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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 19, 2005

Press Briefing by Mike Green, Special Assistant to the President for NSA and Faryar Shirzad, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy NSA for International Economic Affairs
Aboard Air Force One
En route Osan, Republic of Korea

3:27 P.M. (Local)

MR. GREEN: The President met this morning with President Susilo Bambang Yudyohono, of Indonesia - a strong leader and partner of the U.S. They went over a number of issues in a very productive discussion. They talked about avian influenza. This has been a key theme in all of the President's meetings and was one of the central elements of the leaders meeting for APEC.

Singapore and Indonesia and the United States agreed in this Busan setting to strengthen cooperation on avian influenza and, in particular, there are a number of things that the Singaporeans and the Indonesians will be doing to strengthen our detection and containment and capacity-building in Indonesia. And they've both asked the United States to join in this endeavor, and we were very happy to do that.

President Yudyohono talked about his plans for reform of the Indonesian military and of Indonesian government policies. And as you know, the President is looking forward to find ways to expand contact and cooperation with Indonesia on all fronts, including military-to-military, and the two Presidents talked about how to move forward on that. President Yudyohono made it clear that with more engagement between the militaries, he would be able to bring up more officers like himself, officers who study in the U.S. and are advocates of change, reform and democracy. And the President said that we're going to try to move forward on this based on full consultation with the Congress.

They talked about the war on terror in some detail. President Yudyohono gave an update on his actions. The Indonesians killed one of the top terrorists in Southeast Asia, a man named Azahiri. And President Yudyohono described how they've taken the tapes they have of suicide bombers, Southeast Asians, and they've shown these to Muslim leaders in Indonesia and that the Indonesian government is enlisting their help to reach out and teach the true meaning of Islam to the youth in Indonesia. And it's something where the Indonesian government feels they've made some real successes lately and the President expressed his full support.

They talked a bit about energy, as well, and ways to strengthen Indonesia's environment for investment, something President Yudyohono said is important to him. And they also addressed the Aceh and Papua issues within Indonesia, where President Yudyohono has made progress with a peace agreement in Aceh, and he said he's moving out to do the same in Papua. So it was a very positive meeting. President Yudyohono gave a full detailed description of what he's trying to do, and in a very confident, but modest, way said he's doing his best and appreciates U.S. support. And the President said to him, you're doing a great job and you have the U.S. support as you continue building democracy and fighting terror and strengthening the economy in Indonesia.

MR. McCLELLAN: Any questions on the meeting, or do you want to go straight to APEC?

Q Was there anything out of APEC that was either a surprise or -

MR. McCLELLAN: Faryar is going to brief on APEC.

Q Thank you very much, Mike.

MR. SHIRZAD: We just concluded today the leaders meeting of APEC. The leaders of 21 economies met over yesterday and today. They focused yesterday on the issue of economics and free trade. Today, the discussions were largely focused on the issue of security. They met for a two-hour session, in private, with senior officials from each leader's government being able to listen in from a remote location.

We were extremely pleased with how the summit went altogether. The Koreans, in particular, did an extremely good job as the chairman of the process and we're grateful for their hospitality.

In terms of the meetings today, the discussions on security ranged over a number of issues. There was a great deal of discussion on the war on terror, with leaders sharing experiences and their own domestic experiences, in terms of what they've done to deal with the challenge of terrorism. APEC economies include a number of economies that are predominately Muslim states or have large Muslim populations, so the leaders of those economies talked at length about what they've done, along the lines of what Mike was describing a minute ago, to bring the Muslim populations on board to dealing with the broader effort and bringing their populations on board in the war on terror.

They talked about the issue of energy security and the challenge that it poses to their economies and the importance of providing adequate energy supplies to deal with the challenges of development and poverty and economic growth. They talked about disaster response, both in terms of the agenda that came out of the response from the APEC economies to the tsunami, but also in preparation for the potential of an avian influenza pandemic. So there was a great deal of discussion among the leaders about what they were each doing in their own governments to prepare for the eventuality of a pandemic of this scale. And they talked about areas where there could be increased cooperation among the APEC economies, both in terms of prevention and preparation, as well as response, that the economies work most effectively to deal with the challenge.

They talked about corruption and the problem that corruption poses to economies and the corrosive effect it can have in terms of democratic institutions and the importance of dealing with the challenge of corruption in government.

In terms of actual substance, the leaders, after their session on security issues, then had a private lunch in which no observers were allowed to participate or listen in, in any fashion, so I can't report anything from the leaders' lunch. Then they had their group photo and then they had the presentation of the declaration - which we were extremely pleased included a stand-alone statement that the leaders issued, urging ambition and forward movement in the Doha negotiations. As you all know, the APEC economies constitute about a half of global trade. They have, over the years, been a strong voice for advancing the WTO agenda and, in particular, in recent years, in terms of getting the Doha development agenda moving forward. And I think they've come through again this year in a way that we're extremely pleased. In calling for very high ambition along the lines of what the President called for in his U.N. speech, in terms of moving the negotiations forward in all sectors, including agriculture, so the Hong Kong ministerial meeting of the WTO sets the stage for a successful conclusion by the end of 2006 of the WTO talks.

The leaders also issued a number of other declarations, which are enumerated in the fact sheet. I'll talk about a couple of them, just in very brief. One was the APEC initiative on avian influenza, which builds on the foundation of what the President launched at the U.N. speech, in terms of the international partnership on avian influenza, and bring those principles to bear and commits the APEC leaders to following them through; but also includes several additional elements which we found particularly important, including technical assistance and capacity building commitments through APEC on the part of the participating economies; a commitment to participate in a tabletop exercise, which is essential to prepare the governments to deal with an outbreak of - potential of an outbreak; as well as commitments to undertake, for example, WHO international health regulations that are designed to help countries prepare for and deal with a potential avian influenza outbreak.

All in all, the outcome was something we were very pleased with. APEC showed its ability to pursue a robust agenda that deals both with the importance of advancing the economic objectives - of advancing the prosperity of the people of the APEC region. But the APEC leaders also put forward a substantive agenda that advanced the goal of security, which we have felt is an inter-related and complementary objective that APEC, as an institution, needs to take on and has take on, including through this meeting today, done so.

There were substantive initiatives launched on anti-corruption, protecting intellectual property, dealing with counter-terrorism, nonproliferation. So all in all, we were very, very pleased; a very substantive agenda and good meetings that the leaders had. So all in all, a good outcome.

Q I had a question about Indonesia for Mike. I noticed the State Department issued a travel warning on Indonesia. Is that related to concerns about terrorism? And is there some concern that they talked about that there isn't more progress more quickly on this issue?

MR. GREEN: Actually, the Indonesians have made some progress. They've taken out two of the bomb-makers involved in the Bali blast. They killed this terrorist leader, Azahari, who is, I think, the number two in the organization that operates in Southeast Asia. They have started regular meetings among the police and intelligence services among Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, and they're going to have some summit meetings, as well.

So the report that President Yudyohono gave was one of real progress. But he was the first to acknowledge that the leader of JI and others are still out there, and that they have more work to do. And that while they're beginning to make some real success in Southeast Asia in getting the masterminds and the bomb makers, they still have to deal with the infrastructure of terror and the education of youth in places like Indonesia, which is why they're doing a very smart thing, which is enlisting the help of Islamic leaders in the region - and they're signing on and starting to really take this on.

So, no, this is not a battle that's over; but just in the past month there's been some really important progress in that region.

This by the way, if I could, was a major theme when the President met yesterday with the Southeast Asian leaders who are in APEC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN. And we signed an agreement with ASEAN, we call it the Enhanced Partnership, which sets up a framework for cooperating with ASEAN on counter-terrorism, on democracy building, and on trade and investment. And it's now set up a framework to have the President and Secretary of State and others engage with their ASEAN counterparts not only on a bilateral basis, but on a multi-lateral basis, with ASEAN as a whole, to help ASEAN as an organization strengthen its own internal counter-terrorism coordination, as well. We thought it was a very important meeting and one that was appreciated in the region, and I wanted to just flag that quickly, because all of these are meshing together and themes like avian influenza and counter-terrorism are being taken from the APEC discussions to the bilateral discussions and then to these sub-regional groupings, so that we have a lot of overlap and a lot of integration of the efforts.

Q I have an APEC question. Thank you for doing this. Did the President have an opportunity to talk with President Roh about what the deal is with this troop reduction?

MR. GREEN: With the what?

Q With the supposed troop reduction.

MR. GREEN: This issue didn't come up in the meeting, and Foreign Minister Ban Ki-mun and other senior members of the Korean government have been very clear about this since the report started showing up in the press. And they said that, as you'll see, that they're committed to the mission, that they are putting forward - will put forward legislation to extend their presence there. They're looking at new kinds of missions they can do. They'll determine the kind of forces and force structure based on the missions and the conditions on the ground.

And, in fact, they're saying the same thing that we and all the other coalition members are saying about how we're going to determine our force structure. The story that went out in the press we saw, but this hasn't been a topic of discussion in the summit and the Korean foreign minister and others came out very quickly to make it clear that they have the same approach we do on Iraq. And, in fact, are moving out to extend their deployment and look at new missions they can do to help.

Q Was Iraq discussed during the summit?

MR. GREEN: It was, but not in an operational way. President Roh reiterated his government's commitment to success in Iraq; that they're proud of the work that their unit is doing, and that they think it's part of the new shape and direction of the U.S.-ROK alliance, one that's not only based on keeping the Korean Peninsula safe and secure, but also helping bring democracy and stability to other parts of the world.

So it was discussed in that sort of philosophical way, as they described where the alliance should be going, and they agreed to set up a number of consultations on the future role of the alliance - which is really evolving beyond the peninsula, to the Koreans playing a key role in a global way.

Q So when the President saw President Roh today, he didn't ask about it, he didn't express his views about it?

MR. GREEN: That I don't know, because when they speak in these leader sessions, they're on their own.

MR. SHIRZAD: We didn't see the two leaders speak about that, so we don't know.

Q But the President hasn't been able to clarify this for you? You're still relying on the Associated Press for your information about this?

MR. GREEN: You ought to look at the Foreign Ministry - if you look on the Foreign Ministry web page, you'll see a very clear, and it was a very swift clarification by the Koreans, because when they saw the story they had the same reaction we did, which is: this doesn't capture the policy of the Republic of Korea, which has been very committed to the mission in Iraq.

Q Is that what they said to you, that they didn't feel the stories captured it?

MR. GREEN: When the story came out, we talked to our counterparts on the other side - they called us to say, this story doesn't capture where we are, we'll put out a statement to make it very clear what our policy is with respect to Iraq, and that we're committed to the mission, and that we're, in fact, going to go to the national assembly to get clearance to extend the troop deployment.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 3:43 P.M. (Local)