For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 24, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
James S. Brady Briefing Room
10:53 A.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Good morning. Just a couple of little pieces of business as we start. First, a formal announcement: The President and Mrs. Bush will welcome Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan to the White House on June 29, 2006. The U.S.-Japan alliance is an alliance based on common values and a common agenda. The President looks forward to continuing his close consultations with Prime Minister Koizumi on the war on terror, defending freedom and democracy, promoting regional security and prosperity in Asia, and enhancing closer cooperation on global economic issues. In other words, Koizumi is coming here on June 29th.
Q State visit, or official visit? How do you characterize it?
MR. SNOW: State visit? Official visit? Do we have a characterization?
MR. JONES: Well, he's not the head of state, so it would have to be an official visit.
MR. SNOW: That's right, official visit.
Q Big dinner?
MR. SNOW: Terence, we will pass on all details as soon as they become available to us.
Q He's angling for an invite.
Q Ain't gonna happen.
MR. SNOW: Ain't gonna happen.
Also, the press conference tomorrow night with the President and Prime Minister Blair will be at 7:30 p.m. in the East Room. All right? So we -- say what?
Q -- we look forward to it -- (laughter.)
MR. SNOW: I'm sorry, I'm going to be moving some of these tape recorders so I can put my coffee here. I will apologize in advance.
Q Will that be a real press conference, or is it two questions per side?
MR. SNOW: No, it's a "real" press conference. It's open press; they'll be taking questions. It's not a two-and-two or anything like that. So if you are in attendance and you have a good question, chances are you'll get called on.
Just a second. A couple of other items, Helen. You know I knew I would leave something -- can somebody bring me the DPC stuff, please? We do have a personnel announcement to make, and I left that on my desk. So I will vamp here for a second.
Also, there is going to be today a Cabinet-level hurricane exercise, so if you see members of the Cabinet coming in here, it is because they are going to be gathering in the Executive Office Building to participate in what is called a table-top exercise on hurricane preparedness, to focus on the federal government's readiness and response to a catastrophic disaster. These exercises are created at the direction of the President and intended to simulate the Cabinet's role responsibility and authority in responding to a catastrophic disaster. It's the third such exercise in the last six months. The first, December 10, 2005, was on pandemic influenza; the second on March 18, 2005, on smallpox.
Today's mock scenario, a category five hurricane that will have a landfall on the greater New Orleans metropolitan area. Secretary Chertoff had a press conference on this yesterday. There will be a readout -- at least we're going to try to give you information afterward about how it went. This is going to go from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Q Will the President be involved at all?
MR. SNOW: I don't -- no, I don't believe -- the President, as a matter of fact, is traveling. He will be doing an event --
Q Telephones and everything --
MR. SNOW: Well, yes, but the answer is, no. The Cabinet members will be talking about their roles.
The President is doing an energy event today in Pennsylvania. He'll be making remarks about energy policy. He'll be focusing on nuclear power because he will be getting a tour of the Limerick Generating Station.
And while they continue to look, let me just make an announcement, that Karl Zinsmeister will be the head of the Domestic Policy Council. Karl has a very long and storied career in the journalism business, as well as others. His first job -- thank you, do you have the big, old, fat -- he's got a 48-page resume --
Q Can you spell his name?
MR. SNOW: Yes. Z-i-n-s-m-e-i-s-t-e-r. He is presently the editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise Magazine. He's actually been editing it from his home in New York state, where he's been raising his children. Karl is a J.B. Fuqua Fellow at The American Enterprise Institute. He has been editor-in-chief of The American Enterprise, I believe, since 1994.
Q "Karl" with a "k"?
MR. SNOW: With a "k." I will make no further comment.
But in any event, he started working on the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan some time ago. His other accomplishments include having written two books on the war in Iraq. He's been embedded on two different occasions. He's been a film producer, he's been a weekly commentator on Radio America, on the board of advisors of the Department of Education's National Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching; he's been a research director for the working seminar on Family and American Welfare Policy. As I said before, he was an LA to Senator Moynihan, also received a bachelor's degree from Yale University. Somebody who has been toiling in the vineyards for quite a while, and we're --
Q What will his role be, exactly, Tony?
MR. SNOW: He's going to head the Domestic Policy Council.
Q So he's the President's chief Domestic Policy Advisor?
MR. SNOW: That would be correct -- I suppose if that's how we describe it, yes. And --
Q Did he take the place of Claude Allen?
MR. SNOW: That is correct, that's Claude Allen's --
Q Does he have basically the same responsibilities? Has the job been expanded or contracted?
MR. SNOW: That I do not know. I have not asked about specific responsibilities. I know Karl from my previous life, and I think he's a terrific hire.
Also, just in economic news today, durable goods orders -- that is a highly volatile order, but it was down 4.8 percent in April. Meanwhile the shipment of core capital goods is up .9 percent. Both continue their upward trends, generally speaking. Do not expect this as an inflection point, but I don't want to go too far on making economic comments, but the general trends continue to be up on both of those economic indicators.
And with that, we'll start taking questions. Terry.
Q The President talked yesterday about making a new assessment about the needs necessary for the Iraqis. Will you tell us about this new assessment, how this will work, how long will it take?
MR. SNOW: Yes, but it's -- part of the conversation -- I forgot to mention this -- with Prime Minister Blair will be discussing developments in Iraq. As you know, the Prime Minister was there last weekend. The President has had some conversations with Prime Minister Maliki, and obviously, Prime Minister Blair did, as well. And I think what they see here is that with a new Iraqi government, one that is an entirely Iraqi government as a result of elections, it's changed. This really does mark a new era. Prime Minister Maliki is somebody who is a very aggressive, take-charge kind of guy. And the United States, I think, sees an opportunity there to work with him on figuring out how to train up Iraqi forces as rapidly as possible, but effectively as possible, to ensure security, to work on building economic infrastructure, to work on putting in place all the preconditions for a successful, stable democracy that will be an ally in the war on terror.
So when you're talking about this, they really just see this is a restart. And now that you've got somebody who has -- who is a head of state with whom you can work, they are looking forward to figuring out exactly what's possible. At this point, everybody's taking the measure of the new government. As you know, a couple portfolios remain open. But on the other hand, I think that's probably as accurate a readout as I can give you --
Q With the restart, is it fair to say that this moves us closer toward troop withdrawals?
MR. SNOW: Again, it's impossible to say. The troop withdrawals, as I've said from this podium the last couple of days, are all going to be based on the conditions on the ground. One thing that we are going to continue to do, as rapidly as we possibly can -- and General Casey, obviously, being much more authoritative on this subject than I -- we're going to continue our efforts to try to make sure that we can enhance the security within Iraq in all places and have Iraqi forces primarily responsible. What is going to happen, I think it's very safe to say, is that increasingly American, British and other coalition forces are going to move into support roles as Iraqi forces themselves move into lead roles.
Q Is there a view from Blair or Maliki or in these discussions that there's a need to bolster the credibility of the new government by repositioning or pulling back these coalition forces?
MR. SNOW: I don't know that you talk about bolstering the credibility of a brand new government. The government is trying to establish itself. I don't think that -- we're not going to engage -- there is no attempt to engage in cosmetic changes when it comes to security. What you want to do is, again, to respond to the real conditions on the ground and to try to make serious efforts so that Iraqi forces are going to be capable of providing security in a professional way that is consistent with the rights of the Iraqi citizens and also the desire to have security.
Q The President apparently has gotten several messages, underground, back-channel and so forth, through intermediaries for direct talks with Iran. Surely he is not going to blow a -- speaking of opportunities with Iraq, this is an opportunity to talk directly to Iran. And why doesn't the President do it? And don't give me the -- I'm sure the three other allies and so forth would be very happy if we talked directly to Iran.
MR. SNOW: Well, if you don't wish me to answer the question, then I'll just move to the next questioner.
Q I want you to answer after I've told you what my premise is. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: This from Secretary of State Helen Thomas. The position has always been clear. We are not going to divide --
Q If elected I will serve. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: Boy, that's going out everywhere today. (Laughter. The position has always been the same, which is if Iraq, in fact, proceeds with -- we think that Iraq -- Iraq -- Iran -- thank you very much -- needs to be very serious about suspending all enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. They have to agree to do it. They have to do it in a verifiable and credible manner and a permanent manner. When that happens, all right, then there may be some opportunities. But the first precondition right now -- and we've been working with our allies on this -- is to make sure that Iran does nothing in terms of advancing its ability to build nuclear weapons.
Now, we also are not going to divide up the coalition by trying to engage in side conversations with Iran. We have said that we will work with the P5; we have said that we will work with the EU3. And that is not going to change.
Anything -- Iran -- what Iran is trying to do, I think it's safe to say, is -- there are a couple things going on. Number one, the Iranians clearly are feeling some pressure here. This is the sort of thing that would not have happened if Iranians were not feeling pressure both from the international community and economically. I think it's also safe to say that we still believe that Iran has to take that fundamental step when it comes to enriching or reprocessing uranium. They've got to suspend all activities. Until they do that, there's going to be no change in the administration's posture and the President's posture when it comes to one-on-one negotiations. We will continue to use appropriate international forums and work with, and through, our allies when it comes to dealing with the government in Iran.
Q Why don't we sound out whether these are true opportunities, or not?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, Iran -- I mentioned before --
Q -- lay down laws for everybody else. This is true negotiation.
MR. SNOW: This is more an argument than a question, Helen, and I'm not going the engage in arguments about what constitutes or doesn't --
Q No, it isn't. It isn't. I'm asking you, why don't we take advantage of these feelers?
MR. SNOW: You are assuming -- I am not going to tell you each and every thing this government is doing diplomatically when it comes to Iran. I'm not telling you that there are --
Q -- you're more amenable to them?
MR. SNOW: I am telling you that nothing happens, the position has not changed. Iran has an obligation -- what Iran is trying to do is to negotiate through the press right now.
Q -- no --
MR. SNOW: Sure, it is. And you're doing an able job of it, Helen. So what's going on here is that Iran, in responding to pressure, is trying to change the subject. And we're not going to let them change the subject. The subject --
Q It isn't changing the subject --
MR. SNOW: Of course, it is.
Q -- it wants direct talks with the United States.
MR. SNOW: But it already knows what the preconditions are for American talks.
Q Are they, in fact, putting out these feelers that Helen is talking about?
MR. SNOW: I cannot advance you beyond anything that's been in the press. The answer is, Steve, I don't know. I have not been briefed on what they have or have not been doing. It's pretty clear that they have been talking with our allies, and we've obviously had the letter from President Ahmadinejad. So to that extent, I suppose you could catagorize it as a feeler. I don't know about -- I can't give you any insight.
Q When you say there may be some opportunities if they take some steps, what are you talking about?
MR. SNOW: I'm going no further. I think what we've always said is that there is simply -- the first precondition of Iran is renounce the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. Just stop. Stop doing that -- of nuclear materials. What Iran is now trying to do, as I said, in a response to pressure -- I think it's very clear the pressure has begun to pay off -- that they want to change the subject. And we're not going to let them.
Q It's the same subject. You are -- you're right, they are responding to pressure. They're probably really fearful --
MR. SNOW: You know what -- if and when they meet their obligations before the international community of suspending the production or enrichment or reprocessing of uranium, we'll --
Q So you're laying down the law to them, really, that they have to do that, or there's no negotiation? No running room.
MR. SNOW: -- and we'll see.
Next. Who do we have?
Q Jim Nicholson -- Patrick Leahy says he should be taken to the woodshed, at the very least, over what's happened at the VA, not just the identity theft, but the multimillion dollar shortfall in funding, et cetera. Any reaction to that?
MR. SNOW: We appreciate his personnel advice, and let's just see where all this leads. Secretary Nicholson is going to be producing a statement at some point today about what has happened with the theft that has made so much news, but I think I'm going to refer all comments to the Department of Veterans Affairs because they're the ones who are going to be answering these --
Q What about the traditional "does the President retain full confidence in" --
MR. SNOW: As I said, I'm not -- I'm referring all questions back to VA.
Q Back to Iran. You talk about there being a single, in effect, it sounds like, a single precondition. But there are so many other subjects that are of extreme importance not only to Iran, but the United States -- all of those. Has there been any thought to somehow increasing the dialogue on many of those subjects?
MR. SNOW: It's interesting because for all the complaints about American unilateralism, here we are -- we're working through international forums; we're working through multiple international forums; we're working through the United Nations; we're working through the EU. It's not as if the Iranians don't have a place to express themselves. At this point we do not have direct diplomatic ties, so we are trying to the very best of our ability to go ahead and use the appropriate forums. So I don't know -- for critics who say, why don't you reach out, I think the United States is trying to engage in the proper and appropriate forums as fully as we possibly can.
Q But turning around your point, might it not be argued by some that the United States has suddenly discovered something that it has not as much believed in in the past, that this might be an occasion --
MR. SNOW: No, as a matter of fact, the United States has worked through international forums throughout. It's a good debating point, you know. But these --
Q I'm not debating you, but certainly --
MR. SNOW: -- the "some might say" question doesn't tell me who the "some" are and what they might say.
Q I don't think that that's how it would be described. But my point is, is what if that point is made? What is your response to the fact that the United States has often decided to go it alone, to use an expression, or to operate unilaterally?
MR. SNOW: I disagree with the premise.
Q Can I go back to Iraq and Tony Blair? I know you've been asked this before, but what is the latest way you're thinking about whether he's going to talk about withdrawing British troops?
MR. SNOW: I think I'll have to leave that to the President and the Prime Minister when they talk to you tomorrow.
Q On the last -- one of the gaggles this week, you sort of indicated that was where they were going -- that was where this was going.
MR. SNOW: No, I -- no, I was talking about in the dim and distant future -- I was simply repeating what we've said, which is when they stand up, we stand down. Eventually, and I don't know what the date is, I don't think anybody in this room or this gaggle or this world will know what the precise date is -- at some point, it's going to be clear that the Iraqis are capable of handling those security responsibilities, and when that day has come, obviously, there will be no need for U.S. or coalition troops.
Q What has Maliki said to the administration about his desire to have troops there? In other words, there's now a unity government, a sovereign government, with foreign troops. Has he said, please stay, I'd like you out by how long? What's the tenor of the discussion?
MR. SNOW: I'll have to put that on my bupkis list, because I really don't know, in terms of any direct discussions. I don't have a readout on conversations. Keep in mind, this government took form last Saturday, so I do not know if there have been any direct representations on the part of the Prime Minister.
Q You're describing a new -- a reset button, sort of a new chapter here.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q Does that also include a new chapter in terms of what you're hearing from --
MR. SNOW: As I said, I can't give you -- Jim, I just don't have a readout. If I can give you a readout, I'll try to provide it.
Q You said earlier that the U.S. sees an opportunity to quickly build up an economic infrastructure as part of the preconditions for success.
MR. SNOW: I didn't say "quickly." I said you need to help build it.
Q Okay. In either case, is there some new ask on the table from the new government, from Maliki?
MR. SNOW: Again, let me just caution any attempts to try to extract answers about what the Prime Minister has said directly to the President. I don't have anything for you. I'll try to get information, but I'm simply not going to represent conversations to which I have not been privy and don't have information about.
Q Tony, do you know if Prime Minister Blair is coming here with a plan for withdrawing troops --
MR. SNOW: No, I don't believe -- I think it's premature to be talking about planned withdrawals. I think the President and the Prime Minister really are trying to look forward to what I've described before as a new era. You have an energetic Prime Minister who has said that he wants Iraqi troops to be in the forefront as quickly as possible. But I don't -- any time you try to make timetables about this, you're hostage to changing events. So, no, I don't -- I do not believe that you're going to hear the President or the Prime Minister say we're going to be out in one year, two years, four years. I don't think you're going to get any kind of specific prediction of troop withdrawals. I think you're going to get a restatement of the general principles under which coalition troops stay or go.
Q Tony, a two-part. The first has to do with a Washington Times, page one headline, "Probe Finds Air Marshals at Risk, Dress Code Compromises Anonymity." And my question, why does the President allow this dress code risk of air marshals' lives?
MR. SNOW: I'm not aware that the President has directly addressed dress codes. We will have to refer this back to the air marshals --
Q That's part of the administration --
MR. SNOW: Again, I would refer you to the people who are primarily responsible for such things, and ask them.
Q In Atlanta, during a press conference, Rudy Giuliani said, "I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that it should remain that way -- it should remain that way inviolable." Is the President grateful that this defense of traditional marriage comes from a fellow Republican and presidential contender from New York, of all places?
MR. SNOW: First, is that the second part of the air marshals question? (Laughter.)
Q Two-part means the two parts have equal --
MR. SNOW: Okay, I just wanted to be clear. I thought they might be vaguely related to one another. (Laughter.)
The President has been clear, he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
Q This might go on your bupkis list, but does the fact that there is now a unity government change Maliki's ability to say -- to tell us, or ask us to leave?
MR. SNOW: We've been very clear, when the Iraqi government -- we serve there at the pleasure of the Iraqi government. You know, if he says he doesn't need us, we're not going to stick around.
Q Tony, just again trying to clarify -- does the President believe that the immigration bill, insofar as it refers to temporary workers, should require that those temporary workers go home at the end of their temporary work --
MR. SNOW: I think there's technical language -- "go home," there may be border stations where you technically are on foreign soil. Deborah, let me -- because this is a technical question that I think requires a technical answer, we'll put it on the bupkis list, come back in a few minutes and I'll get you your precise answer. Because the general answer is, at this point, we are trying to -- we are encouraging the Senate to complete a comprehensive bill. When you have a comprehensive bill, then you have a basis of discussion and negotiation before the House and Senate. There are numerous highly complex issues that are involved in trying to deal with immigration, which is, as you know, a whole complex of issues and not simply one. And we'll move forward at that point.
Whether -- I think it's safe to say the President has not changed his position since the speech. That's reiterating what I said yesterday.
Q Tony, considering the opportunity that tomorrow night's time slot offers the President, 7:30 p.m. and beyond, are you saying that we're really not to expect an announcement, per se -- but rather a forum for underscoring this restart that you're talking about?
MR. SNOW: Yes, exactly.
Q I have a couple questions. Can you give more of a time line on when the Prime Minister arrives? And will they have a meeting and a working dinner before the press conference?
MR. SNOW: What is the time line? I don't have the precise time line. I'll try to get you a precise one. There will be a dinner, but I think the dinner may be after the press conference rather than before. I'm just -- you know what, I don't have the schedule, so we'll try to find the schedule.
Q My second question is, can you say anything about what Prime Minister Olmert and President Bush discussed last night in the residence?
MR. SNOW: No. That was just the two of them. And it was a continuation of, obviously, the conversation they had in the Oval Office. But I think neither one was giving big readouts at dinner and I think that they're going to let that remain confidential between the two of them.
It is safe to say that they had very frank -- and using "diplomatese," but frank -- they had good conversations about how Israel and the Palestinians may proceed toward peace in the region. They talked about the role of Iraq in the region. They talked about a number of matters of mutual concern. And the one thing you'll hear from anybody who is in the room when they were there with others present is that it really was a very productive meeting. The two of them clearly enjoyed it, and they relished the sort of back-and-forth.
Q To follow up on that, did they discuss Palestinian aid efforts?
MR. SNOW: To the extent -- yes. Israel, for instance, I believe -- you're going to have to look it up, but the Prime Minister mentioned the precise amount of direct aid, for instance, they're providing for medicines and physicians in Gaza right now. The President and the Prime Minister want to make it clear that they're distinguishing between Hamas and the -- Hamas' running the Palestinian Authority government and the Palestinian people, in particular. The President is committed to providing humanitarian aid. We want to make sure -- you want to help children who need food. You want to help women who are pregnant. You want to make sure that the schools are operating. You want to make sure the basic services continue, and the United States and Israel are both playing roles in that.
Q Can I follow up, too? The President seemed to go pretty far down the road in his qualified endorsement of the realignment plan. The message seemed to be, okay, we'll try these negotiations; when that fails, we'll do that.
MR. SNOW: Well, no, again, he made it clear that the clear preference here is to have a two-state solution that involves a negotiated settlement among two parties. Now, they also made it clear that right now President Abbas is the one guy who seems to have met the preconditions for doing the talking: recognizing Israel's right to exist, renouncing the use of terror, and also acknowledging previous agreements between the two parties. And so that is sort of the starting point here. But I don't think that there -- this is something that has to be tried, it has to be tried exhaustively, and one hopes it will succeed.
Q But if you want to send that message, that's what he could have said, instead of going on and talking about, but you got another great idea in the wings here.
MR. SNOW: That's because that idea had been floated extensively. If he hadn't talked about it, everybody would be talking about, why didn't you mention it. So I can just tell you that as a matter of policy, you want to try to the best of your ability to make sure that there is a two-party solution.
Q Did the British express any concern that this will be at 12:30 a.m. in the morning for them? Is that right? Plus five?
MR. SNOW: Not that I'm aware of. Please forgive me while I try to be a full service gaggler.
Q What was he thinking about, for god's sake, scheduling something at 7:30 p.m. in the evening? It's not even prime time.
MR. SNOW: Well, you know what, I have an answer for that and I'm not going to give it.
Q What is the answer?
Q Sweeps week.
MR. SNOW: No, no, sweeps are over. Sweeps are over on Thursday. So this is not a sweeps consideration.
Q Well, how about for Blair?
Q About those alleged first cases of possible human-to-human bird flu --
MR. SNOW: I'll tell you what. I often refer -- if you want to get "state of mind" things on the Prime Minister, I encourage you to call his office.
Q Bird flu in Indonesia, the alleged first cases of human-to-human -- possibly human-to-human contact -- what kind of involvement has the White House had or contact --
MR. SNOW: Well, at this point -- hang on, I've kind of flipped to the -- essentially, everybody is monitoring events. The CDC is working with the WHO. They're on site in Indonesia. The Indonesians have been collaborating very openly. They've been very helpful on this.
They haven't ruled out human-to-human contact, as far as we understand this. This is a situation where a lot of people were clustered close together. But at this point, they're still trying to investigate the possibilities it's human-to-human contact, whether this is the sort of contact that might lead to a pandemic and that kind of thing.
But all I can say is they're studying -- there's just a couple of things -- it was a family cluster in Indonesia, eight family members, seven of them died. There is no evidence of transmission outside of that cluster -- again, people who had lived in closed proximity had been coughing and sneezing. Cannot rule out human-to-human, but it does not appear, at least in the opinion of those who have been studying it, to be either efficient or sustained, in terms of transmission. Genetic analysis so far has shown no obvious significant mutations in the virus. So that's -- that's what we do know at this point.
Q Tony, at one point, Ambassador Khalilzad was authorized to talk to the Iranians, and I was under the impression that was pending the formation of an Iraqi government. Are those talks now going to happen?
MR. SNOW: I'm sorry, you're talking about Khalilzad -- the Ambassador -- about the Iranians?
Q We're supposed to be limited to what happened in Iraq.
MR. SNOW: I'll find out, I don't know.*
Q Tony, why was there only four questions allowed in the press conference with the Prime Minister of Israel and now there's going to be a whole hour -- I presume an hour for the Prime Minister of Britain?
MR. SNOW: Because we wanted to make you happy, Lester.
Q You wanted to make me happy.
MR. SNOW: No, look, it's -- you've been through this many times with the two-on-twos. That has been a standard forum. In this case, we're going to do a full press conference. There's no why or where for it.
Q Is Bob Zoellick leaving the State Department?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. You'll have to ask Bob.
Q I want to take you back to the Harriet Miers nomination -- sorry. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht for speaking out on her behalf.
MR. SNOW: You're so far off my brief on this, I just don't even have a --
Q Are you concerned that people who speak up for your nominees are getting slapped down --
MR. SNOW: No, I just -- I literally don't have an answer. I will go take a look, but I have absolutely no comment, because I -- I won't blow smoke.
All right. Thank you.
END 11:23 A.M. EDT
* Last year, Secretary Rice authorized Ambassador Khalilzad to hold talks with Iran about our concerns regarding the security situation in Iraq and how they might play a more constructive role. Similarly, he had this mandate as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and exercised that mandate during his tenure in Kabul. The current Ambassador to Afghanistan, Ron Neumann, has also met with his Iranian counterpart to discuss issues related to Afghanistan. The most recent discussions concerning Afghanistan have centered on counternarcotics issues in Afghanistan; if it makes sense to have discussions in Baghdad about Iraq, we will do so. As Secretary Rice said on Sunday, "We will assess the situation and see when such talks might be useful."