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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 8, 2007
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En route Gdansk, Poland
3:58 P.M. (Local)
MS. PERINO: Okay, we are aboard Air Force One, on our way to Gdansk, and then we're going to helo to Jurata. The President will have a greeting with President Kaczynski, then they'll have a working dinner, and following that and wrapping it up with a statement. Mrs. Bush will be doing a tour of the Lighthouse in Jurata, and then dinner with Mrs. Kaczynska.
The purpose of the visit is to spend some time with a close ally and friend. This is their second actual meeting. They had seen each other also at the NATO summit. And then, of course, he's going to be coming -- President Kaczynski is coming to the White House on July 16th, we've already announced that. Obviously, he's a major supporter of the war on terror, including troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. They help on the freedom agenda, including Ukraine, Belarus and Cuba. And, of course, as Dan said this morning, they will talk about missile defense.
And then just a quick wrap up on the G8, I have a couple of meetings to update you on. Overall, the report was that it was a very positive G8, great discussions. Obviously, you know about the deal on climate; and, of course, significant commitments to Africa, with the President leading the way on his HIV/AIDS proposal and a recognition of a need to work together with developing countries, including the outreach countries that were there -- India, China, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.
During the lunch, the President was able to have -- spent a little bit of personal time with Prime Minister Singh of India, as well as President Lula of Brazil, having good conversations there.
I have a little more detail for you on the pull aside that the President had with President Hu than I do on the others, because there was a note-taker nearby. They had a good exchange, talked a lot about the bilateral relationship, especially the successes of the strategic economic dialogue. As you know, they had that meeting I think just about two weeks ago in Washington, D.C., and so those discussions will continue. They spoke about a lot of international issues of concern, focusing mostly on Iran, the Korean Peninsula and Darfur. President Hu said he wants to increase diplomatic cooperation in those areas.
In addition to that, they talked about cooperation on energy, the environment and climate change. And, finally, with -- and enhancing the trading relationship between the two countries.
I think that's my update, and I'll go to questions, if you have any.
Q Did Hu commit to joining these meetings that the President wants to convene on climate?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if there was a firm commitment, no. But I do know that we already cooperate with them on one of the President's initiatives from I think two or three years ago that he announced, the Asia Pacific Partnership, in which we share technologies and science and ideas on how to address the long-term challenges of global climate change. And so when we have firm invitations that we extend and firm confirmations, we'll be able to give you that list. We're still targeting the fall for this meeting, and it would feed into the U.N. framework on climate change.
Q Did it come up with Prime Minister Singh also? Did he secure a commitment from India?
MS. PERINO: I wish I could tell you for sure, but I just don't know any details of that conversation. I just know that they were able to meet.
Q Did the President push Hu on sanctions against Sudan?
MS. PERINO: On sanctions, I don't have anything specific on that. Obviously, one of the things they talked about was that China has just sent an engineering unit, as well as -- to help build some capacity for the peacekeepers, and named a special envoy and he has an open channel of communication with Bashir. So I can't say specifically on sanctions, but they did have a conversation about Darfur.
Q What about Kosovo, what happened there? I mean, did things fall apart or did anything move ahead?
MS. PERINO: I certainly never heard that things fell apart, but I don't have an update for you -- and I know that Dan and I both didn't have that this morning, and so let me see if I can get that for you and I'll try to come and find you in Jurata.
Q Do you have a sense of what the President's message will be to President Kaczynski of Poland on missile defense? What will he tell him in light of the Putin plan?
MS. PERINO: Well, obviously, I don't know specifics, but as Steve Hadley said yesterday -- and Dan, this morning -- everything is on the table and we're going to continue to talk to our partners in NATO, continue to have conversations with the Czech Republic. The President is going to have a direct conversation tonight with President Kaczynski. And we're also going to continue to talk to Russia. President Putin put forward a very substantial -- I'm sorry, substantive proposal yesterday that needs to be taken into consideration, along with all the other parts of it.
And so I think what you'll see is a series of conversations, not immediate answers, on something that is very complex and complicated.
Q Why is the President not meeting with former President Walesa during this visit?
MS. PERINO: I don't know. Obviously, we're only going to be there for about three hours -- so we had time in order to make this meeting happen.
Q Is there plans -- were those plans, by any chance, stifled by President Kaczynski or his brother?
MS. PERINO: No, not at all. Not that I'm aware of. I've never heard that before.
Q Do you have a comment on the report on the secret prisons that came out of Paris today?
MS. PERINO: I'm sorry?
Q The report that came out of Paris today, on the CIA prisons?
MS. PERINO: I don't, no. I don't.
Q Dan said this morning that the President had not made any calls overnight on the immigration bill. Has he done anything in the way of contacting senators or trying to keep that bill alive?
MS. PERINO: He continues to be regularly briefed. As you know, we just left a meeting, he was not feeling well this morning, rejoined the G8 meetings and, obviously, staff back in D.C. is working very hard. We're encouraging Reid -- Senator Reid to keep the debate open. It's a very important issue; people want to have conversations about it. To the extent -- if there are conversations that happen while we're on the plane or before we arrive in Rome, I'll let you know.
Q How is the President feeling?
MS. PERINO: Still not a hundred percent, but better all the time.
Q Did he eat lunch?
Q And did he keep lunch in his stomach on the helo ride?
MS. PERINO: Yes. No reports of any lunch coming up, no. (Laughter.)
Q -- I asked you before -- because we're going on there later this evening, what is the President -- what's the message that the President is going to bring to the Pope? What's the issue?
Q We can't hear.
MS. PERINO: He wants to know the message the President is going to take to the Pope. I think all I'll be able to say, since I haven't been able to talk to the President today, is that he said he was really looking forward to meeting the Pope. He has read some of his works and is very impressed by the man and thinks it is a fantastic opportunity. He and Mrs. Bush, both, are really looking forward to meeting him and being a part of tomorrow's activities at the Vatican.
Q Thank you.
END 4:05 P.M. (Local)
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