|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 29, 2006
Press Gaggle by Dan Bartlett
7:46 P.M. (Local)
MR. BARTLETT: The President is going to have a bilateral and dinner with the King of Jordan. Since the King of Jordan and Prime Minister Maliki had a bilateral themselves, earlier today, everybody believed that negated the purpose for the three of them to meet tonight, together, in a trilateral setting. So the plan, according to -- since they had such a good, productive bilateral discussion, was just for the President to deal with bilateral issues and other issues with the King this evening in a dinner setting, and then the meetings set for tomorrow will still take place as scheduled.
Q So the dinner is off, the three-way.
MR. BARTLETT: Right.
Q Well if Maliki -- he was never going to the dinner anyway, right? It was just supposed to be a meeting.
MR. BARTLETT: There was going to be a trilateral meeting, and then the dinner with the King. Now, since they already had a bilateral themselves, the King of Jordan and the Prime Minister, everybody felt, well, there's no reason for them to do a trilateral meeting beforehand, because matters had been discussed.
Q So the scheduled trilateral is scrapped.
MR. BARTLETT: Right.
Q But the dinner -- all three of them are still going to be at the dinner?
MR. BARTLETT: No.
Q Okay so Maliki is not doing anything?
MR. BARTLETT: The President will see Prime Minister Maliki in the morning.
Q In the morning, okay.
Q So there's no three-way forum.
MR. BARTLETT: Correct.
Q I came in late. Where is Maliki?
MR. BARTLETT: I assume he's at his hotel -- he's having dinner with somebody else tonight.
Q Why didn't he come here?
MR. BARTLETT: I just said that he had a meeting -- he had a bilateral earlier today with the King; they had a very good conversation, and afterwards they felt, well, since we had good conversations, we addressed issues, there was not an agenda for the three for a trilateral that they felt was necessary.
Q But don't you risk sending a political message that the three were supposed to get together tonight and now they're not, after the memo by Hadley and all? This wasn't a snub, or anything like that.
MR. BARTLETT: Absolutely not. And I think that will be demonstrated tomorrow, as well as the fact that the King and the Prime Minister had a good meeting themselves, today. The King is being a gracious host, allowing for the two leaders to meet tomorrow morning. No one should read too much into this, except for the fact that they had a good meeting. This gives an opportunity for the King and the President to catch up on issues that are in the interests of Jordan and the United States, as well as the broader region. The issue -- a discussion specifically about Iraq will be had tomorrow by the two leaders, by themselves.
Q No connection to the memo, whatsoever?
MR. BARTLETT: No.
Q The King and the Prime Minister had a meeting, but the Prime Minister hasn't seen the President since he got here, and the President changed his schedule to come here for this meeting.
MR. BARTLETT: The President requested the meeting. This was the President requesting the meeting with the Prime Minister. And the substantive meetings on Iraq -- look, they were not going to be doing a full detail discussion in a trilateral setting about Iraq and the future of Iraq and the strategy anyway, that just wouldn't be appropriate. So it was going to be more of a social meeting anyways. But the fact that they had already had a good meeting together, felt like it negated the purpose to doing so. And the President and Prime Minister Maliki will have a very robust and lengthy dialogue tomorrow morning.
Q Dan, what are your hopes for the meeting tomorrow morning?
MR. BARTLETT: Well, as we stated, clearly is that the Prime Minister has prescribed many different elements of his strategy over the past months. It's an opportunity for the two to sit down again, for the President to hear first hand from him about additional steps he would like to take when it comes to gaining control of the security situation in his country, the political reconciliation process. It gives an opportunity for the President to share his views. We are at a time of well-known assessment in our strategy in Iraq; it gives the opportunity for these two leaders to speak about it directly. So expect it to be, on both parts, a lot of give and take, a lot of listening, and a lot of talking.
And particularly, as we have stated before, there was a tasking out of the last time they met via videoconference for the two governments, high-level ranking with the MFNI, as well as in the Iraqi government, to work on ways to help accelerate and expand the capacity for Prime Minister Maliki to gain control of his security forces. This gives them an opportunity to get a detailed update on where they are in that progress, and hopefully make some decisions about the way forward, in some respects. As Steve Hadley has said in the past, don't expect any bombshells, or things like that, but they do expect this to be a very productive, substantive meeting.
Q Is there going to be a readout afterwards?
MR. BARTLETT: Tomorrow?
Q No, tonight.
MR. BARTLETT: There's not a meeting tonight.
Q There's not a readout for us?
MR. BARTLETT: For the King of Jordan?
Q Has it changed because Maliki is not part of the meeting?
MR. BARTLETT: I'll need to check on that, whether you want a readout of the bilateral conversation between the King and the President?
Q Originally we were told it would be a readout by Elliott Abrams afterwards, but then it was a three-way meeting.
MR. BARTLETT: We'll look into it, we'll look into the need for that.
Q They're having a two-way meeting now, and then they're having dinner.
MR. BARTLETT: Correct.
Q Two events.
MR. BARTLETT: Both with just the President and the King, and their respective staffs.
Q Are they just meeting right now, just between the President and the King, or are there other people?
MR. BARTLETT: Secretary Rice and Steve Hadley are the two representatives from the United States government, and then two representatives to the King are there. And then the dinner will be a little bit -- a few more people will be added to that dinner.
Q Are you going to dinner?
MR. BARTLETT: I didn't make the cut.
END 7:52 P.M. (Local)