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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 15, 2008

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley
Aboard Air Force One
En Route London, United Kingdom

1:13 P.M (Local)

MS. PERINO: Hi, this is our flight to the U.K., where we're going from Paris to London. And Steve Hadley was willing to come back and give you a little bit of a preview of the -- today's events and tomorrow's, before we head home.

MR. HADLEY: We're heading into the last day. I think the subject of conversation that obviously is -- the President will see the Queen this afternoon, the President and Mrs. Bush will see the Queen this afternoon. This evening, as you know, there's a dinner that Gordon Brown is hosting with the President. He'll be meeting with a group of historians, which ought to be an interesting evening for the President. Tomorrow, of course, will be the more formal meetings between the President and the Prime Minister, and a press availability.

I think the issues that they'll be talking with are basically the same issues that we've talked about -- that the President has talked about with the leaders all the way through. And I think you'll see the basic thematics the same. There is a commitment to try and make this Solana mission to Iran work, to show Iran that there is a way forward. But there is determination that if Iran -- the Iranian regime rejects the latest offer, that the process -- that the consequence of the regime's decision will result in greater isolation of the regime, and regrettably, of the Iranian people.

That seems to be pretty clear commitment and consensus throughout Europe that that's the way we should go ahead. There have been good discussions about climate change, looking towards the next meeting, in terms of the major economies process in June in Seoul, trying to put together a leaders declaration that would be the way forward -- that would be adopted in Japan in July, that would be a way forward on climate. He'll talk about how to get the Doha Round moving; the need for countries like India, China and Brazil to open more market access, particularly on manufacturing goods -- not so much to us and to the developed world, but to the developing world. This is supposed to be the Doha Development Round. It is supposed to help the economic -- and lift people in the developing world out of prosperity --

MS. PERINO: Out of poverty.

MR. HADLEY: Out of poverty. And in order to do that -- thank you, Dana -- in order to do that, it's not just developed countries that need to lower their markets -- our tariff barriers are pretty low to developing countries -- but it is other developing countries, particularly those developing countries that are fairly advanced, like Brazil, India, China, that need to lower their tariffs and open their markets to developing countries.

So more discussion, I think, on Iran, on Doha, on global climate change; discussions about the Middle East. Condi Rice is, of course, there today. I think the subjects are pretty predictable. There's very little disagreement between the President and Prime Minister Brown on these issues. So I think it will sort of consolidate the consensus that's emerged over the course of the trip.

I think it will also be interesting tomorrow when the President goes to Belfast. As you know, we have been very supportive of Britain and Ireland as they have worked over these last several years, first to reach and then to carry out -- to encourage the parties to carry out the St. Andrews Agreement. And it's been a real success story for the British and for the Irish, supported by the President, but of course a real success story for the parties in Northern Ireland themselves.

There's recently, you know -- in May was a conference by which businesses came to Northern Ireland. There's clearly a need for economic -- for business and private investment in Northern Ireland so that peace can be followed by prosperity in Northern Ireland. That's what really will consolidate the speech -- the peace. The President's presence there will be a way of sort of underlying the potential in Northern Ireland for progress in the same way that the conference here in May did.

Obviously there are still some issues that remain in terms of the implementation of the St. Andrews Agreement, particularly the devolution of policing and justice responsibilities to the Northern Irish authorities, something that was promised in May, supposed to happen in May. We need obviously, and the President will be encouraging them to set a date for the devolution of the justice and policing as one of the last steps for implementation of the St. Andrews Agreement. That's very important for consolidating the positive evolution that has occurred there.

So, good opportunity for the President to give that process a bit of a push and show his support for it. And then we'll all get on an airplane and go home.

MS. PERINO: We have time for about four questions.

MR. HADLEY: No questions, that's fine.

Q I have a question on Iraq. Can you talk a little bit more about it, how -- what they'll have to say to each other about troop levels, particularly the British troop levels in Iraq? There's been some talk that the President himself said in an interview with The Observer that he would -- again, is no -- does not agree that a time table should be set by the British, which --

MR. HADLEY: I think you -- you ought to look at the transcript of what the President said. What the President said is what the President has been saying and Prime Minister Brown has been saying from the very beginning, which is that we obviously all want begin to bring -- begin the troops home, but we all recognize we can only do that as they succeed.

Return on success is the formula for the U.S. government; it is the formula for the British government. We have started obviously to bring some of our troops home, but again it has to be a result of progress on the ground, on the advice of our military, and not according to any arbitrary schedule. Those three pillars have been the U.S. position for a couple years. They have been the U.K. for the couple of years. They have been our joint position for a couple of years. They continue to be our joint position. There is no disagreement between us, between the President and Prime Minister Brown, on this issue, period.

Next question.

Q Can you tell us a little bit about their personal relationship at this state of the game?

MR. HADLEY: Yes, it's good. You know, they are -- they've got a lot of issues before them. They see the issues really mostly very much the same way. Obviously, you know, Brown is a different personality than Blair. The President, I think, has forged a good, close relationship with each and both of them. And, of course, what underlines it -- underlines that relationship is the fact that the United States and Britain continue to have a very special relationship.

There was an article in the press today that somehow the President was looking past the special relationship because he was talking to Merkel, Berlusconi and Sarkozy. Well, of course he's talking to Merkel, Berlusconi and Sarkozy. He's not just coming to the U.K., he's coming to -- surprise, surprise -- France, Italy, Germany and the U.K. So he will be talking to Merkel, Berlusconi, Sarkozy and Brown. That does not take away from the fact that the United States and the U.K. have had, now have, and will continue to have a very special relationship between the two countries and also between the two leaders, the Prime Minister and the President.

Q If I can ask about two reports out this morning. One, The New York Times reporting that the A.Q. Khan network had on their computers a design for an advanced nuclear weapon. Wondering what you can say about those reports and how much of a concern that is, if true. And secondly, a report in The London Times saying that there's an all-out push to get bin Laden before the end of this administration.

MR. HADLEY: Yes, there's been an all-out push to get bin Laden since about September 11, 2001. And I will tell you that Mike Hayden comes into the Oval Office on Thursday every morning as part of the intel brief to update the President on operational things that the CIA is doing. And every time, the President says, so how are we doing on number one and number two -- bin Laden and Zawahiri. This has been a focus for the President and focus for the administration for years and will continue to be so.

I saw -- this is the David Sanger article?

Q Yes.

MR. HADLEY: I've seen it. I have not read it. But obviously we -- we're very concerned about the A.Q. Khan network, both in terms of what they were doing by purveying enrichment technology and also the possibility that there would be weapons-related technology associated with it. That was a concern. That's one of the reasons we rolled up the network here three years or so ago, and fairly successfully.

And part of that rolling up was to roll up the network and part of it was to pursue what kind of relationship the A.Q. Khan network had to individual countries with which they are dealing.

Q But have you seen any -- just to follow up -- have you seen any evidence that there's been some of that weapons technology passed on by the A.Q. Khan network in addition to the uranium enrichment technology?

MR. HADLEY: We've had some concerns about it. If you go back and look at the stories that were written at the time that Libya decided to give up its nuclear and chemical programs, there was some discussion at that time about what the A.Q. Khan might have passed in terms of weapons-related technology. We're obviously -- would be concerned about that technology being passed to any of A.Q. Khan's customers in that period.

John, last question.

Q Is there some sense in which you see a potential analogy between what happened in Northern Ireland over the last few years and what might happen in the future in, you know, between the Israelis and Palestinians? Is there --

MR. HADLEY: Well, it's interesting because one of the things the Northern Irish themselves have done is -- Marty McGuinness and some of the representatives of the Protestants have actually gone to and had seminars with the parties in the Middle East. They've actually had them with Sunni and Shia in Iraq and other places where there are serious conflicts between different parts of society, talking about how the Northern Irish were able to come to a situation where parties that had fought against one another and killed one another over periods of years, if not decades, were finally able to come up -- come forward to a -- a path forward towards peace; trying to share those lessons.

This is something the President has talked about and has encouraged them to do. And when he meets with them, as he did here in the last year with the Northern Irish parties, one of the things he did with Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness was to thank them for their efforts to share their lessons learned with other areas of conflict.

Q Is he going to allude to that tomorrow in some way?

MR. HADLEY: We'll see.

MS. PERINO: Okay, that's got to be the last one. We've got to get him back up front. So thanks, guys.

Q Thanks.

MS. PERINO: See you soon.

END 1:26 P.M. (Local)