For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 4, 2005
Press Briefing on the President's Visit with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
PRESS BRIEFING ON THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT WITH THE CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI
ARABIA BY SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE AND NATIONAL SECURITY
ADVISOR STEPHEN HADLEY
Crawford Middle School
2:51 P.M. CDT
MR. HADLEY: Good afternoon. The President and Crown Prince Abdullah
have just finished what has really been a series of meetings over the
last two days, between representatives of the United States and
representatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It began yesterday,
with the Vice President having lunch and then meetings with the Crown
Prince and his delegation. This morning, Dr. Rice had an opportunity to
come in from the airport to the ranch with the Crown Prince and his
delegation. That was also an opportunity for some consultations. And
then, of course, the President met the Crown Prince and the delegation;
a meeting, an opportunity for the Crown Prince and the President to,
just with the translator present, go around the property on the ranch
and then a rather extensive lunch which permitted some good, candid and
So it was really a series of meetings and a very intensive and extensive
consultations between the two sides. The atmosphere was very positive.
The range of issues covered was fairly extensive. For example, they
talked about Iraq; they talked about the Middle East and the opportunity
for moving towards a two-state solution to the Middle East. There was
discussion about other issues of importance for the region, developments
in the region, developments within Saudi Arabia.
There was also a discussion about the oil situation, and the Saudi side
outlined plans that they have developed to increase their investment so
as to expand capacity to produce oil. They're talking about a plan that
would allow them to go to about 12.5 million barrels a day by the end of
the decade, and plans in the next decade to increase that over time to
about 15 million barrels a day in order to help stabilize the market and
ensure an adequate supply at a reasonable price.
They also had an opportunity to talk about the war on terror. This is
an area where the United States and Saudi Arabia have worked very
closely together and where the two leaders share a common strategy of
dealing with extremism that, obviously, involves fighting the terrorists
in the near-term. And the Saudis have made some real good progress in
that respect; and also advancing the cause of reform over the
It was a very good set of consultations, very good spirit in the room.
The relationship between the two men is very positive, very strong
personal relationship which they were able to reaffirm. And also I
think the consultations between the two delegations strengthened the
relations between the two governments down the line. And in order to
further that process, the two leaders agreed that a joint committee
would be established, to be chaired by the Secretary of State and the
Saudi Foreign Minister, to deal with a range of strategic issues that
are of vital importance to the two sides. So we will have a framework
for some ongoing consultations, in addition to the normal diplomacy.
So a very good, very productive visit; we feel very good about it.
There is a joint statement which was released that you can all take a
look at. And the Secretary of State and I would be pleased to answer
any questions you have.
Q Steve, what did the President ask the Crown Prince, in terms of
boosting oil production? Is he satisfied with the number you gave, 12.5
million? And, also, is the administration disappointed that the Saudis,
according to their spokesman, are no longer able to keep their pledge of
reducing the price of oil from $28 to $22 a barrel; he says it's no
MR. HADLEY: Well, two things. One, the Saudis really came with a plan,
which was briefed in some detail to the Vice President yesterday. So
they came with a plan of what they intended to do, went through it in
some detail. Their oil minister was here. And it is, again, seemed a
very good plan because it addresses the underlying issue you have when
you talk about price, which is an issue of availability of oil and
availability of capacity. And the importance, of course, expanding the
capacity and the production capacity is that it makes the oil available
and will help stabilize the market at a price level which both the
United States and Saudi Arabia agree needs to be one that provides
adequate return for investment, but is also something that isn't so high
that it damages markets and damages the world economy.
So I think there is a framework in place by which the two countries are
trying to deal with the issue of price stability.
Q Do you believe that the plan will lower oil prices anytime in the
MR. HADLEY: It's hard to say. Obviously, though, you know, when you
increase the capacity of a significant amount -- which they are talking
about -- that can't help but have a positive downward affect on prices
and deal with some of the volatility in the market by assuring people
that supply will be available as the economies grow.
Q One of the points that the Saudis made an hour or so ago was that
even though they can increase production, you know, somewhat now, that
the infrastructure for shipping at particular refineries is at capacity,
and that's another problem. And Adel al-Jubeir said, specifically, it
doesn't matter if we send another 1 or 2 million barrels a day over
here, we can't refine it. How do you address that?
MR. HADLEY: They did talk about refinery capacity, and there was a
preliminary discussion about that and a good exchange of views on it.
The Saudis have some questions about refinery capability on our side and
what they can do on their side with respect to refinery capacity. I
think there is more discussion that needs to be done on that issue. But
it was addressed; more attention needs to be paid to it. What really
came was a plan for increasing production through substantial
investment, to the tune of about $50 billion over time. So it's a major
initiative that they've undertaken.
Q In the recent past, I think the Saudis have discussed the
possibility of their investing in refining capacity in the United States
or around the United States. That seems to have slipped as a priority
for them. Can you -- did they indicate that that would be deactivated
as a priority for them?
MR. HADLEY: In the discussions I was in, that specific issue did not
come up. There were additional conversations, of course, yesterday, in
which the Oil Minister participated. I think this is one of a range of
issues that we'll have an opportunity to follow up on with the Saudi
side, now that they've begun to pull together the kind of plan that they
Q Can I follow up? Was the outlook on that more positive than it was
before the meetings of the last two days?
MR. HADLEY: I would say, sure. I would say the outlook for the two
countries having a common approach to dealing with the problem of
assuring adequate capacity and stability, the market certainly has been
advanced by the Saudis coming forward with a very ambitious plan for
investment and expanding capacity. That's a good thing, and I think
speaks to some of the concerns that we have had on the U.S. side.
Q If I could as Secretary Rice a question. As you recall, five years
ago when the President was running first for office, he talked a lot
about jawboning OPEC members to lower the prices. Why didn't the
President do that here today? And what do you say, then, to Americans
who say, I'm paying too much at the pump and the President is not doing
SECRETARY RICE: I think the President has recognized in a series of
steps that he's taken over the last few years that we have not a
short-term problem, but a long-term problem that needs to be addressed.
That's why the President has a comprehensive energy bill that has been
in the Congress to look at alternative fuel sources, to look at
technology, to look at what we can do about development and production
here in the United States. It's why he wanted to have a discussion with
the Saudis that would have a sustainable long-term plan for dealing with
what is clearly an increasing demand for oil in a world economy that is
Obviously, with the states like China, India and others coming on line,
there is a concern about demand and supply. And those issues have to be
addressed not by jawboning, but by having a strategic plan for dealing
with the problem. That's why the President has an energy plan in the
United States; that's why there was so much weight put on having a
common strategic framework with the Saudis about how to increase
capacity over the long-run, not just in the short-run.
Q Mr. Al-Jubeir, outside, told us that Saudi Arabia has the current
spare production capacity of between 1.3 and 1.4 million barrels per day
that they can quickly bring on line. Did the President specifically ask
them to tap into any of that production capacity and boost output?
MR. HADLEY: I don't know what specifically Adel Jubeir was talking
about. And the discussions with the President, as I say, focused on the
long-term plans that the Saudis have. Obviously, if they have that kind
of capacity, they can bring it on to the market; the issue is, of
course, the issue of price and whether they're willing to sell it at the
price that the market is willing to pay. But, obviously, it is useful.
The problem in the oil markets now is a perception that there is
inadequate capacity and that's the point -- the more we can increase
that capacity in the short-run, in the longer-term the more reassurance
you can give to the market that there will be available supply and that
will have a downward pressure on the price.
Q To quickly follow up, didn't the President say he would like the
Saudis to increase the production above levels where they're currently
at this year?
MR. HADLEY: He's talked about that. If you look to his public comments
last week, he said exactly something very much like that. And what he
got from the Saudis was a response and it was the response I described.
Q Can you talk about where the Saudi plan for the Middle East fits in
the President's vision, if it fits in the President's vision? And,
also, did the President raise the issue of three Saudis who have been in
prison for more than a year now for advocating a constitutional
MR. HADLEY: On the Middle East, they talked about the opportunity that
is presented by the steps that Abu Mazen is taking, in terms of to
reform the security, the focus that all of us now are trying to bring to
the disengagement from Gaza and the settlements in the northern West
Bank, and the opportunity that presents to move the process forward.
That's really the focus.
The Crown Prince's plan, which was adopted, of course, by the Arab
League, is a broader framework for dealing over time with an opportunity
to get peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis between
Arabs. One of the things they focused on was the ability of a
successful disengagement to hasten the day when we can proceed to those
broader issues. So the focus has been very much what we can all do --
the United States, Saudis and others -- to assist the Palestinians to be
able to develop the institutions of a democratic state that is prepared
to take responsibility for the territory that they are going to get --
have an ability to take control of when the Israelis move out.
On the other question, there was a general discussion about the issue of
reform in these various conversations over the last two days. I'm not
going to get into the specifics of it, but a range of issues were raised
and the framework for some of these particular cases was discussed.
Q I'm wondering just in the short- or near-term, when can the public
expect to see something tangible as a result of the meeting today?
MR. HADLEY: Something tangible, in terms of --
Q Let's say, at the gas pump.
MR. HADLEY: Well, you know, we'll see. As you know, the markets are a
complicated business. But, clearly, the news that came out of the
meeting today ought to be good news for the markets and we would hope
that and other factors would result in some positive news, in terms of
the price fronts. But as you know, these markets are complicated
Q We heard that Mrs. Secretary left the meeting to call Mr. Barzani
in Iraq. We need to know if that's true? And what did you agree
SECRETARY RICE: No, I did not leave the meeting to make a phone call.
We've been very clear that the process that is going on in Iraq now, the
process of trying to form a government out of the very successful
elections is an Iraqi process and it has to be an Iraqi process. I
think everybody believes that the Iraqi people now deserve a government,
given that they took risks to vote. We've had opportunities to
represent those views to a number of Iraqi leaders -- I have, the Vice
President has, others have, as well -- Steve has. And we're going to
continue to say that it is important to keep momentum in the political
process. And that's really what this is about -- it's keeping momentum
in the political process as an answer to those who would tell the Iraqi
people that their future is in violence, not in the political process.
But, no, I did not leave the meeting today.
Q Did you call anyone in Iraq today?
SECRETARY RICE: I did not today, no.
Q Do you believe that Saudi Arabia could play any role to widen Sunni
participation in Iraq, as this President hopes?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, yes. Well, we have had broad discussions with all
of the states in the region about the importance of Sunni participation.
And this is something that everybody agrees, that the Sunni population
must be included, that the Sunni population needs to participate. It's
a two-way street. I think that the Iraqis are -- the Iraqi leaders are
making an effort to reach out to the Sunnis to try to include them in
governmental participation, and that Sunnis are reaching back. And I do
know that the Saudis have encouraged that, the Jordanians have
encouraged that, everyone has encouraged it.
Q Secretary Rice, about the joint committee, could you tell us more
about how often will you meet, is it going to be headed by yourself and
the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, and your visions for that
committee and what --
SECRETARY RICE: The pattern that the Saudi Foreign Minister and I
talked about was to have a working level that would prepare an agenda
for us, and then a meeting, followed by working-level meetings to follow
up on the agenda. And we've not established frequency of those
meetings, but we did agree that we would hold them in Washington, but
also in Riyadh. And we look forward to establishing that pattern fairly
Q Secretary Rice, John Bolton ran into a lot of his controversy when
he served at the State Department. Are you satisfied with his
credentials for the job at the U.N.?
SECRETARY RICE: I believe, along with the President, that John Bolton
is the right person for this job. We need a strong voice at the United
Nations who can participate in, and, indeed, lead in an extremely
important reform debate that is going on now in the United Nations. The
future of the United Nations is being shaped now for the next generation
to come by the reform debate that is beginning there: what should be
the management reforms that are undertaken; how should we think about
the challenges of terrorism and proliferation and weapons of mass
destruction; how should we think about the peacekeeping enterprise; how
do we send a strong message about democracy and human rights to the
world, what in that context is the future of Security Council reform.
These are fundamental issues that are being discussed about the United
Nations. And the United States, which is a founding member of the
United Nations, an extremely important country in that debate, has got
to have somebody there to be engaged in that reform. We understand the
deliberative processes of the Senate, and we've tried to be as
responsive as possible to all of the questions that have been asked.
But I would really hope, now, that people will move forward on John
Bolton's nomination. He is someone who has served with distinction over
almost two decades as a public servant. He is someone in whom I have
confidence, in whom the President has confidence. And we really do need
to get this done, so that we can get about the really important work of
being a part of what is a very important chapter being written in the
United Nations' history.
Q You spoke broadly about the importance of supporting Palestinian
reform, but were there specifics you're asking of the Saudis, in terms
of what they can do for the Palestinians and President Abbas? And,
conversely, where there things that the Saudis were asking President
Bush to do, in terms of putting pressure on the Israelis?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that everybody now has a pretty clear
view of the road ahead over the next several months. And that really is
to try and make the Gaza disengagement a success, both in terms of the
absence of violence, and in terms of the ability of the Palestinians to
take over in the Gaza once the Israelis have withdrawn. And so we have
a common agenda moving forward, and I think everyone knows where we are.
I did discuss with the Crown Prince the need for everyone to support,
including financially, the Palestinians as they move forward.
There's a framework for that, because we had the very good conference in
London that Prime Minister Blair hosted; we have work that Jim
Wolfensohn is going to be carrying on -- he is, of course, president of
the World Bank. The World Bank has been very, very active in setting
out the needs of the Palestinians, and doing in-depth studies. And I
think as the international community comes forward with a plan of
support for the Palestinians, I would expect the regional states,
including Saudi Arabia, to be supportive of that plan.
So we're in a stage now in which we and the Palestinians are working
together, where the international community is working with the
Palestinians, where there is a plan being developed, and I found a lot
of support, including with the Saudis all the way up to the highest
levels, for doing whatever we can to try and support the Palestinians at
this very important time.
Q Did the Saudis make a request of President Bush in terms of
SECRETARY RICE: Everyone understands where we are in the process. And
the request -- and the President said it straightforwardly: I'm
committed to this; I believe we can make progress. He talked about his
own personal intensity about this issue, and wanting to make progress on
the issue. Our goal now has to be to keep our eye on what is directly
in front of us, and what is directly in front of us is to have a
successful Gaza withdrawal in order to build confidence, so that we can
-- confidence between the two sides, so that we can expect after that, I
think, even accelerated progress on the roadmap.
Q Can you tell us what the President told the Crown Prince about
speeding up the pace of democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia and
addressing some of the issues related to anti-American, anti-Western
rhetoric coming out of religious institutions? And, secondly, I wonder
if you could just clear up one point on the oil subject, which is, did
the President specifically make any request for an increase in
short-term oil production, as opposed to long-term productive capacity?
MR. HADLEY: I think the President made that request last week in his
public statements very clearly. And that wasn't the first time. This
is not a new issue. There is a question about adequacy of capacity and
what the Saudi Arabians can do to expand capacity, since they have, in
some sense, the biggest potential to do that. So he's made those
requests in his public comments, and what we got over the meetings of
the last two days is the beginnings of an answer to those requests and a
framework, in many ways, for continuing that discussion.
I'm not going to get into the specifics of the conversations the two
leaders had, but I think it's -- the point I would make to you is, they
have a common approach to dealing with extremism, which is to fight
terror in the short-run, and the need for reform generally in the region
over the long-term. And the Saudis, as you know, have begun developing
their own plans for reform. And the Crown Prince has talked about them.
We have seen municipal elections in Saudi Arabia really now for the
first time. And as the statement -- the joint statement that was
released in connection with these meetings talked about some of those
efforts and our hope that they lead to wider participation in the
process within Saudi Arabia. But, again, this is going to be a
Saudi-led process, and something that is going to reflect the approach
and history and culture of that country.
MR. JONES: Final question.
Q Can you say to what degree was -- how much was oil actually talked
about in the conversations among the two? One Saudi aide said that it
didn't actually dominate the conversation, that these were two men, no
stranger to the oil issues, and that perhaps it was not even talked
about before the actual tour on the ranch. Is that -- can you speak to
that? And what would you say to critics who say this is merely a
political picture for a President whose ratings -- approval ratings are
at their lowest in his term?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, this is a broad relationship with
Saudi Arabia, and of course the President and Crown Prince Abdullah had
a number of issues to discuss. I think it would be not surprising that
they spent a good deal of time on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, for
instance, where we have a chance to make real progress. The President
-- they spent a lot of time on the terrorism issue. They also are
concerned about the long-term future of the Middle East, and the
importance of reform in that. They had a wide-ranging discussion.
But of course they talked about oil, and they talked about it in the way
that I think it is most useful for leaders to do this, which is, how do
we get to what is the root cause of this problem, not just a sort of
temporary ping at the problem. And so the Saudis had come very well
prepared, as Steve has said. They'd had discussions already with the
Vice President, they brought their oil minister, they brought a plan for
going forward; the President had given a speech about energy and the
importance of these issues.
And so I think you're going to find that this is a discussion that the
President has with leaders in a way that actually tries to get at what
the cause of the problem is. And it's quite clear that people have been
concerned about issues of capacity in Saudi Arabia, issues of investment
in Saudi Arabia, about issues concerning supply and demand, as it is
growing in the international economy. And the Saudis and the United
States had a very productive dialogue in which several principles were
made very clear.
And I think the most important one is that while, obviously, wishing to
get a fair price so that investment can continue, the Saudis also
understand that the international economy needs to keep growing, and
that in order for that to happen, there has to be reliable supply, and
there has to be reliable supply over the long-term. And what they came
to talk about was how they might increase their capacity through
investment so that we have not just short-term answers, but longer-term
answers, as well.
Q Dr. Rice, do you think the Saudis were sincere a year ago when
Prince Bandar told you he would work to lower the price of oil to the
range of $22 to $28 a barrel?
SECRETARY RICE: Mark, I think we've already addressed this question.
The fact is that we have in the international economy growth, we have
new consumers -- large-scale consumers coming on. What the President is
trying to do is to make sure that we have a long-term sustainable answer
to this. And, again, it's not just yesterday that the President put
forward an energy plan that presaged the need to get going on the
creation of opportunities for new technologies that would reduce our
reliance on hydrocarbons, that put forward ideas about increasing the
production of alternative fuels, that talked about the need for
production capacity in the United States, that talked about the need for
using our own resources here in the United States.
The President has been on this case for quite a long time. What he got
from the Saudis today was an important step forward that said, they also
understand that there is a structural problem here that needs to be
dealt with. And so he very much welcomed the careful planning that they
had done, their desire to increase their capacity in a sustainable way,
and their willingness to make investment to do that.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:19 P.M. CDT