|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 17, 2008
Press Briefing by Ambassador Mark Dybul, Global AIDS Coordinator and Press Secretary Dana Perino
Movenpick Royal Palm Hotel
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
4:15 P.M. (L)
MS. PERINO: Hi, everybody. I will be happy to give you a little bit more about tomorrow and answer other questions after you have a chance to hear from the President's Global Aids Coordinator, who was with the President and Mrs. Bush today. He's traveled with Mrs. Bush to Africa several times, and been here on his own, of course. So he will tell you a little bit about their day, answer your questions about that program, and then I will give you a preview of tomorrow and wrap it up. So here is Mark.
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Good afternoon. Today was a wonderful day for HIV/AIDS and Tanzania and, actually, globally. Mrs. Bush started the day with Mama Kikwete, to launch the National Orphan plan. It's a very innovative, forward-leaning plan that is going to go into the neighborhoods, to go into the community and have community groups actually identify orphans, those who are vulnerable and orphan children, and identify the services they need and begin to provide them. And the American people, through PEPFAR, have been privileged to support this effort, along with the government of Tanzania and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Tanzania has around 2.5 million orphans, and about half of them are from HIV/AIDS, which gives you a sense of the catastrophic nature of orphanhood from HIV/AIDS. So this is a very important initiative, it's a very innovative initiative, and one we're very proud to support. Mrs. Bush and Mama Kikwete launched it this morning with a number of government officials. They also met with a number of adorable kids and learned about some of the individual programs that will help make this a reality.
The second visit, Mrs. Bush and Mama Kikwete visited madrasas, actually, where lessons about HIV/AIDS are taught by religious leaders, faith-based leaders, to teach young children to respect themselves and respect others. And part of that is delaying sexual activity and being faithful to a single partner.
There were also leaders of a number of the other faiths who were present, to demonstrate that this is actually an inter-faith effort to combat HIV/AIDS. As Mrs. Bush said, we can't win the fight against HIV/AIDS if we don't have all faith-based organizations. They are the ones in the communities, they are the ones with reach and credibility in their own communities. It's unfortunate that most people don't listen to government officials, like myself, when we tell them to act in a certain way. But they will listen to their leaders -- particularly young people -- and that involves faith leaders, community leaders, traditional leaders throughout.
And as many of you know, the World Health Organization has reported that 30 to 70 percent of health care in sub-Saharan Africa is in the faith sector, so you can't possibly tackle HIV/AIDS either in the health area or in the behavior change area if you're not dealing with faith-based organizations. It was also a beautiful place to see the children singing and dancing and telling their stories.
The last visit was actually with the two Presidents, President Bush and President Kikwete, and the two First Ladies, Mrs. Bush and Mama Kikwete, at the hospital here, and where PEPFAR has been working to increase infrastructure and build health capacity overall. We visited a clinic that had been built through the support of PEPFAR. And also the Presidents and the First Ladies spoke with a number of people whose lives have been saved through the clinic itself and through antiretroviral drugs, including lovely stories of people who were down to 30, 40 kilos, where now it's 60 kilos.
One man told of being near death -- now he's back to life and farming his cucumbers and mangos and pineapples and feeding his family again. And also a very touching story about an HIV-positive man and woman who found out together that they were positive when they were girlfriend and boyfriend. They went on to be married. Their son was there, two-year-old son, who is HIV-negative because they were in the clinic and got the services to be negative. So a lot of praise for what that clinic has done.
I think all three of these sites are tremendous examples of what President Bush talked about before coming here, and what PEPFAR is all about. In fact, what his new era in development, which isn't limited just to PEPFAR, is all about, is partnering with and supporting local people, and we saw that today -- the governments together, jointly supporting activities, working in the community to support community organizations.
So a very exciting day, but also one that demonstrates some of those principles of the new era in development, that discards donors and recipients and works in true partnership. And I think that's why President Kikwete this morning spoke so strongly about the need for PEPFAR and the importance it's had in this country.
So with that, I'd be happy to take any questions.
Q The national orphans plan, can you explain what it is about that plan that you think will be most effective?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: I think the most fascinating and innovative piece is sometimes you get top-down approaches to orphan care. What this is saying is the communities are the best to identify orphans and communities are the best to identify the services and place them. And so there are actually in each community going to be committees that are responsible for identifying and ensuring that orphans get care. And it's going to be led by the government, but involve all the sectors -- the faith, community based sectors, the private sector, the international community that will help support these activities.
In this year alone, in 2008, the American people are going to reach 83 of the 138 districts to roll out this plan. Right now we support orphan care for about 220,000 of the 1.25 million or so newly HIV/AIDS orphans. We'll be able to expand that dramatically through this plan. The real heart of it is the real heart of what the emergency plan is all about, which is get to the community, get out in the community, and that's where services will make a difference. And that's true for prevention, care and treatment. It's not just for orphan care, you've got to do that for prevention, you've got to do that for antiretroviral therapy -- you've got to get to the community.
And so to have this national plan that pushes down, with multiple ministries -- it's not just the Ministry of Health, it's multiple ministries -- pushing down into the community, working with the community to tackle the problem. It's very innovative and we hope to follow it as a lesson learned and try to spread it as broadly as possible.
Q Two-and-a-half million, though, do you have sort of a benchmark of impact?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Well, it's 2.5 million orphans in the country; about half of them are HIV/AIDS orphans, so that 1.2 million, 1.25 million. As I said, so far the American people are already supporting orphan care for around 220,000. I think when you take all international and community and government efforts, it's around 470,000 so far. But then if you're expanding to 82 of the districts, we'll see where we get.
But, you know, we're not going to do all this in a year. These orphans were created over a long period of time. But the fact that this plan is in place to push down to the community should allow us then to expand.
Overall the emergency plan right now, through September of last year, is supporting orphan care for 2.7 million orphans in the 15 so-called "focus countries." President Bush has called on getting to 5 million in the next phase of the emergency plan. So it gives you some sense of the aggressiveness to try to reach as many as possible.
Q The administration has been getting a lot of credit in Africa for its AIDS program, but the Global AIDS Alliance has a couple of criticisms. One, they say that $6 billion a year is essentially flat funding if you include all AIDS programs. And they say $50 billion to $59 billion is needed for AIDS, TB, malaria over the next five years, total. And I just wanted to ask you what your response is to that.
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Yes, there are a couple of things. And one of the more amazing things is if you look at what the Global AIDS Alliance said four years ago, compared to today, they're one of our biggest fans these days, talking about the fact that this program has done -- has radically changed HIV/AIDS, that it shifted us from talking about millions of dollars to billions of dollars, has radically improved the situation.
In terms of the dollar amount, I think it's important to look at the '08 level, which is around $6 billion, and the '09 level, and look at what's below that. Below that, actually, is a $400 million increase, about, for our bilateral program, which will allow us to expand treatment by 200,000 people to expand -- I think it's -- I have to check the numbers -- a couple hundred thousand orphans in care. So it's still an aggressive push forward, especially when many budgets are being flat-lined or even decreased for other activities.
I think importantly, also, the President is requesting an increase for our contribution to the Global Fund -- an increase above his last year request from $300 million to $500 million. And that's the right number for us. The Global Fund is a very important partner. We're the largest contributor to the Global Fund -- provide about 30 percent of all resources.
So not only in this -- in Tanzania, for example, over five years where the American people have provided $820 million in bilateral programs, but a third of every Global Fund grant coming here is coming from the American people.
Now in terms of the overall number that you mentioned, you know, we're a part of global community, and HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic that requires a global response. And one of the more extraordinary things is when President Bush called for a doubling the original commitment to $30 billion, he took -- and doubling goal, so getting the 2.5 million people in treatment; 12 million infections averted; 12 million orphan -- 12 million HIV -- care for 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and vulnerable children.
He took that commitment for the future to the G8, and got the G8 to commit to $60 billion, and to double those goals -- five million in treatment; 24 million infections averted; and 24 million in care. That's about as aggressive as we're going to be able to get over the next couple years. So if the whole world does what it needs to do, then the problem will be tackled. And I think that's a critical point. It can't just be the United States. It's a global epidemic; it needs a global response. What we need is the rest of the world to respond.
Even with that, the American people are going to be providing as much as the rest of the developed world combined, at $30 billion. And that's the right amount. We also have to -- and I've made this point, but I just want to emphasize it -- that's about as much as we're going to be able to do over the next couple years. You know, every country takes a while to scale up. Four years ago the treatment coverage in Tanzania was 0.1 percent, in terms of what was needed. Now it's at 34 percent, in 2007.
And it went in the slope that you would expect. All countries are going to require that slope. Just as we began with an original budget of $2.4 billion and now we're at $6 billion, the world is going to have to have that same scale. You can't just use the money. That's one of the problems we've had in development -- we just dedicate money. We don't focus on how to use it and achieve goals. But if you focus on achieving goals and using it, the $60 billion from the global community is the right number.
Q And can I just follow up on that? Why spend the money unilaterally at all? Why not just put it all into a global fund?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Right. Well, first of all, it's not unilateral -- it's bilateral. And you'll hear President Kikwete today and many other leaders -- President Mogae. People in the community will say this bilateral program has made all the difference in the world, and the reason is the rapid nature in which we've been able to utilize the money.
We do give about 30 percent of the Global Fund. That's far more than anyone else in the world. We're by far the largest contributors to the Global Fund. But we have a capacity to move money rapidly in-country; that's been shown. And people from President Kikwete on down have commented on the importance of that bilateral program. So we have a balance. We have a bilateral and multilateral balance.
By the way, if you look at percents, our percent of bilateral to multilateral, it's not remarkably different than most of Europe. So our category, in terms of our division, is about right, but we need those bilateral programs to move rapidly. And that's been shown unequivocally. But we're huge supporters of the Global Fund, and that's why the President increased his request for the Global Fund from 2008 to 2009, and we're also very much involved. But the bilateral program has a very specific and important purpose, and you'll hear people all over this country tell you that.
Q You said that the President increased his request for the Global Fund, but the Global AIDS Alliance says the U.S. has given $841 million in '08, and that the President proposed $500 million, which would be a cut from what we're currently providing.
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: That's the enacted level, not the requested level. So the President requested $300 million in 2008, and he's requesting $500 million in 2009.
Q And Congress upped it to --
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Correct. But we believe $500 million is the right number. And $500 million is the right number for us because of our contribution to the bilateral program. Again, look at what our bilateral program is doing. We are providing as much as the rest of the developed world combined. So we think that's a pretty good amount to be providing.
Also, the Global Fund is an extraordinary organization. President Bush gave the first gift to the Global Fund. He really got the thing started, gave the first second gift to the Global Fund. I think that's a very good demonstration of our strong commitment to the Global Fund. For right now, the Global Fund has about $1.5 billion in uncommitted resources. We believe in spending money immediately, and so we look at, when we make our contributions, how much can be used in this fiscal year, again getting back to the point of using money immediately -- you don't want to pile up money. And that's how we make our determination. So the fact that he increased his request I think is a very good sign that we support the Global Fund. We think $500 billion is -- $500 million is the right amount for fiscal year 2009.
Q On the orphans, I may have missed it, but did you say it's a first-of-its-kind program here in Tanzania? You talked about a larger program. Can you just kind of distinguish the two?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: I am not familiar with this type of plan being adopted on a national basis in another country. That's not to say I don't know of one, it's just that I'm not aware of this type of plan that's been adopted with a very clear plan to go to the communities and create throughout the country. Now, there are other places that have community groups that identify orphans and try to get them services, but to say we're going to do it on a national basis, I'm not familiar with that in another country.
And that's what's new and innovative, about -- it's country wide. That's actually why we have focus countries, because national scale-up is important. If you don't get national scale-up and national coverage, you're always going to have significant need. And that's why we dedicated a lot of resources in a couple of countries.
So it's the national scale-up nature of it, it's the national plan, it's the commitment by multiple ministries, with other support to do it that's somewhat novel. You could probably -- you might be able to find that someone else has done it; it's the only one I'm aware of.
Q What was the larger program you were talking about then?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: The larger program is -- you know, part of our overall effort -- this is one of the extraordinary things about PEPFAR, actually. When the history of global health is written, I think it will be remembered for two things. First, its size; it's the largest international health initiative in history dedicated to a single disease. But also it's scope. And one of the most important insights that the President had is you can't separate prevention from treatment from care, that it's all part of a picture; that AIDS affects every part of society; that unless we prevent infections, we're going to need more treatment; you need compassionate care and treatment for those who are infected with HIV/AIDS, but also for those left behind, the orphans and vulnerable children.
So part of our global effort is actually to do that, to deal with the orphan problem -- with 14 million AIDS orphans globally, 12 million of them in Africa, it's something we must deal with. And so part of our larger effort is to focus on care of orphans and vulnerable children. It's something that, sadly, is left out in much of the international debate, but something that we understand is, two things -- one, communities are being pulled apart, the fabric of society is being destroyed by the orphan crisis.
And what's very tragic about HIV/AIDS is it kills 15-40 year olds, the most productive and reproductive part of society, which means you're killing a generation of parents, leaving all those orphans; you're killing a generation of teachers. In Zambia a few years ago, two-thirds of new teachers were dying from HIV/AIDS. You're killing the health care workers preferentially, and you're killing peace people.
So the whole fabric of society is being torn apart, and we recognize, the President recognized at the beginning that part of a compassionate response is to deal with that. As the President has also said, though, it's also part of a security issue. If you have no parents, teachers, and a whole lot of orphans running around, that is a template for insecurity. And so we must deal with that problem, as well. But it's part of the bigger picture. It's not just here in Tanzania. In each of our countries, we have goals directed at orphan care.
Q And you said 14 million globally?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Number of AIDS orphans, 12 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
Q The event today was part of PEPFAR?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: The event today was part of PEPFAR, and the national program. Everything PEPFAR does is part of the national program in Tanzania, and that's why I think President Kikwete has spoken so highly of it involving all the sectors.
Q Could you talk a little bit about the impact of PEPFAR, in particular, on sort of the broader health care infrastructure in a country like Tanzania, and also just whatever impacts you can discuss beyond that, like on the economy?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: We can definitely start with the health impact. This is something that I have yet to understand. There's a lot of debates in capitals that make absolutely no sense on the ground, like, oh, you're doing AIDS, therefore you're not building a health system. It gets back to national scale-up. You can't get national scale-up and national results unless you're building a health system. Training doctors, supporting doctors, nurses, health care workers, voluntary counseling and testing, building the physical infrastructure -- that Amana clinic we visited today was paid for, the structure, the physical infrastructure was paid for by PEPFAR. We've supported the expansion of safe blood programs in this country. I believe they're up to two-thirds safe blood in this country now, from about 40 percent a couple of years ago. So transfusions are now safe to receive in this country.
And a lot of the training and the physical infrastructure -- in this past year, actually, the emergency plan supported the salaries of 100,000 people in 15 countries doing health care work. So this notion that you're doing AIDS, and therefore not impacting the health sector, makes absolutely no sense, and we saw it today. And in fact the data show the opposite. There are data from Rwanda now that show that for -- if you go to an area, they just studied an area where only HIV resources went up, and they looked at 22 non-HIV/AIDS indicators; 17 of the 22 went up, including antenatal care, including testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including family planning.
The reason was, the whole health infrastructure was built. Rwanda is estimated that at least 40 percent of the resources from PEPFAR are strengthening their overall health system, because it's putting in clinics, training personnel, building logistics systems, supply systems. The easiest way to think about it is, most clinics aren't just used for one thing, and most doctors and nurses don't just do one thing. The clinic will be an AIDS clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the doctors and nurses will rotate in on those days, but then they'll be doing everything else all the time.
And so as they're being trained, and as the facilities are being built, using an x-ray machine to look for tuberculosis for an AIDS patient will be used to look for a broken bone; a chemistry panel that had never existed before to monitor the toxicity of the AIDS drugs can now be used for everything else. It's rather extraordinary to see this strengthening of the health system that never existed before. And possibly one of the greatest impacts is -- and we just saw some data from Botswana on this, and also from Rwanda -- within two months of starting treatment in Rwanda, there was a 20 percent reduction in hospitalizations in Rwanda. In Botswana over two years, there was a 50 percent reduction because of the availability of antiretroviral treatment.
The reason for that is because when you're talking about 10, 20, 25 percent of your adult population being HIV positive, the hospitals are filled with HIV-positive people. So as you treat them, the hospital attendance goes down 50 percent, 20 percent. That's effectively freeing up the health system for other activities, and that's something we saw in the United States, and it's actually a rather extraordinary impact on the health system. So it's pretty clear from the data, and if you talk anyone on the ground, that these programs are the cutting-edge of actually building health systems.
Q Can you describe the nature of the resistance you're encountering in Congress to doubling the -- to $30 billion, the amount of AIDS relief?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: I don't think there's any resistance to increasing the resources for AIDS, and the President has called for that doubling. As I mentioned, we have had strong bipartisan support from day one, and continue to have strong bipartisan support. You know, the reason I think we have such strong bipartisan support is what the President has talked about, that ultimately what PEPFAR does is reflect the generosity and compassion of the American people.
It's not a partisan issue. When they see that their tax dollars save an orphan's life or protect an orphan or save a mother -- or as some of these people talked about today, radically improved and saved their lives -- the American taxpayer is generous and compassionate and willing to do that. So what PEPFAR has done, and what the President led, is a reflection of that generosity and compassion, and that's not a partisan issue.
And so when you lead and your policies respect the dignity and worth of every human life, that's not a partisan issue. And so we've had very strong bipartisan support and we expect to continue to have bipartisan support.
Q So is approval of that program a foregone conclusion?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: Is what?
Q Is approval of the $30 billion a foregone conclusion?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: I don't like to talk about "foregone conclusions." However, past history is a good thing, you can learn a lot from history, and for the last four years we've had extraordinarily strong bipartisan support -- support always for the President's request for huge increases in HIV/AIDS. I mean, if you look at when the President took office -- when President Bush took office, the American people were committing about $800 million a year for global AIDS. This year he has requested $6 billion, and Congress has been there every step of the way, supporting those increases, whether it was a Republican majority or a Democratic majority. History is a good teacher of lessons.
Q Real quick on the numbers, that 40 percent for Rwanda of derivative benefits -- that comes from the Rwandan government?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: It comes from the Rwandan government.
Q You guys don't have an aggregate, overall for the continent, do you?
AMBASSADOR DYBUL: No, we're actually working on those types of data. And the Rwandans will tell you, you know, this is preliminary. They are -- they're sending one of their folks actually to Harvard to work on it, to see if they can come up with the numbers, but that's their preliminary estimate. Some of their preliminary estimates actually showed a higher amount.
The study I told you about the direct impact on health services is actually a scientifically based study that was conducted with power -- it's statistically powered, and statistically showed those benefits from HIV/AIDS interventions on non-HIV/AIDS indicators.
And if you look at the pictures they took, you can tell why. You know, you see a clinic falling apart with the ceiling falling in. Well, no one's going to sit in that clinic, but they'll come back for other services because it's not only an AIDS clinic. If you look at a laboratory that's basically got a broken microscope and a chair in it, you're not going to be able to do a lot of lab results. But if you renovate a laboratory for HIV/AIDS, it's then being used for everything else. So the pictures tell the story as well as the data. And the clinic we saw today is a great example is a great example of that.
Q Thank you.
MS. PERINO: It was great to have Mark here. Let me give you a quick update for tomorrow -- it's not an update, it's just a reminder. The President and Mrs. Bush will travel to Arusha, Tanzania tomorrow. The focus tomorrow is not going to be on HIV/AIDS, it will be on another disease that is ravaging this continent, which is malaria. But it is treatable, and the President and Mrs. Bush have been very active.
They will visit the Meru District Hospital. It was founded in 1968 as a rural health center, and it was upgraded to a hospital in 1986. It has 120 beds, multiple patient wards, and it does include an HIV/AIDS care and treatment center. So that talks about -- that goes to what Mark was just discussing.
The President will make a statement there. He will also tour A to Z Textile Mills. This a mill that manufactures bed-netting and helps treat the bed nets there. And it consists of three large machinery halls. They take the yarn, they weave it into fabric for the nets, and then they are shipped from there.
And then finally the last event that they will do tomorrow is a visit to the Maasai girls school, and there will be pool coverage of that, as well.
Do you have other topics to discuss -- or this one?
Q I just thought the visit to the madrasas was interesting, because -- I was curious about the administration's perspective on madrasas in Africa. Is there -- does the administration have a position on madrasas in Africa, as to whether or not that's a healthy thing across the board? I'm just curious whether you have a view on that.
MS. PERINO: To be honest, I don't know, I couldn't answer it for you. I think that, obviously, wherever the President and Mrs. Bush go, they are supportive of it. One of the things that they talked about this morning is the education initiative. When the President had his bilateral meeting with President Kikwete today, the President was talking -- President Kikwete said to the President that the education initiatives that they've had across the country, using funds from the United States, has been very helpful. But the President said, "I'm not here just to hear what is helpful; I'm here to find out what else do you need."
And apparently, we have given out 1 million textbooks in Tanzania recently. But while that might sound like a lot to some people, it's not addressing the need. And so the President said that we would take that back and look at other things that we can do through education.
The other thing that they have a problem with is finding enough teachers and teachers' training, and also housing for teachers -- and then the health care for the teachers, as Ambassador Dybul was just saying.
And so in regards to your specific question, I'm not prepared to answer it right here, but I can say from an overall comprehensive education perspective, the President and Mrs. Bush are very engaged and are very concerned, also, about the orphans that Mrs. Bush went and saw this morning.
Q Dana, do you have any readout on the meeting with the Embassy bombing families?
MS. PERINO: I wasn't -- no, I was there to be able -- I heard the greeting, but I did not see the -- I was not in the private meeting with them. But the President --
Q How many were there; do you know?
MS. PERINO: I will get a number for you. Because I wasn't in there, I couldn't tell you the exact number. But the President and Mrs. Bush were very happy to go.
MR. SOLAIZ: Thirteen.
MS. PERINO: How many?
MR. SOLAIZ: Thirteen family members.
MS. PERINO: Thirteen family members -- from our Embassy spokesman.
Q Thank you.
Q Is the U.S. prepared to support Kosovo's independence?
MS. PERINO: I checked right before I left to see if there had actually been an announcement yet, and I don't know since we've been here. I know that they were going to be calling their parliament together. So I don't want to get ahead of them, but I would repeat what the President said today, which is, for a long time, we have supported the Ahtisaari plan. This is the plan that took months of deliberation; lots of considerations went into the discussions. And we are convinced that the greater risk is inaction, and the greater likelihood of trouble would be brought about by inaction. This is an area of the world that has been very troubled.
Remember, though, that the province since the 1989 -- 1998-1999 attempted genocide by Milosevic, when he attacked the Kosovo Albanians, that since then the province has been under the control of the United Nations, and not of Serbia. And the United Nations has had the mandate to try to transition that control.
We understand that, obviously, there is a lot of deep-rooted emotions that go with this. We are sensitive to that, we are aware of the importance in the Ahtisaari plan of the minority rights of Serbs that are living in the area. And so at this point I'm not able to answer whether or not the United States would -- what we will do in the future, whether that be tomorrow or the next day.
But what I can say is that we have been supportive of supervised independence -- that is what the Ahtisaari plan calls for -- and there's been no change in that position.
Q Okay, I don't mean to be dense here, and I haven't read chapter and verse of the Ahtisaari plan lately. I'm just not entirely clear on what you're saying the U.S. position is. I mean, it's clear -- we know what they're going to do, so you guys know what your position is on what they're going to do. Is it just that you --
MS. PERINO: I think if you look at what the Ahtisaari --
Q -- don't want to say it yet or --
MS. PERINO: Well, look, they haven't even made an announcement yet, so I'm not going to get in front of them on that. We haven't changed our position. And you know that the President went to Albania and strongly supported the Kosovars there. And so there's been no change in that position. But I'm just not in a -- I'm not in a position here to get in front of their announcement, nor of that of the State Department, which would come later.
Q It's just when I read kind of in between the lines of what you're saying, about they're under U.N. control now, not Serbian control, with what the President said this morning about wanting to prevent any violence from happening after any announcement -- all that sounds to me like you support independence, just without saying it directly.
MS. PERINO: Again, the Ahtisaari plan -- part of the Ahtisaari plan -- the main part of it is to support supervised independence. And that is what we have supported, and there's been no change in that. But until they've made an announcement, I'm not in the position to get in front of them, nor of that of the State Department.
Q Will you all comment later today?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if you'll have anything later today, but probably tomorrow.
Q On Kenya, given that the government in Kenya seems pretty unwilling to budge in its -- in the fact that it won't recognize the opposition, do you really think that Secretary Rice can do anything? And is Annan's plan actually even viable?
MS. PERINO: Based on the briefing that the President got today from President Kikwete, and which Secretary Rice attend as well, I think -- obviously they have a ways to go, but they've come a long way, as well. The violence has substantially decreased, which is important. That's still a concern, and also you have many people who were displaced during the past few weeks.
What Secretary Rice and the President said today, that they are there to support Kofi Annan's plan. And President Kikwete said he really appreciated that. And President Kikwete said that there are some times a belief that Africans can't solve African problems, and that someone from the West has to come and try to solve it for them, and that he appreciates that the President and Secretary Rice have been engaged from the beginning; that they have been helping them come to a resolution.
Secretary Rice doesn't expect, I don't think, to come away tomorrow with a final deal. But I do think that based on the discussion we heard today, that they're inching their way closer, and they need a little bit of help to get there.
Q Is she going to bring any kind of assistance at all?
MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Dana, on Kosovo, (inaudible) last day or so, as the expected announcement has come closer, has the administration been talking directly to the Russians and the Serbs to make the case about (inaudible)?
MS. PERINO: I'm not sure -- I believe that we've been in touch with those countries, but I don't know that the message has been one of restraint. I think that -- again I would point out that we have been well aware that there are deep-rooted emotions and sensitivities to this issue -- regarding this issue, and they've been there not just for the past few years, since they've been working towards this supervised independence, but for centuries. And those deep-rooted emotions are sometimes ones that take a lot of discussion.
We know that there is opposition to the pending announcement, and that's one of the reasons that we're not getting ahead of it, we're letting them make their announcement, and then we'll take it from there. But I think that Secretary Rice, and certainly National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley have been in contact with their counterparts.
Okay, have a good night.
END 4:47 P.M. (L)