind of talks that the U.S. signs on to with the EU-3.

MR. McCLELLAN: They have committed to certain international obligations; we expect them to live up to those obligations. We expect them to come clean and to fully comply with those obligations. We expect them to provide full cooperation to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency, I saw, did express, the Director General expressed some concerns and said that while there may have been some progress, that he would like to see better cooperation from the Iranians in order to build some confidence, because if you recall, they spent many years hiding their activities from the international community, which, again, raises concerns about what they were pursuing.

Q Scott, would you describe the Iranians as defiant, at this point, or cooperative?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we will see by their action if they are serious about living up to their international obligations. They have said that they are. We will see through their actions. You can understand why we remain skeptical. That's why we're working with our European friends to resolve this in a diplomatic way.

Q But there are critics who say that, in the face of defiance from the Iranians, now President Bush, who has taken a pretty hard line, is thinking about softening that stance and shifting policy and providing economic incentives. How do you escape the charge that even the consideration of this -- we don't know the final decision by the President, but the consideration of it is a reward for bad behavior?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't think you should look at it that way at all. This is about looking at how we can support the efforts of our European friends to achieve our shared goal, which is getting Iran to end any ambitions for a nuclear weapon and making sure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. That's where the focus is. And that's why we had good discussions last week about how we can move forward to achieve that objective. The focus should be on Iran. It's Iran's behavior that needs to change. It's Iran's behavior that needs to come into compliance with their international obligations.

Q Scott, as far as the President's faith-based initiative is concerned, terrorists in the past, and even today, using religion in the name of terrorism. And even today they are attacking innocent victims around the globe in the name of religion. Marking or celebrating Black History Month in Capital Heights, Pastor Anthony McClain, he supports the President's faith-based programs, but what he said really what we need today is more education because education can keep people out of trouble, especially youngsters. So where does the President stand as far as educating all those people who are committing crimes in the name of religion?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's part of our efforts to expand freedom and democracy and to address the underpinnings of terrorism. It's an ideology that espouses hatred and oppression and tyranny that needs to be defeated. That's how we ultimately win the war on terrorism. And people who commit terrorist acts in the name of religion are not religious people.

Q If I could turn to Social Security for a minute. A lot of members of Congress spent last week listening to their constituents on this issue. A lot of Republicans came back and said that there's just not a groundswell of public opinion out there in favor of an overhaul of the sort the President is proposing. Democrats are saying the President's proposal is pretty much dead at this point. What's your assessment, and what can the President do at this point to turn public opinion --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think that there are a growing number of people on both sides of the aisle who are talking about the problems facing Social Security. Right now the President remains focused on talking about the serious problems facing Social Security. And you can look at survey after survey and I think it shows that the American people recognize that Social Security faces major problems. There is a real financial challenge facing Social Security. It's simply unsustainable over the long haul. And that's what the President is going to continue talking about. He's going to continue defining the problem for the American people, because the American people expect us, when we see problems, to find solutions. And that's what the President will continue to focus on as he travels across the United States.

We're very much in the early stages of the legislative process. We're very much in the early stages of the outreach to the American people. This is a process that has really just begun. It really began in earnest with the President's State of the Union address, and that was only 30 days ago, where the President outlined the problems and challenges facing Social Security and talked about some ideas for moving forward to get something done this year. We know it's a problem that only gets worse each year that goes by. And the President is going to continue leading on this issue and reaching out to the American people to enlist their help to get Congress to act this year.

Q So for now, at least, it's just a matter of getting the same message across?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that, in the early stages, it's important to continue to talk about the major problems facing Social Security. The surveys that I've cited show that more than 70 percent of the American people think that Social Security is either in crisis or faces major problems. And I think you can see in some of those surveys, too, that the American people do not support the alternative. There are really two options: Either we can stay with the status quo, and that leads to severe benefit cuts or massive tax increases -- and that's something the American people have shown in surveys they do not support

-- or we can work together to find a way to strengthen Social Security, save it and strengthen it, for future generations, for our children and grandchildren, so that they can build a nest egg of their own and so that they can realize something that was closer to what is being promised, that we cannot achieve.

Q So anything that you would agree on that would ultimately reach the President's goal of permanent solvency would also involve big benefit cuts, and the President hasn't ruled out tax increases --

MR. McCLELLAN: Benefit cuts from what? Let's talk about where things -- first of all, benefits are going up for Social Security. They're going to continue going up. There is a promised benefit that is an empty promise, because under the current system, it's simply not sustainable. It's facing a more than $10-trillion unfunded liability. That's why we need to make it permanently sound. We have, time and time again, come back and simply increased taxes, and it has not solved the problem facing Social Security.

So right now, if you look at people that are below the retirement age, I think many of those people, particularly those my generation and younger, don't think they're going to have any Social Security retirement benefits when they retire. And so you have to look at what the options are. Under the current system, you're facing severe benefit cuts. We want to strengthen it and give them a new benefit, so they can realize closer to what was promised.

Q What survey were you citing for that 70 percent figure?

MR. McCLELLAN: The Washington Post recently, CNN/USA TODAY Gallup, and -- don't want to highlight all the different news organizations, but -- go ahead, John. Oh, sorry, let me go to Wendell, and then I'll come to you, John.

Q Scott, we've seen in the Middle East over the past several weeks some fairly substantial movement toward democracy, or at least the promise of it, from elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories to the resignation of the Syrian government, municipal elections in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, and the promise of elections from Egyptian President Mubarak. I want to know how much of the credit for that the President takes, or did he sense a movement already underway?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I don't think the President gets caught up in who gets credit for things. The credit belongs to the people in those countries who aspire for greater freedom. This is a hopeful moment in the Middle East. We are seeing important progress being made on democratic reforms. We saw the Iraqi people stand up and show their courage and determination to defy the terrorists when they went to the polls and voted in large numbers for a future based on freedom and democracy. That is an example for the Middle East. We have seen in the Palestinian territories that elections have taken place to put in place a new leadership, and a leadership that is committed to helping the Palestinian people realize their aspirations. We're seeing in demonstrations in the streets of Lebanon that the Lebanese people aspire for greater freedom and a democratic future. They want a country that is sovereign and independent from outside interference and intimidation, free of the violence that has too often marked that region of the world. We're seeing steps taken in Saudi Arabia and Egypt that offer some promise.

There is more, obviously, that needs to be done, but this is a very hopeful period in the Middle East. And it's also a reminder for countries like Syria that they need to get on board with the rest of the Middle East and play a constructive role in helping that progress move forward.

Q You don't trace this back to the war in Iraq? You don't trace this back to any U.S. policies?

MR. McCLELLAN: Trace what back?

Q This movement -- this movement toward democracy, some of the changes we've seen.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has often talked about how all people aspire to live in freedom. It's a universal value and --

Q We've got elections the President was presumably directly involved in, in the Palestinian Territories and Iraq.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, let me finish. The President believes all people want to live in freedom, and that we have an obligation, as the United States and a country that is based on the values that are universal, to help those who want to live in freedom. It's going to be based on their own cultures and heritage, but we must do what we can to support those efforts. The President has made this a cornerstone of his administration, and the Iraqi people are serving as an example for the rest of the Middle East through their courage and determination to put in place the institutions for a democratic state to emerge, despite the terrorists and the regime elements that seek to derail that transition to democracy and want to return to the past. So they are serving as an example to the rest of the Middle East. Democracy and freedom are on the march in the Middle East. Obviously, some areas are going to advance faster than others, but we want to be there to support all those efforts in whatever ways we can.

Q If I can follow it up, if I can't get you to trace the movement to U.S. policies, let me get you to assess how fragile the situation there is. You have the most violent attack in Iran since the war began yesterday.

Q Iraq.

Q Iraq, I'm sorry. And you have indications that the Israeli-Palestinian truce is not as solid as we'd like. How fragile is this movement toward democracy?

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I think there's a commitment on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders to realize the two-state vision that the President outlined. It's a vision based on two states living side by side in peace and security. You have a Prime Minister in Israel who made a very bold statement and said, we're going to withdraw from these territories, and that provides an opportunity. You have a new leader for the Palestinian Authority in President Abbas who has demonstrated that he is committed to helping the Palestinian people realize their aspirations. Those who seek to derail the transition to democracy in Iraq or in the Palestinian Territories are the enemies of freedom and the enemies of the people in those regions who want to live in freedom. They will not succeed. The power of freedom will overcome their desire to have tyranny and oppression and hatred reign in that region of the world. And the President has talked about how the Middle East for too long was allowed to move forward in tyranny and oppression. And the importance of supporting the spread of freedom is about making the world a safer and more peaceful place.

Go ahead, Sarah.

Q Thank you. Scott, Canada has decided not to join the United States in building a national missile defense system. At the proposed of -- next month with the President, Canadian Prime Minister Martin and Mexican President Fox, will President Bush try to change Canada's position?

MR. McCLELLAN: We do have a previously scheduled meeting coming up with Prime Minister Martin and President Fox. It will be a trilateral discussion of some of our shared priorities. And we're still finalizing the details on that meeting. It is expected to be later this month. We'll get you more information once all those details are finalized.

In terms of the issue of missile defense, I think our views are very well-known. Canada has informed us of their decision. We have, for a long time, worked in a cooperative manner with Canada on defense priorities that we both share. I expect we will continue to do so in the future.

Go ahead, John.

Q Turning back to the Social Security issue, you said that we have tried to save the system and keep it going, indirectly with tax increases over the years. Grover Norquist, the President of Americans for Tax Reform, and a longtime supporter of the President, said yesterday that the scenario of raising the cap on income levels for the payroll tax to pay for a reform system is tantamount to a massive marginal tax increase, that it would also force 220 House members and 46 members of the Senate to violate a pledge they had specifically not to do that, that his organization put out. My question is very simple: Why doesn't the President simply take that off the board and end the controversy about it, particularly among his supporters, such as Norquist?

MR. McCLELLAN: Because the President welcomes all those who are expressing ideas for making Social Security permanently sound. That doesn't mean we're embracing their ideas, and the President made it clear we're not going to get into commenting on each and every idea that is thrown out there. But he's made it very clear what his principles are for strengthening Social Security and what his ideas are for strengthening Social Security. And now he wants to work in a bipartisan way to come up with a way to make Social Security permanently sound and to strengthen it for our children and grandchildren so that they will be able to build a nest-egg of their own, that they will have when they retire, and one that they will be able to pass on to their survivors.

Q So you have no reaction to Norquist's statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think I just expressed our views. I mean, the President is -- believes it's very important that we move forward together in a bipartisan way to strengthen Social Security. And that's why he says, I welcome all ideas for strengthening Social Security. We don't want to get into ruling things in or out when they're expressed at this early stage in the process. What we want to do is say that we all must understand the problems facing Social Security, and we should all discuss ways for solving that problem. That's where the focus should be. Those that try to ignore the problem or say that there's not a problem simply are not living in reality, that for whatever reason, they are sticking their head in the sand and hoping that the problem goes away. It's a problem that doesn't go away, as we've seen over time, it only gets worse. And we continue to have to come back and address this problem.

And the President doesn't believe now is the time to get into trying to rule things in or out. Now is the time to discuss ways to move forward and find a bipartisan solution. And at the appropriate time, obviously the President will be prepared to express his views on different positions when it comes to that.

Q Two questions, one on death penalty and some follow-ups on Iran. Does the White House have any reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today?

MR. McCLELLAN: That was not a federal issue. That was relating to some state laws. So we were not a party to that case.

Q Any thoughts on it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has made his views known previously when it comes to federal law. He has said he sees no reason to change federal law, and federal law says that it cannot apply to anyone under the age of 18.

Q And on Iran -- this is, I guess, the lawyer blood in me -- people keep referring to giving up a nuclear weapon. Shouldn't it be all nuclear weapons? I mean, that's a clear loophole.

MR. McCLELLAN: On Iran? No, we do not want them to have any nuclear weapons, period.

Q But the phrase is consistently "a nuclear weapon." And does the administration still think the Iranian people should try to remove or overthrow their government?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has expressed his view that we stand with the Iranian people who aspire for greater freedom. And that's another area where we want to see Iran change its behavior. There is a broader recognition these days that Iran's behavior needs to change in a number of ways. It needs to change when it comes to their desire to have a nuclear weapon; it needs to change when it comes to their continued support for terrorism; and it needs to change when it comes to their human rights record; and it needs to change when it comes to their refusal to hear the voices of the people of Iran who want to live in greater freedom.

Q Would the U.S. give tangible military support to the Iranian people?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has already addressed that issue.

Q Scott, over the last few days have been a goodly number of articles concerning the instability in the international financial markets. Yesterday, the Japanese Central Bank said that they were going to move away from their zero interest rate policy, increasing interest rates, causing something of a liquidity crunch. You had last week the Korean foreign -- Central Bank chief who also indicated they would diversify out of U.S. Treasury obligations, and many Republicans, supporters of the President, fear that the White House does not have its eye entirely on the ball on this issue. You have Mr. Rosen who will replace -- become the Council of Economic Advisors who said he would be here maybe six months, and then Alan Greenspan, during the course of this year will probably leave. And there's just the impression that this is not the biggest issue on the President's plate.

MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I disagree. I think it's something that he discusses when he meets with leaders around the world. In fact, I know he did in Chile, and I know it's an issue that came up in the context of conversations last week. The President has made it very clear what we need to do here at home. He's often talked about the twin deficits, the current account deficit and the trade deficit, and he's often talked about how we need to reign in the short-term deficit, and that's why he has a deficit reduction plan, and that we also need to take steps to address the long-term unfunded liabilities that we face.

We took an initial step, when it comes to Medicare, by putting in place some reforms. There's more that needs to be done. The President said we need to focus right now on strengthening Social Security. This is one of the problems facing Social Security. And it's another reason why we need to act now to strengthen Social Security. We're also taking steps to address some of the cost associated with Medicaid, and implement some smart reforms to make sure it is getting -- that health care is getting to those who have the greatest need, and we're allowing governors more flexibility to expand the reach of some of that coverage.

Q Scott, in his remarks this morning to the faith-based and community program leaders, the President specifically said part of his mission was to reassure them that this remains a priority. Does the President sense any doubt about that, perhaps in light of the recent criticism from the former deputy director of that initiative?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that that was misguided in not understanding the commitment here at the White House, because the President has made this a priority from day one of his administration. You heard the progress that we're making when it comes to leveling the playing field and removing barriers for faith-based and community organizations to compete on a level playing field. We have a great team overseeing the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives office that is working day in and day out to build upon that progress. And this White House is firmly committed to rallying the armies of compassion that exist in communities all across America.

The President talks about this issue often, and he has taken a number of steps to make sure that faith-based organizations can compete with other organizations to help those in need. What he's interested in is, are we getting the best results to those who are most in need. And those organizations at the local level, the faith-based and community organizations, many of the leaders who he met with today, are the ones who are in the best position to help those who are struggling and those who have been left behind.

And that's why the President is going to continue working to build upon the progress we've made. He's pleased that more faith-based and community organizations are competing for grant money, and that more grant money is going out to faith-based organizations. That's a sign of the progress that is being made, because I think many faith-based organizations thought they couldn't compete for this money.

And so a lot of it has been educating the public about, there's a number of ways you can compete for this grant money that's available through these federal agencies. And we've seen in, I think seven federal agencies, that that grant money is going up to faith-based organizations. That's a positive development, because what this ultimately is about is about getting help to those who need it.

Q Quick follow-up. You mentioned he's not hesitant to go the executive order route on some things if Congress doesn't act. Is there any kind of deadline on that? How long would we give Congress to act before he takes --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he issued a couple of executive orders previously because Congress failed to act. And the President -- I think you heard in his remarks again today

-- wants to make sure that if those services are being offered by faith-based organizations, they have to be offered, obviously, to

everybody, but we shouldn't try to change some organization's religious identity, because that is part of their efforts to help transform lives and to help improve lives for Americans who are suffering.

Q Scott, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, had actually acknowledged North Korea have nuclear weapon. What is your comment on that he has for the first time mentioned --

MR. McCLELLAN: I previously commented on that. We hear a lot of rhetoric coming out of North Korea from time to time, and what our focus is on is working with the other parties to the six-party talks to get North Korea to come back to the table and talk about the way forward on the proposal that we outlined on the last round of talks. That's where our focus remains. North Korea has recently indicated that they want to come back to the talks, and we hope they do so at an early date so that we can talk about the way forward on the proposal that we outlined that will get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Q On his trip to Europe, did the President, when discussing Iran with the Europeans, insist upon or suggest any sort of diplomatic markers for progress that stay on the diplomatic track, or is it just going to be played by ear for months along the line?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's going to be determined by 's behavior. The focus, as you heard the President talk about last week, needs to be on , and that's where the focus was last week. It was on making sure that does not attain any nuclear weapon. And that's where we're going to keep the focus. And now we're talking about how we can do what we can to support the efforts of our European friends to achieve our shared objective.

Q Are we going to set any sort of time line for negotiations?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that, again, it's going to be up to to see if they're going to live up to their international obligations. And that's what we've made very clear. That's what the international community has made very clear. No, I don't have anything to announce beyond what the President has said previously at this point.

Q Scott, on Medicaid, yesterday Governor Warner mentioned that 60 percent of seniors in nursing homes rely on Medicaid assistance, and that one possible way of alleviating the financial burden on states would be to establish a federal tax credit for purchasing long-term care insurance. Is that something the President might consider --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you can see what the President has proposed in his budget when it comes to Medicaid. The President has outlined a plan for moving forward on strengthening Medicaid, and we believe it's the right approach. What it will do is save some money by shutting down the loopholes and stopping the accounting gimmicks that go on in the program, so that we make sure that the Medicaid dollars are going to those who are in greatest need and those who it is supposed to be serving, which are low-income Americans, particularly children and people with disabilities. And that's what we want to continue to do.

Q Thanks very much, Scott. I just want to return to missile defense for a minute, if I could. Secretary Rice has now postponed her trip to Canada, at least according to State Department officials, because of Canada's refusal to participate in missile defense. Along those lines, is that part of the consequence of the Canadian decision? And has the President, himself, expressed any of his reaction to the Canadian government about their refusal to participate?

MR. McCLELLAN: I've talked to the State Department and my understanding is there was never a trip scheduled. So there's nothing to postpone, when you don't have a trip scheduled. And what was the second part of your question?

Q Second question was whether the President has expressed any of his reaction to the Canadian government? If so, what is that --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think we've spoken about it publicly and expressed our views, and those are views that he shares. They've informed us of that decision and we're going to move on and focus on ways we can continue working together.

Q Are there any consequences to Canada for refusing to participate in missile defense?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think our Ambassador in Canada has expressed our views, as well, and expressed our disappointment. But now we're talking about ways we move forward on our shared priorities, and that's what we'll continue to do.

Q Just one more thing on Iran. Do you think Iran's attitude would change if they had WTO membership?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's an idea that has been expressed by some of our European friends publicly, and I'm not going to go beyond what I've previously said. The President has been thinking through some of the ideas that have been expressed by our European friends. That's where we are right now. Obviously, anytime there's WTO -- if you're applying for WTO membership, there are certain commitments you have to live up to with regards to that, as well.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

END 1:32 P.M. EST

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