|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
July 8, 2005
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan and Faryar Shirzad
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Andrews Air Force Base
10:15 A.M. (EDT)
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, we've got Faryar here again today, our Sherpa, to give you a summary of the successful summit we just concluded, and talk about it from our perspective, and then I'll be around for other questions after that, if there are any. This will give us an opportunity to get this back -- or get the transcript out on the ground, as soon as possible, so everybody else will have it, too.
With that, I'll turn it over to Faryar.
MR. SHIRZAD: All right, thanks, guys. Obviously, we just concluded the summit. We're extremely pleased with how it went on a number of fronts. I think the summit was a huge success, both for the Prime Minister, for the G8, as well as for the President and for the United States. We were grateful for the presidency -- the Prime Minister's hosting of the event. The event went flawlessly and was well managed, and so we're grateful for that.
In terms of the substance of the agenda, it was -- the summit was an important step forward in advancing a number of objectives to improve the lives of people and to address real problems in a constructive way that stood in sharp contrast the savagery that occurred in London. I think the spirit of good will and faith that was part of the agenda and the work of the G8 leaders I think stood well, and it particularly now highlighted the importance of the work that we were doing.
The agenda itself was very diverse. There was a lot of issues we covered. Africa and climate got a lot of attention, but there was a lot of important work done in advancing economic objectives and areas of trade and intellectual property protections. There was good work done in promoting -- further promoting the goals of democratization and peace in the Middle East. There was good work in the area of counterterrorism and nonproliferation, all of which we are pleased with.
I'll give you a little bit of additional color on some of the specific items that came out. I don't know if you all yet have gotten all the texts. Some of them are still in the process of being released. But in short form, the Africa leaders' statement, which you saw, that the leaders signed during the earlier in the day today, was a very good, comprehensive package of initiatives that the G8 agreed to work together on. It very much reflects the President's approach to Africa in that it reflects a spirit of partnership, supporting the efforts of Africa to develop the capability to advance principles of economic opportunity, as well as addressing the needs of its people. And the sessions today with the African leaders I think underscored that message.
There were a number of individual initiatives that were included in the Africa leaders' text, which we feel that are particularly important. There's a strong emphasis on good governance, transparency and anticorruption, which we feel is very important. The President's debt relief initiative that the Prime Minister and the President took a step forward on during the Prime Minister's visit to the U.K., and then the finance ministers worked on further, was finally adopted by the G8 leaders at this session, and that's a big achievement on an initiative we've been pursuing for quite some time.
On humanitarian emergencies, the President and the Prime Minister, again when the Prime Minister visited Washington, launched an important challenge to the rest of the world to step up and address the humanitarian emergencies on the continent, and the G8 leaders agreed to do further work in that regard.
On the issue of malaria, which we've taken a leadership role on, the leaders committed, through their document, to address more effectively. There were a series of other initiatives, but imbedded through the document you'll see a lot of good work that's been done on areas that are of importance to us.
On the climate text, we're very pleased with how that turned out. First and foremost, I think what the document did was to highlight that the issue of climate change is a part of an interrelated set of challenges dealing with energy security, economic development and dealing with problems of pollution. The climate document frames the issue in those terms, and more importantly, contains a concrete set of actions and initiatives that the G8 have agreed upon to advance work cooperatively in advancing our objectives in those interrelated areas.
In the area of trade, the leaders gave a strong push to advancing the Doha development agenda, and moving forward with trade as being a key component of economic development and poverty alleviation. On intellectual property, we and the French together actually put forward and ultimately got adopted by the rest of the G8 an initiative to improve cooperation among our customs and law enforcement authorities to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting.
On counterterrorism, we heightened and took forward work we've done in the past and new initiatives on improving cooperation in the area of counterterrorism; similarly on nonproliferation.
And then finally, of the ones I'll talk about, the leaders got a very strong report from Jim Wolfensohn regarding an initiative that he's pursuing to help both with the Gaza disengagement, with helping with development of the economic development in the Palestinian territories, and helping with the process of governance among the Palestinians. And the leaders gave strong endorsement to Wolfenshon's plan, which we're very pleased with.
So all and all, we were very pleased with the meetings themselves, we're very pleased with the substantive agenda, and we're pleased with the documents that were generated as a result of the meeting.
Q Can you talk a little bit more about the Middle East and what -- it's $3 billion, right? What will that go for, what will that do?
MR. SHIRZAD: The way Wolfensohn has laid out the initiative, it's -- it would be $3 billion a year over -- up to $3 billion a year over three years. And in essence, it's a proposal for him to work to essentially work with the Palestinians to help spur the kind of economic development and governance necessary for them to develop a capability to govern themselves and to maintain a stable Palestinian territory.
And so Wolfensohn presented the concept to the leaders; the leaders very much endorsed the concept. And now the work, I think, will begin to flesh it out further and to implement it.
Q I believe there was an agreement on Africa aid to go up to $50 billion -- was it $50 million or -- does the administration support that, because I know in the past the President didn't want a specific number agreed to.
MR. SHIRZAD: It's a good question. The question had to do with that there was a $50 billion aid commitment to Africa. What the document reflected was a -- what the leaders' text reflected was that the individual G8 countries, as well as the European Union, had together committed to increase aid by $25 billion in a year to Africa. So there wasn't a new commitment reflected in the text, but it was an articulation of previous commitments that were already made.
What the text also said, though, was that the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has separately, on their own, estimated that development assistance for the world, from all sources, will go up by $50 billion by 2010.
Q So there's no promise of new money from the U.S. in that statement.
MR. SHIRZAD: No, I think what that portion of the leaders' text was supposed to highlight is that while the leaders came to Gleneagles to press the issue of Africa, there's also a broader development challenge that they reflected in their leaders' text, and that is the challenge that the OECD has, in their estimation, said they expect development assistance will increase by $50 billion. So it's not a commitment, but it's a reflection of an outside estimate that's been made on that issue.
Q Faryar, was the initiative on the Middle East, was that changed at all during the course of yesterday or this morning, or had it always been -- not always, but it had it been in the form that it takes for some time?
MR. SHIRZAD: The initiative was initially briefed to the G8 at the foreign minister's meeting, at the G8 foreign minister's meeting I believe a week ago. And it was at that point that the foreign ministers essentially embraced the Wolfhenson plan, prepared the document that ultimately became the leaders' document. Now there may have been a few tweaks here and there, as would be normal in the preparatory process, but the initiative and the leaders' affirmation of it is something that came out of last week's foreign ministers -- the G8 foreign ministers meeting.
Q Does that represent an increase in U.S. commitment, or is that something that, again, has been sort of already committed to?
MR. SHIRZAD: Well, our commitments to assist in that area are already set out in our budget for '05, and I think in '06, as well. What Wolfensohn is laying out is a broader vision that includes bringing in a wider circle of donors to come in to assist with the project that he has laid out. So I think that's a key part of what he's trying to do, is to widen the circle of donors, including donors in the Arab world who can step up and assist with the challenge that he laid out.
Q So just to be clear, is the $3 billion just from G8 sources, or is that a global number?
MR. SHIRZAD: It's up to $3 billion a year for three years, and it's a global number.
Q On the aid package, what is the President going to do in terms of getting Congress on board with the pledges that he's made here?
MR. SHIRZAD: In terms of his aid package?
Q Yes, I mean, they've already cut it in half. So what is he going to do now to help get Congress on the same page as what he just agreed to here?
MR. SHIRZAD: The President has already made a number of commitments regarding aid programs that will carry forward, including the Millennium Challenge Account, the President's emergency plan for AIDS relief, and other programs. There were some additional programs that he launched at the speech at the Hudson Institute before we left for the trip. He will work with Congress as we will as an administration to advance these programs.
They're important initiatives, they serve an important humanitarian objective, and they also serve an important objective to eliminate the conditions that can be exploited by terrorists and others. So we see these programs as being an important humanitarian imperative, but also being something that's important for the national security purposes, as well. And so it's just a matter of telling that story and working with Congress to provide the funding that we need over time.
Q What's the significance of the global climate change conference on November 1st? What do you want to see there?
MR. SHIRZAD: November 1st, you mean the one the Canadians are hosting?
MR. SHIRZAD: The Canadians will this year host the meeting of the parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. It's an organization that I believe we've been a member of since 1992, and we participate in all their meetings. And the Canadians will host this year's meeting in November. What will also occur during that meeting is a meeting of the parties of the Kyoto protocol. We are not a member of the Kyoto protocol, but the meeting will occur concurrently, and concurrently to the conference of the parties. In terms of sort of the specific agenda that will occur there, I'll defer to the experts in that area.
Q Just so I understand the -- I'm sorry.
Q No, I was just going to ask, I know you talked about this a little bit yesterday, just sort of the atmospherics when the news broke, and how that impacted the leaders and their work, how they approached the work. Can you also talk about when Tony Blair returned last night, a little bit more on sort of the mood and the dynamic.
MR. SHIRZAD: I think I mentioned yesterday that the -- what I saw in the room was, the initial reaction was of deep concern for the British people, strong -- very strong expressions of support for the Prime Minister and the U.K. government, a feeling of profound sadness for the affected families, and also a real commitment to the Prime Minister for the G8 -- from the G8 leaders on both a personal level, as well as in their capacity as counterparts to do what necessary to give him the support he needs and that the British people need to see themselves through this process.
What I also separately saw was a real striking level of determination on the part of all of the leaders that the work of the G8 not be interrupted as a result of what happened in London. There was discussion on that topic, and to a person, every one of the leaders was very insistent that the work should continue, that there's important work to do and that the work of the G8 stood in sharp contrast to the savagery that occurred in London. And so there was very much consensus on all the various dimensions of the reaction, including with regard to the specific agenda of the G8 meeting.
Q Was there sort of a perceptible shift from the initial shock when the news broke, to then Tony Blair after he had been briefed by his ministers in London, and then today going about the final day, final hours, was there sort of a perceptible shift? I know you said they were very determined yesterday, but could you describe --
MR. SHIRZAD: That determination stayed through the day. The Prime Minister, obviously, went down to London. Sir Michael Jay the Permanent Secretary of their foreign office took over in chairing a luncheon meeting. Their Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, came in and hosted the dinner session, as well as the afternoon session. The leaders actively participated and engaged; the work continued.
The Prime Minister then came back late last night. All the leaders met him at the -- in a small reception that they had, and frankly I didn't listen in to the whole conversation, but what I could see was that the Prime Minister was briefing the leaders in terms of what he had seen, what had happened, and they continued to express their support to him and their condolences for what happened.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me just mention that we need to try to get this wrapped up, so the steno -- our able steno can get everything transcribed and out on the ground at an early time. But do you all have any more questions for Faryar? All right, thank you, Faryar.
MR. SHIRZAD: All right, thanks, guys.
MR. McCLELLAN: I did want to say, we extend our sincerest birthday wishes to Mr. Steve Holland, as he hits the half-century mark. I hope he has a very happy 50th birthday, not to mention your age, but --
Q You said that Blair and the President had a private discussion this morning?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, this morning. The President -- just to kind of walk you back through the day, had his intelligence briefing this morning. Steve Hadley and Andy Card, obviously, were both in attendance for that, as well. Then he taped his radio address. The radio address will be on the events that occurred yesterday, the tragic events that occurred yesterday in London.
And then he went downstairs and met with Prime Minister Blair in his suite. It was a private meeting just ahead of the first meeting this morning with the G8 leaders.
Q How long did he meet with him for?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh, I don't know, 20, 30 minutes. I don't know exactly.
Q Can you characterize it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't want to get into private discussions, but I think some of the things they discussed were the events that occurred yesterday. I think Prime Minister Blair talked about the event that took place later in the afternoon, with the African leaders, and the remarks that he was going to be making, and they talked about the communiqu that everybody will be signing. I think they had a discussion about the ideology -- the ideological struggle that we are engaged in. We are at war on terrorism, and this is a war against an ideology of hatred and fear and oppression, and it stands in vivid contrast to what the countries who -- the leaders of the countries who were attending the G8 were working to achieve, and that is helping to improve and save lives. Anyway, that's kind of a general.
Q Do you foresee more assistance in the war on terror as a result of this from the international community?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are engaged in a global war on terrorism, and I think the international community recognizes that this is a struggle against an extreme ideology. And that's what we're working to defeat, an ideology of hatred and oppression. And we defeat it by spreading an ideology of hope and freedom and opportunity. And that's what the President has talked about.
Q Is for more people to step up and --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you saw it, and I mean, Faryar discussed kind of the atmospherics surrounding the meetings yesterday and today. I think you see a renewed spirit of determination and the terrorist attacks that took place in London only strengthen our resolve to prevail in the war on terrorism.
Yesterday's events were a grim reminder that we are at war on terrorism. The President has talked about how this is a struggle of ideologies.
Q Was there any discussion of Iraq in the context of what happened yesterday, as far as you know?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
Q Was there any discussion of Iraq, in the context of events?
MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of. Obviously, Iraq was part of the discussions at the G8 summit.
Q Did the President have any other bilateral discussions today or last night?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Faryar was here. Obviously, there are discussions that happen during the meetings or in between some of the meetings on the sides, and leaders tend to visit one-on-one. But there's nothing I have to update you all on.
Q What's Ed Gillespie's job going to be, exactly?
MR. McCLELLAN: You all called this back in, I assume, and I wanted to get that to you before we took off, but let me just kind of walk back through that, so we have it on the transcript for everybody.
The President has named Ed coordinator of the confirmation process for the White House. So he will be coordinating the White House efforts on behalf of the nominee throughout the confirmation process. He will be working out of the White House; he will have an office in the West Wing. He's not going to receive any compensation.
Senator Fred Thompson is serving in an informal capacity as advisor to the nominee, and Senator Thompson will be working closely with the nominee and serving as a public advocate for the nominee once the President has made a decision. Senator Thompson's role will be to attend visits with senators when the nominee meets with senators, he will just provide advice to the nominee throughout the process. Senator Thompson will be reporting back to Ed, since Ed is coordinating our efforts.
Q Will Ed go on -- will he conduct a lot of TV interviews and lobby on behalf of --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know about that. This is more coordinating the overall efforts. Like I said, that's why -- I don't want to rule anything out, but Senator Thompson will be more of a public advocate on behalf of the nominee.
Q Why is it necessary to have them, rather than leave it with the White House Counsel's Office?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the White House Counsel's Office -- I wouldn't look at it as not the White House Counsel Office, the White House Counsel Office has been and continues to be very involved in this effort. This is coordinating the confirmation process for the specific nominee. And, obviously, this is a very important position. Ed is someone who brings a lot of experience to this position. And the President was pleased that he has accepted this role to help coordinate our efforts at the White House.
Q Will he coordinate with the RNC, as well, given that he has all that experience there?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is coordinating the White House efforts. I mean, obviously, there's discussion that goes on with others, as well. But he's coordinating our efforts on behalf of the White House.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, I'm going to stick to the policy I established I think a couple of weeks ago. And I know -- I appreciate you all asking all these questions, but I'm sure if there's any additional vacancies to be announced, that they would come out of the Supreme Court first. I'm just not going to get into discussing those, one way or the other.
Q You haven't heard that he has stepped down, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, that's what I just said. What I say from at the podium, what I say here on Air Force One is that if there are any announcements to be made, I'm sure they will be made by the Supreme Court. And if that happens, then I'll be glad to talk about it at that point.
Q He's not going to Camp David, is he?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. And I'll come back later with the week ahead. We've got a few hours left.
Q Has he looked at his dossier on the flight again?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll come back later, I'll double check. I mean, we had just taken off, so I --
Q But as far as you know --
MR. McCLELLAN: He had not yet.
END 10:39 A.M. (EDT)