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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 20, 2005
White House Press Briefing
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. The President looks forward to making remarks before the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this afternoon. The focus of his remarks will be on the need for Congress to pass the comprehensive energy plan that he outlined four years ago. And the President remains concerned about high energy prices and high prices at the pump. It is -- those prices have a direct impact that hurts families and it hurts small businesses and their ability to hire people and make ends meet. And the President will talk about the root causes that put us in this situation. The reason we're in this situation today is because we're dependent on foreign sources of energy and we have not developed a national energy plan.
The time to act is now. This is not a problem that we got into overnight; it's not something we'll get out of overnight. That's all the more reason why we need to move forward and act now. And the President will call on Congress to get him legislation by the time they recess this summer, which is in August. The President believes that Congress is four years late in acting on the national energy plan that he outlined when he first came into office.
And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.
Q On that point, the President has been basically saying the same thing now for -- since the year 2000. And it's not moving, the legislation is not moving, although he got ANWR out of the Senate, which was certainly a big deal. I guess the question is, what does the President think he can do to really move this legislation, besides just demanding Congress get something to his desk? I mean, don't Americans want to hear from the President something that might actually break this logjam?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and I'm glad you brought that question up, because I think if you look at the previous year or two, I think we were close to getting something out of the Congress. There were some differences that prevented it from happening, and the President will talk about that in his remarks. They need to resolve those remaining differences -- it's not a lot of differences -- and get something to his desk now.
The President had a very good bipartisan discussion last night with the ranking members and the chairs of the relevant committees that will be moving on this legislation. The House is taking up this matter today and tomorrow. They are moving forward on passing comprehensive energy legislation. I think it's legislation that is, to a large part, consistent with the plan that the President outlined. Senator Domenici has made it clear that he intends to move forward on energy legislation soon. And so we think that the opportunity to get it done is before us, and it's time for Congress to get together and resolve those differences and get that legislation to the President's desk so he can sign it into law.
We see, again this year, the impact that high prices are having on American consumers. And that's all the more reason why we need to act now. We haven't had a national energy plan for the last decade, and it's time for Congress to pass the one that the President sent them four years ago.
Q A follow-up on John Bolton -- is that nomination lost?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, absolutely not. I think what you're seeing is some Democrats on the committee trumping up allegations and making unsubstantiated accusations against someone the President believes will do an outstanding job at the United Nations. He is someone who has been an effective manager, a strong diplomat who has gotten things done. And I think he's earned the respect of many people that he has worked with because of what he's done.
The United Nations has a lot of important business before it right now. And we need to get him in office.
Q -- apparently he didn't think these were trumped-up allegations. He's your guy on the committee. He's a Republican.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let's talk about what occurred here. Senate Democrats on the committee continue to bring up these allegations that are unsubstantiated, that are unfounded, that John Bolton has addressed in his testimony, in more than eight hours of testimony before the committee, that he's addressed in written responses to follow-up questions, as well. And I think what you're seeing is the ugly side of Washington, D.C., that people are playing politics with his nomination.
The United Nations has a lot of important business before it. We have a lot of important business before the United Nations. We need to get him in there. He's exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations during this time of reform.
In terms of Senator Voinovich, I understand he wasn't able to attend the testimony last week by John Bolton. We are more than happy to answer any questions that he has, and we are in touch with him about those matters.
Q But, Scott, Mr. Bolton did not specifically answer the allegations that had been raised, under oath -- not in some closet, but under oath, in front of the country, people came forward to say things that he had done as manager in the State Department that they believe render him unfit to be at the United Nations. And he hasn't answered those allegations.
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I think he has responded to the questions. He responded in more than eight hours of testimony to some of the accusations that were made. This is someone who has served in government for quite some time, someone who has a proven record of being able to get things done, someone who shares the President's commitment to making sure that we have effective multilateral organizations. And we are confident that the Senate will confirm his nomination. We hope that the Democrats on the committee would stop playing politics and stop raising these unsubstantiated accusations and move forward on a committee vote.
Q It's not Democrats who are raising it -- people who worked for him. So you're saying they're liars?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think that these allegations have been addressed in his testimony and in written responses to the committee, as well. I don't think I have any intention of going back through those allegations from this podium. We want to see him confirmed, and believe he will be.
Q On the energy speech, is there anything the President can announce that will do something about high prices today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well -- and again, I emphasize that this is a problem that has been years in the making. It didn't happen overnight; we're not going to get out of it overnight. And there are some steps that we can take now and that we are taking now, and the President will touch on those in his remarks, as well. We're going to continue to talk to producing nations -- OPEC and non-OPEC producing nations -- to make sure that there are abundant, affordable supplies of energy available. We have a growing global economy, and we need to make sure that we have affordable supplies of energy. And the President has regularly brought that up in meetings he has had with producing countries, and he will continue to do so. We also need to make sure that consumers are protected, that they're treated fairly during this time, as well. And we will do that.
We're also moving forward on a number of initiatives. We moved forward on improving the fuel economy standard for SUVs and pickup trucks. And I think in 2007 it's projected that that will reduce the amount of oil being consumed by 340,000-some barrels when that is fully in effect. So there are steps the we are taking. The President has outlined in his budget tax incentives for his hydrogen fuel initiative and for encouraging hybrid fuel cars to be purchased. And those are steps that we're already acting on.
There are a number of steps in the energy plan, too, I would point out that he outlined in 2001 that we've already been moving forward on. But the President -- I mean, what needs to happen, first and foremost, in order to address this problem, is for Congress to pass a national energy plan. Like I said, we're not going to get out of this overnight -- and the President will talk about this -- there's no magic wand that he can wave and reduce prices at the pump tomorrow. But there are steps that we can take now, and the most important step we can take now is for Congress to pass the energy plan that the President outlined.
Q Does Karen Hughes have to be confirmed?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q Why hasn't her nomination been sent up, since, obviously, we need to repair our relations with the rest of the world --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've got a lot of good people that are working on our public diplomacy right now. It's not something that has just started; we've been taking steps already prior to that --
Q -- nomination --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think she's indicated, and we indicated previously, that she would be starting later this summer.
MR. McCLELLAN: Dina Powell is going to be probably starting sooner than that -- well, she's in the position. I mean, she's already starting to focus on it and begin work. But we will be sending her nomination up at the appropriate time and look forward to the Senate moving forward on that nomination.
Go ahead, April.
Q Back on gas prices, early this morning, you put it off on OPEC as to how much price per barrel oil should drop. Again, what does the President feel the nation -- Americans should be paying at the pump? As right now you're saying it's almost a crisis state, no magic wand will be able to reduce gas prices by tomorrow. So what is the President looking --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I would point out that it is down from the previous week. I think you've seen some analysts talk about that in recent days, as well. But it's still too high, as far as the President's concerned. Energy prices are too high, the prices at the pump is too high. We want to see it lower. We want to see more affordable supplies of energy. We want to see those prices come down. And that's what we're working to do, and the best way we can address this issue is to finally act on a comprehensive energy plan, the one that the President outlined four years ago.
Q Solid number -- 10 cents, 20 cents at the pump, what? What is the President looking for --
MR. McCLELLAN: Affordable energy supplies.
Q Scott, a follow-up on energy legislation. You mentioned this meeting yesterday with bipartisan lawmakers. And how effective can the President really be in pushing forward his energy plan when Senator Max Baucus, during that meeting with the President, told him it's not going to go anywhere, energy reform or other parts of his agenda, as long as the Senate Republicans were threatening the nuclear option with getting rid of the filibuster to push forward the President's judges?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people recognize that we need to become energy independent, and they recognize the impact high energy prices has on our economy. And the American people want us to come together and find a solution.
That meeting was called specifically to talk about how we move forward on energy legislation. I think it tells you something when a member brings up another issue and says -- suggests that nothing else -- nothing can get done. The President's going to remain focused on the priorities that face the American people, and one of those priorities, top priorities is passing a comprehensive energy plan. We want to -- and that's why he reached out to bipartisan leaders in Congress to say, let's work together, let's get this done now. We would hope that Congress, on both sides of the -- members of Congress on both sides of the aisle would work together in a bipartisan fashion. I know that Senator Domenici is committed to moving forward in a bipartisan way, and I think the American people expect nothing less.
Q So how did he get over that hurdle, though? Because obviously there are senators -- Democrats are saying nothing is going to move forward on the energy reform unless they make sure the Republicans drop this kind of nuclear option that's out on the table.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and, see, I think that the American people expect better out of their elected officials.
Q Scott, what's the nature of the White House communication with Senator Voinovich now? You mentioned that you're in touch with him. What's the White House saying, and who's talking to him?
MR. McCLELLAN: We're in staff-level discussions with him to make sure he has answers to the questions he has.
Q Do you think he was misguided yesterday?
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of?
Q In terms of his discomfort with the Bolton nomination.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, I think that you had some Democrats on the committee that continue to lower the discourse and bring up unsubstantiated accusations. They continued to trump this up. And Senator Voinovich wasn't able to attend the hearings last week where John Bolton addressed all these issues and so he had some questions. And we're more than happy to address those questions with him, and that's what we're doing.
Q Are you suggesting that he was at fault for some reason in skipping that hearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think members of Congress have a lot of business that they have to focus on. I'm suggesting that -- what the facts are, that Democrats on the committee are playing politics with this nomination. There is a, sometimes, a desire in this town to score political points. And that brings out the worst in Washington, D.C.
John Bolton is exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations. The United Nations is in need of reform, they're moving forward on reforms, and John Bolton is someone who understands the importance of making sure that multilateral organizations, like the United Nations, are effective and that they get things done. He has a proven record of getting things done. He was someone who worked closely with Russia on the Moscow Treaty, which is significantly reducing our nuclear arsenals. He is someone who was very involved in our efforts to get Libya to abandon their weapons of mass destruction programs. And he is someone who has a long record of results in getting things done. And sometimes you get people mad at you when you get things done. But we believe he's a very capable individual and will do an outstanding job at the United Nations.
Q If I can follow on that, Scott --
Q Back to -- back to energy for a second, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure.
Q The President has been talking a lot about the need for fiscal discipline on the Hill. The House version has about $2 billion more in tax incentives than what the President has proposed. Are you prepared to support the House Republican version with the increased tax package?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, I think -- well, first of all, we're pleased that the House is moving forward on comprehensive energy legislation. That's important. Obviously, there will be a reconciliation process once the Senate acts on it, as well, and we look forward to working with both chambers to get something done sooner rather than later.
In terms of the tax incentives in the bill, I think the President will talk about tax incentives in his remarks and he'll talk about the tax incentives that we support. We believe the priority for tax incentives ought to be on renewable energy and alternative -- well, on renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency. And I think that's what he'll talk about in his remarks.
And on the House legislation, yes, it is higher than the number we put forward and I think we'll address it in a statement of administration policy that we're putting out. We believe that -- well, first of all, we outlined a proposal that fits within the budget that we outlined. It's important it's a budget that we believe meets our priorities and keeps us on path to reduce the deficit in half by 2009. And the President will again say that he doesn't think that oil and gas companies need any tax incentives when you have the price of oil at $50 a barrel.
Q And one more point on that. On MTBE, what is the President's current position on the liability protection in the House version of the bill?
MR. McCLELLAN: He thinks Congress needs to work out their differences on this issue and come to an agreement on it, and I think he'll touch on that a little bit in his remarks, as well.
Q Does he support that liability protection --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think what he'll call on Congress to do is work out an agreement on the issue so that we can move forward on the overall package.
Q There are economists who argue that the high price of oil is not due to the producing countries alone, that it's due to the White House soft dollar policy, and that the reason the price of oil is up is because the producing companies wanted to make up for the devaluation of the dollar. I'm wondering what the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the reason why we have high energy prices is because we've lacked a national energy plan for years now. We've had short-sighted policies that haven't thought long-term. We need a comprehensive solution that secures our economic and energy security for years to come. And what we need to do is make us less reliant on foreign sources of energy. That goes to the root cause of the problems that we face, and that's what the President will talk about in his remarks today.
Q So the value of our currency, you're saying, has nothing to do with the high price of oil?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. But I'm saying that while we're in the situation we're in today -- it's something we've gone through year after year in the summertime, we've seen gas prices go up. And the root cause of why this is happening is because we're a nation that is dependent on foreign sources of energy. And you have a growing global economy and a number -- an increased demand for oil from nations around the world, particularly China and India. Supplies are tight and it's pushing prices up. And we are dependent on foreign sources of energy right now, and that's hurting us. And if we become -- if we work to expand conservation here at home and improve energy efficiency and have more environmentally responsible exploration, then we start to address the root causes that we face, and that's what the President will talk about in his remarks.
Q Scott, getting back to Bolton for a minute. You're obviously --
MR. McCLELLAN: You jumped ahead of four people who had their hands up in your row.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q I had my hand up, too. Getting back to the nomination --
MR. McCLELLAN: You stand out. (Laughter.)
Q I'll take that as a compliment. Getting back to Bolton, your conversation with Voinovich, obviously, to try and resolve questions that he has. Are you encouraging the nominee to do the same sort of thing with anybody on the panel who has remaining questions, either answering things in writing or going beyond what he said in his testimony? Is there any effort to construct dialogue in that way --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I said, I think he's been through and addressed these issues, and we're going to make sure that Senator Voinovich has answers to the questions that he wants answered. But I think John Bolton, through eight hours -- more than eight hours of testimony, and through many, many written responses to questions that the committee had following that hearing, has addressed these issues.
Q And if that's not enough for them, will you encourage him to go further?
MR. McCLELLAN: For who?
Q For the members of the panel.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think Democrats are content to continue to play politics with his nomination. But there is a Republican member of the committee who was unable to be at some of the hearings, and he has some questions and we'll make sure that those questions are addressed with him.
Go ahead, Sarah.
Q Thank you. Scott, is General Peter Pace the President's choice for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me tell you about his choice. No, I'm just -- but the President will have more -- the President will have more to say soon, and it's not my place to make those announcements, as you're aware. It's his place to make those announcements.
MR. McCLELLAN: No.
Q Scott, in June of 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger sent a letter to U.S. Catholic bishops specifying that, "strong and open supporters of abortion be denied the Catholic sacrament for being guilty of a grave sin." My first question: Since the President was at that time a candidate and was surely aware of this Cardinal's letter, this is part of what the President meant in describing Pope Benedict as "a man of great wisdom and knowledge who serves the Lord," isn't it, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Holy Father is someone who by nature has been a teacher. And he is someone who does have a lot of -- or a long academic career. He is someone that you heard the President talk about yesterday in very high regard. And we look forward to continuing to work closely with the Vatican. We have very good relations with the Vatican, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them in the future. And I'm sure at some point the President will have an opportunity to sit down and visit with the Holy Father, and I know he would look forward to that.
Q Does he agree with that view, though? Does he agree with it?
Q In Maryland --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that --
Q I'd like the answer to your question, does he agree with that expressed view.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that the President is someone who believes in building a culture of life. And that's something he's talked about for quite some time. And I think the Holy Father is someone who has talked about the importance of building a culture of life, as well.
Q Scott, in Maryland, Catholic U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski supports the semi-infanticide of partial-birth abortion. And Sister Jeannine Gramick, whom Cardinal Ratzinger personally ordered to stop promoting sodomy acceptance, has called his election as Pope, devastating. And my question: Does the President believe this new pontiff will never excommunicate either Mikulski or Gramick?
MR. McCLELLAN: You know, Les, you might want to direct some of these questions to the Vatican. In terms --
Q Well, what does the President think?
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of the President's view, I think the President spoke about it yesterday. He congratulated Pope Benedict XVI on his selection by the Conclave, and we will be announcing a delegation that will be attending his investiture this Sunday, soon. The President joins with millions of Americans and millions of others around the world who pray that the Holy Father continues to have strength and wisdom as he carries out his duties.
Q But what if he excommunicates Mikulski, then what?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, those are questions to address to the Vatican.
Q Please, Scott, just one thing on the Pope. Did he spend any time with Ratzinger -- with Benedict, with Pope Benedict -- while at the Pope's funeral mass? Did he have any time to spend with him one-on-one or in a small group?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he met a number of the cardinals while he was there. He doesn't recall specifically meeting him. I think he probably would have if he had specifically met him.
Q Do we know who is going to Sunday?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not yet. We'll be announcing that soon.
Q Back to the energy bill, Scott. Will the energy bill that the President wants to sign make America energy independent?
MR. McCLELLAN: It will help make us energy independent, more energy self-sufficient. And it is a comprehensive plan. And that's the goal of moving forward on this legislation, because what it does, if you look at it, all the different aspects of it -- there are kind of four key parts to it: promoting conservation and energy efficiency, expanding domestic production in environmentally responsible ways, diversifying our supply -- we need to diversify our supply and look for clean, alternative sources of energy. And it also will modernize the electricity grid.
Q In sum, does it make America independent or just less dependent?
MR. McCLELLAN: We need to reduce that dependence on foreign sources of energy, and, yes, it will help make us energy independent.
Q With regard to the Bolton nomination, I'm trying to get my head around "unsubstantiated allegations." With regard to the allegations of trying to have senior intelligence analysts removed from their portfolios, my understanding is that the allegations were made by those analysts, independent intelligence analysts, were substantiated by their superiors and have been corroborated by others, and even Mr. Bolton himself concurs that something occurred. So I'm not quite sure what "unsubstantiated" means about that one in particular.
MR. McCLELLAN: The accusations that are being made are unsubstantiated. Again, Democrats continue to raise them. These matters have been addressed before the committee. I'm not going to go and dignify these unsubstantiated accusations from this podium by responding to them.
He is someone who has great experience, solid expertise, and will do a great job at the United Nations. He's been through these hearings, they've talked about these issues, he's been over them, he's responded to them in writing. And now is the time for the Senate to move forward on his nomination so that he can get about doing the business that we have before the United Nations.
I appreciate you wanting the testimony to be carried out here at the podium, but we believe those issues have been addressed by John Bolton himself.
Q So because -- the people who made the allegations made them and others have corroborated them, so it seems to me that they may be disagreed with, but they weren't necessarily unsubstantiated.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I disagree. And John Bolton has been through this and addressed these allegations.
Democrats continue to play politics with his nominations. That's what this is about. It's an ugly side of Washington, D.C., it's an unfortunate side of Washington, D.C., but we're confident that he will be confirmed.
Q Scott, as you say, the current oil-gas situation has been a long time coming, it's not something that's just developed overnight. Would the President like to see building of more oil infrastructure, i.e., more refineries --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q -- and also begin to drill again off the U.S. shore while we try to deal with --
MR. McCLELLAN: It's one of the problems that we face, that -- our refining capacity and being able to get that oil to the market. I mean, oftentimes we're importing this crude and we're having to have it refined outside the country because of our lack of a refining capacity. I don't think we've had a refinery built in the U.S. since 1972. And so that is one area where we're looking at the regulations that are having an impact on building more refineries.
And what was the other part of your question?
Q Off-shore drilling.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's -- I mean, we want to continue to look at ways to diversify our supply at home and to expand domestic production, and do so in environmentally responsible ways. And the President will talk about that, and we spelled some of that out in our energy plan, as well. And also another area that's very important that was brought up earlier in the briefing is ANWR. And we're talking about opening up a very small portion of ANWR to environmentally responsible exploration. We have a lot of new technology that's available to us that will enable us to have minimal impact on the land. And we also need to look at clean coal technologies, which the President has been moving forward on, and those are things he'll talk about in his remarks today.
Q The Chinese President is inviting the biggest opposition party from Taiwan for a party-to-party summit in Beijing next week. Do you know about it? Do you think --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I hadn't heard about that specific request. But we believe cross-strait dialogue is important to resolving some of the issues and reducing the tensions.
Q And if they took some measures toward the final resolution of the Taiwan issue, would that be in the United States' interest? Or would you -- going to encourage that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's a pretty speculative question at this point.
Q Scott, with the execution of 18 new recruits in Iraq today, are you worried that violence that's been escalating, that we've been saying in the last few days and weeks is going to undermine the political progress in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I've seen the reports on that, and I know that our military coalition forces in Iraq are looking into this discovery. I don't have more for you at this point on that particular matter. But there's a lot of important progress being made in Iraq. Iraq is moving forward on the political front, on the reconstruction front and on the security front. I think you're seeing that Iraqi security forces are stepping up more and more to assume responsibility for their future. The international community is supporting the Iraqi people in many ways as they move forward to build a democratic and peaceful future.
And just last Saturday, Australia sent an additional 450 troops into Iraq to help with the security situation and to also help train the Iraqi security forces. This was a request that was made by Britain. We are grateful for Australia's continued commitment to helping advance democracy and freedom and peace in Iraq.
So there is a lot of good progress being made in Iraq. And I think the military people on the ground have talked about the situation and assessed it and the number of attacks and how that compares to before. But I think you're also seeing that the Iraqi security forces are assuming more and more responsibility for defending and protecting the Iraqi people from those who want to derail the transition to democracy.
Q I wanted to ask you about the Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States -- in the Dominican Republic, there seems to be a lot of opposition. Is the President going to fight for it? Because right now it doesn't seem that he's going to get the votes by the Senate.
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely, it's an important priority and part of our agenda to expand trade and keep our economy growing stronger. The President believes strongly in moving forward on free trade agreements -- bilateral ones, multinational ones, and moving forward on global free trade. We want to -- and I think that Congress is looking at this issue. We're having good discussions with members of Congress about how to move forward on that. We would like to move forward with Congress on this as soon as possible. And those discussions with members continue right now.
Q How about the immigration proposal the President has made -- on immigration -- how is that coming along? And how much capital, political capital is the President going to spend on it?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes it's a very important priority. He believes it will address an economic need and address our security needs. There are willing workers and we want to match those willing workers with willing employers where Americans are not taking those jobs. It will help make our border -- our immigration policy more human, orderly and safe. And it will enable those who are -- like border security -- who are focused on preventing people who want to come into this country for the wrong reasons from getting here -- they can then focus their resources where they need to, on preventing those who want to come here to attack the United States, or plot attacks, or those who want to come here to be involved in criminal activity, like drug trafficking, for instance.
But we have some -- I don't know -- 8 million to 10 million undocumented workers in this country, and the President has put forward a plan that he believes very strongly in that will address, as I said, an economic need, and help improve our security along the border, as well. It's a temporary worker program. That's something we continue to talk with members of Congress about moving forward on. There are a lot of members that support those efforts. And we hope that we can move forward soon on those efforts.
Q One last question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, go ahead, last question.
Q It has to do with border protection. How does the President feel now that this has been taken -- of the civilians that are patrolling the Arizona border and helping INS?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President talked about it previously, and I've spoken about it from the podium, as well. I think you have to differentiate if there's a loosely affiliated group of individuals who are armed trying to take matters into their own hand, that would be -- that is a real concern for the administration and for our Border Patrol agents whose job is to stop people from crossing illegally into this country.
If you're talking about people that are helping to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities like the Border Patrol agents who work day in and day out to enforce our borders, then that's a different matter.
Q Scott, South Korean's foreign ministry has mentioned today South Korea had grave concern about the North Korea's possible reprocessing of nuclear -- by the way, South Korea also had mentioned South Korea would object to bringing this matter to U.N., or to impose economic sanctions against North Korea for this. What is your comment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Our focus is on getting North Korea back to the talks. I think that's the focus of all parties in the region so that we can move forward on the proposal that has been outlined.
We outlined a proposal at the last round of talks. We believe it is something that addresses the concerns of all parties. We're not putting any preconditions on returning to the talks, and we would hope that North Korea wouldn't, either. They need to come back to the talks so that we can talk about how to move forward on our goal of -- and the goal of our partners in the region -- of a nuclear-free peninsula, and that's where our focus remains. North Korea has made a commitment to come back to the talks, and we want to see them follow through on that commitment.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 1:00 P.M. EDT
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