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 Home > News & Policies > June 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 21, 2006

Press Briefing by Judy Ansley, NSA Senior Director for European Affairs; and Faryar Shirzad, NSA Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs on U.S.-EU Summit
Vienna Hilton
Vienna, Austria

4:27 P.M. (Local)

MR. JONES: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to introduce two Senior Directors from the National Security Council. We have Senior Director for European Affairs, Ms. Judy Ansley, and we have Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, Mr. Faryar Shirzad. And they are here to talk about today's meetings and events.

Thank you.

MS. ANSLEY: Good afternoon. I apologize, we're a little bit later than we had planned, but that's because the meetings went a little bit long.

They had a very good summit meeting today. As the President said at the Merchant Marine Academy, the alliance with Europe is a key pillar of our security strategy. I think the summit meetings today showed that. There was a broad range of discussion on a variety of security issues. And I think it just reaffirmed the importance of our transatlantic relationship.

The leaders spent time in a plenary session, as well as in a working lunch. And prior to that, they had a short restricted meeting. So I can go through --

MR. JONES: Sorry, this briefing is on the record. Please, continue.

MS. ANSLEY: -- so I can go through -- we can go through the topics that were in those later two issues.

They spent some time reviewing the accomplishments over the year -- over the course of the past year. And I think some of the key ones have been, obviously, cooperation on Iran, some of the democracy promotion initiatives that we worked on together, such as in Ukraine and Belarus, Middle East peace process, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the European Union is contributing quite a bit to both of those efforts. The President thanked them for that and urged them to do more to help the new democracies.

The Balkans was a big topic of discussion. The Austrians, in particular, are very active in the Balkans. And as we're looking towards a final settlement for Kosovo status, they talked about the need to do that in a way that ensures greater stability in the Balkans region.

The President also emphasized Latin America. You'll notice in the summit declaration there is a mention of Latin America and the need to work together to promote democracy in that hemisphere. There's also a very specific mention of Cuba. The President emphasized the need to continue to work there and also to expand that cooperation to other countries in that area. So there was a lot of discussion on democracy promotion and we can go through some specifics as we go along.

There was also a discussion of different security issues. Counterterrorism -- the President emphasized the need to cut off financing for terrorists. We have been working with the European Union on a number of initiatives, and they agreed today to redouble efforts in that area, to make sure terrorists don't get the equipment -- the money they need to buy weapons.

There was also a discussion of nonproliferation efforts and ways that we can prevent financing of proliferation, and preventing terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction.

The President -- you heard his press conference, the press availability they did -- mentioned Guantanamo. He raised the issue because he knew it was of concern to the Europeans. And as he has said publicly in the past -- he repeated it again today -- that he would love to be able to close down Guantanamo, but he is concerned about the danger that the people that are there pose. He would like to try those who are dangerous, is waiting on a Supreme Court decision. So he explained that to his European hosts and they seemed satisfied with the answer that he provided.

Just in terms of the overall tone, these are two leaders that the President has met with in the past. Both of them were in meetings in the White House earlier this year. President Barroso was there in October, and Chancellor Sch ssel was there in December. So these are leaders that have been together before. It was a very good atmosphere. Even on things that maybe we're not in total agreement on, they explained each other's positions and kind of went from there.

There was also a discussion about U.N. reform and the need for greater accountability and greater management reform at the U.N. There was extensive discussion in both the meeting and the working lunch on energy security and the importance of energy security, importance on working together to diversify both sources and supply, and a variety of other economic issues. And I would like to turn that over to Faryar who works those issues for the NSC.

MR. SHIRZAD: Thanks, Judy. The discussions on economic issues covered -- ranged across all three of the meetings that the leaders had today. The tone was very much along the lines of what Judy described on the security and the political issues, or the very strong area of agreement. There was a good and open exchange of views, a lot of shared interests emerged in the course of the discussions. Many of those shared positions are reflected in what's ultimately come out in the statement that the leaders issued today, and you should have copies of. Even where there were areas of disagreement, or less than full shared views, there was a good discussion among the leaders that I think advanced the goal of ultimately breaching and -- broaching and covering any differences that may exist.

In terms of the specifics that they talked about, both sides emphasized and reiterated the strength and breadth of the commercial and economic relationship that already exists between our two countries and between our two economies, and the fact that we have strong bilateral commercial and economic interests, but also strong interests in terms of broader global economic priorities in the areas of trade, development, energy, and otherwise.

In terms of the more specific issues, a lot of the discussions track what you've seen in the leaders' statement. Both sides talked about progress that had been made on the Transatlantic Economic Initiative. This was the initiative that was launched at last year's summit, which is a range of actions and processes designed to try to address investment, regulatory and other areas of cooperation so that we work to continue to promote further integration and prosperity in our economies.

There was a long and good and full discussion on the WTO. Both sides talked about the urgency of making real progress given the crucial time that we are currently in on the WTO calendar. The President, in particular, reiterated many of the themes that he talked about back in September in his speech to the United Nations where he talked about how we really have a once in a generation opportunity to fulfill the full development potential of the WTO negotiations, and that he committed himself -- and the European leaders responded -- to the importance of providing strong guidance to our negotiators to get a good deal, in particular when the ministers meet in Geneva in June, but also as the process continues, potentially, beyond there.

There was a discussion of IPR and the importance of intellectual property to both of our economies, and the importance of working together to address IPR violations in third markets.

And as Judy mentioned, there was a lot of discussions on energy issues. There's a strong energy -- statement on energy, cooperation on energy security that's in the statement that you all have. What that statement covers, as you will see, is cooperation on a number of issues, regarding diversification of sources and supplies of fuels, common efforts to promote the security of energy infrastructure, commitments to pursue market-based policies, to promote energy security, work together to advance new technologies in the energy sector, as well as developing new and clean pollution -- technologies that address the challenge of pollution and climate change.

There was also a discussion on climate change, and the leaders talked about the high-level dialogue that's been launched to address the inter-related challenges of clean energy climate change and development, very much tracking the same approach and themes that the leaders at the G8 launched last year in Gleneagles.

With that, I think we're happy to answer any questions you may have.

Q On Guantanamo Bay, you said that the Europeans seemed satisfied with what the President said, and what the President said at the press conference was sort of similar to what he's been saying and what Mr. Hadley said at the briefing last week. Was there any more specific things that he said that was able to assure the Europeans that the process of moving -- to close the facility?

MS. ANSLEY: Yes. Satisfied might not be the right answer. I think that they understood his reasoning. I think that might be a more accurate way of describing it. They understand that there are people in Guantanamo that are dangerous. They would like for them to be tried. The President explained that he would also like to bring these people to justice, to have them in courts. He explained to them that he has to await the Supreme Court decision for the forum before which they would be tried. And they seem to understand his rationale, that he wants to do that, as well.

He also explained that we're trying to return these people to their home countries. In some cases, that's problematic because we want to ensure that they go back to countries where they will not be mistreated.

Q They didn't break any new ground in terms of --

MS. ANSLEY: It was really --

Q -- commitments to -- it was a restatement of --

MS. ANSLEY: No, it was really a restatement and explanation to these particular leaders of what the policy is.

Q Was there any new ground broken in terms of how to deal with Iran and how to deal with North Korea? Were there actually any kinds of consequences discussed on both those --

MS. ANSLEY: Iran was really just a reaffirmation of the policy that we have now that we jointly share. And we just, you know -- you'll see from the joint statement, as well from the declaration, that we're looking for Iran to make a positive decision here on the offer that's been made.

Q What about an offering?

MS. ANSLEY: Not -- no, there was not. Obviously, expression of concern of what's going on there in terms of the -- a possible missile launch. But nothing more specific than that.

Q Was there anything new or were there any discussions on the option of perhaps shooting down or intercepting a long-range missile if it had come to that with North Korea?

MS. ANSLEY: There was no discussion on that.

MR. JONES: And I think that question would best be addressed to the Department of Defense.

MS. ANSLEY: Yes, absolutely. Yes.

Q Faryar, I wanted to ask about visas, which the Europeans were pushing hard before. Is the U.S. willing at all to recognize this notion of reciprocity? Or is the position still, no, there's a road map for these countries -- there's a road map for these Eastern European countries to enter the visa waiver program?

MS. ANSLEY: Yes, there was a reiteration of that policy of the road map process. Obviously, the President is committed to visa-free travel for these countries and the road map is a way to help them achieve that goal.

A follow up? Yes.

Q Sorry, and this one really -- this one really is for Faryar on trade. I noticed the President -- the USTR has recently said, "A failure is better than a bad deal, a deal that doesn't promise a big market opening for the United States." The President didn't say that. The President said he will do everything he can to find some kind of compromise. Is that a deliberative difference?

MR. SHIRZAD: In 2001, the trade ministers got together in Doha to launch the WTO negotiations. They outlined very firm terms what the ultimata objective was of these negotiations. And a lot of that objective is reflective in the name of the negotiations, which is the Doha Development Agenda. So there's an enormous potential there to do something very dramatic, both in terms of helping the global economy, but also advancing the broader development agenda.

And so what the President said is, we have to strike a deal, we have to reach for something that ultimately achieves what the ministers themselves laid out when they launched the negotiations at the outset. And I think it's that same theme that reflects what you've heard from Ambassador Schwab in terms of her objectives for the negotiations.

Q In saying that -- Chancellor Sch ssel, in saying that the President was open to criticism, said toward the end that the President started himself. He didn't wait until he raised the question. He said, this is my problem, this is where we are. What was he specifically speaking of?

MS. ANSLEY: I think you're referring to when the Chancellor mentioned Guantanamo? Was that on Guantanamo?

Q -- the Chancellor specifically speaking on Guantanamo at that point.

MS. ANSLEY: From what I recall -- I mean, I was sitting there, but I don't remember exactly. The only time I remember him saying something to that effect was in reference to Guantanamo, and the President did initiate the conversation on Guantanamo.

Q Thank you.


Q The Chancellor said that with respect to North Korea, we talked about how and when, and what to do if and when. Can you give us any specifics on what to do if and when?

MS. ANSLEY: I cannot. I'm sorry, I can't comment on that.

Q Thank you. Towards the end of this session, the Europeans suggested that there could be some international organizational involvement in resolving the fate of the prisoners at Guantanamo. To what extent did that come up in the talks, and what's the administration's response to what they described as a way out plan?

MS. ANSLEY: It was just a reference at one point during the lunch that maybe there could be an international way to deal with it, but there were no specifics. That was about all that was said about it. There really wasn't -- I can't characterize a response on that.

Q Is that a possibility, ultimately, do you think?

MS. ANSLEY: You're getting into an area that's not mine. I don't feel comfortable commenting on that. I'm sorry.

Q Back on Guantanamo, the Chancellor said we got clear, clear signals and clear commitments from the American side -- no torture, no extraordinary or extraterritorial positions to deal with terrorists. Was there anything new in that?

MS. ANSLEY: That's what we've been saying. The President has said that in the past. The administration has said that in the past. There's been no torture. We've been giving guarantees on that.

Q And the no extraterritorial positions to deal with terrorists. I took that to mean prisons overseas --

MS. ANSLEY: I think the administration has been clear that whatever we do, we do in accordance with the sovereignty of the countries taken into consideration, other nation's sovereignty. That's all I can comment.


Q Was the -- was the April -- the August 22nd date, which Ahmadinejad has brought up, was that mentioned at all in the discussions? Or any sense of timing of the response? And any frustration with Iran's slowness in responding?

MS. ANSLEY: That actually didn't come up until after the meetings were over, right before the press conference, and then you saw their response there.

MR. JONES: Last call. Okay, thank you everyone.

MS. ANSLEY: Thank you.

END 4:42 P.M. (Local)