For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 19, 2008
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Kigali, Rwanda
8:32 A.M. (Local)
MS. PERINO: A couple of announcements for you before we land in Kigali. One is a little bit more detail about -- there was a hundred million dollars in the 2008 budget request that was meant for the United Mission in Darfur. We didn't have a lot of specifics at that time, but we have a little bit more specifics now. Just so we --
Q In '09 -- '08 or '09?
MS. PERINO: I'm sorry -- '09. Thank you, the '09 request. As a quick reminder, over the past three years, we have spent $450 million, with that money going towards building, operating and maintaining 34 peacekeeper base camps for the African Union forces that are there. That responsibility has been taken over by the United Nations, and so now we have money that is freed up for training of peacekeepers, which is what most of the countries have said that they could really use help on.
So we will have -- the President will announce today the availability of $100 million to help with training and equipment -- African peacekeepers that are pledged to deploy under -- the acronym is UNAMID.
The following countries are ones that will be getting these funds: obviously, Rwanda; Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Malawi.
Q This is money for the peacekeepers?
MS. PERINO: Right. And specifically for Rwanda, what he will be announcing today is that by refocusing our efforts here, we'll be able to provide -- by refocusing our efforts on the -- not so much on taking care of the logistics of the camps, but on the peacekeeping training, is $12 million for the future Rwandan peacekeepers that are expected to deploy in Darfur.
I named those countries for you because that's who we know of now. It could be that additional countries come forward. There will be a fact sheet that is almost finished. It will come out as soon as it's done for you on that.
Q Is it possible to get hard copies of that?
MS. PERINO: Of the fact sheet?
MS. PERINO: When we're on the ground, we can try, yes, if we're nearby to the --
Q Our email isn't working.
MS. PERINO: Okay, good to know. Well, at least we're even now. (Laughter.) One other thing to announce for you is that the 2007 American Idol winner, who is Jordin Sparks, she is going to join the President and Mrs. Bush in Ghana to support the President's Malaria Initiative. Last year, you might remember, American Idol's "Idol Gives Back" special, it raised more than $75 million for charities, including malaria programs. I don't know if you remember, the President and Mrs. Bush appeared on the program to thank people for their contributions. Mrs. Bush's office invited her to join them in Ghana. Melinda Doolittle, who was a previous Idol winner, joined Mrs. Bush in Zambia last June. And just a reminder -- I don't know if you saw -- Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl just recently.
Q Melinda didn't win.
MS. PERINO: Melinda Doolittle didn't win -- well, she was close, a finalist.
Q Dana, real quick on the peacekeeping numbers -- when Jendayi -- when Ambassador Frazer came back and briefed us on the last three years, I think it was something like $560 million that had been spent, but I'm not entirely certain on the number. I'm just wondering if the $100 million is in addition to that?
Q She said that $660 million was committed in 2005, right?
Q Six hundred and sixty million dollars was committed, okay.
MS. PERINO: What I have here is, over the past three years, we've spent $450 million, but that, as I said, was going to pay for the camps. So now we have $100 million, we're going to shift the focus; instead of paying for the camps, since the U.N. is now responsible for taking care of that, we will shift our money and our efforts to training of the peacekeepers.
Q How many people have been trained?
MS. PERINO: That's a good question. I don't have that here. So far we've trained 7,000 Rwandans, who are doing peacekeeping in Darfur. Let me just see if I can -- let me make a note and I'll see if I can --
Q Is this for all -- for peacekeepers only going to Darfur or is it for peacekeepers in general?
MS. PERINO: It's for peacekeepers going to Darfur, but obviously we think it's not a -- it's a good idea to train them for Darfur, and then they possibly could be used in other areas if needed.
Q Do you have any comment yet on the elections in Pakistan?
MS. PERINO: I just checked with Secretary Rice, and she said that as there -- the final results have not been announced yet, we don't, obviously. One thing I would mention is, for many weeks, almost months now, since the announcement that there would be elections on February 18th, what we have encouraged is for people to be able to express their vote freely, and for this election to inspire confidence in people about their government. And so until we have more of a final result, I'll decline to comment on those.
Q Two other quick ones. The signing of the bilateral investment treaty -- can you put in plain English what that treaty is?
MS. PERINO: Yes. Let me just take a look at this here. I'm sorry if this is going to sound bureaucratic, but I just -- I want to make sure I have it right here.
So the bilateral investment treaty is something that we can do between the United States and Rwanda. It's the first one concluded between the United States and a sub-Saharan African country since 1998. This helps provide legal protections to U.S. and Rwandan investors, that underscore the -- the commitment that we have to international trade. We have a strong and growing foreign direct investment presence in Rwanda, but it's not as robust as obviously Rwandans would like, and the President would like to see more of our companies coming in to Rwanda.
A couple of numbers for you here. Bilateral trade flows increased by 40 percent in 2007, totaling nearly $29 million in 2007. U.S. imports from Rwanda were valued at $13 million during this period, and that's up 43 percent since 2006. And U.S. exports to Rwanda totaled $60 million in 2007, up 37 percent over 2006. And that will be -- there will be a fact sheet that comes out on that, as well, with all the numbers.
Q So we can fairly call this a trade treaty then?
MS. PERINO: Sure. As I say, it's one to increase trade, but it's technically not called a free trade agreement, but it is something that the President can enter into bilaterally with Rwanda on his own.
Q It's for "legal assurances," is that what you said?
MS. PERINO: Legal protections.
Q And I'd --
MS. PERINO: What that means is to -- if you want more of this, it says that it includes nondiscriminatory treatment, free transfer of investment-related funds, prompt, adequate and effective compensation in the event of expropriation, and transparency in governance. It also gives investors the right to bring investment disputes to neutral international arbitration panels.
Q That's for international and Ghana businessmen, or just international?
MS. PERINO: This is Rwandan.
Q Rwandan, I meant Rwanda.
MS. PERINO: Well, it's United States companies and Rwanda.
Q We're providing the protections for the U.S. investors?
MS. PERINO: We would say it goes both ways, but certainly we're looking to have more investment in Rwanda.
Q Has there been any high-level contact with Russia in the last 24 hours, over the -- 48 hours over the Kosovo thing, either between Presidents or ministers or somebody on that level -- Hadley?
MS. PERINO: Let me check and see if Secretary Rice or Steve Hadley has spoken to them. I know Under Secretary Burns did. But with Secretary Rice traveling yesterday, I'm not positive who they were in contact with. I'll check and see with Hadley. (*)
Q One quick domestic question. Can you give us an update on where the veto threat stands on the bill that Congress passed on waterboarding, not allowing that technique to be used by the CIA? I know the President has said he would veto it. Where does that stand?
MS. PERINO: There were several reasons why the President said he would veto that bill. They're all detailed in the statement of administration policy. The provision that you're talking about would have required that the Army Field Manual apply to the CIA, something General Hayden, the Director of the CIA, and the President have said is not workable. The President does intend to veto that bill. We did not receive it before he left for Africa, so it was impossible to veto it before we left.
Q Okay, so do you know if you have received it? Is anything imminent?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if we've received it at the White House. It's possible, it just sometimes takes them a while to enroll the bill and get it over to us. I don't anticipate we're going to veto it on the road, because they'd have to fly it to us, and I don't think that's necessary.
Okay? All right, we'll see you on the ground.
END 8:41 A.M. (Local)
(*) Secretary Rice spoke to Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia yesterday, Monday, February 18, 2008.