World Council for the Cedar's Revolution
Freedom and Democracy in Lebanon-USGov
Welcome to the Cedar's Revolution Website
November 15, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
November 14, 2006
QUESTION: Did you interpret Tony Blair's speech yesterday as breaking any new ground in terms of what the United States should be doing with either the Israeli-Palestinian track or Syria and Iran?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I thought it was a very good speech. Prime Minister Blair is obviously a leading voice with respect to international politics, in particular on the Middle East. I think, at least from my understanding of the British Government's views about the Middle East, it was a reflection of those views, one that we have -- most of which I think we have heard before. I'll leave it to other political analysts to decide whether or not it was something new and different, but I didn't hear anything that was a particularly new policy statement there.
QUESTION: But did the Administration agree with Mr. Blair and with lots of people like him that there's a link between the Palestinian issue and the Iraq issue? To go further, that if the Palestinian issue were resolved the situation in Iraq would be much improved?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, a couple of things, Barry. I read the speech as one saying that trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue is a very important -- would be very important for the people of the region as well as people around the globe. It's a -- it is something that is obviously a great source of concern to people in the region, Israelis and Arabs alike.
The other thing that I took away from the speech was a reflection of something that we have also said, that there is a very clear dividing line in the Middle East and the world should take note it has an interest in this dividing line. On one side, you have states like Iran and their proxies like Hamas, Hezbollah and other extremist groups, who through a variety of different means seek to spread terror throughout the Middle East and around the globe, seek to derail any efforts at negotiated solutions to political differences and also seek the tools -- seek to wield the tools of extremism, in the case of Iran, seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, and that quite clearly there is a different -- there's -- that doesn't have to be the pathway that Iran or any of these other groups and organizations follow. There's a much more hopeful pathway to follow. And we, through our offer of potential engagement with the Iranian Government, have a similar view in that it doesn't have to go to the way of confrontation and isolation. We don't want that. That's not our first choice. But that is right now the pathway that the Iranian regime is taking the Iranian people as well as those associated with that regime. That's the pathway they're taking them down.
QUESTION: Can I follow up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: There was an emphasis on their engaging with Iran and Syria. I mean --
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, you know, I -- it was a -- as I read it, it was a speech about the UK's foreign policy. And the UK has a different kind of relationship with Iran certainly. I mean, you're starting off from different places. We have a different history with Iran. And we have offered to engage them. They have to meet certain conditions for that engagement, but we have offered that sort of engagement. We share the concerns about terrorism as well as the treatment of the Iranian people by this regime. So in broad strokes, do we have to have a -- do we have to have diplomatic confrontation with the Iranian Government? Do the Iranian people have to suffer further isolation from the rest of the world? No. No.
QUESTION: But you don't see a gulf developing between, say, your allies with John Howard, saying, you know, it wouldn't be bad to talk? Tony Blair clearly going along that direction and, yet, you're still saying Iran will first have to suspend its uranium enrichment before there's any chance at talks?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, I don't -- you know, I've seen some news reporting on it that sort of picks up this particular thread of, you know, a gulf developing between the U.S. and UK. And I just -- just read the speech. I frankly don't see it. You know, if there's some particular lines in there that people want to point me to, you know, we can have a discussion about it, but I just don't see it.
QUESTION: And on that issue, I mean, the Secretary gave evidence yesterday to the Iraq Study Group and was she specifically asked about talks with Tehran and Syria.
MR. MCCORMACK: You know that was a discussion between the Secretary and the Iraq Study Group, not a discussion between the State Department and the State Department press corps.
QUESTION: Sean, Syria has said that it's ready for dialogue with the United States to achieve security and stability in the region.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: What's your answer?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, we've heard that before, haven't we? Look, the Syrian Government, when they're feeling the heat and feeling the pressure, as they are right now, they come up with these sorts of statements. They know full well what it is that they have to do. We have made it clear to them. A recent envoy from the British Government made it clear to them. Others have made it clear to them. They have isolated themselves through their own behavior.
Certainly it would be welcome news if the Syrian Government decided to play a positive role in the future of the region. Whether that's with respect to Iraq or the Palestinian people realizing a different kind of future, that would be welcome. You know, instead they continue with practices like providing shelter and housing to Palestinian rejectionist groups. The leader of Hamas is headquartered in Damascus, as are the headquarters of other Palestinian rejectionist groups. This is not -- these are not the actions of a country that wants to play a positive role in the region, the rhetoric notwithstanding.
QUESTION: Is the Secretary considering at all whether more engagement with Syria and Iran could help matters? I mean, is that under consideration? Is she sitting with her advisors saying -- I know you don't talk about internal discussions, but is she thinking, well, maybe it would help to open up talks with Syria and Iran at least a little bit more than we are now for regional issues and for Iraq?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, we have channels of communications with Syria. They just --
QUESTION: But more importantly --
MR. MCCORMACK: We have an embassy there. You know, talking isn't a policy. You know, you -- certainly, you know, talking and discussion is a mechanism to achieve your policy goals. There are fora in which we sit -- there's at least one forum where we sit with Syria and Iran as well as other states to talk about at least one regional issue, Iraq. So there's no -- we have diplomatic relations with Syria. We have obviously a much different kind of relationship with Iran. Everybody knows the history there. But there are channels of communication there.
So if Iran and Syria want to play a positive role in Iraq, they can certainly do so. And you know, most importantly the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Government have asked them to play a positive role, yet, you know, I don't think we've seen much change in behavior from either. I think you can check with the Iraqis, but I think they'll tell you that they haven't seen much of a change in behavior from either.
QUESTION: I'm sorry. Talking is not a policy. Is not talking a policy then?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. No, we do have -- if you look very clearly at Iran and Syria, our policies are quite clear. If you want to go down the list on Syria* , whether it's on the nuclear issue or the human rights issue or the terrorism issue, it's very clear where we stand. We have an offer on the table to talk to the Iranians. They can realize a different sort of relationship with -- potentially with the United States and with the rest of the world. Instead of going down the pathway of isolation, you go down the pathway of greater engagement. But that's not what they have chosen.
You know, I just read press reports today about the fact that President Ahmadi-Nejad was talking about increasing the number of centrifuges in their nuclear program. Well, that should be a cold jolt to the rest of the world when you start hearing -- a cold jolt, sorry, I didn't speak very clearly, enunciate. That should be a cold jolt to the rest of the world. When they -- when you have the president of Iran talking about the fact that their program is to go to industrial scale, thousands and thousands of centrifuges, that is not something the rest of the world wants to see. Because what that leads to is an Iranian nuclear weapon, which would be an incredibly destabilizing event in the course of the Middle East history.
So we do have very clear policies. With respect to Syria, we have made it clear to them that if they want to have a different kind of relationship with us and the rest of the world, they know what they have to do.
QUESTION: Aren't you worried though that there's the perception out there that the U.S. -- you know, critics can easily say the U.S. won't talk to Iran, the U.S. won't talk to Syria, and that only fuels that sort of sentiment in that region that the U.S. is, you know, refusing to engage in talks and that they can use that against the U.S.? And so for that reason alone, it might make sense to, you know, make an overture that's a little bit, you know, a little bit more clear perhaps publicly that the U.S. is reaching out to these two countries to solve a problem rather than just saying, well, we do have channels here. But it doesn't seem like people are picking up on that.
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, no matter what you do, there's always going to be critics. You know, there are always going to be somebody that has another idea or a better idea for you. But you know, policy makers have to act on the best information that they have available to them. They have to act on principle and they have to make -- act on their assessment of what they think will further our policy objectives, whether or not we can better achieve our policy objectives through various diplomatic tactics, whether it's talking to people or, you know, not engaging them at the moment. Those are all decisions that policy makers have to take. We believe at this point that we are engaged in the proper course with respect to Syria and Iran on all the various issues that are before us.
I would just point out that in the wake of Lebanon, you have actually both Syria and Iran being much more isolated -- we talked about the region -- much more isolated from other states in the region. I think other states in the region were shocked by the fact that you had a group like Hezbollah, in our mind it's a terrorist group, that was able to start a war with another state and that people -- while they are -- nobody is drawing hard lines between Tehran and Hezbollah, there is certainly a lot of suspicions about the fact that Hezbollah was at least if not acting at the behest of at least with the implicit go-ahead from Tehran and Damascus. And that was quite disturbing to leaders in the region, quite disturbing to the United States.
And again, it points out that there is a very clear line that has developed here in the Middle East. Those on one side who have an interest through -- interest in resolving differences via the negotiating table, via dialogue, via engagement, via negotiations and those who don't, those who want to use the tools of suicide bombers and IEDs and violence to achieve some sort of political advantage. So I think it really -- it's not the United States that's isolated in that regard, I would argue that it's actually Syria and Iran that's isolated.
QUESTION: There's a new IAEA report out today in which they're saying that Iran is pushing ahead with its enrichment of uranium and is running a UF6. I just wondered whether you had any comment on this new report.
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen the report. I know that there's been a lot of news reporting about the fact that the Iranians are proceeding ahead with new cascades, with introducing UF6 into those cascades. You know, I'll let the IAEA talk about their own reports. It's not for me to talk about them. But just -- I would again point you back to the statements of the Iranian President in which he said this is our intention: Our intention is to install tens of thousands of centrifuges to get industrial-scale production to produce highly enriched uranium. Now they say the production of uranium is for their peaceful nuclear program. Well, excuse us if we base it on past Iranium behavior, we don't buy that. And the fact is it's not just the United States that doesn't buy that, it's the IAEA Board of Governors as well as the UN Security Council that doesn't buy that. And it's a source of grave concern.
QUESTION: Have you spoken to the Russians and the Chinese about this? And do you think that --
MR. MCCORMACK: About this report?
QUESTION: About this report, yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not aware of any particular conversations. We have ongoing conversations on the fact of the resolution that we're working on. Up in New York John Bolton I know had some meetings yesterday. Nick Burns today had a phone call with the P-5+1, his counterparts among the political directors. I would expect that it's a topic of conversation when the Secretary travels to APEC. She's going to have meetings with her Chinese counterpart, her Russian counterpart as well as others. And I expect the President will probably have -- this will be part of his discussions as well with his leader counterparts.
QUESTION: So do you think that this report will give you, for want of a better word, ammunition to push forward with a resolution for strict sanctions?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think all it does is underline -- underscore the fact that we need a resolution in order to send a strong message to the Iranians they need to change their behavior. They haven't changed it yet, despite the fact that they have gotten a message from the Security Council that they must change their behavior. Now they're -- we believe and others believe that there must be costs to that failure to abide by the demands of the international community. It is a member of the United Nations and the resolution that was passed, 1696, was binding upon them. They have flouted that demand for compliance with the resolution and the terms of the resolution and there should be a cost to that. Now this is starting to become also a question of the credibility of the Security Council of whether or not it can follow through in enforcing its own resolutions.
We want -- we're trying very hard, doing everything we can, to have the Security Council function as it was envisioned to function, and we believe it's important that we do so. We have an agreement among the P-5, the P-5+1, that the next step in this process would be a Security Council resolution with sanctions in it. That's what we're working towards. We believe, despite all these ups and downs, that we will ultimately get a resolution.
QUESTION: Ambassador Jeffrey said yesterday on his news conference that you are working on the resolution on Chapter 7. My question is, are you working on Chapter 7 -- the resolution -- you want to have a resolution on Chapter 7 or without Chapter 7, just a resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it would be Chapter -- Article 41 of Chapter 7, which deals specifically with economic-related issues.
QUESTION: But in Chapter 7, Article 41, it's mentioned also if the whole thing doesn't work the using of force is --
MR. MCCORMACK: We have said that that is -- we are seeking to resolve this through diplomatic means, although the President never takes any option off the table. Very clearly we are trying to get --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- diplomacy to work.
(The briefing was concluded at 12:36 p.m.)
DPB # 184
Released on November 14, 2006
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
ANNAN: LEBANON’S APPROVAL OF TRIBUNAL PROPOSALS A MAJOR STEP
In response to earlier questions regarding the UN’s response to the action taken in Lebanon regarding the proposals the UN sent to the Government of Lebanon last week about a tribunal dealing with the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that the decision of the Lebanese Council of Ministers approving the draft agreement and draft statute regarding the establishment of a tribunal of an international character is an important step in fulfilling the Security Council’s mandate in resolution 1664.
Asked whether the United Nations recognizes the present Lebanese Government as legitimate, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that it is the responsibility of the Lebanese authorities to take actions they consider appropriate within the laws of Lebanon. It is not for him to comment on these internal matters.
He added that, after review by the Security Council, the draft instruments will again be sent to the Government of Lebanon, and the Lebanese authorities will have opportunity to review them and follow the process required by their laws.
Asked whether the Secretary-General, who has voiced support for a unity government among the Palestinians, would support one among the Lebanese, the Spokesman said that as a general rule, the Secretary-General would like to see stable political situations in every country. As for the current government, the Secretary-General has received a letter from the Lebanese Prime Minister and responded to it, he said.
Asked about meetings involving the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Lebanon, Geir Pedersen, Dujarric said that Pedersen had been meeting with a number of Lebanese leaders from all political groupings, as part of his regular work. He would report back to UN officials in New York on his meetings.
**Questions and Answers
Question: About the response from the Lebanese Government and [inaudible], does it mean that you recognize the Lebanese Government as legitimate, although most of the politicians and leaders in Lebanon have declared it illegitimate…, including the President?
Spokesman: I think that your commentary on what Lebanese politicians have declared, I can’t answer to. I think that our answers our pretty clear. We believe that this letter is an important step in fulfilling the Council’s mandate in resolution 1664. Obviously, it is the responsibility of the Lebanese authorities to take actions they consider appropriate, within the laws of Lebanon. And it is not for the Secretary-General to comment on these internal matters. So after the review of the draft statute of the tribunal by the Security Council, the instruments, the framework of the Tribunal, the papers will be sent again to the Government of Lebanon. And the Lebanese authorities, at that point, will have an opportunity to review them, and follow the process required by their own laws.
Question: Do you require the [inaudible]… of the President of Lebanon?
Spokesman: As I said, we’ve seen the letter. We think it is an important step in the process. And we’ve accepted the letter at its face value and we’re acting upon it and will move quickly to bring this to the Security Council.
Question: You don’t have any opinion as for whether there should be a Unity government in Lebanon?
Spokesman: As a general rule, it is fairly clear that the Secretary-General would like to see stable political situations in just about every country.
Question: I understand that the Secretary-General’s representative in Lebanon has been meeting the leaders of the Lebanese. Did he file any report on these meetings and the outcome on their points of view regarding their situation there?
Spokesman: Yes. Mr. Pedersen, as it is his mandate, has been meeting with a number of Lebanese leaders on all sides of the aisles in Lebanon. He meets with every member of the Cabinet. And he does report back to Headquarters. But those are obviously reports that are for our own consumption.
November 14, 2006
President Bush Welcomes Prime Minister Olmert of Israel to the White House
Q Mr. President, do you see any change in the administration's position regarding Syria? Do you support the resumption of Israeli-Syrian negotiations? And the same question to the Prime Minister, if I may. In the past, you rejected the resumption of the Syrian and Israeli negotiations under -- one of the reasons was the rejection of the American administration regarding the policies of Syria. Do you see now, after you discuss this matter with the President, any change in your position regarding Syria?
PRESIDENT BUSH: My answer to your question is, Prime Minister Olmert knows how to run his own foreign policy. And he can figure out his -- he can figure out his policy towards them. My policy towards Syria is this: that we expect the Syrians to be, one, out of Lebanon so that the Lebanese democracy can exist; two, not harboring extremists that create -- that empower these radicals to stop the advance of democracies; three, to help this young democracy in Iraq succeed. And the Syrian President knows my position. We have told that to him through my administration. We do have an embassy there in Syria. But our position is very clear, and we would like to see some progress toward peace from the Syrians.
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: I share the same opinion with President Bush. We are not against negotiations with Syria. We would love to be able to have negotiations with Syria, but that must be based on a certain reasonable, responsible policy, which is not preformed by Syria for the time being. Everything that they are doing is to the other direction -- in Lebanon, in Iraq, and the sponsorship of Hamas and Khalid Mashal as the main perpetrators of terror against the state of Israel. With some changes in the Russian -- I'm sorry, in the Syrian attitude on these major issues, I hope that one day the conditions for contacts between them and us will be created. But to be honest, I don't think at the present time they manifest any such attitude. And that makes it impossible.
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: (Speaking Hebrew.)
And again, I want to thank you, President Bush, for being so gracious to me and to the state of Israel.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Proud to have you here.
Thank you all.
END 11:58 A.M. EST
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 13, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
1:10 P.M. EST
Q When the President mentioned that Syria needs to get out of Lebanon, is that a pre-condition for the U.S. to have talks with them?
MR. SNOW: The United States -- I don't know how many times we have to explain, but we do have diplomatic negotiations with Syria. But we also say to the Syrians, you have real obligations, you need to respect the Siniora government. At this point, I don't believe Syria even has an embassy there.
Q We have diplomatic relations, but not ongoing conversations about Iraq.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, the Syrians -- look, the Syrians know what we think, and we're trying to make it clear to them what they need to do.
END 1:48 P.M. EST
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
November 13, 2006
Political Situation in Lebanon / Hariri Assassination International Tribunal Issue
Stability of Prime Minister Siniora’s Government
QUESTION: Sean, in Lebanon, some would say that the Hezbollah is using kind of brass-knuckle tactics in these negotiations going after veto power in that government. I wonder if you have any reflection on that process at the moment.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I understand it -- and again, I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of Lebanese politics -- but the basic issue that has triggered this round of turmoil within the Lebanese political system has been the question of a tribunal for trying those who may have been responsible for former Prime Minister Hariri's death, the assassination. My understanding is that the cabinet has approved the proposal and that it now goes back to the UN. The UN will act on it or not. And then if they act on it positively, then it would go back to the Lebanese parliament for approval. So there are many stages in this process.
It's very clear that there are some outside of Lebanon as well as inside Lebanon who don't want to see passage of this tribunal because either they themselves are worried that they may end up before such a tribunal or that their friends will end up before such a tribunal. And I think that that's really at the root of what you're seeing right now. You're seeing a political brewing crisis that has been brought about by the fact that some are very, very nervous, including in Damascus, about where this tribunal issue is going to head.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And some say they might undermine the legitimacy and stability of the government. Do you have any comment on that development?
MR. MCCORMACK: That gets into Lebanese constitutional law and, you know, I'm not an expert in it, though people who follow these things very closely have said that it shouldn't have any effect at this point in time in the ability of this cabinet to be able to act both on day-to-day matters as well as more substantive policy issues.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we have more.
QUESTION: Are you concerned though that the Siniora government is becoming sort of closer to collapse? I mean, the White House put out a statement a couple of weeks ago saying that you were really concerned about his safety and about the stability of the government. Do you think that moves such as this over the weekend, political moves, really weakened his hand?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, these are principled decisions that members of this cabinet took. Again, I would just initially shine the spotlight more on those who don't want to see this happen because this really comes down to some groups, some individuals, not wanting to see this tribunal process move forward, and I can't imagine other than they're nervous about themselves ending up before this tribunal or their friends ending up before this tribunal why they would want to stand in the way of finding out who was responsible for the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.
Now the international community has taken up this issue because this is something that the Lebanese people had wanted and we fully support the investigation as well as bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri.
So I think people really have to ask themselves the question of why people don't want to see this go forward, because this is the event and the subject that is really precipitated this latest round of turmoil in Lebanese politics.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:30 p.m.)
DPB # 183
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
Monday, November 13, 2006
UNITED NATIONS AWAITS LEBANON’S RESPONSE ON PROPOSALS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL
Asked about Lebanon’s approval of the proposals sent by the United Nations last week concerning a tribunal that would examine the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not yet received official notification of such an approval from the Lebanese Government. He declined to comment to specific questions about that approval until it is formally received.
Asked whether the developments in the Lebanese Government affected the work done by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Spokesman said that UNIFIL’s mandate is provided by a Security Council resolution and its status had not changed. He declined to comment otherwise on Lebanese internal politics.
Asked about the risk posed by Israeli flights over Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would continue to protest such overflights forcefully, using political and diplomatic means. He called those flights violations of resolution 1701.
Asked about Lebanon’s approval of the proposals sent by the United Nations last week concerning a tribunal that would examine the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not yet received official notification of such an approval from the Lebanese Government. He declined to comment to specific questions about that approval until it is formally received.
Asked whether the developments in the Lebanese Government affected the work done by UNIFIL, the Spokesman said that UNIFIL’s mandate is provided by a Security Council resolution and its status had not changed. He declined to comment otherwise on Lebanese internal politics.
Asked about the risk posed by Israeli flights over Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would continue to protest such overflights forcefully, using political and diplomatic means. He called those flights violations of resolution 1701.
Asked about UNIFIL’s role in dealing with weapons smuggling in Lebanon, the Spokesman said that resolution 1701 called for the international community to assist the Lebanese Government in securing its borders.
UNIFIL, he added, is concentrating on its area of operations south of the Litani River. He said that it has assisted the Lebanese Army in finding and confiscating weapons in that zone.
Asked about the work being done on the release of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners, the Spokesman said that the UN facilitator is continuing his work.
In response to a reporter who claimed that Michael Williams, Director of the Asia and Middle East Division of the Department for Political Affairs, was the facilitator, Dujarric said that Williams was not the facilitator, but emphasized that, as a rule, he would not comment on the facilitator’s identity.
Williams, he added, had been in Lebanon as part of his regular duties to help draft the Secretary-General’s next report on the implementation of resolution 1701.
**Questions and Answers
Question: The Lebanese Government approved today the Hariri tribunal, despite the resignation of six ministers. President Lahoud said the Cabinet was no longer legitimate, that it does not carry legal weight. What is the Secretary-General’s position?
Spokesman: As of about 30 minutes ago, we had not received any official notification from the Lebanese Government, so until we do, I will refrain from commenting.
Question: Given that the President of Lebanon has said that the Government is null and void and it is no longer legitimate, how will that affect United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) actions in Lebanon? Also, we heard over the weekend from the French there is the risk that the French or UNIFIL will fire against the Israeli warplanes if they overfly Lebanon. Is there any comment about that?
Spokesman: Yes. As for the overflights, we have and will continue to protest forcefully the overflights, which are a violation of the resolution. We will continue to try to solve this matter in a political and a diplomatic way, with our contacts on the political level, as well as on the military side. There is, obviously, quite a lot going on politically in Lebanon currently, discussions between Governments and ministers, and I don’t want to insert ourselves at this point into that discussion. Yes, sir?
Question: Can you tell us what the status is of UNIFIL involvement into exploring the allegations of weapons smuggling over the border from Syria into Lebanon. Is there any role that UNIFIL is playing now?
Spokesman: I would refer you back to the resolution, which outlines what UNIFIL’s role is. The resolution called for the international community to assist the Lebanese Government in securing its border. UNIFIL’s work is focused very much on its area of operation, which is south of the Litani River. They have, on a number of occasions in the past few weeks, in fact, assisted the Lebanese army in securing weapons that were found in the zone. Those weapons were then confiscated by the Lebanese Army, so they have been working on that front as well. Yes, Laura?
Spokesman: At the risk of breaking the rule of talking about who this facilitator is, Michael Williams, who is the head of a section of the Political Affairs Department was in Lebanon at the request of the Secretary-General on follow-up to the resolutions, to help the Secretary-General draft his next report to 1701. Mr. Williams is not the facilitator. There you go, I broke my rule. Yes, sir?
Question: How will UNIFIL act after the breakdown of the Government of Lebanon, because now, this Government is illegitimate, by Constitution, because seven ministers are missing from there? A whole section of society is not represented and the Constitution states clearly that if one section of Lebanese society is not represented that means this Government is not representative of the people, and thus becomes illegitimate.
Spokesman: UNIFIL’s mandate is derived from its Security Council mandate. UNIFIL will continue to operate along the ways it has been mandated. UNIFIL receives instructions from the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Question: But upon the request of the Lebanese Government whenever…
Spokesman: The status of UNIFIL is unchanged. Matthew?
Spokesman: As usual, Matthew, you know more than I do about Uganda. But we will do something.
Question: I didn’t get any answer about the legitimacy of the Lebanese Government.
Spokesman: It is not for the United Nations to rule on the legitimacy of--
Spokesman: I understand. I fully understand the situation. I am fully read up on the situation. The point is that we are not going to comment on it. UNIFIL’s mandate is unchanged and they will continue their operations.
Question: Hamas and Fatah have agreed on forming a new Government to be headed by a professor who is not a member of Hamas. How has the Secretary-General received this information?
Spokesman: My understanding is that it is not yet finalized, but the issue of a national unity government is something that the Secretary-General and the United Nations have supported. But we are waiting for official notification.
Thank you very much.
* *** *
November 4, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 1, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
12:08 P.M. EST
Q Another subject, today you put out a pretty tough statement about the Sinioran government, saying that Syria needs to watch it, essentially. How concerned are you that there is an effort to topple the Sinioran government, the democracy there?
MR. SNOW: We think it's important -- let me put it this way -- we are committed to the success and the stability of the Siniora government and we want to make it clear to everybody in the region that that's a priority. The President talks often about the importance of a young democracy in the region -- young democracies. Lebanon is clearly one, Iraq is another that we're absolutely committed to, because we understand, again, the power of an example is something that everybody in that region is looking for. And if you have the example of a stable democracy that's able to fend off terror -- in the case of Lebanon, from Hezbollah -- then you have an opportunity to create an entirely different set of circumstances in the Middle East, all of which are going to be good for us.
Q We're interested in the good parts of democracy, but why did you put out the statement? Are you concerned there have been reports about arms smuggling and whatnot?
MR. SNOW: Well, let me just say --
Q Are you concerned about it being toppled?
MR. SNOW: No, we're just -- we're making it clear to everybody in the region that we think that it ought to be hands off the Siniora government. Let them go about and do their business.
Q I want to take you back to your Lebanon statement here. You said that there was mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments and Hezbollah and their allies are trying to topple the government. But the rest of the statement doesn't describe what that evidence is. The only thing it goes on to describe is an effort to stop formal approval of the statute on the international tribunal, which is quite different than toppling a government.
MR. SNOW: That is correct. And, David, as somebody who at least I think spends a fair amount of time talking to people who handle classified information, you will understand why we do not necessarily go into greater detail about those. It serves a diplomatic purpose, and an important one.
Q I can understand that, but at the same time, you're making a fairly serious charge that two governments are seeking to overturn the government of a neighbor. And it would seem to me that that would require at least some characterization of the evidence in declassified form. Could you tell us any more about it?
MR. SNOW: No, but thanks for the advice. We'll pass it on.
Okay, thank you.
END 12:50 P.M. EST
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
November 2, 2006
QUESTION: On Lebanon. On the very tough reaction from Syria and Iran and also forces in Lebanon about your statements from yesterday, what's going on in Lebanon? I'm not sure if you saw comments by General Aoun who kind of denounced the White House statement, denying any involvement in trying to topple the Government and said it’s rather U.S. policy in the region that's the problem.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, it's sort of interesting that an individual decided to -- singled himself out regarding a statement that didn't single out any particular individuals. So I'm not sure why he thought that was particularly directed at him. It's an interesting reaction. Look, the statement really focused on two concerns and our statements by Secretary Rice, our UN Ambassador Bolton and then yesterday from Tony Snow and what I've talked about, there are two concerns here. One they concerned that there may be outside powers, Syria and Iran, who are seeking to try to manipulate Lebanese politics to continue to play a negative role in Lebanon's attempts to emerge from the shadows of Syrian occupation, try to build a better way of life for that country, a peaceful, stable, democratic way of life. So there are real concerns about that. There are UN Security Council resolutions that speak to this very issue that demand and mandate that outside states not interfere in Lebanon's internal matters.
The second concern has to do with some of the statements from within Lebanon by some individuals that hint at attempts to influence the Lebanese political system in non-democratic extra constitutional means. That's a source of concern because we stand for a fully developed, stable, peaceful Lebanon. We support the efforts of Prime Minister Siniora, duly elected government by the Lebanese people, at political and economic reform. This is a fledgling democratic movement. We believe it's important that states around the world, states in the region support those efforts. We are not trying to put our finger on the scale here, but what we do support is the efforts of those individuals who want to ensure that Lebanon is once again free from foreign influence and also free from any attempts at non-democratic extra-constitutional means to change their politics.
QUESTION: I know you didn't mention anyone in this particular statement, but one of the goals of Hassan Nasrallah's threat to start these street protests unless there's some kind of unity government where there are a lot of forces in the country that want General Aoun in the unity government because he represents pro Syrian voices. Do you believe that he's one of the individuals that's interested in causing trouble for the Siniora Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know I'm not going to try to comment on remarks that I haven't seen myself. I haven't had a chance to fully read through them.
QUESTION: What about his particular role in --
MR. MCCORMACK: We would expect that General Aoun as well as others would try to play a positive role in furthering efforts at democratic political reform as well as economic reform.
QUESTION: I want to ring in.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: On Iran --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the usual question whether there's any -- the Secretary did any --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, we'll come back to you.
QUESTION: -- any telephoning around to a member of the P-5+1? Did she get them back on the phone trying to facilitate the resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we did -- I talked about the call two days ago.
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing new since then.
QUESTION: Okay, thank you.
QUESTION: In the same context of my colleague here, but you know the Syrian Government yesterday issued a statement saying that Syria fully respects the sovereignty of Lebanon and does not interfere in its internal politics. The Speaker of the House of Lebanon seems to also not like very much the statement of the United States yesterday. He put that in the context -- I was wondering if that comes in the context of what you call constructive chaos in the area? Whether you agree him or not, but that's what he believes. He is the Speaker of the Parliament there. And he particularly was very disturbed by the fact that the United States does not see itself defending Lebanon when the Israeli airplanes fly over -- violates the Lebanese sovereignty every day. Why you don't speak out to this?
Thirdly, there are other people in the Middle East today, they are talking about wondering whether the United States was trying to reward Kamal Jumblatt, who was a very divisive figure in Lebanon.
QUESTION: What's the question?
QUESTION: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: What's the question?
QUESTION: I mean, they were wondering why the United States chose to issue such a statement while Walid Jumblatt was trying ahead for campaign against Syria and other forces in Lebanon.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm not going to comment on, you know, Speaker Berri's remarks. He obviously has a right to express his opinions.
In terms of Syria, you know, pardon me if I'm a little skeptical. This is a country that has refused to open up formal diplomatic relations with Lebanon. They don't have an embassy in Beirut. So that would be a good first step and maybe establishing the good, transparent, neighborly relations that I believe the Lebanese want as opposed to continuing to view Lebanon as one of its clients, a former -- an area that it formerly occupied. The Lebanese people desire to be a free, sovereign nation. So I would just put it to the Syrian Government that they might start by opening up an embassy in Beirut and actually starting to treat Lebanon like a free, sovereign country that it is.
QUESTION: Well, you've never said necessarily explicitly whether you support the creation of a unity government or you think that the government -- I know you support Prime Minister Siniora, but should the government stand as is or should there be a unity government? I mean, you said that Nabih Berri is entitled to speak, you know, as an individual, but this is someone that the Secretary has met before, has tried to encourage to play a positive role, and he's one of the people that's calling for a national unity government. So what's your position on whether --
MR. MCCORMACK: Our position --
QUESTION: Should the government be expanded to be more inclusive?
MR. MCCORMACK: Our position is that the Lebanese Government, the Lebanese leadership and the Lebanese people should decide how they are arranged politically in Lebanon. We shouldn't dictate it. Nobody else should dictate it to them.
In terms of the composition of the government, that is something that is going to be up to ultimately Lebanese political leadership. They will have to sort that out themselves. We of course reserve the right to not deal with certain individuals. There are two Hezbollah cabinet ministers in this current government. We don't deal with them because of our well known views with respect to Hezbollah.
But all we can do is we can stand with those people who want to see a better, more democratic, more free way of life for the Lebanese people. Certainly Prime Minister Siniora is one of those people and we support him in his efforts at political and economic reform.
QUESTION: Is Nabih Berri another?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we are working with all individuals in the Lebanese political constellation who have an interest in playing a positive role in Lebanon's future.
QUESTION: Sean, with regard to this, Hezbollah was ordered in the UN to cease and desist, and the Syrians were asked, back with UN 1559, to leave Lebanon in more ways than one. They still have the political influence there. Are you saying -- your comments and what Elise has just said -- that Hezbollah should refrain from any more political entries into that political process which would then undermine further UN 1559?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our views on Hezbollah are well known. We believe Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and that they cannot have one foot in the camp of terror and one foot in the camp of politics. You also can't have militias, such as Hezbollah has, that operate outside the control of the central government. The central government needs to have a monopoly on the use of force and to maintain law and order in a country, in a democracy. That's just the way it works.
QUESTION: So in other words, what you're saying is you wish to tell the Lebanese Government now that Hezbollah can't run for offices, can't have any further --
MR. MCCORMACK: That's not our judgment. What we're saying is that the Lebanese people, the Lebanese electorate needs to resolve what is a fundamental contradiction here. You have a terrorist group and a terrorist group that has its own militias that operate outside the control of the central government, yet they say they want to participate in the central government. That's a fundamental contradiction. So that's what we're saying. They need -- the Lebanese people need to resolve that. UN Security Council resolutions make clear that Hezbollah needs to disarm but it is the Lebanese people and the Lebanese electorate that needs to decide that. We can't do that for them. That's a question that they need to answer for themselves.
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
November 1, 2006
QUESTION: On Lebanon.
QUESTION: Can we stay on --
MR. MCCORMACK: On this? Okay.
QUESTION: Yeah. Does it change anything in the relations you have with the Egyptian Government?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have spoken out before about certain steps that the Egyptian Government or Egyptian courts have taken previously. We've talked about, for example, the case of Ayman Nour as well as others who were detained in the process of expressing their right to free speech in the course of parliamentary as well as presidential elections. So we've talked about this before.
We -- and the Egyptian Government understands where we stand on these things, and we will continue to talk about them because it is important. But at the end of the day, it's the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian people that are going to have to agree upon the changes and the political accommodations that govern their daily political life. We can speak out very firmly about cases like this one and others, and we will continue to do so. But the Egyptians and the Egyptian people are going to have to make decisions about what changes they might make in their political structure, their legal structures, their -- and the laws that govern all of these.
QUESTION: So it won't have any have any impact on the assistance you give to Egypt?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't -- I don't believe so. I haven't heard anybody talking about that.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, Elise.
QUESTION: On Lebanon.
MR. MCCORMACK: On Lebanon, yeah.
QUESTION: There's a couple of things going on. The White House put out a very strong statement --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Saw that.
QUESTION: -- talking about -- warning Iran and Syria not to make efforts to topple the government and talked about indications and evidence that this is happening. Could you talk a little bit about what this evidence is that they're -- that they are trying to topple the government and if this is a result of the meetings that the Secretary had this week with some of the --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, actually, and I'll try to talk about it as much as I possibly can. But I think you'll understand that there are certain strictures on that just because we gather and collect information in a lot of different ways. But first I would point out Secretary Rice actually herself talked about this during a Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation interview she had with May Chidiak, the victim of terror and the victim of an assassination attempt in Lebanon, so you go back and check the transcript on that. And John Bolton has also talked about this.
There's a limited amount that I can say about this. Suffice it to say we do have real concerns. You saw from the White House statement it's a pretty direct statement and it's a pretty stark statement. But we believe it's merited based on what have seen going on in the region. You have had a couple of data -- public data points for you, though.
You had a recent speech by Nasrallah, I think within the past day or so, demanding the Siniora government take certain steps or Nasrallah and his compatriots would see that it falls.
You had President Lahoud talk about taking steps to block the formation of a criminal tribunal that would bring to justice those who might be accused of participating or being responsible for former Prime Minister Hariri's death. It certainly gives the appearance of trying to obstruct justice.
So -- and you look at the various connections that are here. Quite clearly, Hezbollah has its patrons in Damascus and certainly in Tehran. This is an organization that has shown that it has very few boundaries concerning what it will do and what it won't do. The most recent example is the fact that it started a war in the region, started -- you know, this group started a war with a sovereign state.
So it would seem that the benefactors of this group will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. And what they don't want to see -- what they don't want to see -- is a stable, peaceful, democratic Lebanon because that is antithetical to their point of view and antithetical to how they want to see the region develop.
It is -- the conflict that Hezbollah started was tragic in that so many innocent lives were lost. But it did provide a clarifying moment in the Middle East. And very clearly you can see on one side -- one side of the line you have Hezbollah, groups like Hamas and their sponsors in Damascus and Tehran, who want to take the region in a completely different direction than the great majority of people in that region would seem to want to take it. And that is towards greater freedom, greater prosperity and more peace. These are groups that don't want to see, for example, peace between Israelis and Palestinians. These are groups that don't want to see issues between Lebanon and Israel resolved over the long term.
So that's -- that is one of the reasons why we put out the statement today and why Secretary Rice has talked about it because we want to make it absolutely clear that the United States stands firmly with the government of Prime Minister Siniora, a government who has -- which has worked very hard to, under difficult circumstances, coming out, emerging from the shadow of 20 years of Syrian occupation, to try to do its best to lay the foundations for a democratic, peaceful, secure Lebanon, which is in the interest of the Lebanese people and everybody in the region.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, Michel.
QUESTION: What can you do to prevent the collapse of a Siniora government?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, ultimately, what we can do is try to as best we can support Prime Minister Siniora politically, diplomatically, you know, economically. This is the elected Government -- Government of Lebanon. All that said, we don't, you know, we're not going to -- we're not going to interfere in Lebanon's domestic politics. What we don't want to see is others interfering in Lebanon's domestic politics. And I'm afraid that's -- that is our fear. You know, our fear is that you have a group like Hezbollah, which very clearly derives much support not only from Damascus but from Tehran, and you also have other forces within Lebanon allied with these external -- external patrons.
So the concern is from us as well as others is that you will see once again an attempt to turn back the clock and have the -- yank away from the Lebanese people what they have fought so hard for, and that is the right to determine their own political future. And we don't want to -- we don't want to see the clock turn back to the days when Syria occupied Lebanon or even to a state of being where you have outside governments essentially pulling the strings in Lebanon and dictating what happens.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) I think address is whether you have seen evidence of either Syria or Iran either helping to rearm or facilitating the rearmament of Hezbollah.
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, that falls into the category of we -- you know, we collect a lot of information that I can't talk about. Just suffice it to say it's something that would be of grave concern to us as well as others in that it would be a clear violation and transgression of Security Council Resolution 1701.
QUESTION: Well, Terje Roed-Larsen told the Security Council and then told reporters afterwards that there is evidence that they were smuggling arms.
MR. MCCORMACK: I'll let Mr. Larsen speak to it.
QUESTION: Is that your --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm not going to talk about information that we may have.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Same subject?
QUESTION: A follow-up on this.
MR. MCCORMACK: Go ahead.
QUESTION: You can't do anything to stop Syria and Iran from interfering in the Lebanese internal affairs?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, one of the things you can do is to ensure that they know the world is watching and that the world will not stand for that kind of -- a renewal of that kind of behavior. And one thing I'm sure that they would like is to operate below the radar screen so that people aren't aware of these things. And one of the reasons why the Secretary made the statements that she did, why the White House put out this statement, is we want to make it clear that we are concerned about these things and also we, as well as others, are watching very closely.
QUESTION: Tony Blair sent an envoy, I think Monday, to Syria.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: Was there any collaboration with the United States on that visit perhaps to apply pressure? I know, you know, reports suggest that they were talking about Iraq, but was there any pressure applied by the British on this issue?
MR. MCCORMACK: We -- I'll let the British Government speak to Mr. Shinewald's trip, but we certainly know about the trip. We know the message he was sending to the Syrian Government.
QUESTION: When you say that the world will be watching, but what else can you do? What -- I mean, to be watching is maybe not enough to prevent it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again Sylvie, we will do everything that we can. Part of the effort is to shine a spotlight on these efforts and to support those who want to preserve a free, stable, democratic Lebanon.
QUESTION: Sean, just to follow up on what you just said, you said we know the message sent to the Syrian Government. Does that mean specifically to what the White House statement suggested today or just any --
MR. MCCORMACK: I'm going to let the Brits speak for themselves on this. Okay?
QUESTION: What did Jumblatt provide -- sort of information about this mounting evidence of Syria and Iranian interference? Is that one of the reasons why the White House decided to release a statement because of the Secretary's discussions with Jumblatt? Did he provide more information or --
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I haven't talked to the Secretary about her meeting with Mr. Jumblatt. I do know that they did talk about the situation in Lebanon, but I can't give you a specific answer, Sue, and I can't draw a cause-and-effect relation between the meeting and that. But again, go back and look at what the Secretary said in her interview with May Chidiac.
QUESTION: On Sri Lanka. There is renewed violence. The Sri Lankan Air Force has bombed Tamil Tiger targets, and I wonder if this is for the State Department an unwelcome escalation in the conflict after the peace talks fell apart in Geneva?
MR. MCCORMACK: Let me see if I can get more information for you on that matter. We'll try to post an answer for you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is there any consideration to provide the Lebanese army with weapons or any assistance?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, part of the whole implementation of 1701 is to help train up and help equip the Lebanese army. Now we, ourselves, committed to -- I can't remember the figure right now. I think it's on the order of $10 million for training. That doesn't mean U.S. soldiers going there to train them but just training outside of Lebanon. And others have stepped up in that regard. I can't provide the details for you, but there -- that is a component of implementation of 1701 because you want to get to a state eventually where you have the Lebanese army fully functioning and fully able to control all of its territory and meet the requirements of 1701. They can't do that right now, so UNIFIL is there. But that's part of the goal, part of the long-term plan.
QUESTION: Another one. Did Assistant Secretary Welch travel to the Middle East?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, he is there now. I don’t know have a full itinerary of his stops, but I think he's going to -- he's in Israel now. I think he'll probably make a stop in Jordan as well, maybe a couple of other stops in the region. It's a pretty quick trip, should be back in the office, you know, maybe Friday.
Interview With Al Hunt of Bloomberg TV
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
November 4, 2006
QUESTION: Do you think it's possible to make any progress when it comes to Iran either on the regional issue or the nuclear issue as long as President Ahmadi-Nejad is in power?
SECRETARY RICE: It's hard to tell what's going on inside Iran's politics. We have to deal with Iran's behavior. And what we did was to give Iran, along with five other countries, give Iran a real chance to not just deal with their desire for civil nuclear power. If that's what they want, they've been offered a way to get civil nuclear power. What the world is not prepared to see them have is the access to the technology of enrichment and reprocessing that leads to the ability to build a nuclear weapon. We gave them a pathway to do that.
In addition, that pathway included the possibility for the first direct talks between the United States and Iran in 27 years. And for reasons that I don't fully understand, the Iranians have not been able to meet the one condition -- a condition that's been there for a couple of years now -- that they suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities so that negotiations can begin. So that opportunity was there. That opportunity is still there. But we're going to have a Security Council resolution that does recognize the fact that Iran has not yet given in to the will of the international community.
QUESTION: Turning to the other grave problem -- nuclear weapons -- North Korea. Former President Jimmy Carter, who has been intimately involved in this as you know, said in a Bloomberg interview that it is -- and I quote -- "completely false" that North Korea cheated on the 1994 deal to freeze nuclear weapons until 2002. So for eight years they basically kept that deal.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we know that not too long after they signed that deal, yes, they've frozen their plutonium program and they've begun the search for a highly enriched uranium route. Now I guess you can quibble about whether it is cheating to close off one route to a nuclear weapon and start another route to a nuclear weapon. I would call it cheating. And the fact that the North confirmed --
QUESTION: So you think Jimmy Carter is just wrong?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was confirmed. The North Koreans confirmed to our representative at the time that indeed they were pursuing a highly enriched uranium program. Now they then backed off that, having said it at the table where any number of people heard them. But I want to look to the future. Because we have put together a coalition of states in the region that have leverage with North Korea, that reacted to the North Korean nuclear test by passing a very strong Chapter 7 resolution that sanctioned North Korea for its behavior, we now have a chance to actually make negotiations work. There's a very short time after the passage of that resolution, North Korea was ready to come back to the talks. We've left that path open and now we've sent two senior diplomats to the region, Nick Burns and Bob Joseph. They will go out and talk about the implementation of Resolution 1718 but also about how to make the six-party talks really fruitful when we go back to the table.
QUESTION: Oh,Okay. Very diplomatic, Madame Secretary. Thank you very, very much.
SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you.
Released on November 4, 2006
Office of the Spokesman
November 3, 2006
Question Taken at October 31, 2006 Daily Press Briefing
Iran Democracy Funding
Question: How much of the $85 million for democracy promotion in Iran has been spent?
Answer: The Fiscal Year 2006 budget for democracy programs in Iran consists of a $6.55 million earmark to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for Iran and Syria as part of an overall Department $10 million “soft earmark” (minimum threshold for Iran democracy spending) from the regular FY'06 budget, plus an additional $66.1 million from the FY'06 supplemental budget.
Of the original $10 million from the FY06 Foreign Operations Bill, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) is ready to obligate $4.15 million, while the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) is preparing to obligate $4.5 million through its Office of Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The awards process for these funds are in their final stage. Both bureaus are waiting for carryover funds to be returned from OMB in order to award the grants. MEPI is currently in the process of awarding another $2.5 million of regular FY'06 funds, for a total Department of State spending of $11.15 million.
The largest portion of the supplemental budget for Iran is the $36.1 million allocated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) for media programming into Iran , and questions about this funding should be directed to the BBG.
Another $20 million of supplemental funding was allocated to MEPI for additional democracy programs, which has been notified to Congress.
The remaining $10 million of supplemental funding is divided between the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ($5M) and the Bureau of International Information Programs ($5M) for Internet and other interactive programming.
Office of the Spokesman
November 3, 2006
Question Taken at Daily Briefing of Nov. 3, 2006
Meetings with Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (Taken Question)
Question: What is the U.S. policy on contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria?
Answer: We strongly advocate, in all countries, the right of all citizens to participate fully in political life and choose their leaders. We have met with several Syrian civil society organizations and representatives that promote much-needed peaceful democratic reform in their country. We have not met with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Oct 7, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 6, 2006
Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
12:35 P.M. EDT
MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have two foreign leader calls to readout, and an announcement, and then we'll get started.
Q A lot of the innocent men, women and children have been harmed by the tons of cluster bombs that we sent to Israel the last days of the war. Is the President doing anything to compensate or to help these people now, make amends in southern Lebanon?
MS. PERINO: Yes, and I think there are -- our financial contribution at this point is $230 million, and in addition to that, I don't know if you are aware, I think it was just last weekend, the President sent a team of five top CEOs of the United States to go over and work with the Lebanese government in order to find ways that we, in America, can help. It's similar to the efforts with the Iranian earthquake earlier in the year, where Americans are very generous of spirit and generous when they open up their pocketbooks. So on all fronts, we will be helping in terms of the reconstruction.
I don't have any specifics in regards to the bombs that you mention in the story that was in The New York Times today. If I can get some more, I'll certainly reply to you. But the reconstruction and rebuilding, we'd have to consider that problem, as well, as we move forward.
Briefing En Route London, United Kingdom
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route London, United Kingdom
October 6, 2006
QUESTION: I know, I'm impossible. Looking at this past week, you faced some really tough questions, some interesting conversations. Would you reflect for us on what you have achieved this week and the obstacles that are still out there or challenges that are still out there?
SECRETARY RICE: Robin, that's a dissertation topic. (Laughter.) I've been very -- I have really -- first of all, I'm very glad I came out at this time. I've really enjoyed this trip to the Middle East because I wanted to come out in the post-Lebanon period and get a real sense for what people were thinking. I had an extensive conversation with King Abdullah. I had extensive discussions with the GCC plus Egypt and Jordan. I had a chance to sit face to face with Mahmoud Abbas and understand better what he thinks his options are for dealing with the political crisis that the Palestinians are facing. I had a chance to talk to people in Iraq and also to the Israelis.
So I think I have a much better sense of how the Lebanese events and this period are affecting people's calculations of what needs to be done. Clearly, there are extremists forces out there that need to be challenged and they're going to have to be challenged. But you challenge those forces by having a positive agenda in the Middle East and I think I have a much better sense of how these various allies, friends, partners think about what needs to constitute that positive agenda.
And I'm going to go back for extensive discussions with the President and with the other -- and with the national security principals because this is an absolutely crucial time in the Middle East, and I heard in every single place this isn't a time to stand still in terms of a policy in the Middle East. Everybody understands that a lot is changing in the Middle East and that we need to have a positive agenda. But it's not just a positive agenda for the United States. It's a positive agenda for all of these forces that want to have a positive effect on the Middle East. So that's what I did while I was out here. 2006/T23-11
Oct 2, 2006
Briefing En Route Baghdad, Iraq
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route Baghdad, Iraq
October 5, 2006
10/05/2006 -- Remarks With Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki After Their Meeting
SECRETARY RICE: Well, as you know by now, we're headed to Baghdad…we're going to Baghdad because it's a quite critical time, I think, for the Iraqi Government as they work on their national compact, their national reconciliation plan. I just want to go to see what we can do to support that effort, to talk to Prime Minister Maliki and to support him, to see how our Embassy operations are working in support of both the international compact and the national reconciliation plan. So it seems a good time to stop in on Baghdad and we will -- I'll be talking to you during the trip, but I wanted just to come back and set it up.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wanted to ask about Lebanon. At least twice on this trip you've publicly called on the Syrians to stop serving as a transshipment point for weapons to Hezbollah. Do you have reason to believe since the ceasefire was put into effect that Syria has made active attempts to rearm Hezbollah? And if so, to your knowledge, do you have any reason to believe that any of those attempts have succeeded?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't know about attempts. We don't have any reason to believe that there is a large-scale effort of any kind. I think it's just important to keep warning that there is in fact an international embargo and to keep reminding Syria of its obligations under that embargo. That's why we keep warning about it.
Democracy Discussion With Print Media
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
October 3, 2006
QUESTION: Well, there is an impression that democracy is no longer on the top of the agenda list of the United States in terms of its activities in the Middle East and there is also a belief that this trip here, it's not designed in order to promote democracy but in order to establish an alliance, a security alliance, against Iran in the region. What are your comments?
SECRETARY RICE: First, I think it's important to understand that the President believes and I believe that our strategic interests and our interests in democracy are one and the same. We seek to help support the development of a Middle East that is indeed peaceful, in which longstanding conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in a larger sense the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved.
But a part of getting to that peaceful Middle East and one that can be truly stable is that there needs to be at the same time a move toward the development of moderate democratic states in the Middle East. So we need to support the development of a democratic Palestinian state, but one that can live side by side with its democratic Israeli neighbor. We need to support the democratic state of Lebanon which is finally, after more than 30 years, free of foreign forces. It should also be free of foreign influences. And in places where a bloody dictator like Saddam Hussein has been overthrown, we are supporting the development of a democratic national unity government in Iraq.
At the same time, as the President has said, we expect reform and democratization to take place also among our friends, which is why here in Egypt last year I gave a speech at the -- in Cairo, here in Cairo at AUC, talking about the importance of Egypt, with its great cultural and historic and symbolic significance, actually leading the democratic developments in the region.
In the discussions I've just had in Saudi Arabia, we had an extensive discussion of how reform might proceed in Saudi Arabia. Because we believe that a democratic, modernizing, moderate Middle East is the best chance for peace in this region, it is the best chance for true stability in this region, and it is the only way -- democratic institutions are the only way that people who have differences resolve those differences peacefully. The only other alternative is to resolve differences by repression and violence, and this region has had too much of both. And so the development of democratic institutions which can facilitate the overcoming of difference is extremely important.
And if I may say just one other thing, the United States has every reason to be humble about the development of democracy. When our democracy was founded, in our first Constitution my ancestors were declared three-fifths of a man. It was in my lifetime that in the American South where I was born that black Americans were finally guaranteed the right to vote freely. And I'm not that old.
And so we know that democracy and its development is difficult. It's sometimes uneven. It certainly has progress and then sometimes things will move backward. But the important thing is to keep pushing forward on a democratic path because it really is the only way that a state can be truly modern and truly peaceful.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you've talked about a variety of examples regarding the U.S. policies. You talked about Lebanon. You talked the Arab-Israeli conflict. You talked about Iraq. But, however, having said all of this, the image of the United States among the Arabs, among the public in general, it is not the same image. There is a feeling that there is an aggressive U.S. views towards the Arabs. There is an uneven-handed approach. They do not understand the American policies. There is a feeling among the public, among the people, the ordinary people on the streets, that the United States is anti-Arab and anti-Muslims. People watch and see all the images of the Israeli invasions. They see the bloody images of Iraq. They see the delay in forming the democracy in Iraq which was supposed to be an example of the new democracies in the Middle East. This destruction and very gruesome and aggressive Israeli attack on Lebanon and the Lebanese territories.
All of this hits at the heart of the American project or the American proposal in the region. These are the views among the public. At the end of the day, democracy is a political way that will be practiced by the people, through their institutions, will be able to govern themselves. So there is no faith in that democracy and the American proposal as it's being presented to the region. Therefore, I don't believe that this particular project in the Middle East is receiving the positive reaction from the public. Even those who are trying to build their own democracies by calling for democratic reforms, constitutional reforms, all of this are unable to see that the American role is positive and it's in their -- it's supporting of their activities.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, I understand exactly what you've said. I know this. And it's troubling to me because the United States, I think for most of its history, certainly since World War II, has generally been involved in the world on behalf of values. The United States sits, in effect, as a country with great oceans surrounding it and there have always been many in my country who thought we should just remain isolated from the world; we can protect ourselves.
But I think we realized that we were actually safest when we were in an international system with a growing number of democratic allies and so we advocated for and supported the growth of democracy in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America, even in Africa. But I think it's fair to say that we did not for many years advocate very strongly for democracy in the Middle East. We talked only about stability. And so I understand that there may be some continuing suspicion that the United States is not seriously committed to the development of democratic states in the Middle East.
I also know that even though American Presidents have tried and tried, that the inability to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to color the views of the region about American policy. Israel is America's friend. But so is Egypt and so is Jordan. And America was very active in helping Jordan and Egypt come to peace with Israel. And I think everyone is better off for those peace treaties. You can be assured that President Bush would like nothing better than to bring a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is why he was the first American President to make it a matter of policy that there should be two states living side by side, a Palestinian state and an Israeli state.
And we are working even today to try and support Mahmoud Abbas, who I think is a man of peace. We hope to encourage better relations and indeed direct talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and to improve the daily lives of the Palestinian people because the Palestinian people should not have to suffer the humiliations that they suffer that are associated with the occupation. And the Palestinian people are wonderful people who are entrepreneurial and modern and many of them well educated. When we can find a way to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, I think the state of Palestine is going to be a very special place.
And let me say just one word about Iraq because I know that it is a very violent and difficult situation in Iraq. I have been to Iraq four times. It is a place where people are trying -- the great majority of Iraqis and their leadership, their democratically elected leadership -- are trying to find a way to overcome differences that have existed but were repressed for very long periods of time.
They want to be one Iraq. They have now democratic institutions that amazingly in about three years they have had these democratic institutions emerge. They have had two elections, including one in which 12.5 million people, 12.5 million people, went out and voted, despite the threats of terrorists to kill them if they voted. They have an active press where any and every thing is debated and a parliament where any and every thing is debated. They have political parties that span the entire range of political opinion.
Unfortunately, they also have determined enemies, terrorists who will kill innocent Iraqis rather than join the political process. But Prime Minister Maliki announced a national reconciliation plan. I think that most Iraqis will be drawn to that plan and the United States is there only to help the Iraqis to build their security forces and their democracy. When we have done that, we can leave with the honor that our soldiers deserve and we believe that we will have in Iraq a democratic ally, one that fights terrorism and one that will be very good for its neighbors. Because unlike Saddam Hussein, this will not be an Iraq that seeks weapons of mass destruction, invades its neighbors and threatens its own people.
Interview With Amal Roushdy Hammady of Nile Television
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
October 3, 2006
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what's your agenda with President Mubarak tomorrow and is Egypt's initiative to pursue a civilian nuclear program among your discussion?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much. If you don't mind, I'd like to take a moment to wish your viewers Ramadan Karim and to say how good it is to be here in Egypt again.
The agenda for this visit is to take an assessment of the complicated situation that we face, but also to meet with important allies and friends about how we can strengthen the moderate forces in the region. I think we will spend a good deal of time talking about how to support Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians are going through an extremely difficult time. They need a government that can represent their interest, that will accept the responsibilities of governing, but we need to support President Abbas who is a man of peace. I think we will talk also about Lebanon and the full implementation of Resolution 1701. We will talk as well about Iraq and how to support the Iraqi people as they make their very difficult journey to democracy. And of course we are talking also about the region as a whole.
I look forward to talking with the President also about how the domestic situation here is evolving, the reforms. But it's a full agenda and it's always a full agenda --
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, no, of course, we will talk also about the nuclear program. I have just learned that the Egyptian Government is interested in civil nuclear power. From our point of view, the President has always made very clear that we believe that civil nuclear power is going to be an important energy source in the future. That states that are members of the NPT, the Nonproliferation Treaty, and are in good standing should have access to civil nuclear power. And indeed as long as they are willing to have access to that, perhaps with a fuel take-back provision so that there is no proliferation risk, the United States wants to support those efforts. And so I think as Egypt develops its plans we will want to stay in very close discussion about them.
QUESTION: The GCC members meeting plus two, Jordan and Egypt, and I'm quoting you, "moderate states" against extremist forces in the region. How do you (inaudible) Iran after the last and the latest talks between Larijani and Solana in Berlin, one? And two, what is the compact order, consideration of work, you are having to have with these member countries?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the GCC plus two will be the agenda that I've just spoke of, having to do with the Palestinians, having to do with Iraq, having to do with Lebanon. Obviously the Iranian issue is a major concern but this isn't a group that is against anyone. We're for -- I think all of these states -- a more peaceful Middle East. Iran, of course, is a supporter of extremist forces, whether it's Hezbollah or the trouble that they cause in Iraq and that needs to be stopped. It is also true that Iran's nuclear program is of great concern to the entire region. And while we were very hopeful that the Iranians might take the package, the proposal that had been presented to them, it does not appear that they are going to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities. And in that case we will have to follow the logic of Resolution 1696, which is to move to sanctions.
Interview With Randa Abu el Azem of Al Arabiya TV
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
October 3, 2006
QUESTION: Welcome with us, Ms. Secretary. And of course, this is your third trip to Egypt. We are wondering and many are wondering what is the mission of this visit because the agenda is full. But what specifically is the purpose of this visit?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much. And I may first wish all of your viewers Ramadan Karim here in Egypt. I know a very special place for Ramadan.
We are here to try and understand better the complicated situation in the Middle East, to consult with our best allies in the Middle East like Egypt. I was in Saudi Arabia. I will meet later with the Gulf States plus Jordan, plus Egypt. And we have many challenges before us. We have the challenge, of course, of trying to find a way to support Mahmoud Abbas and to have the Palestinian-Israeli conflict begin to move in a positive direction. I'm terribly concerned about the situation in the Palestinian Territories. I think we will want to consult on how to strengthen the moderate Palestinian forces so that there might be re-engagement with Israel so that life can get better for the people.
We will talk about Lebanon and the full implementation of the UN Security Council resolution that ended the Lebanon conflict. We will also talk about Iraq. Egypt is now a part of the international compact for Iraq, and I think we all want to see the Iraqis come to terms with their differences. And so there are a number of issues on our agenda. But it's a full trip, and I'm looking forward to the consultation.
QUESTION: If I may ask this question about Lebanon with the Lebanese -- I mean some (inaudible) voices have come out lately saying that war can erupt or may erupt again in three to four months. So how do you view this fragile situation in Lebanon?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh it is indeed fragile, but it is a far better situation than we had a few months ago, a couple of months ago. We have to support the Lebanese Government as it extends its authority throughout the country. We have to support the Lebanese armed forces as they are reformed and strengthened. We have to make sure that Resolution 1701 is fully implemented, that Hezbollah does not become a state within a state again. These are the things that will prevent an outbreak of war again.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much for your interview. I'm hoping to see you and have a longer interview next time.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Thank you, and I wish you a nice day in Egypt.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
Remarks With Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit After Their Meeting
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
October 3, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I will most certainly speak in English. So thank you very much. I very much want to thank my colleague Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit for arranging this meeting here in Egypt. When we met in New York, he said that when it was arranged on Egyptian territory that indeed we would have great hospitality. I think that was perhaps --
FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: We didn't say to you --
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, you did not. I think that was perhaps a comment on the fact that in New York I served water and candy. Tonight instead we had a wonderful Iftar dinner prior to our continued meeting, and I'd like to thank you very much for that hospitality.
FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: Yes, but you have to tell them what I said, because at the time I said, "Is this American generosity? "
SECRETARY RICE: That's what he said.
FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: "Come to Egypt and we'll show you." (Laughter.)
SECRETARY RICE: That's right. And he was right. The next time I'll have to do better.
We had an extensive discussion of a number of issues. Obviously this is a challenging time for the region, and we want to consult with friends, with states that can influence the region toward a more peaceful and prosperous future. We discussed the full range of issues, Lebanon, Iraq, support for the Iraqi Government. We discussed the situation in the Palestinian territories. And as Ahmed has said, we have expressed our great concern for the violence there and for the innocent Palestinians who are caught in the crossfire.
QUESTION: Is this group prepared to join forces with U.S. against the extremists in the region like Hamas and Hezbollah?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, as to the matter of Iran, the idea of a consortium is actually an old idea. It has been around for a while and the Iranians have floated it before. There is a consortium idea that the United States supports, which is the consortium that the joint venture that Russia has proposed, which would be a joint venture but with no enrichment and reprocessing on Iranian soil. Because the issue here is that Iran should not be in a position to acquire the technical expertise to enrich and reprocess, which is then the most important step to knowing how to develop a nuclear weapon.
Now if the Iranians have ideas about how to come to a agreement about what they may be able to do in a civil nuclear program, the way to propose this is to suspend enrichment and reprocessing as has been demanded in the Security Council Resolution 1696, and then to come to the table with their ideas. But I fear that this may instead, therefore, be a stalling technique because we don’t want to get to the basic issue which is that Iran has to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing in order to begin negotiations.
I just want to underscore, this is not and was never the demand of the United States. This goes all the way back to the Paris agreement. It was put forward in IAEA Board of Governors resolutions. It was then put forward in Security Council Presidential Statement and then Security Council resolutions. So I know that the Iranians would like to make this a test between the United States and Iran. But in fact, there is a Security Council Resolution 1696 that speaks to this and that resolution was adopted without objection.
So I hope that there is still room to resolve this. But the international community is running out of time because soon its own credibility in terms of enforcing its own resolutions will be at -- will be a matter of question.
And if I could just on your second question before we turn to -- I know that the six parties are committed to the logic of Resolution 1696 or they wouldn't have voted for it. And if you read Resolution 1696, it says that if the Iranians are not willing to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing activities, then the Security Council will take appropriate action under Article 41 of Chapter 7, and that's the logic under which we are operating. And we -- you know, we've been at this for quite a long time. The two years of the Paris negotiations, then a year hiatus, then the resolution of July 12th, then the resolution of -- that gave until August 31st.
It's now a month past August 31st. The Iranians have had plenty of time to find a way to suspend their enrichment and reprocessing. And just on the question, if I could, of Hezbollah and Hamas, what we discussed is how to strengthen the Lebanese Government against the state within the state that is the activity of Hamas -- of Hezbollah that lead to the conflict this summer, how to help the Lebanese Government fully implement 1701, we talked about how to help Abu Mazen in terms of a Palestinian government and a Palestinian Authority that is fully committed to the Quartet principles. That is really the issue here. Hamas has a choice. If they can make that choice, then it would be all the better for the Palestinian people.
FOREIGN MINISTER GHEIT: Yes. If I may respond to your question. The issue is how to make peace. And in order to make peace, you have to identify the problem, the cause of whatever that is happening in this part of the world. And we think and we claim and we keep telling everybody that it is the Palestinian problem and the lack of a settlement for the Palestinians. The Palestinian problem is the scourge of this region. So the idea is to meet, to discuss, to consult, to exchange ideas and to see how we can push the process forward. It is not aimed at any particular party or against any particular party. It is to build enough understanding amongst ourselves and to help the parties to make that peace and to allow that situation to subside.
Remarks With Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
October 3, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Saud. I very much appreciate the warm welcome here again in Saudi Arabia. I want to thank very much His Majesty for seeing me last night. I think we’ve had very extensive and fruitful discussions here in Saudi Arabia, as is usually the case. We are discussing, of course, a period of time in the Middle East when there is much that is changing and much that is challenging.
We have had a very extensive discussion of the situation in the Palestinian territories and the desire to find a way for the Palestinians to resolve their political crisis so that we might have progress again toward a two-state solution as envisioned by President Bush and, in fact, as envisioned in the Arab Initiative and which was once the Crown Prince Initiative, the initiative of then Crown Prince Abdullah.
We have talked also about the need to support the young states of Lebanon and Iraq, young democracies that are under considerable pressure, Lebanon in particular, after the war to support its reconstruction, to support its rearming and reform of its armed forces, which now are being used to extend Lebanese authority throughout the country.
We talked about the need for resolution for the United Nations relating to Lebanon to be fully implemented. And that includes for there to be respect for the arms embargo that the UN has recognized so that there will be no arms to any group, and that includes Hezbollah, any group except to the authorized Lebanese security forces.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. First of all, we have made very clear that we believe that all parties now in the region need to be dedicated to helping particularly these young government in places like Lebanon and Iraq and to help the Palestinians. But the way that one does that is to support the moderate forces that are fighting those who are extremists and are fighting those who would use terror as a political weapon.
The Syrian regime has not been one of the regimes that is supporting those moderate forces, in fact, quite the opposite. Syria has been a major transshipment point for weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. Syria’s negative role in Lebanon is well known. Fortunately, Syrian forces were forced to leave Lebanon under international pressure and the pressure of the Lebanese people last year, but Syria continues to be a force that could stabilize Lebanon and that engages in continued intimidation of those leaders.
And so it’s extremely important that Syria make a choice. This is not a choice for the United States to make; it’s a choice for Syria to make. And that is does it intend to be a part of the consensus that is represented by states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others that the Middle East should be a place in which the Palestinian Authority is supported not those like Palestinian Islamic Jihad or the Hamas based in Damascus that continues to frustrate the hopes of the Palestinian people or the -- those who would destabilize Lebanon. It’s a choice for Syria to make. Thank you.
Briefing En Route Shannon, Ireland
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En Route Shannon, Ireland
October 1, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: We are on our way back to the Middle East. Barbara, hello. When did you come back? Okay, we are on our way to the Middle East. We're going to start in Saudi Arabia and meet with King Abdallah and then go on to Cairo for meetings with the GCC+2, which means the GCC plus Jordan and Egypt, and then on of course to the Palestinian territories and to Israel.
But I think the way to think about this trip is that the President said in his remarks at the UNGA that it was necessary to consult with, and in effect rally, moderate forces and moderate voices in the Middle East. When Lebanon happened I think we got in very stark relief a clear indication that there are extremist forces and moderate forces. The people -- the countries that we're meeting with particularly in the GCC+2 is a group that you would expect to support the emerging moderate forces in Lebanon, in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories. And so I look forward to consulting with them on how we strengthen these forces and what needs to be done.
I should note too that it's possible, though not yet certain, that we may have a P5+1 on Iran toward the end of the week, but I'll get back to you on whether or not we decide to do that.
QUESTION: On Iran, how did the conversation go over the weekend among the P5+1? Did Mr. Solana hear anything from Mr. Larijani that gives you hope Iran will suspend? And if not, what would the purpose of a P5+1 at the end of the week be?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, we did have a conference call over the weekend. I think it's fair to say that we've not yet heard anything that suggests that the Iranians are going to suspend. In fact, you probably have seen the statements to the contrary from the Iranian President. I believe that Javier Solana will probably check his sources one more time to see if there's anything more there.
But we did have a discussion of the importance of remaining firm on Resolution 1696, which means that if the Iranians don't suspend then we'll go to the Security Council for sanctions. And I am not certain that we will meet, but if we are all -- and since I'm coming back from the Middle East going to Europe would not be difficult -- that might provide an opportunity to have one more round among ourselves about how to press forward. So -- but we haven't heard anything yet that would suggest the Iranians are going to suspend.
SECRETARY RICE: I don't.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I have a question about the Middle East. I wanted to know what is new about this initiative, what is different from before? Because you see the same people, the same moderate people, the same Jordan. So what is really different this time?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the same people are there, Sylvie, and they're still the important actors. Look, I do think that the GCC+2 effort is new and it gives us an opportunity in a new configuration to work with the moderate states and the moderate voices in the region both to support these new moderate forces like Siniora's government in Lebanon, the government of -- I mean the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas and the government of Iraq. And that configuration I think can be quite powerful in resisting extremist forces as well.
But it's important to consult with people. It's important to get together and look at what we face and, you know, also be working with the Palestinians and the Israelis to see how we might move that forward. But I think the main -- the GCC+2 I consider an important new dimension to the effort.
QUESTION: Thanks. A question on this whole notion of moderates versus extremists. How hopeful are you that you can manage to bring off a change in policy to stabilize Lebanon when you continue to avoid Damascus and you're not talking to at least the Syrians? I mean, obviously you want to try to talk to the Iranians about the nuclear issue. Given the Syrian background as a spoiler, how can this work?
And then one other on this whole tell-all book, and that is do you feel that Colin Powell was treated unfairly in the first term of this Administration and that he was pushed out in a rather abrupt manner? And how do you feel about that as someone who has been a friend of Colin Powell's? Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm going to let Secretary Powell speak for himself. You know, it's not for me to say how he felt. I do know that he was respected in the Administration, that the President listened to him. I myself attended several dinners that were just Colin and the President and me, and I said virtually nothing in those meetings. I know that the President had an open door for Colin Powell and that he won an awful lot of the arguments that he made. So I think he was not only treated with respect in the Administration, but with admiration because I know that that's the way the President feels about him.
As to the Syrians, it took 30 years to get them out of Lebanon and the notion that somehow they can be a stabilizing force in Lebanon, I just -- I don't see. If they wish to be a stabilizing force, they can certainly do it. They know what to do. They know to stop transshipment of weapons from perhaps Iran to Hezbollah. They know to cooperate fully with the Hariri assassination investigation. They know to stop intimidation campaigns against others, other Lebanese leaders. So I don't think they have to be told what they can do to help Lebanon be more stable.
QUESTION: My question is about the forces of moderation. A year ago you gave a very important speech in Cairo talking about the need for democracy, that you were jettisoning 60 years of U.S. foreign policy. The emphasis now though is on forces of moderation, not on democracy. Would you acknowledge there has been a change?
SECRETARY RICE: No. I'm also going to talk about democracy because the forces of moderation ultimately have to transition into moderate democratic forces or the Middle East I think is not going to be stable. We have with the Saudis these discussions. We have with the Egyptians these discussions. Look, it's not -- Jordan is making really great strides in its political evolution. These countries are not moving at the same speed and they're not going to move at the same speed, but the President isn't going to stop pressing for democracy because he believes that ultimately it's the force that will stabilize the Middle East most.
But it does not mean that even if states are in some state not yet transformed to democracy that we're not going to have relations with them and that we're not going to work together to resist extremist forces in the region that are threatening the very young democracies that are already there like Lebanon and Iraq and to a certain extent the Palestinian presidency.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, you're not going to see me? You're going to see me at the press conference, right?
SECRETARY RICE: Oh. Well, look, I'm going to have consultations with King Abdallah. I think that the Saudis have demonstrated their desire to help, for instance, Abu Mazen and I think we can talk about how we might do more to help Abu Mazen, and particularly to help Lebanon. The Saudis I think contributed $1.5 billion to help Lebanon. They've been very involved in countering the behavior of the Syrians, for instance. And so we'll have the discussions -- I'll have the discussions with the Saudis that I'll also have with the GCC.
SECRETARY RICE: I want Saudi's involvement in the stabilization of Iraq, I want Saudi's involvement in the stabilization of Lebanon, through resources and political support. Saudi Arabia has a lot of standing with a number of the forces in Iraq and they've actually been very helpful in trying to get Sunnis involved in the elections. I think it would be very helpful if they were supportive of and working toward helping Prime Minister Maliki's national reconciliation plan, for instance.
Released on October 2, 2006
Office of the Spokesman
October 4, 2006
The United States is committed to reducing the risk to Lebanese civilians posed by explosive remnants of war. From 1998 to the recent conflict, the inter-agency U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program invested more than $17 million dollars to rid Lebanon of persistent landmines and explosive remnants.
Since the onset of the most recent conflict, the United States has dedicated more than $9 million more for quickly and safely clearing these hazards:
- The Department of Defense transferred $5 million to the Department of State, with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) receiving $2.8 million, and $2.2 million contracted through RONCO Consulting Corporation supporting the Lebanese Army Engineer Regiment’s clearing cluster munitions and other unexploded ordinance in south Lebanon.
- The Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided an initial emergency grant of $420,000 to the MAG. The office also provided an initial $30,000 supporting the United Nations Joint Logistics Center for explosive remnants of war data collection and mapping capability in Lebanon, through its partnership with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. RONCO Consulting Corporation received $384,000, equipping two, 25-person teams to sweep for and mark explosive remnants of war for safe removal.
- The Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs is providing $2 million to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to sustain the operations of UNDP-controlled explosive clearance teams provided by the MAG and BACTEC International Limited.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded a grant of $1.2 million to the MAG for emergency unexploded ordnance and battle area clearance.
For more information on United States assistance to Lebanon, see the 6th edition of "To Walk the Earth Safety" at www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rpt/walkearth/2006.
Released on October 4, 2006
For Immediate Release
October 2, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
12:35 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: All right, hello. Sorry for the delay, I will explain that momentarily.
The President's schedule today, let's see, normal briefings in the morning. He had a wildfire briefing about 9:00 a.m. He met with the Special Envoy for Sudan at 9:25 a.m. Then a meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey, which actually went an hour over -- I'll read that out in a moment. An elm tree planting on the north grounds. He'll depart the White House in a bit and attend a Heller for Congress reception in Reno, Nevada, later today, and spend the night in Stockton, California.
Tomorrow the President will sign S. 260, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act. The sponsor is Senator Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma; the House version, sponsored by Richard Pombo, of California.
The President also had a phone call this morning, from 7:39 a.m. to 7:56 a.m. -- that would be 17 minutes -- with Russian President Putin. He called President Putin to discuss a range of issues -- the President did place the call. They agreed on the need to maintain the united position of pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, and they also discussed recent tensions in Russian-Georgian relations.
As far as the meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey is a very important and valued strategic ally and partner and the two leaders have a close working relationship and a good personal relationship. They talked about a lot of things, including EU accession, which the Turks want, as well as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Darfur -- I think I've covered the ground, but they covered a lot of stuff.
Sept 25, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 25, 2006
President Meets with Business Leaders on Lebanon Private Sector Initiative
The Oval Office
9:38 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I've just had a fascinating discussion with four business leaders and members of my administration, all of whom are strategizing on how to help the good people of Lebanon recover from the recent crisis.
Our goal, and our mission, is to help Lebanese citizens and Lebanese businesses not only recover, but to flourish, because we believe strongly in the concept of a democracy in Lebanon. Right from the beginning of the crisis I had stated that our objective is to help the Siniora government -- the Siniora government, which is a democratically elected government. And now we've got generous citizens of the United States, people who are very busy in their own right, who are willing to step forward and to strategize and raise monies to help people in Lebanon.
And this is a very important mission for our country. It's a public/private partnership. Our federal government has committed $250 million [sic]*; OPIC, under Chairman Mosbacher's lead, has arranged financing. And now private sector individuals and businesses will work together to send a clear message to the Lebanese people: We care about you; we want you to live in a free society; we've got great hopes for you; we believe in your Prime Minister, Prime Minister Siniora; and we will back up our words with actions.
So I appreciate John Chambers, who has taken the lead for this group, and I appreciate you all taking time to go over to Lebanon and show the face of America -- we're a compassionate people, we care when people suffer and we care about the type of governments that people live under. And we strongly support the young democracies in the Middle East; we support the democracy of Lebanon; we support the democracy of Iraq. And our dream is one day for there to be a Palestinian democracy living side by side in peace with Israel.
Thank you all very much for your commitment. May God bless the good people of Lebanon. Thank you.
END 9:41 A.M. EDT
* $230 million
Sept 18, 2006
|President Bush, Secretary Rice to Attend United Nations General Assembly|
Assistant Secretary Silverberg (Sept. 15): "As you know, the annual opening of the General Assembly is an exciting time for us here at the Department because along with President Bush, Secretary Rice, and really most of the senior officials at the Department convene in New York to have meetings with our key counterparts and we cover really the range of foreign policy issues. .....This year we expect a particular focus on events in the Middle East on Darfur and on President Bush's democracy agenda. "
Secretary Condoleezza Rice Interview with Rush Limbaugh
Remarks about Lebanon in RED
September 15, 2006
QUESTION: I'm really happy to introduce to you Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who joins us from Washington. The last time I spoke to you, Madame Secretary, was during the 2000 Presidential campaign. So it's long overdue, but welcome to the program.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's great to be with you, Rush. I can't believe it's been that long.
QUESTION: Time flies when you're --
SECRETARY RICE: It does, it does.
QUESTION: -- having a good time. Look, I want to get straight to this because I know your time is limited. The press conference today the President had about the congressional legislation he wants, 45 Democrats oppose. And I'm not trying to draw you into political questions here, rest assured. You've got the three Republicans, McCain and Warner and Lindsey Graham joining the Democrats opposing this. Secretary Powell wrote Senator McCain a letter that McCain has publicized. You have responded in a letter to Secretary Warner. What did you say?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, in fact, I sent the letter before I had seen Secretary Powell's letter. My letter simply stated the Department of State's position, which is that the interpretation of a U.S. treaty obligation through U.S. law is something that we do frequently and all the time. We're not trying to change what's called Common Article 3. We're not trying to weaken it. We just want our professionals to have clarity so that they know what is legal and what is not.
And I have absolutely no problem defending what the President has asked the Congress to do when I go internationally. I think it only makes sense that you would not leave a very unclear standard like that of Common Article 3, which talks about outrageous, unhuman dignity, for instance, Rush. You don't want to leave that to unaccountable prosecutors, for instance, internationally. You want U.S. law to defend -- to define that.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, people like me don't understand the substance of this. We see pictures of people jumping out the World Trade Center on 9/11 this week. We remember the videotapes of the kind of treatment American and foreign hostages receive at the hands of our enemy when in their captivity. I don't understand the effort on the part of those who oppose this in Congress to try to establish a moral equivalency between the way we treat prisoners and the way our enemy does, and to suggest that we can't do something here because it might incite them to be even meaner to us.
Could you help me and others like me understand the common sense of opposing this? I can't get my arms around it.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Rush, I have to say I think -- I don't quite understand either why we would not give the professionals, our professionals a clear standard so that they know that they're obeying the law. These are people who take tremendous risk to try and defend us. They have made tremendous strides in getting information from people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11, from people like Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, who you saw on that videotape with al-Qaida just a few days ago crowing about September 11th.
They have made great strides in getting information from these people that have prevented other attacks and by the way, not just prevented attacks here in the United States, but prevented attacks in other parts of the world too. To have a piece of legislation that does not protect them and does not give them a clear legal standard, I think, is simply wrong.
QUESTION: Do you find yourself in an uncomfortable circumstance, what with Secretary Powell -- I mean, leaving aside the apparent lack of loyalty that exists in his letter, do you find it -- like, I have the New York Sun editorial here, "Showdown" -- or headline, rather, "Showdown set between Rice and Powell." Do you think this is descending into something personal?
SECRETARY RICE: No, no, I don't see it that way. Look, Colin Powell is a private citizen. He can have his views and I think that's the nature of our great democracy. He's a well-respected private citizen. It's my responsibility now to help defend the United States. It's my responsibility now to defend American policies abroad and to try, through diplomacy, to make us safer. And I am quite confident that the United States can both get the information that it needs and live up to our treaty obligations and that the legislation that the President has proposed does exactly that.
QUESTION: At his press conference today, he introduced something new. Basically -- if I understand it right, the President said if he doesn't get what he wants, if there's not clarity defining and specifying the vagaries and ambiguities of Common Article 3, he said the program will not go forward. I interpreted that to mean he'll scrap it and he'll -- he's not going to put our professionals, as you refer to them, in any kind of precarious circumstances. If they don't go along with what he wants, he'll scrap the whole program. And I assume that means the focus of attention on the lack of the program existing from that point forward will be on Congress.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I feel very strongly, as does the President, that these men and women who go out and do this difficult and dangerous work deserve clarity about the legal ground on which they're standing. And I don't think that you will get people who will actually participate in this program if you don't get that kind of clarity, so you won't have a program. And it would be unfortunate, because we have learned a lot from this program, we have prevented attacks.
Rush, information is the long pole in the tent in the fight against terrorists. If you wait until a terrorist has committed his act, then 3,000 people die. What you want to do is to prevent them. And the only way that you can prevent them is to know what they're thinking, to know what they're planning, to know what they're plotting. And this program has been essential in helping us to find that out.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the average American understands this. This is -- it's not complicated and that's why so many people don't understand the actions of those in the President's party who are attempting to halt this. They're thinking there's got to be something behind the scenes that matters more than just the specifics of this. I'm not asking you to address that. I know your time is limited and I have one more question for you and I assure you, I'm asking this solely from the position of wanting to learn and wanting to understand.
And I want to go back to the recent war between the Hezbollah and Israeli forces. It seems that when it comes to Israel and their fight against terrorists, ceasefires and resolutions are the rule of the day, even though they really haven't worked in ceasing these hostilities and bringing about peace. They just bring interruptions to it. Yet when we are fighting terrorists, no -- we don't tell ourselves to ceasefire and negotiate with them. What is it about the paradigm of the Middle East that requires the fight against terrorism there be fought differently than the way we’re fighting it against us?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would think of it a little differently, Rush. What you have there is you have a Lebanese Government that wants to fight terror and that is the beginnings of a democratic government that could be actually a partner for Israel in fighting terror. And so the ceasefire was really with the Lebanese Government, and now we’re trying to help the Lebanese Government deal with the effects of a Hezbollah that launched that attack without Lebanon even knowing.
I think of it the following way. We are fighting terror in Iraq, but we’re doing it with an Iraqi Government. We are fighting terror in Afghanistan, and we’re doing it with an Afghan Government. So the way to think about what happened in Lebanon is that we’re going to fight terror, but we need to do it with a Lebanese Government that is devoted to fighting terror.
So I think the -- from our point of view, there isn’t any difference. No terrorist can be supported or understood or negotiated with. What you can do is to find moderate governments -- moderate leaders in those countries that are suffering from terrorism themselves and enlist them in the fight to help defeat terrorists.
QUESTION: Is Lebanon really serious about this? I mean if the Hezbollah group was able to attack without even the Government of Lebanon knowing it, then what good does a ceasefire with the Government of Lebanon do?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you have to strengthen that government. It’s a weak government, and -- but it is getting stronger. It’s finally deployed its military forces throughout its whole country for the first time in more than three decades.
And this is a government that came to power when the extremists assassinated the reformist Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri. And so this is a government that comes from the right set of values and the right set of principles. It’s just not very strong. We’re trying to help build it up, build up its security forces. But when we’ve done that in Lebanon and in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and indeed if we can find that kind of government in the Palestinian Territories, having those strong, moderate forces to help you fight terror, indigenous forces to help you fight terror, is extremely important.
QUESTION: Is it the theory is -- that terrorists will gravitate to areas where there are no states, where there are no governments --
SECRETARY RICE: Right.
QUESTION: -- like they did Afghanistan and Somalia?
SECRETARY RICE: Exactly. And so you have to build up governments that can prevent that from happening. And it’s hard work --
QUESTION: I hope they are allied with us.*
SECRETARY RICE: These are governments that are allied with us. It’s hard work. They’re sacrificing, too. There was an attempt on the life of the Deputy Interior Minister of Lebanon just a few days ago. So they’re sacrificing, too. But these are really good partners, we just have to build them up and help them to fight the terrorists in their midst.
QUESTION: Before you go, are there days you wish that you could have become the Commissioner of the National Football League?
SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: I love it that you’re a football fan.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, yes, of course there are days I wish I could have become -- no, look, I love what I’m doing. And it’s -- I’m really lucky to be here at this particular point in time, but at some point I’m going to want to go to one of my first loves, which is sports.
QUESTION: Well, there are a lot of Americans who are thrilled that you’re there, too, because they understand the battle you have with a lot of career people in the State Department who were there before the administration got there. And you bring a comforting salve to a lot of people the way you conduct yourself and the office.
Do you have a favorite NFL team or are you --
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do. Let me just say, Rush -- I just want to say one thing. I really do like being Secretary. I’ve got a great team here, a great group of people. And career and professional, they’re working hard. And people are serving in places like Baghdad and Kabul, sometimes without their families -- always without their families. They’re good folks. But in a couple of years I’ll be glad to go.
And yes, I have a favorite NFL team, the Cleveland Browns.
QUESTION: Cleveland, oh my God.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, who managed to let Reggie Bush have a great rookie first game.
QUESTION: What a disappointing season you are headed for.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, now let’s just watch it. Fifteen games to go.
QUESTION: I’m a Steelers fan.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, oh, I see.
QUESTION: Anyway, I appreciate your time. We need to have conversations more often. It’s very --
SECRETARY RICE: I would like that. I’d like that, Rush. Let’s not let it be too long the next time.
QUESTION: We’ll do that.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay.
QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time today. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And we’ll be right back after this. Stay with us.
US Government Documents / Articles
Sept 13, 2006
Review of the Situation in Lebanon and the Way AheadC. David Welch , Assistant Secretary, Near Eastern Affairs Bureau
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
September 13, 2006
Thank you, Mister Chairman, and other distinguished Members of the Committee for inviting me here today. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the important developments in Lebanon over the past several weeks and the ways in which the U.S. and the international community can help create the conditions that will ensure a lasting peace. The recent conflict in Lebanon was instigated by Hizballah’s unprovoked July 12 attack across the Blue Line into Israel – an attack in which several Israeli soldiers were killed and two captured. This attack was not an isolated incident, but rather reflected a long-standing policy of Hizballah to engage in periodic attacks against Israel – even after Israel’s withdrawal (which was confirmed by the United Nations) from Lebanon in 2000. That such terror attacks have continued with considerable frequency in the six years since Israel’s withdrawal is hardly surprising; since its inception in the early 1980s, Hizballah has belied its claims to be a movement resisting occupation by engaging in terrorism, including its involvement in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut which killed 63 people, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that same year which killed 241 U.S. servicemen, the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex which killed 2 U.S. servicemen, and the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29, as well as the 1994 attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which killed 85. As this record shows, Hizballah is a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East, closely allied with Syria and Iran. The Lebanon war instigated by Hizballah this summer must therefore be seen in the context of the broader Middle East situation which we face. Hizballah has operated as a “state-within-a-state” in the Lebanese body politic, outside of the control of the central government. The events of July 12, which touched off a conflict that led to enormous suffering and destruction in both Lebanon and Israel, highlighted the risks of allowing this situation to continue. Secretary Rice made it clear that while a cease-fire was of the utmost urgency, it needed to be lasting and sustainable. U.S. diplomacy aimed at a permanent solution that would reduce the risk of a return to the ‘status quo ante’. We thus led the effort to create a new dynamic in Lebanon for greater stability and peace in that country, an effort that resulted in the passage of UNSCR 1701. The international community had earlier voiced its commitment to support the Lebanese people in their goal of a fully sovereign democratic state when it passed UNSCR 1559 (September 2, 2004) and UNSCR 1680 (May 17, 2006). Security Council Resolution 1559, in particular, is premised on supporting a fully sovereign government, and called for foreign forces operating in Lebanon without the permission of the government of Lebanon to depart. A framework for establishing Lebanese sovereignty goes back even further to the Taif Accord of 1989 and UNSCR 425 (March 19, 1978). The brutal assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others on February 14, 2005, brought the Lebanese people to the streets demanding an end to violence and foreign intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Two months later, Syria withdrew its military forces from Lebanon ending a nearly thirty-year occupation. The international community expressed its solidarity with the people of Lebanon with the passage of UNSCR 1595 authorizing an international investigation into Mr. Hariri’s murder. We support the efforts of the UN and the Lebanese government to create a tribunal with international elements to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime. With UNSCR 1701, unanimously approved by the UN Security Council on August 11, the international community established important new instruments for security. The resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to the most recent conflict between Hizballah and Israel, imposed an international embargo on arms to unauthorized groups in Lebanon, created an enhanced international force to support the LAF in deploying to the south as Israel withdraws and at the request of Lebanon to secure Lebanon’s borders from the illegal transport of arms, put in place mechanisms to assist the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereign authority throughout the country, and laid out the political principles for a lasting peace. If carried out, these new rules will change the situation in Lebanon and in the region significantly for the better and will more than meet our standard of ‘no return to the status quo ante’. We are making good progress. For the first time in almost 40 years, the Lebanese Armed Forces have deployed to the south. Capable new UNIFIL forces, much more heavily armed and numerous and with an expanded and robust mandate, are accompanying them, and force commitments are nearing their desired levels. Also for the first time, UNIFIL has a maritime role. Reflecting these developments, and as a result of significant diplomatic efforts by Secretary Rice with the Israelis, Lebanese and the UN, Israel lifted its air blockade on September 7 and its maritime blockade on September 8. The initial response to the needs in Lebanon has been impressive. The international community has mobilized to provide impressive quantities of humanitarian aid, and Lebanese citizens are returning to their homes. On August 21, President Bush announced more than $230 million in humanitarian, reconstruction, and security assistance to Lebanon – more than $55 million of which has already been provided for Lebanon. We will also be leveraging the private sector and other economic incentives to support Lebanon. Pledges of $940 million made at the August 31 International Conference on Early Recovery hosted by Sweden doubled the amount the Government of Lebanon was seeking in its appeal document. An impressive international relief effort during and just after the crisis has produced results. Over 750,000 of the estimated 980,000 people displaced by the conflict have now returned to their homes. However, much more remains to be done to enable these people to rebuild their lives and their homes. An immediate need will be the removal of the thousands of unexploded ordinance in the south left behind after the conflict. The U.S. has announced that it will provide an initial $420,000 and will request congressional approval in the next fiscal year for an addition $2 million to aid in this effort. The U.S. has also announced projects to rebuild vital infrastructure including roads and bridges, support residential reconstruction and provide temporary shelters for families as they repair their homes, restore and repair schools that were damaged or used as shelters, clean up environmental damage linked to the massive oil spill off Lebanon’s coast, and restore the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen along the coast from Tripoli to Naqoura where recovery hinges on getting the fishing industry back up and running. Looking ahead to longer-term reconstruction, we have urged the government of Lebanon to take a leading role. Lebanon will present its initial findings at a meeting of the Economic Core Group to be held on the margins of the World Bank/IMF Meetings in Singapore next week. We look forward to a larger reconstruction conference to be held in Beirut at a later date. Our assistance to Lebanon will also include assistance to the Lebanese security services and armed forces to fulfill their mandate to secure the borders and territory of Lebanon. The LAF has undertaken its responsibilities in deploying even before the delivery of essential supplies and equipment. We will need to accelerate our assistance to the LAF to ensure current deployments are sustainable. An effective and well-trained Lebanese Armed Forces is a crucial component to the implementation of UNSCR 1701, the sovereignty of government of Lebanon, and lasting peace in the region. The government of Lebanon has identified key equipment and training needs, which we are working with the international community to address. President Bush has announced approximately $42 million in FY06 security assistance as part of the $230 million assistance package to Lebanon. We have also worked closely with our international partners in establishing the concept of operations and identifying contributing countries for the expanded French-led UNIFIL Force. This force is the first new peacekeeping operation in the Middle East since August 1981 when the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace established the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai. UNIFIL has begun to deploy, accompanying the LAF as it takes up positions along the Blue line. As of September 6, 8,500 troops had been committed to UNIFIL and 3,138 troops were already on the ground. Nine hundred additional French troops will arrive this week. French, Greek, and Italian ships troops are assisting the Lebanese Navy in patrolling their coastline; a more permanent fleet of German ships will replace them in approximately two weeks. Additional UNIFIL troops are scheduled to arrive at the end of the month. We expect complete withdrawal of IDF troops from southern Lebanon within the next week. However, while progress has been made, much remains to be done. Our challenge now is to maintain the momentum towards a lasting peace in Lebanon while countering the efforts of Hizballah, Syria, and Iran to repaint the conflict as a victory for Hizballah. We will need to move quickly. Moving forward, we must maintain our emphasis on economic and security assistance to Lebanon, channeling it in a way that supports the government of Lebanon as it works to fulfill its responsibilities under UNSCR 1701. It is imperative that we continue to assist Lebanon in making its land border more secure, but that responsibility is not Lebanon’s alone. UNSCR 1701 imposes a legally binding obligation on all states to ensure that weapons are not supplied to Lebanon without the authorization of the Lebanese government or UNIFIL. We have called on all UN member states to act aggressively in enforcing this embargo, ensuring that their territory and airspace are not used to undercut it. The embargo imposes a particular requirement on Syria and Iran, both of whom have a long history of interfering in Lebanon and of supplying Hizballah and other regional terrorist groups with weapons and funding. They have continually failed to heed international calls to stop resupplying these groups with deadly arms. The disarmament of all militias, including Hizballah, as called for in UNSCR 1559, will continue to pose a significant challenge. The key to Hizballah’s disarmament, and to a lasting peace, will be to ensure the conditions necessary to permit the Lebanese government to assert its sovereignty across all of Lebanon. Our security and reconstruction assistance is designed to do just this. While this conflict brought much destruction and heartache, its resolution has provided us with opportunities that extend beyond Lebanon. The Middle East stands at a critical crossroads, with profound implications for America’s national security. While there is a trend towards democracy, there is also resistance to it. We must continue to engage now to ensure that the loudest voices are not those that would like to wipe the slate clean and start over with an exclusionary, intolerant world view. We must continue to go on the offensive against radicals and extremists who exploit conflicts to undermine a non-violent and liberal order. While making progress in Iraq and in the Arab-Israeli conflict remain core concerns, the determination of the international community and friends in the region to improve the economic and political situation in the broader Middle East remains the only way to create conditions for real change and lasting stability. To the degree that we and they are successful, the ambitions of radicals and extremists will fail. Increasing the scope of political freedom, reducing high rates of unemployment, creating opportunities for personal economic improvement, and raising the standard of living will help address the “root causes” of terrorism and reduce the appeal of extremist political movements. We must continue our efforts to support moderate governments like the democratically elected government of Lebanon in their efforts to meet the needs of their people and to encourage genuine freedom to take root. In no place are the risks and opportunities more apparent than in the current situation in Lebanon. Our approach must be comprehensive and it must seize opportunities when only dangers seem present. We are under no illusions. Conflict resolution and reform in the region will require a great commitment from the United States. How we respond will define our relationship with the region for generations to come. Thank you for your time. I would be pleased to address your questions.
Thank you, Mister Chairman, and other distinguished Members of the Committee for inviting me here today. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the important developments in Lebanon over the past several weeks and the ways in which the U.S. and the international community can help create the conditions that will ensure a lasting peace.
The recent conflict in Lebanon was instigated by Hizballah’s unprovoked July 12 attack across the Blue Line into Israel – an attack in which several Israeli soldiers were killed and two captured. This attack was not an isolated incident, but rather reflected a long-standing policy of Hizballah to engage in periodic attacks against Israel – even after Israel’s withdrawal (which was confirmed by the United Nations) from Lebanon in 2000. That such terror attacks have continued with considerable frequency in the six years since Israel’s withdrawal is hardly surprising; since its inception in the early 1980s, Hizballah has belied its claims to be a movement resisting occupation by engaging in terrorism, including its involvement in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut which killed 63 people, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that same year which killed 241 U.S. servicemen, the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex which killed 2 U.S. servicemen, and the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29, as well as the 1994 attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which killed 85. As this record shows, Hizballah is a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East, closely allied with Syria and Iran. The Lebanon war instigated by Hizballah this summer must therefore be seen in the context of the broader Middle East situation which we face.
Hizballah has operated as a “state-within-a-state” in the Lebanese body politic, outside of the control of the central government. The events of July 12, which touched off a conflict that led to enormous suffering and destruction in both Lebanon and Israel, highlighted the risks of allowing this situation to continue. Secretary Rice made it clear that while a cease-fire was of the utmost urgency, it needed to be lasting and sustainable. U.S. diplomacy aimed at a permanent solution that would reduce the risk of a return to the ‘status quo ante’. We thus led the effort to create a new dynamic in Lebanon for greater stability and peace in that country, an effort that resulted in the passage of UNSCR 1701.
The international community had earlier voiced its commitment to support the Lebanese people in their goal of a fully sovereign democratic state when it passed UNSCR 1559 (September 2, 2004) and UNSCR 1680 (May 17, 2006). Security Council Resolution 1559, in particular, is premised on supporting a fully sovereign government, and called for foreign forces operating in Lebanon without the permission of the government of Lebanon to depart. A framework for establishing Lebanese sovereignty goes back even further to the Taif Accord of 1989 and UNSCR 425 (March 19, 1978).
The brutal assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others on February 14, 2005, brought the Lebanese people to the streets demanding an end to violence and foreign intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Two months later, Syria withdrew its military forces from Lebanon ending a nearly thirty-year occupation. The international community expressed its solidarity with the people of Lebanon with the passage of UNSCR 1595 authorizing an international investigation into Mr. Hariri’s murder. We support the efforts of the UN and the Lebanese government to create a tribunal with international elements to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime.
With UNSCR 1701, unanimously approved by the UN Security Council on August 11, the international community established important new instruments for security. The resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to the most recent conflict between Hizballah and Israel, imposed an international embargo on arms to unauthorized groups in Lebanon, created an enhanced international force to support the LAF in deploying to the south as Israel withdraws and at the request of Lebanon to secure Lebanon’s borders from the illegal transport of arms, put in place mechanisms to assist the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereign authority throughout the country, and laid out the political principles for a lasting peace. If carried out, these new rules will change the situation in Lebanon and in the region significantly for the better and will more than meet our standard of ‘no return to the status quo ante’.
We are making good progress. For the first time in almost 40 years, the Lebanese Armed Forces have deployed to the south. Capable new UNIFIL forces, much more heavily armed and numerous and with an expanded and robust mandate, are accompanying them, and force commitments are nearing their desired levels. Also for the first time, UNIFIL has a maritime role. Reflecting these developments, and as a result of significant diplomatic efforts by Secretary Rice with the Israelis, Lebanese and the UN, Israel lifted its air blockade on September 7 and its maritime blockade on September 8.
The initial response to the needs in Lebanon has been impressive. The international community has mobilized to provide impressive quantities of humanitarian aid, and Lebanese citizens are returning to their homes. On August
21, President Bush announced more than $230 million in humanitarian, reconstruction, and security assistance to Lebanon – more than $55 million of which has already been provided for Lebanon. We will also be leveraging the private sector and other economic incentives to support Lebanon.
Pledges of $940 million made at the August 31 International Conference on Early Recovery hosted by Sweden doubled the amount the Government of Lebanon was seeking in its appeal document.
An impressive international relief effort during and just after the crisis has produced results. Over 750,000 of the estimated 980,000 people displaced by the conflict have now returned to their homes. However, much more remains to be done to enable these people to rebuild their lives and their homes.
An immediate need will be the removal of the thousands of unexploded ordinance in the south left behind after the conflict. The U.S. has announced that it will provide an initial $420,000 and will request congressional approval in the next fiscal year for an addition $2 million to aid in this effort.
The U.S. has also announced projects to rebuild vital infrastructure including roads and bridges, support residential reconstruction and provide temporary shelters for families as they repair their homes, restore and repair schools that were damaged or used as shelters, clean up environmental damage linked to the massive oil spill off Lebanon’s coast, and restore the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen along the coast from Tripoli to Naqoura where recovery hinges on getting the fishing industry back up and running.
Looking ahead to longer-term reconstruction, we have urged the government of Lebanon to take a leading role. Lebanon will present its initial findings at a meeting of the Economic Core Group to be held on the margins of the World Bank/IMF Meetings in Singapore next week. We look forward to a larger reconstruction conference to be held in Beirut at a later date.
Our assistance to Lebanon will also include assistance to the Lebanese security services and armed forces to fulfill their mandate to secure the borders and territory of Lebanon. The LAF has undertaken its responsibilities in deploying even before the delivery of essential supplies and equipment. We will need to accelerate our assistance to the LAF to ensure current deployments are sustainable. An effective and well-trained Lebanese Armed Forces is a crucial component to the implementation of UNSCR 1701, the sovereignty of government of Lebanon, and lasting peace in the region.
The government of Lebanon has identified key equipment and training needs, which we are working with the international community to address. President Bush has announced approximately $42 million in FY06 security assistance as part of the $230 million assistance package to Lebanon.
We have also worked closely with our international partners in establishing the concept of operations and identifying contributing countries for the expanded French-led UNIFIL Force. This force is the first new peacekeeping operation in the Middle East since August 1981 when the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace established the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai.
UNIFIL has begun to deploy, accompanying the LAF as it takes up positions along the Blue line. As of September 6, 8,500 troops had been committed to UNIFIL and 3,138 troops were already on the ground. Nine hundred additional French troops will arrive this week. French, Greek, and Italian ships troops are assisting the Lebanese Navy in patrolling their coastline; a more permanent fleet of German ships will replace them in approximately two weeks. Additional UNIFIL troops are scheduled to arrive at the end of the month. We expect complete withdrawal of IDF troops from southern Lebanon within the next week.
However, while progress has been made, much remains to be done. Our challenge now is to maintain the momentum towards a lasting peace in Lebanon while countering the efforts of Hizballah, Syria, and Iran to repaint the conflict as a victory for Hizballah. We will need to move quickly.
Moving forward, we must maintain our emphasis on economic and security assistance to Lebanon, channeling it in a way that supports the government of Lebanon as it works to fulfill its responsibilities under UNSCR 1701.
It is imperative that we continue to assist Lebanon in making its land border more secure, but that responsibility is not Lebanon’s alone. UNSCR 1701 imposes a legally binding obligation on all states to ensure that weapons are not supplied to Lebanon without the authorization of the Lebanese government or UNIFIL. We have called on all UN member states to act aggressively in enforcing this embargo, ensuring that their territory and airspace are not used to undercut it.
The embargo imposes a particular requirement on Syria and Iran, both of whom have a long history of interfering in Lebanon and of supplying Hizballah and other regional terrorist groups with weapons and funding. They have continually failed to heed international calls to stop resupplying these groups with deadly arms.
The disarmament of all militias, including Hizballah, as called for in UNSCR 1559, will continue to pose a significant challenge. The key to Hizballah’s disarmament, and to a lasting peace, will be to ensure the conditions necessary to permit the Lebanese government to assert its sovereignty across all of Lebanon. Our security and reconstruction assistance is designed to do just this.
While this conflict brought much destruction and heartache, its resolution has provided us with opportunities that extend beyond Lebanon. The Middle East stands at a critical crossroads, with profound implications for America’s national security. While there is a trend towards democracy, there is also resistance to it. We must continue to engage now to ensure that the loudest voices are not those that would like to wipe the slate clean and start over with an exclusionary, intolerant world view. We must continue to go on the offensive against radicals and extremists who exploit conflicts to undermine a non-violent and liberal order.
While making progress in Iraq and in the Arab-Israeli conflict remain core concerns, the determination of the international community and friends in the region to improve the economic and political situation in the broader Middle East remains the only way to create conditions for real change and lasting stability. To the degree that we and they are successful, the ambitions of radicals and extremists will fail. Increasing the scope of political freedom, reducing high rates of unemployment, creating opportunities for personal economic improvement, and raising the standard of living will help address the “root causes” of terrorism and reduce the appeal of extremist political movements.
We must continue our efforts to support moderate governments like the democratically elected government of Lebanon in their efforts to meet the needs of their people and to encourage genuine freedom to take root. In no place are the risks and opportunities more apparent than in the current situation in Lebanon. Our approach must be comprehensive and it must seize opportunities when only dangers seem present.
We are under no illusions. Conflict resolution and reform in the region will require a great commitment from the United States. How we respond will define our relationship with the region for generations to come.
Thank you for your time. I would be pleased to address your questions.
Sept 9, 2006
George W. Bush
'Most People Want Us to Win'
September 9, 2006; Page A8
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi?
"That's not going to happen," snaps the president of the United States, leaning across his desk in his airborne office. He had been saying that he hoped to revisit Social Security reform next year, when he "will be able to drain the politics out of the issue," and I rudely interrupted by noting the polls predicting Ms. Pelosi's ascension.
"I just don't believe it," the president insists. "I believe the Republicans will end up being -- running the House and the Senate. And the reason why I believe it is because when our candidates go out and talk about the strength of this economy, people will say their tax cuts worked, their plan worked. . . . And secondly, that this is a group of people that understand the stakes of the world in which we live and are willing to help this unity government in Iraq succeed for the sake of our children and grandchildren, and that we are steadfast in our belief in the capacity of liberty to bring peace."
Love or loathe President George W. Bush, you can't say he lacks the courage of his convictions. Down in the polls, with the American people in a sour mood over Iraq, Mr. Bush isn't changing his policy or hunkering down in the Oval Office. Instead he's doubling down, investing whatever scarce political capital he has to frame the November contest as a choice over the economy and taxes and especially over his prosecution of the war on terror.
The strategy carries no small risk, because if Republicans lose, Democrats will feel even more emboldened to challenge him on national security. The final two years of his presidency could be dreadful and the chances of a U.S. retreat in Iraq would multiply. On the other hand, his senior aides say, Mr. Bush will be blamed if Republicans lose in any case, so he might as well play his strongest hand to prevent such a result. And if the GOP holds both houses, he'll deserve much of the credit.
The president is certainly in feisty, even passionate, form as I meet him for 40-some minutes Thursday afternoon, coming off the third of his speeches this week on the lessons of 9/11 and a fund-raiser in Savannah, Ga., for GOP House candidate Max Burns. The critics are saying the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy in the Middle East is dead, but the Beltway coroners must not have talked with Mr. Bush. I pose the frequent complaint that his policy has succeeded only in unleashing the radical Furies in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
"I would remind the critics of the freedom agenda that the policy prior to September 11th was stability for the sake of stability: Let us not worry about the form of government. Let us simply worry about whether or not the world appears stable, whether or not we achieve short-term geopolitical gain," he says. "And it looked like that policy was working, and, frankly, it made some sense when it came to dealing with the Middle East vis-à-vis the Communists.
"The problem with that philosophy, or that foreign policy, was that beneath the surface boiled resentment and hatred, and that resentment and hatred helped fuel this radical Islam, and the radical Islam is what ended up causing the attacks that killed 3,000 of our citizens. So I vowed, and made the decision that not only would we stay on the offense and . . . get these people before they could attack us again. But in the long run the only way to make sure your grandchildren are protected, Paul, is to win the battle of ideas, is to defeat the ideology of hatred and resentment."
But would he concede that elections have so far empowered mainly the radicals? "It's a part of the process. I think Americans must remember we had some growing pains ourselves. It wasn't all that smooth a road to the Constitution to begin with in our own country. Democracy is not easy," he says, coiled and intense in his presidential flight jacket.
Take the Palestinian elections that elevated the terrorist group Hamas to power. "I wasn't surprised," he says, "that the political party that said 'Vote for me, I will get rid of corruption' won, because I was the person that decided on U.S. foreign policy that we were not going to deal with Mr. Arafat because he had let his people down, and that money that the world was spending wasn't getting to the Palestinian people. . . . They didn't say, 'Vote for us, we want war.' They said, 'Vote for us, we will get you better education and health.'"
Mr. Bush concedes that Hamas's "militant wing," as he calls it, is "unacceptable." But he says he sees a virtue in "creating a sense where people have to compete for people's votes. They have to listen to the concerns of the street." The answer is for other Palestinian leaders to out-compete Hamas to respond to those concerns. "Elections are not the end. They're only the beginning. And, no question, elections sometimes create victors that may not conform to everything we want. . . . On the other hand, it is the beginning of a more hopeful Middle East."
I try to dig a little deeper on Egypt, where the political opening of 18 months ago seems to have been abruptly closed by President Hosni Mubarak, with a muted U.S. response to the arrest of the moderate opposition leader, Ayman Nour. Has the U.S. given up on promoting reform in Egypt?
"Of course we have not given up," Mr. Bush says. "We were disappointed" about Ayman Nour. Does he believe Mr. Mubarak should release Mr. Nour? "Yes, I do, but he'll make those decisions based upon his own laws." Mr. Bush says he's spoken to Mr. Mubarak's son and heir-apparent, Gamal, about Mr. Nour, "and I have spoken to Mubarak a lot about democracy. And, equally importantly, I've talked to . . . a group of young reformers who are now in government. There's an impressive group of younger Egyptians -- the trade minister and some of the economic people -- that understand the promise and the difficulties of democracy."
The pace of Middle East reform will vary by country, he adds. In Kuwait, they now let women vote. "And so if you look at the Middle East from 10 years to today, there's been some significant change. Jordan changed, Morocco, the Gulf Coast countries, Qatar," and of course the nascent democracies of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Regarding Iraq, Mr. Bush is a bit reflective, if also insistent about the costs of failure. "I'm not surprised that this war has created consternation amongst the American people," he concedes. "The enemy has got the capacity to take -- got the willingness to take innocent life and the capacity to do so, knowing full well that those deaths and that carnage will end up on our TV screens. So the American people are now having to adjust to a new kind of bloody war.
"Now, my view of the country is this: Most people want us to win. There are a good number who say, get out now. But most Americans are united in the concept -- of the idea of winning."
On that point, I ask Mr. Bush to address not his critics on the left who want to withdraw, but those on the right who worry that he isn't fighting hard enough to win. "No, I understand. No, I hear that, Paul, a lot, and I take their word seriously, and of course use that as a basis for questioning our generals. My point to you is that one of the lessons of a previous war is that the military really wasn't given the flexibility to make the decisions to win. And I ask the following questions: Do you have enough? Do you need more troops? Do you need different equipment?" The question I failed to ask but wish I had is: Does this mean that, like Lincoln, Mr. Bush should have fired more generals?
With sectarian strife in Iraq, some critics (such as Sen. Joe Biden) are saying the best strategy now is for the country to divide into three -- Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni. Mr. Bush says partition would be "a mistake," though he does add that "the Iraqi people are going to have to make that decision." But he says Iraqis didn't vote for partition when they approved their new constitution or new government, and "this government has been in place since June; 90 days is a long time for some, but it's really not all that long to help a nation that was brutalized under a tyrant to get going."
Mr. Bush is most emphatic when he links Iraq to the larger struggle for Mideast reform. "In the long run, the United States is going to have to make a decision as to whether or not it will support moderates against extremists, reformers against tyrants. And Iraq is the first real test of the nation's commitment to this ideological struggle. . . . I believe it strongly. One way for the American people to understand the stakes is to envision what happens if America withdraws." He has been hitting that last point hard in his recent speeches, and it is the linchpin of the argument Mr. Bush will make through November against the Democrats who insist on pulling out immediately.
Intriguingly, the president broke a little news on the subject of Iran, acknowledging that he personally signed off on the U.S. visit this week by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. The trip has angered many conservatives because Mr. Khatami presided over the nuclear weapons development and cheating that Mr. Bush has pledged to stop. Why let him visit?
"I was interested to hear what he had to say," Mr. Bush responds without hesitation. "I'm interested in learning more about the Iranian government, how they think, what people think within the government. My hope is that diplomacy will work in convincing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions. And in order for diplomacy to work, it's important to hear voices other than [current President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's."
One thing Mr. Khatami has said this week is that because the U.S. is bogged down in Iraq it will never have the will to stop Iran's nuclear program. Is he right? "Well, he also said it's very important for the [coalition] troops to stay in Iraq so that there is a stable government on the Iranian border," Mr. Bush replies, rather forgivingly.
On other hand, Mr. Bush remains as blunt as ever about the nature of the Iranian regime when I ask if one lesson of North Korea is that Iran must be stopped before it acquires a bomb. "North Korea doesn't teach us that lesson. The current government [in Iran] teaches that lesson," Mr. Bush says. "Their declared policies of destruction and their support for terror makes it clear they should not have a nuclear weapon."
The impression Mr. Bush leaves is of a man deeply engaged on the Iran problem and, like several presidents before him, trying to understand what kind of diplomatic or economic pressure short of military means will change the regime's behavior. One way or another, Iran will be the major dilemma of the rest of his presidency, and Mr. Bush knows it.
Five years after 9/11, I ask the president if he is surprised that -- and can explain why -- both Iraq and his larger antiterror policies have become so politically polarized. "Well, first of all, I do believe there's a difference between the political rhetoric out of Washington and what the citizens feel," he says.
"But this is a different kind of war. In the past, there was troop movements, or, you know, people could report the sinking of a ship. This is a war that requires intelligence and interrogation within the law from people who know what's happening. . . . Victories you can't see. But the enemy is able to create death and carnage that tends to define the action.
"And I think most Americans understand we're vulnerable. But my hope was after 9/11, most Americans wouldn't walk around saying, 'My goodness, we're at war. Therefore let us don't live a normal life. Let us don't invest.'" Mr. Bush calls it an "interesting contradiction" that he wants "people to understand the stakes of failure" in this conflict. But on the other hand, he also wants "the country to be able to grow, invest, save, expand, educate, raise their children." This is another way of saying how hard it is for a democracy to maintain support for a war without a tangible, ominous enemy such as the Soviet Union or Imperial Japan.
Could he have done more, as president, to win over more Democratic allies? "I met with a lot of Democrats over the course of this war, and" -- he pauses for the longest time in our interview -- "you know, it's hard for me to tell, Paul, whether I could have done a better job. . . . I don't know. I just don't know."
He then says that he has GOP majorities, and thus Republican leaders, to deal with. "Obviously, I wish that the effort were more bipartisan; it has been on certain issues. It certainly was when it came time for people to assess the intelligence that they had seen and knew about and vote on a resolution to remove Saddam Hussein from power." And it was as well on his policy of pursuing state sponsors of terror. But then the 2004 campaign intervened, he says, and now it's another campaign season.
Mr. Bush is an avid reader of history, and he has a contest with political aide Karl Rove to see who reads the most books. ("I'm losing," Mr. Bush says.) So I ask him if any current Democrat could play the role that Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan played in helping Harry Truman establish new policies in the 1940s at the dawn of the Cold War.
Notably, he talks about Truman first. "I doubt Truman would have been able to predict how long the Cold War would last, but I applaud Truman for beginning to wage the Cold War" -- pregnant pause -- "for which he was very unpopular, for which the country was viewed as polarized." He never does mention a contemporary Vandenberg, and in truth the only one I can think of is Joe Lieberman, of late and by necessity not a Democrat but an "independent."
The Truman reference is nonetheless revealing, because it suggests that perhaps Mr. Bush has begun to realize he will get little credit for his Middle East policies during his own presidency. His critics on the left in particular want to portray him as another LBJ, forlorn over a misbegotten war, and destined for historical disdain because of it. But Mr. Bush hardly resembles the LBJ who more or less came to agree with his Vietnam critics. He seems far more like Truman, both in his personal combativeness and also in his conviction that his vindication will come down the road.
One of his main goals now, also like Truman, is to institutionalize some of his antiterror policies by putting them on firmer legal and political ground so future presidents can use them. That's what his speech this week on military tribunals was mainly about, and the same goes for warrantless wiretaps and CIA interrogations of al Qaeda suspects. For all of the controversy they've caused, Mr. Bush is convinced that the next president will be grateful to have these tools. And despite all the partisan rancor surrounding them, Mr. Bush's legacy in defending them is likely to be lasting.
When I put to him the criticism made by Newt Gingrich, among others, that the U.S. security bureaucracy is too slow and unwieldy, he couldn't rebut it fast enough. "I disagree strongly," he says. "We were stove-piped in the past. We had an FBI whose primary responsibility was white-collar crime or criminality. We had a CIA that couldn't talk to criminal investigators. And we've changed all that."
Mr. Bush adds that the intelligence he receives is "quantifiably better" than it was before 9/11. One reason is the warrantless al Qaeda wiretaps, which gather intelligence from what he calls "the battlefield" in this conflict. "And so the data points are becoming richer, and the analysis is more complete, because now the reports I get on analysis have input from different parts of the intelligence community that John Negroponte is overseeing." Mr. Bush isn't likely to call legislation he signed a failure, but this is still the most reassuring thing I've heard about the CIA in years.
This is the fourth time I've interviewed Mr. Bush at length in the last eight years, going back to his time as Texas governor. One of the notable things about him is how similar he seems. He has always been supremely confident in his decisions and focused above all else on pushing forward, not looking back. If he is tortured by doubt, he doesn't show it to journalists. Some see this as obstinance, but he sees it as firmness of conviction.
Whether or not he's right about the elections this fall, you have to respect his willingness to put that conviction on the line. "I said in my Inaugural Address, we should end tyranny in the 21st century," he says. "And I meant that."
Mr. Gigot is the editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
In Change of Tone, Bush Interested in 'Learning More' About Iran
U.S. President George Bush, striking a rare conciliatory note toward a state he has included in an "axis of evil," said late Friday that he was "interested in learning more" about Iran and its government.
With U.S. diplomats trying to drum up support for new sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, Bush underscored the importance of channels of communication -- and disclosed that he had personally signed off on granting a U.S. visa to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami.
The former moderate Iranian leader, known for his diplomatic entreaties to the Bill Clinton administration, has been on a speaking tour of the United States this week.
"I was interested to hear what he had to say," Bush told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "I'm interested in learning more about the Iranian government, how they think, what people think within the government."
The U.S. president reiterated his conviction that the present government in Tehran, which denies Israel's right to exist and gives support to radical Islamic movements, should not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
But he expressed the hope that Iranians could be persuaded to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions through diplomatic means.
"And in order for diplomacy to work, it's important to hear voices other than current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's," Bush pointed out.
The remarks contrasted with the U.S. president's statement just last Tuesday when he branded Iran's president a "tyrant."
On Thursday, the White House also dismissed Ahmadinejad's offer to debate Bush at the United Nations later this month, when the Iranian president is expected to be in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly.
The interview came as European Union diplomat Javier Solana looked set to hold talks at an undisclosed location Saturday with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in another bid to persuade Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment, which Iranians say is part of a peaceful energy program but Western nations fear could be used to manufacture nuclear bombs.
Six world powers -- the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany -- are weighing possible sanctions against Iran now that it refused to comply with a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding it freeze its enrichment program by August 31.
Khatami is the most prominent Iranian to visit the United States since Washington broke off diplomatic relations with Iran 1979, after radical Islamic students occupied the US.. Embassy in Tehran and held 53 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days.
In speeches delivered during the U.S. tour, Khatami appeared to attempt to smooth over tensions and emphasize the language of reconciliation.
He urged the two countries to stop trading threats and restart dialogue while insisting that a freeze on Iranian nuclear activities could be discussed during negotiations.
There have been unconfirmed reports Khatami might meet with former US.. president Jimmy Carter, who has played a mediating role in the past.
Although Bush has not attended any of Khatami's speeches, his interview indicates he is well aware of their content.
When asked to comment on Khatami's remarks that the United States will not be able to take strong action against Iran because it is bogged down in Iraq, Bush replied: "Well, he also said it's very important for the coalition troops to stay in Iraq so that there is a stable government on the Iranian border."(AFP)
Beirut, 09 Sep 06, 09:16
Major Iranian Bank Is Blocked
From Using U.S. Financial System
September 9, 2006; Page A4
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration said it has blocked a major Iranian bank's access to the U.S. financial system, the latest step in Washington's growing attempt to isolate Iran.
Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said Bank Saderat, one of Iran's largest state-owned banks, no longer will be able to use the U.S. financial system. In a speech before the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Levey said Bank Saderat had helped transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas.
The quest to cut off Iran's support to Hezbollah gained urgency this summer when the Shiite Muslim militia and Israel engaged in intense fighting in Lebanon and Hezbollah unleashed hundreds of rockets into Israel. The size of Hezbollah's arsenal raised alarm at the level of Iranian support for the group.
At the same time, the U.S. is eager to show that Iran can be cut off economically in the run-up to United Nations Security Council debates this fall that will focus on ways to impose economic sanctions for Tehran's refusal to give up its nuclear program's uranium-enrichment work.
The move is part of a broader Bush administration effort to hamper Iran's efforts to aid terrorism and acquire sophisticated weapons, by convincing other governments and financial institutions world-wide to stop doing business with Iranian-controlled companies.
"This is an appropriate leveraging of U.S. economic sanctions by authorities to make it more difficult for Iran to use the common international financial infrastructure to engage in buying materials for its nuclear program, to support terrorist activities and to do other bad stuff that jeopardizes security," says Jonathan Winer, a former State Department official in the Clinton administration and now a partner at law firm Alston & Bird LLP.
While Iranian financial institutions can't directly access the U.S. financial system, they can touch it indirectly by working through foreign banks. These so-called "U-turn transactions" allow U.S. banks to process payments involving Iran if the money transfer begins and ends with a non-Iranian foreign bank. Friday's move will prohibit Bank Saderat from participating in transfers involving U.S. banks.That, in turn, will pressure foreign banks to stop dealing with Bank Saderat.
Write to Deborah Solomon at email@example.com
Aug 25, 2006
Office of the Spokesman, State Dept.
August 24, 2006
Additional United States Contribution to Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and Other Conflict Victims in Lebanon and Neighboring Countries
As part of his announced $230 million contribution to the people of Lebanon on August 21, 2006, President Bush made $13.5 million available from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to meet unexpected urgent humanitarian needs related to the conflict in Lebanon. This funding will provide protection and assistance in the form of food, blankets, shelter, emergency medical services and health care, hygiene kits, and other basic items for victims of the conflict in Lebanon. The State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration manages this emergency fund.
Of the $13.5 million, $8.5 million will be contributed to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support protection and assistance; $5 million will support the United Nations agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and non-govermental organizations performing urgent humanitarian assistance and protection programs in Lebanon and neighboring countries.
This contribution is an addition to earlier donations of $5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross’ emergency Lebanon appeal, and $5 million to the United Nations’ Flash Appeal for Lebanon. Total Department of State humanitarian financial support to victims of the conflict in Lebanon now totals over $23 million.
Released on August 24, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 24, 2006
President Bush Welcomes France's Decision to Send Troops to Lebanon
I welcome President Chirac's decision to send a total of 2000 troops to Lebanon and to continue to exercise leadership on the ground in enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. This is an important step towards finalizing preparations to deploy the United Nations Interim Force of Lebanon. I applaud the decision of France, as well as the significant pledges from Italy and our other important allies. I encourage other nations to make contributions as well. We are working with the United Nations and our partners to ensure the rapid deployment of this force to help Lebanon's legitimate armed forces restore the sovereignty of its democratic government throughout the country and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state.
On Monday, President Bush pledged the U.S. government would "assist with the cleanup of the Jieh oil spill and the resulting pollution, in order to restore livelihoods and protect people's health in coastal communities." See White House fact sheet, "United States Humanitarian, Reconstruction, and Security Assistance to Lebanon," describing the broad scope of United States efforts to help the Lebanese, at www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/70947.htm.
The initiative will include a U.S. team of oil response professionals coordinating with the Lebanese government to clean a high priority site in Lebanon, train clean-up crews, and provide the necessary equipment. It will also provide assistance in shoreline cleanup by implementing programs to revitalize livelihoods of coastal community. This aid will help coastal people who have lost their livelihoods due to the spill.
This action response was developed by an interagency team, led by the Department’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science, with expertise contributed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and USAID.
This effort has been closely coordinated between Claudia A. McMurray, Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment, and Science, and Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). Mr. Steiner was pleased with the announcement, saying: "We welcome this valuable assistance from the United States as a further important contribution by the international community for helping to restore the environment and livelihoods of the Lebanese people."
Working with Lebanese and participating international aid organizations, the team will develop a wildlife protection plan, spill response and remediation action plans based on shoreline and aerial survey results to restore the coastal environment, protect shipping, and preserve sensitive habitats. This project should also ensure Lebanese civil and armed forces are trained and prepared to remediate fully the environmental impact of this spill over the long term and be able to respond directly to future spills.
Aug 21, 2006
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 21, 2006
Press Conference by the President
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
10:02 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Fancy digs you got here. Thanks for your hospitality. It's good to visit with you. I look forward to taking some of your questions. I do want to talk to you about the latest developments in Lebanon, and what we're doing to ensure U.N. Security Council 1701 is implemented and its words are quickly put into action.
Resolution 1701 authorizes an effective international force to deploy to Lebanon, which is essential to peace in the region and it's essential to the freedom of Lebanon. An effective international force will help ensure the cessation of hostilities hold in Lebanon once the Israeli troops withdraw. An effective international force will help the Lebanese army meet its responsibility to secure Lebanon's borders and stop them from acting as -- and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state. An effective international force will help give displaced people in both Lebanon and Israel the confidence to return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives without fear of renewed violence and terror.
An international force requires international commitment. Previous resolutions have failed in Lebanon because they were not implemented by the international community, and in this case, did not prevent Hezbollah and their sponsors from instigating violence. The new resolution authorizes a force of up to 15,000 troops. It gives this force an expanded mandate. The need is urgent. The international community must now designate the leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement, and deploy it as quickly as possible to secure the peace.
America will do our part. We will assist a new international force with logistic support, command and control, communications and intelligence. Lebanon, Israel and our allies agreed that this would be the most effective contribution we can make at this time. We will also work with the leadership in the international force, once it's identified, to ensure that the United States is doing all we can to make this mission a success.
Deployment of this new international force will also help speed delivery of humanitarian assistance. Our nation is wasting no time in helping the people of Lebanon. In other words, we're acting before the force gets in there. We've been on the ground in Beirut for weeks, and I've already distributed more than half of our $50 million pledge of disaster relief to the Lebanese people who have lost their homes in the current conflict. Secretary Rice has led the diplomatic efforts to establish humanitarian corridors so that relief convoys can get through, to reopen the Beirut airport to passenger and humanitarian aid flights, and to ensure a steady fuel supply for Lebanese power plants and automobiles. I directed 25,000 tons of wheat be delivered in Lebanon in the coming weeks.
But we'll do even more. Today, I'm announcing that America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million. These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities. The funds will help the Lebanese people restore key bridges and roads. The funds will help the Lebanese people rehabilitate schools so the children can start their school year on time this fall.
I directed that an oil spill response team be sent to assist the Lebanese government in cleaning up an oil slick that is endangering coastal communities; proposing a $42 million package to help train and equip Lebanon's armed forces. I will soon be sending a presidential delegation of private sector leaders to Lebanon to identify ways that we can tap into the generosity of American businesses and non-profits to continue to help the people of Lebanon.
We take these steps -- and I'll also work closely with Congress to extend the availability of loan guarantees to help rebuild infrastructure in Israel, infrastructure damaged by Hezbollah's rockets.
America is making a long-term commitment to help the people of Lebanon because we believe every person deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all. We reject the killing of innocents to achieve a radical and violent agenda.
The terrorists and their state sponsors, Iran and Syria, have a much darker vision. They're working to thwart the efforts of the Lebanese people to break free from foreign domination and build their own democratic future. The terrorists and their sponsors are not going to succeed. The Lebanese people have made it clear they want to live in freedom. And now it's up to their friends and allies to help them do so.
I'll be glad to answer some questions, starting with you, Terry.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. More than 3,500 Iraqis were killed last month, the highest civilian monthly toll since the war began. Are you disappointed with the lack of progress by Iraq's unity government in bringing together the sectarian and ethnic groups?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I am aware that extremists and terrorists are doing everything they can to prevent Iraq's democracy from growing stronger. That's what I'm aware of. And, therefore, we have a plan to help them -- "them," the Iraqis -- achieve their objectives. Part of the plan is political; that is the help the Maliki government work on reconciliation and to work on rehabilitating the community. The other part is, of course, security. And I have given our commanders all the flexibility they need to adjust tactics to be able to help the Iraqi government defeat those who want to thwart the ambitions of the people. And that includes a very robust security plan for Baghdad.
We've, as you may or may not know, Terry, moved troops from Mosul, the Stryker Brigade, into Baghdad, all aiming to help the Iraqi government succeed.
You know, I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course, and I've talked to a lot of people about it. And what I've found from my talks are that the Iraqis want a unified country, and that the Iraqi leadership is determined to thwart the efforts of the extremists and the radicals and al Qaeda, and that the security forces remain united behind the government. And one thing is clear: The Iraqi people are showing incredible courage.
The United States of America must understand it's in our interests that we help this democracy succeed. As a matter of fact, it's in our interests that we help reformers across the Middle East achieve their objectives. This is the fundamental challenge of the 21st century. A failed Iraq would make America less secure. A failed Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists. It will embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers. In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales.
You know, it's an interesting debate we're having in America about how we ought to handle Iraq. There's a lot of people -- good, decent people, saying, withdraw now. They're absolutely wrong. It would be a huge mistake for this country. If you think problems are tough now, imagine what it would be like if the United States leaves before this government has a chance to defend herself, govern herself, and listen to the -- and answer to the will of the people.
Patsy. We're working our way here.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Iran has indicated that it will defy the U.N. on nuclear enrichment. It's been holding military exercises, sending weapons and money to Hezbollah. Is Tehran's influence in the region growing, despite your efforts to curb it?
THE PRESIDENT: The final history in the region has yet to be written. And what's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy. They're trying to thwart the will of millions who simply want a normal, hopeful life. That's what we're seeing. And it's up to the international community to understand the threat.
I remember right after Hezbollah launched its rocket attacks on Israel, I said, this is a clarifying moment. It's a chance for the world to see the threats of the 21st century, the challenge we face.
And so, to answer your question on Iran, Iran is obviously part of the -- part of the problem. They sponsor Hezbollah. They encourage a radical brand of Islam. Imagine how difficult this issue would be if Iran had a nuclear weapon. And so, therefore, it's up to the international community, including the United States, to work in concert to -- for effective diplomacy. And that begins at the United Nations Security Council.
We have passed one Security Council resolution, demanding that Iran cease its enrichment activities. We will see what the response is. We're beginning to get some indication, but we'll wait until they have a formal response. The U.N. resolution calls for us to come back together on the 31st of August. The dates -- dates are fine, but what really matters is will. And one of the things I will continue to remind our friends and allies is the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
But, no, you're right, this is a -- they're a central part of creating instability, trying to stop reformers from realizing dreams. And the question facing this country is, will -- do we, one, understand the threat to America? In other words, do we understand that a failed -- failed states in the Middle East are a direct threat to our country's security? And secondly, will we continue to stay engaged in helping reformers, in working to advance liberty, to defeat an ideology that doesn't believe in freedom?
And my answer is, so long as I'm the President, we will. I clearly see the challenge. I see the challenge to what these threats pose to our homeland, and I see the challenge -- what these threats pose to the world.
Helen. (Laughter.) What's so funny about me saying "Helen"? (Laughter.) It's the anticipation of your question, I guess.
Q Israel broke its word twice on a truce. And you mentioned Hezbollah rockets, but it's -- Israeli bombs have destroyed Lebanon. Why do you always give them a pass? And what's your view on breaking of your oath for a truce?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you. I like to remind people about how this started, how this whole -- how the damage to innocent life, which bothers me -- but, again, what caused this.
Q Why drop bombs on --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish -- let -- ma'am. Ma'am, please let me finish the question. It's a great question to begin with. The follow-up was a little difficult, but anyway. (Laughter.) I know you're waiting for my answer, aren't you, with bated breath.
This never would have occurred had a terrorist organization, a state within a state, not launched attacks on a sovereign nation. From the beginning, Helen, I said that Israel, one, has a right to defend herself, but Israel ought to be cautious about how she defends herself. Israel is a democratically elected government. They make decisions on their own sovereignty. It's their decision-making that is -- what leads to the tactics they chose.
But the world must understand that now is the time to come together to address the root cause of the problem. And the problem was you have a state within a state. You have people launch attacks on a sovereign nation without the consent of the government in the country in which they are lodged.
And that's why it's very important for all of us, those of us who are involved in this process, to get an international force into Lebanon to help the Lebanese government achieve some objectives. One is their ability to exert control over the entire country; secondly is to make sure that the Hezbollah forces don't rearm, don't get arms from Syria or Iran through Syria, to be able to continue to wreak havoc in the region.
Let's see -- we'll finish the first line here. Everybody can be patient.
Q Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.) It's kind of like dancing together, isn't it? (Laughter.)
Q Yes, kind of. (Laughter.)
Q Very close quarters.
THE PRESIDENT: If I ask for any comments from the peanut gallery I'll call on you. (Laughter.) By the way, seersucker is coming back. I hope everybody -- (laughter.) Never mind.
Q Kind of the Texas county commissioner look. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Martha. Sorry.
Q That's quite all right. Mr. President, I'd like to go back to Iraq. You've continually cited the elections, the new government, its progress in Iraq, and yet the violence has gotten worse in certain areas. You've had to go to Baghdad again. Is it not time for a new strategy? And if not, why not?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, Martha, you've covered the Pentagon, you know that the Pentagon is constantly adjusting tactics because they have the flexibility from the White House to do so.
Q I'm talking about strategy --
THE PRESIDENT: The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics -- now, either you say, yes, its important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the President. That would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists.
No, we're not leaving. The strategic objective is to help this government succeed. That's the strategic -- and not only to help the government -- the reformers in Iraq succeed, but to help the reformers across the region succeed to fight off the elements of extremism. The tactics are which change. Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you're leaving before the mission is complete. And we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.
And so we have changed tactics. Our commanders have got the flexibility necessary to change tactics on the ground, starting with Plan Baghdad. And that's when we moved troops from Mosul into Baghdad and replaced them with the Stryker Brigade, so we increased troops during this time of instability.
Q Sir, that's not really the question. The strategy --
THE PRESIDENT: Sounded like the question to me.
Q You keep -- you keep saying that you don't want to leave. But is your strategy to win working? Even if you don't want to leave? You've gone into Baghdad before, these things have happened before.
THE PRESIDENT: If I didn't think it would work, I would change -- our commanders would recommend changing the strategy. They believe it will work. It takes time to defeat these people. The Maliki government has been in power for less than six months. And, yes, the people spoke. I've cited that as a part of -- the reason I cite it is because it's what the Iraqi people want. And the fundamental question facing this government is whether or not we will stand with reformers across the region. It's really the task. And we're going to stand with this government.
Obviously, I wish the violence would go down, but not as much as the Iraqi citizens would wish the violence would go down. But, incredibly enough, they show great courage, and they want our help. And any sign that says we're going to leave before the job is done simply emboldens terrorists and creates a certain amount of doubt for people so they won't take the risk necessary to help a civil society evolve in the country.
This is a campaign -- I'm sure they're watching the campaign carefully. There are a lot of good, decent people saying, get out now; vote for me, I will do everything I can to, I guess, cut off money is what they'll try to do to get our troops out. It's a big mistake. It would be wrong, in my judgment, for us to leave before the mission is complete in Iraq.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Back to Lebanon. The Lebanese Prime Minister, over the weekend, said that Israel flagrantly violated the cease-fire with its raid into Lebanon, and so far the European allies who have committed forces, the U.N. security peacekeeping forces, have expressed reservations; those Muslim nations who have offered troops have been shunned by Israeli officials. Why shouldn't we see the cease-fire as one that essentially is falling apart? And what makes this more than a piece of paper if you don't have the will of the international community to back it up?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, no, listen, all the more reason why we need to help our friends and allies get the forces necessary to help the Lebanese forces keep the cessation of hostilities in place, intact. And that's why we're working with friends, with allies, with Security Council members, to make sure the force that is committed is robust and the rules of engagement are clear. And so it's an ongoing series of conversations and discussions, and hopefully this will happen quite quickly.
Q Will you pressure the French to contribute more troops?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're pressing on all. I was asked about the French the other day at Camp David, and I
-- listen, France has had a very close relationship with Lebanon, there's historical ties with Lebanon; I would hope they would put more troops in. They understand the region as well as anybody. And so we're working with a lot of folks, trying to get this force up and running.
Look, like you -- I mean, you sound somewhat frustrated by diplomacy. Diplomacy can be a frustrating thing. I think the strategy can work, so long as the force is robust and the rules of engagement are clear.
Q Mr. President, as you mentioned, we're just 10 days from the U.N. Security Council deadline on Iran. Judging by the public comments from the Iranians, it appears at least highly unlikely that they're going to stop or suspend their enrichment program. Are you confident that the U.N. Security Council will move quickly on sanctions if Iran thumbs its nose at the world again?
THE PRESIDENT: I certainly hope so. In order for the U.N. to be effective, there must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security Council. And we will work with people in the Security Council to achieve that objective, and the objective is that there's got to be a consequence for them basically ignoring what the Security Council has suggested through resolution.
Q Understanding that diplomacy takes time, do you think that this could drag out for a while?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I don't know. I certainly want to solve this problem diplomatically, and I believe the best chance to do so is for there to be more than one voice speaking clearly to the Iranians. And I was pleased that we got a resolution, that there was a group of nations willing to come together to send a message to the Iranians -- nations as diverse as China and Russia, plus the EU3 and the United States.
Q Good morning, Mr. President. When you talked today about the violence in Baghdad, first you mentioned extremists, radicals, and then al Qaeda. It seems that al Qaeda and foreign fighters are much less of a problem there, and that it really is Iraqi versus Iraqi. And when we heard about your meeting the other day with experts and so forth, some of the reporting out of that said you were frustrated, you were surprised. And your spokesman said, no, you're determined. But frustration seems like a very real emotion. Why wouldn't you be frustrated, sir, about what's happening?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not -- I do remember the meeting; I don't remember being surprised. I'm not sure what they meant by that.
Q About the lack of gratitude among the Iraqi people.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh. No, I think -- first of all, to the first part of your question, if you look back at the words of Zarqawi before he was brought to justice, he made it clear that the intent of their tactics in Iraq was to create civil strife. In other words, look at what he said. He said, let's kill Shia to get Shia to seek revenge, and therefore, to create this kind of -- hopefully, a cycle of violence.
Secondly, it's pretty clear that at least the evidence indicates that the bombing of the shrine was an al Qaeda plot, all intending to create sectarian violence. No, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. As a matter of fact some of the more -- I would guess, I would surmise that some of the more spectacular bombings are done by al Qaeda suiciders.
No question there's sectarian violence, as well. And the challenge is to provide a security plan such that a political process can go forward. And I know -- I'm sure you all are tired of hearing me say 12 million Iraqis voted, but it's an indication about the desire for people to live in a free society. That's what that means.
And the only way to defeat this ideology in the long-term is to defeat it through another ideology, a competing ideology, one where government responds to the will of the people. And that's really -- really the fundamental question we face here in the beginning of this 21st century is whether or not we believe as a nation, and others believe, it is possible to defeat this ideology.
Now, I recognize some say that these folks are not ideologically bound. I strongly disagree. I think not only do they have an ideology, they have tactics necessary to spread their ideology. And it would be a huge mistake for the United States to leave the region, to concede territory to the terrorists, to not confront them. And the best way to confront them is to help those who want to live in free society.
Look, eventually Iraq will succeed because the Iraqis will see to it that they succeed. And our job is to help them succeed. That's our job. Our job is to help their forces be better equipped, to help their police be able to deal with these extremists, and to help their government succeed.
Q But are you frustrated, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy. This is -- but war is not a time of joy. These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times, and they're difficult times, and they're straining the psyche of our country. I understand that. You know, nobody likes to see innocent people die. Nobody wants to turn on their TV on a daily basis and see havoc wrought by terrorists. And our question is, do we have the capacity and the desire to spread peace by confronting these terrorists, and supporting those who want to live in liberty? That's the question. And my answer to that question is, we must. We owe it to future generations to do so.
Q Mr. President, as you have reminded us a number of times, it was Hezbollah that started the confrontation between Israel and Lebanon. But you were supportive of the holding off of any kind of cease-fire until Israel had a chance to clear out the Hezbollah weapons. By all accounts, they did not exactly succeed in doing that. And by all accounts, the Lebanese army, as it moved into southern Lebanon, had a wink-and-a-nod arrangement with Hezbollah not to disturb anything, to just leave things as they are, a situation not unknown in the Middle East. Do you demand that the peacekeeping force, if and when it gets up and running, disarm Hezbollah?
THE PRESIDENT: The truth of the matter is, if 1559, that's the United Nations Security Council resolution number, had been fully implemented, we wouldn't be in the situation we were in to begin with. There will be another resolution coming out of the United Nations giving further instructions to the international force. First things first; is to get the rules of engagement clear, so that the force will be robust to help the Lebanese.
One thing is for certain -- is that when this force goes into help Lebanon, Hezbollah won't have that safe haven, or that kind of freedom to run in Lebanon's southern border. In other words, there's an opportunity to create a cushion, a security cushion. Hopefully, over time, Hezbollah will disarm. You can't have a democracy with an armed political party willing to bomb its neighbor without the consent of its government, or deciding, well, let's create enough chaos and discord by lobbing rockets.
And so the reality is, in order for Lebanon to succeed -- and we want Lebanon's democracy to succeed -- the process is going to -- the Lebanese government is eventually going to have to deal with Hezbollah.
Q But it's the status quo if there's no disarming.
THE PRESIDENT: Not really. I mean, yes, eventually, you're right. But in the meantime, there will be a -- there's a security zone, something to -- where the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL force are more robust, UNIFIL force can create a security zone between Lebanon and Israel. That would be helpful.
But, ultimately, you're right. Your question is, shouldn't Hezbollah disarm, and ultimately, they should. And it's necessary, for the Lebanese government to succeed.
The cornerstone of our policy in that part of the world is to help democracies. Lebanon is a democracy; we want the Siniora government to succeed. Part of our aid package is going to be help strengthen the army of Lebanon so when the government speaks, when the government commits its troops, they do so in an effective way.
Q Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: How are you feeling?
Q I'm good, sir. It's good to be back.
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you. Yes, it's good to see you. Sorry we didn't spend more time in Crawford. I knew you were anxious to do so.
Q Always am.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. (Laughter.) That's why we love seeing you.
Q Thanks. Let me ask you about presidential pardons. Last week, you issued 17 of them. That brought the number of pardons you've issued in your presidency to 97, and that's far fewer than most of your recent predecessors, except your dad. And I want to ask you, do you consider yourself to be stingy when it comes to pardons? What is your philosophy on granting presidential pardons?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I don't have the criterion in front of me, Mark, but we have a strict criterion that we utilize -- we being the Justice Department and the White House Counsel. And I, frankly, haven't compared the number of pardons I've given to any other President. Perhaps I should. But I don't think a scorecard should, necessarily, be the guidepost for pardoning people.
McKinnon. I'm going to go to you, Jackson, and kind of work around.
Q Thanks. Mr. President, what do you say to people who are losing patience with gas prices at $3 a gallon? And how much of a political price do you think you're paying for that right now?
THE PRESIDENT: I've been talking about gas prices ever since they got high, starting with this -- look, I understand gas prices are like a hidden tax. Not a hidden tax, it's a tax -- it's taking money out of people's pockets. I know that. All the more reason for us to diversify away from crude oil. That's not going to happen overnight. We passed law that encouraged consumption through different purchasing habits, like hybrid vehicles
-- you buy a hybrid, you get a tax credit. We've encouraged the spread of ethanol as an alternative to crude oil. We have asked for Congress to pass regulatory relief so we can build more refineries to increase the supply of gasoline, hopefully taking the pressure off of price.
And so the strategy is to recognize that dependency upon crude oil is -- in a global market affects us economically here at home, and therefore, we need to diversify away as quickly as possible.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you know, the one-year anniversary of Katrina is coming up. And there are a lot of retrospectives about what went wrong down there last year. Specifically, what has your administration done in the past year to help the folks down there, and what remains to be done?
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. You know, I went to New Orleans, in Jackson Square, and made a commitment that we would help the people there recover. I also want the people down there to understand that it's going to take a while to recover. This was a huge storm.
First things -- the first thing that's necessary to help the recovery is money. And our government has committed over $110 billion to help. Of that, a lot of money went to -- went out the door to help people adjust from having to be moved because of the storm. And then there's rental assistance, infrastructure repair, debris removal. Mississippi removed about 97 percent, 98 percent of its -- what they call dry debris. We're now in the process of getting debris from the water removed. Louisiana is slower in terms of getting debris removed. The money is available to help remove that debris. People can get after it, and I would hope they would.
Q What --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. Thank you.
We provided about $1.8 billion for education. That money has gone out the door. We want those schools up and running. As I understand, the schools are running now in New Orleans, a lot of schools are. Flood insurance, we're spending money on flood insurance. There is more work to be done, particularly when it comes to housing. We've spent about -- appropriated about $16 billion, $17 billion for direct housing grants to people in the Gulf Coast and in Louisiana.
I made the decision, along with the local authorities, that each state ought to develop a housing recovery plan. That's what they call the LRA in Louisiana. They're responsible for taking the federal money and getting it to the people. Same in -- Mississippi has developed its own plan.
I thought it would be best that there be a local plan developed and implemented by local folks. And so there's now, as I mentioned, $16 billion of direct housing grants. Each state has developed its own plan, how much money goes to each homeowner to help these people rebuild their lives. And so I think the area where people will see the most effect in their lives is when they start getting this individualized CDBG grant money.
Q Has anything disappointed you about the recovery, the federal response?
THE PRESIDENT: I was concerned at first about how much Congress and the taxpayers would be willing to appropriate and spend. I think $110 billion is a strong commitment, and I'm pleased with that. Any time -- I named a man named Don Powell to go down there, and the thing that's most important is for the government to eliminate any bureaucratic obstacles when we find something that's not moving quick enough.
I think, for example, about the debris removal. There was the issue of whether or not the government would pay for debris removal on private property, or not. So we worked out a plan with the local mayors and local county commissioners, local parish presidents to be able to designate certain property as a health hazard. And when they did so, then government money could pay for it. In other words, we're trying to be flexible with the rules and regulations we have to deal with.
But the place where people, I'm sure, are going to be most frustrated is whether or not they're going to get the money to rebuild their homes. And my attitude is we've appropriated the money, and now we'll work with states to get the money.
April, I suspect you have a follow-up on this.
Q Yes, I do, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Why don't you let her go?
Q And another question, sir. The follow-up: Some have a concern that you've given all of this money, but the federal government has moved away to let the local government, particularly in New Orleans, handle everything, and things are not moving like they expected. And that's one of the concerns. And another question, if you --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me address that, and I promise you can ask that other one.
As I mentioned to you, the strategy from the get-go was to work with the local folks in Mississippi and Louisiana, and they would then submit their plans to the federal government, particularly for housing, and that upon approval, we would then disburse the appropriated monies -- in this case, about $17 billion for housing grants. And so each state came up with a grant formula, and I can't give you all the details. But it's -- the whole purpose is intended to get money into people's pockets to help them rebuild. And once the strategy is developed at the state and local level, it makes sense for the monies to be appropriated at the state and local level. And if there's a -- if there's a level of frustration there, we will work with the LRA in this case.
Q Well, I have one follow-up on that. Do you think --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, how many -- are you trying to dominate this thing? (Laughter.)
Q No, sir, but I don't get a chance to talk to you as much as the others.
THE PRESIDENT: That's not -- wait a minute. (Laughter.)
Q But a follow-up real quick. Do you think that more needs to be done? Does the federal government need to put its hands on what's going on? Because New Orleans is not moving --
THE PRESIDENT: I think the best way to do this is for the federal government's representative, Don Powell, to continue to work with Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco to get the money into the hands of the people. The money has been appropriated, the formula is in place, and now it's time to move forward.
Now, you have another question, I presume.
Q Yes, sir. Chinese officials are saying that you need to get involved in the six-party talks, and that ultimately you have to be a part of the six-party talks in dealing with North Korea. And also they're saying that you need to stop dealing with the issue of money laundering and deal with the real issue of ballistic missiles. What are your thoughts?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, counterfeiting U.S. dollars is an issue that every President ought to be concerned about. And when you catch people counterfeiting your money, you need to do something about it.
We are very much involved in the six-party talks. As a matter of fact, I talked to Hu Jintao this morning about the six-party talks, and about the need for us to continue to work together to send a clear message to the North Korean leader that there is a better choice for him than to continue to develop a nuclear weapon. The six-party talks are -- is an important part of our -- the six-party talks are an important part of our strategy of dealing with Kim Jong-il. And the North Korean -- the Chinese President recognized that in the phone call. And so we talked about how we'll continue to collaborate and work together.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You mentioned the campaign earlier. Do you agree with those in your party, including the Vice President, who have said or implied that Democratic voters emboldened al Qaeda types by choosing Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman, and then as a message that how Americans vote will send messages to terrorists abroad? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You're welcome. What all of us in this administration have been saying is that leaving Iraq before the mission is complete will send the wrong message to the enemy and will create a more dangerous world. That's what we're saying. It's an honest debate and it's an important debate for Americans to listen to and to be engaged in. In our judgment, the consequences for defeat in Iraq are unacceptable.
I fully understand that some didn't think we ought to go in there in the first place. But defeat -- if you think it's bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself and sustain itself. Chaos in Iraq would be very unsettling in the region. Leaving before the job would be done would send a message that America really is no longer engaged, nor cares about the form of governments in the Middle East. Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster, and that's what we're saying.
I will never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me. This has nothing to do with patriotism; it has everything to do with understanding the world in which we live. It's like the other day I was critical of those who heralded the federal judge's opinion about the terrorist surveillance program. I thought it was a terrible opinion, and that's why we're appealing it. And I have no -- look, I understand how democracy works: quite a little bit of criticism in it, which is fine; that's fine, it's part of the process. But I have every right, as do my administration, to make it clear what the consequences would be of policy, and if we think somebody is wrong or doesn't see the world the way it is, we'll continue to point that out to people.
And, therefore, those who heralded the decision not to give law enforcement the tools necessary to protect the American people simply don't see the world the way we do. They see, maybe these are kind of isolated incidents. These aren't isolated incidents, they're tied together. There is a global war going on. And somebody said, well, this is law enforcement. No, this isn't law enforcement, in my judgment. Law enforcement means kind of a simple, singular response to the problem. This is a global war on terror. We're facing extremists that believe something, and they want to achieve objectives. And therefore, the United States must use all our assets, and we must work with others to defeat this enemy. That's the call. And we -- in the short run, we've got to stop them from attacking us. That's why I give the Tony Blair government great credit, and their intelligence officers, and our own government credit for working with the Brits to stop this attack.
But you know something -- it's an amazing town, isn't it, where they say, on the one hand, you can't have the tools necessary -- we herald the fact that you won't have the tools necessary to defend the people, and sure enough, an attack would occur, and they say, how come you don't have the tools necessary to defend the people? That's the way -- that's the way we think around this town.
And so we'll -- Jim, we'll continue to speak out, in a respectful way, never challenging somebody's love for America when you criticize their strategies or their point of view. And, you know, for those who say that, well, all they're trying to say is, we're not patriotic, simply don't listen to our words very carefully, do they?
What matters is that in this campaign that we clarify the different point of view. And there are a lot of people in the Democrat Party who believe that the best course of action is to leave Iraq before the job is done, period. And they're wrong. And the American people have got to understand the consequence of leaving Iraq before the job is done. We're not going to leave Iraq before the job is done, and we'll complete the mission in Iraq. I can't tell you exactly when it's going to be done, but I do know that it's important for us to support the Iraqi people, who have shown incredible courage in their desire to live in a free society. And if we ever give up the desire to help people who live in freedom, we will have lost our soul as a nation, as far as I'm concerned.
Q Is that a make-or-break issue for you in terms of domestic politics? There's a Republican in Pennsylvania who says he doesn't think the troops should -- would you campaign for Mike Fitzpatrick?
THE PRESIDENT: I already have.
Q And would you campaign against Senator Joe Lieberman, whose Republican candidate may support you, but he supports you, too, on Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to stay out of Connecticut. (Laughter.)
Q You were born there.
THE PRESIDENT: Shhh. (Laughter.) I may be the only person -- the only presidential candidate who never carried the state in which he was born. Do you think that's right, Herman? Of course, you would have researched that and dropped it out for everybody to see -- particularly since I dissed that just ridiculous looking outfit. (Laughter.)
Q Your mother raised you better than that, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: That is -- so I'm not going to say it --
Q There is Al Gore.
THE PRESIDENT: I don't want anybody to know that I think it's ridiculous. Look, I'm not through yet.
Q -- make-or-break issue for you?
THE PRESIDENT: And by the way, I'm staying out of Connecticut because that's what the party suggested, the Republican Party of Connecticut. And plus, there's a better place to spend our money, time, and resources --
Q But you're the head --
THE PRESIDENT: Right, I've listened to them very carefully. I'm a thoughtful guy, I listen to people. (Laughter.) I'm open-minded. I'm all the things that you know I am.
The other part of your question? Look, issues are won based upon whether or not you can keep this economy strong -- elections are won based upon economic issues and national security issues. And there's a fundamental difference between many of the Democrats and my party, and that is, they want to leave before the job is completed in Iraq. And again, I repeat, these are decent people. They're just as American as I am. I just happen to strongly disagree with them. And it's very important for the American people to understand the consequences of leaving Iraq before the job is done.
This is a global war on terror. I repeat what our major general said -- or leading general said in the region. He said, "If we withdraw before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here." I strongly agree with that. And if you believe that the job of the federal government is to secure this country, it's really important for you to understand that success in Iraq is part of securing the country.
We're talking about a long-term issue here, as well, Ann. In the short-term, we've got to have the tools necessary to stop terrorist attack. That means good intel, good intelligence-sharing, the capacity to know whether al Qaeda is calling into this country and why. We've got to have all those tools -- the Patriot Act, tearing down those walls between intel and law enforcement are a necessary part of protecting the country. But in the long-term, the only way to defeat this terrorist bunch is through the spread of liberty and freedom.
And that's a big challenge. I understand it's a challenge. It requires commitment and patience and persistence. I believe it's a challenge of this -- the challenge for this generation. I believe we owe it to our children and grandchildren to stay engaged and to help spread liberty, and to help reformers.
Now, ultimately, success is going to be up to the reformers. Just like in Iraq, it's going to require Iraqis -- the will of Iraqis to succeed. I understand that. And that's why our strategy is to give them to tools necessary to defend themselves and help them defend themselves, in this case, right now, mainly in Baghdad, but, as well, around the country.
At home, if I were a candidate, if I were running, I'd say, look at what the economy has done. It's strong. We created a lot of jobs -- let me finish my question, please. These hands going up. I'm not -- I'm kind of getting old, and just getting into my peroration. (Laughter.) Look it up. (Laughter.)
I'd be telling people that the Democrats will raise your taxes. That's what they said. I'd be reminding people that tax cuts have worked in terms of stimulating the economy. I'd be reminding people there's a philosophical difference between those who want to raise taxes and have the government spend the money, and those of us who say, you get to spend the money the way you see fit, it's your money. I'd remind people that pro-growth economic policies have helped us cut that deficit faster than we thought.
I'd also remind people if I were running that the long-term problem facing the budget is Social Security and Medicare. And they look -- Republican or Democrat ought to say, I look forward to working with the President to solve the problem. People expect us to come here to solve problems, and thus far, the attitude has been, let's just kind of ignore what the President has said and just hope somebody else comes and solves it for us. That's what I'd be running on. I'd be running on the economy, and I'd be running on national security. But since I'm not running, I can only serve as an advisor to those who are.
Q Thank you, sir. Go ahead. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I don't need to, now that you've stood up and everybody can clearly see for themselves. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, polls continue to show sagging support for the war in Iraq. I'm curious as to how you see this developing. Is it your belief that long-term results will vindicate your strategy and people will change their mind about it, or is this the kind of thing you're doing because you think it's right and you don't care if you ever gain public support for it? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Look, Presidents care about whether people support their policies. I don't mean to say, I don't care. Of course, I care. But I understand why people are discouraged about Iraq, I can understand that. We live in a world in which people hope things happen quickly, and this is a situation where things don't happen quickly, because there's a very tough group of people using tactics, mainly the killing of innocent people, to achieve their objective. And they're skillful about how they do this, and they also know the impact of what it means on the consciousness of those of us who live in the free world. They know that.
And so, yes, I care, I really do. I wish -- and so, therefore, I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to explain as best I can why it's important for us to succeed in Iraq.
Q Can I follow --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish. On the other hand, Ken, I don't think you've ever heard me say -- and you've now been covering me for quite a while, 12 years -- I don't think I've -- 12 years? Yes. I don't think you've ever heard me say, gosh, I'd better change positions because the polls say this or that. I've been here long enough to understand you cannot make good decisions if you're trying to chase a poll. And so the second part of your question is, look, I'm going to do what I think is right, and if people don't like me for it, that's just the way it is.
Q Quick follow-up. A lot of the consequences you mentioned for pulling out seem like maybe they never would have been there if we hadn't gone in. How do you square all of that?
THE PRESIDENT: I square it because, imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who would -- who had relations with Zarqawi. Imagine what the world would be like with him in power. The idea is to try to help change the Middle East.
Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction. But I also talked about the human suffering in Iraq, and I also talked the need to advance a freedom agenda. And so my question -- my answer to your question is, is that, imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens.
You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.
Q What did Iraq have to do with that?
THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?
Q The attack on the World Trade Center?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq. I have suggested, however, that resentment and the lack of hope create the breeding grounds for terrorists who are willing to use suiciders to kill to achieve an objective. I have made that case.
And one way to defeat that -- defeat resentment is with hope. And the best way to do hope is through a form of government. Now, I said going into Iraq that we've got to take these threats seriously before they fully materialize. I saw a threat. I fully believe it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein, and I fully believe the world is better off without him. Now, the question is how do we succeed in Iraq? And you don't succeed by leaving before the mission is complete, like some in this political process are suggesting.
Last question. Stretch. Who are you working for, Stretch?
Q Washington Examiner.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, good. Glad you found work. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you very much. Mr. President, some pro-life groups are worried that your choice of FDA Commissioner will approve over the counter sales of Plan B, a pill that, they say, essentially can cause early-term abortions. Do you stand by this choice, and how do you feel about Plan B in general?
THE PRESIDENT: I believe that Plan B ought to be -- ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy's decision.
Thanks for letting me come by the new digs here. They may be a little too fancy for you.
Q We'd be happy to go back.
Q Are we coming back?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely, you're coming back.
Q Can we hold you to that?
THE PRESIDENT: Coming back to the bosom of the White House. (Laughter.) I'm looking forward to hugging you when you come back, everybody. When are you coming back?
Q You tell us.
THE PRESIDENT: May, is that when it is scheduled?
Q They've sealed off of our -- they sealed off the door. We're wondering if we're really coming back or not.
Q The decision will be made by commanders on the ground. (Laughter.)
Q There's no timetable.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you think this is, a correspondents dinner or something? (Laughter.)
Thank you all.
Q Thank you.
Q Are you going to come visit our workspace?
THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter.)
END 10:58 A.M. EDT
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
August 21, 2006
Today, President Bush Announced That The United States Was Planning To Provide Over $230 Million In Humanitarian, Reconstruction, And Security Assistance To Lebanon. $27 million of this assistance has already been provided. This assistance aims to strengthen Lebanon’s sovereign, democratic government, help the Lebanese people rebuild their country, and ensure lasting peace and security for the entire region.
The United States Is Leading The International Effort To Bring Urgently Needed Humanitarian Relief To The People Of Lebanon. From the onset of the conflict, U.S. diplomatic, military, and disaster relief personnel have coordinated with the Lebanese government, non-governmental organizations, and allies to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people.
The United States Has:
- Delivered medicine, fuel, shelter, food, and water to the Lebanese people.
- Helped international relief agencies and non-governmental organizations arrange convoys to bring critical supplies to civilians in the conflict zones.
- Worked with the Israeli and Lebanese governments, as well as partners in the region, to open ports, shipping lanes and runways, to allow the delivery of urgently needed supplies.
- Helped to secure the early reopening of the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut for passenger and humanitarian flights.
- Helped to ensure the resumption of fuel supplies for Lebanon’s principal power plants.
- Worked with Lebanese officials and others to alleviate shortages in gasoline and diesel for vehicles.
- Dispatched a shipment of 25,000 metric tons of wheat to Lebanon to ensure an uninterrupted supply of food.
The United States Commitment To Lebanon Will Continue Beyond The Stage Of Immediate Relief. Our commitment to bolstering Lebanon’s fragile democracy and assisting the Lebanese people is enduring and unwavering.
The United States Will:
- Assist in efforts to rebuild key bridges and roads and to make them passable as soon as possible.
- Support the rebuilding of homes and other private infrastructure in the hardest-hit areas of Lebanon, especially the South.
- Support the rehabilitation of schools so that Lebanese children can return to the classroom.
- Assist with the cleanup of the Jiyyeh oil spill and the resulting pollution, in order to restore livelihoods and protect people’s health in coastal communities.
- Assist in the disposal of unexploded ordnance, and fund demining and mine awareness programs.
The Cornerstone Of A Sovereign And Independent Lebanese Government Is A Strong And Effective Lebanese Army. The United States will assist the Lebanese Armed Forces and Lebanon’s national police to ensure that they can extend government authority throughout Lebanon, secure Lebanon’s borders and ports of entry, and ensure that no armed groups exist in Lebanon outside the authority of the state.
The United States Will:
- Provide the Lebanese security services with new equipment and spare parts to service existing equipment.
- Work with international partners to provide the Lebanese security services with up-to-date training.
- Continue programs to modernize and professionalize further Lebanese law enforcement organizations, and bolster their ability to address the growing terrorist threat in Lebanon and the region.
The Assistance Of The U.S. Government Is A Reflection Of The Generosity Of The American People. In order to tap into the generosity of America’s private businesses and individuals, a high-level Presidential delegation will be dispatched to Lebanon in order to help channel private U.S. donations to needy people and organizations
read l watch l listen
President Bush (Aug. 21): "America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million. These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities. The funds will help the Lebanese people restore key bridges and roads. The funds will help the Lebanese people rehabilitate schools so the children can start their school year on time this fall."
Aug 19, 2006
For Immediate Release
August 19, 2006
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
This week I met with my national security, counterterrorism, and economic teams. We've set clear goals: We will defeat the terrorists and expand freedom across the world, we'll protect the American homeland and work tirelessly to prevent attacks on our country, and we will continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America and build a more prosperous future for all our citizens.
On Monday, I visited the Pentagon and the State Department, where we discussed the war on terror, including the recent conflict in Lebanon, a conflict which began with an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah on Israel. Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Rice and Ambassador Bolton at the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that will help bring an end to the violence and create a foundation for a sustainable peace.
The resolution calls for a robust international force to deploy to the southern part of Lebanon. This force will help Lebanon's legitimate armed forces restore the sovereignty of its democratic government over all Lebanese territory and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state. The resolution will help make it possible for civilians in both Lebanon and Israel to return home in safety and begin rebuilding their lives without fear of renewed violence and terror.
The United State s is now working with our international partners to turn the words of this resolution into action. The conflict in Lebanon is part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region. Terrorists and their sponsors recognize that the Middle East is at a pivotal moment in its history. Freedom has brought hope to millions, and it's helped foster the development of young democracies from Baghdad to Beirut.
Yet these young democracies are still fragile, and the forces of terror are seeking to stop liberty's advance and steer newly free nations to the path of radicalism. The terrorists fear the rise of democracy because they know what it means for the future of their hateful ideology.
It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity. We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East.
The way forward will be difficult, and it will require sacrifice and resolve. But America's security depends on liberty's advance in this troubled region, and we can be confident of the outcome because we know the unstoppable power of freedom.
On Tuesday, I went to the National Counterterrorism Center, where I was briefed by the fine professionals who work day and night to protect our Nation from terrorist attacks. Their efforts are vital, as we saw with the recent terrorist plot to destroy airliners headed for America.
I thanked the men and women of the intelligence community for all they did to help the British government uncover and disrupt this vicious plot. This attempted attack is a reminder to us all: The terrorists remain determined to destroy innocent life on a massive scale, and we must be equally determined to stop them.
On Friday, I met with my economic advisors at Camp David, where we discussed our efforts to keep our economy growing and creating jobs. Our economy has created more than 5.5 million new jobs since August of 2003, more jobs than Japan and the 25 nations of the European Union combined. The unemployment rate is 4.8 percent. The productivity of America's workers is rising, and our economy grew at a strong annual rate of 4 percent during the first half of 2006.
To keep this momentum going, we're pursuing a strategy to sustain our economic growth and keep our economy competitive for decades to come. We will keep taxes low, restrain federal spending, open new markets for American products, invest in new energy technologies, and help American workers develop the skills they need to compete for high wage jobs.
American workers also need affordable, high quality health care, and more transparency in our health care system can help. Next week, I will travel to Minnesota to discuss ways to ensure patients have access to more information about their health care. When patients know the facts about the price and quality of their health care options, they can make decisions that are right for them.
With all these steps, we're working to improve the health, security and prosperity of the American people. Our Nation does not fear the future because we are determined to shape the future. We will build a more peaceful world and leave behind a stronger and better America for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for listening.
Return to this article at:
Washington Post, August 16, 2006
A Path To Lasting Peace
By Condoleezza Rice
For the past month the United States has worked urgently to end the violence that Hezbollah and its sponsors have imposed on the people of Lebanon and Israel. At the same time, we have insisted that a truly effective cease-fire requires a decisive change from the status quo that produced this war. Last Friday we took an important step toward that goal with the unanimous passage of U.N. Resolution 1701. Now the difficult, critical task of implementation begins.
The agreement we reached has three essential components:
First, it puts in place a full cessation of hostilities. We also insisted on the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah must immediately cease its attacks on Israel, and Israel must halt its offensive military operations in Lebanon, while reserving the right of any sovereign state to defend itself. This agreement went into effect on Monday, after the Israeli and Lebanese cabinets agreed to its conditions.
Second, this resolution will help the democratic government of Lebanon expand its sovereign authority. The international community is imposing an embargo on all weapons heading into Lebanon without the government's consent. We are also enhancing UNIFIL, the current U.N. force in Lebanon. The new UNIFIL will have a robust mandate, better equipment and as many as 15,000 soldiers -- a sevenfold increase from its current strength. Together with this new international force, the Lebanese Armed Forces will deploy to the south of the country to protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area. As this deployment occurs, Israel will withdraw behind the "Blue Line" and a permanent cease-fire will take hold.
Finally, this resolution clearly lays out the political principles to secure a lasting peace: no foreign forces, no weapons and no authority in Lebanon other than that of the sovereign Lebanese government. These principles represent a long-standing international consensus that has been affirmed and reaffirmed for decades -- but never fully implemented. Now, for the first time, the international community has put its full weight behind a practical political framework to help the Lebanese government realize these principles, including the disarmament of all militias operating on its territory.
The implementation of Resolution 1701 will not only benefit Lebanon and Israel; it also has important regional implications. Simply put: This is a victory for all who are committed to moderation and democracy in the Middle East -- and a defeat for those who wish to undermine these principles with violence, particularly the governments of Syria and Iran.
While the entire world has spent the past month working for peace, the Syrian and Iranian regimes have sought to prolong and intensify the war that Hezbollah started. The last time this happened, 10 years ago, the United States brokered a cease-fire between Israel and Syria. The game of diplomacy was played by others, over the heads of the Lebanese. Now Syria no longer occupies Lebanon, and the international community is helping the Lebanese government create the conditions of lasting peace -- full independence, complete sovereignty, effective democracy and a weakened Hezbollah with fewer opportunities to rearm and regroup. Once implemented, this will be a strategic setback for the Syrian and Iranian regimes.
The agreement we reached last week is a good first step, but it is only a first step. Though we hope that it will lead to a permanent cease-fire, no one should expect an immediate stop to all acts of violence. This is a fragile cease-fire, and all parties must work to strengthen it. Our diplomacy has helped end a war. Now comes the long, hard work to secure the peace.
Looking ahead, our most pressing challenge is to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people within Lebanon to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. This reconstruction effort will be led by the government of Lebanon, but it will demand the generosity of the entire world.
For our part, the United States is helping to lead relief efforts for the people of Lebanon, and we will fully support them as they rebuild their country. As a first step, we have increased our immediate humanitarian assistance to $50 million. To secure the gains of peace, the Lebanese people must emerge from this conflict with more opportunities and greater prosperity.
Already, we hear Hezbollah trying to claim victory. But others, in Lebanon and across the region, are asking themselves what Hezbollah's extremism has really achieved: hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. Houses and infrastructure destroyed. Hundreds of innocent lives lost. The blame of the world for causing this war.
Innocent people in Lebanon, in Israel and across the Middle East have suffered long enough at the hands of extremists. It is time to overcome old patterns of violence and secure a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. This is our goal, and now we have laid out the steps to achieve it. Our policy is ambitious, yes, and difficult to achieve. But it is right. It is realistic. And ultimately, it is the only effective path to a more hopeful future.
The writer is secretary of state.
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 14, 2006
President Discusses Foreign Policy During Visit to State Department
The State Department
3:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today I met with members of my national security team, both here at the State Department and at the Pentagon. I want to, first of all, thank the leadership of Secretary Condi Rice and Secretary Don Rumsfeld.
During those discussions we talked about the need to transform our military to meet the threats of the 21st century. We discussed the global war on terror. We discussed the situation on the ground in three fronts of the global war on terror -- in Lebanon, and Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Friday's U.N. Security Council resolution on Lebanon is an important step forward that will help bring an end to the violence. The resolution calls for a robust international force to deploy to the southern part of the country to help Lebanon's legitimate armed forces restore the sovereignty of its democratic government over all Lebanese territory. As well, the resolution is intended to stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within the state.
We're now working with our international partners to turn the words of this resolution into action. We must help people in both Lebanon and Israel return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives without fear of renewed violence and terror.
America recognizes that civilians in Lebanon and Israel have suffered from the current violence, and we recognize that responsibility for this suffering lies with Hezbollah. It was an unprovoked attack by Hezbollah on Israel that started this conflict. Hezbollah terrorists targeted Israeli civilians with daily rocket attacks. Hezbollah terrorists used Lebanese civilians as human shields, sacrificing the innocent in an effort to protect themselves from Israeli response.
Responsibility for the suffering of the Lebanese people also lies with Hezbollah's state sponsors, Iran and Syria. The regime in Iran provides Hezbollah with financial support, weapons, and training. Iran has made clear that it seeks the destruction of Israel. We can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks.
Syria is another state sponsor of Hezbollah. Syria allows Iranian weapons to pass through its territory into Lebanon. Syria permits Hezbollah's leaders to operate out of Damascus and gives political support to Hezbollah's cause. Syria supports Hezbollah because it wants to undermine Lebanon's democratic government and regain its position of dominance in the country. That would be a great tragedy for the Lebanese people and for the cause of peace in the Middle East.
Hezbollah and its foreign sponsors also seek to undermine the prospects for peace in the Middle East. Hezbollah terrorists kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, Hamas kidnapped another Israeli soldier for a reason. Hezbollah and Hamas reject the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security. Both groups want to disrupt the progress being made toward that vision by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and others in the region. We must not allow terrorists to prevent elected leaders from working together toward a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East.
The conflict in Lebanon is part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region. For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East. Yet the lack of freedom in the region meant anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 of our citizens.
So we've launched a forward strategy of freedom in the broader Middle East. And that strategy has helped bring hope to millions and fostered the birth of young democracies from Baghdad to Beirut. Forces of terror see the changes that are taking place in their midst. They understand that the advance of liberty, the freedom to worship, the freedom to dissent, and the protection of human rights would be a defeat for their hateful ideology. But they also know that young democracies are fragile and that this may be their last and best opportunity to stop freedom's advance and steer newly free nation to the path of radical extremism. So the terrorists are striking back with all of the destructive power that they can muster. It's no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity.
Some say that America caused the current instability in the Middle East by pursuing a forward strategy of freedom, yet history shows otherwise. We didn't talk much about freedom or the freedom agenda in the Middle East before September the 11th, 2001; or before al Qaeda first attacked the World Trade Center and blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s; or before Hezbollah killed hundreds of Americans in Beirut and Islamic radicals held American hostages in Iran in the 1980s. History is clear: The freedom agenda did not create the terrorists or their ideology. But the freedom agenda will help defeat them both.
Some say that the violence and instability we see today means that the people of this troubled region are not ready for democracy. I disagree. Over the past five years, people across the Middle East have bravely defied the car bombers and assassins to show the world that they want to live in liberty. We see the universal desire for liberty in the 12 million Iraqis who faced down the terrorists to cast their ballots, and elected a free government under a democratic constitution. We see the universal desire for liberty in 8 million Afghans who lined up to vote for the first democratic government in the long history of their country. We see the universal desire for liberty in the Lebanese people who took to the streets to demand their freedom and helped drive Syrian forces out of their country.
The problem in the Middle East today is not that people lack the desire for freedom. The problem is that young democracies that they have established are still vulnerable to terrorists and their sponsors. One vulnerability is that many of the new democratic governments in the region have not yet established effective control over all their territory.
In both Lebanon and Iraq, elected governments are contending with rogue armed groups that are seeking to undermine and destabilize them. In Lebanon, Hezbollah declared war on Lebanon's neighbor, Israel, without the knowledge of the elected government in Beirut. In Iraq, al Qaeda and death squads engage in brutal violence to undermine the unity government. And in both these countries, Iran is backing armed groups in the hope of stopping democracy from taking hold.
The message of this administration is clear: America will stay on the offense against al Qaeda. Iran must stop its support for terror. And the leaders of these armed groups must make a choice: If they want to participate in the political life of their countries, they must disarm. Elected leaders cannot have one foot in the camp of democracy and one foot in the camp of terror.
The Middle East is at a pivotal moment in its history. The death and destruction we see shows how determined the extremists are to stop just and modern societies from emerging in the region. Yet millions of people in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere are equally determined to live in peace and freedom. They have tired of the false promises and grand illusions of radical extremists. They reject the hateful vision of the terrorists, and they dream of a better future for their children and their grandchildren. We're determined to help them achieve that dream.
America's actions have never been guided by territorial ambition. We seek to advance the cause of freedom in the Middle East because we know the security of the region and our own security depend on it. We know that free nations are America's best partners for peace and the only true anchors for stability. So we'll continue to support reformers inside and outside governments who are working to build the institutions of liberty. We'll continue to confront terrorist organizations and their sponsors who destroy innocent lives. We'll continue to work for the day when a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine are neighbors in a peaceful and secure Middle East.
The way forward is going to be difficult. It will require more sacrifice. But we can be confident of the outcome because we know and understand the unstoppable power of freedom. In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy, people will have a chance to raise their families and live in peace and build a better future. In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy, the terrorists will lose their recruits and lose their sponsors, and lose safe havens from which to launch new attacks. In a Middle East that grows in freedom and democracy, there will be no room for tyranny and terror, and that will make America and other free nations more secure.
Now I'll be glad to answer a couple of questions. Deb.
Q Mr. President, both sides are claiming victory in a conflict that's killed more than 900 people. Who won, and do you think the cease-fire will hold?
THE PRESIDENT: We certainly hope the cease-fire holds because it is step one of making sure that Lebanon's democracy is strengthened. Lebanon can't be a strong democracy when there's a state within a state, and that's Hezbollah.
As I mentioned in my remarks, Hezbollah attacked Israel without any knowledge of the Siniora government. You can't run a government, you can't have a democracy if you've got a armed faction within your country. Hezbollah attacked Israel. Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis. And the reason why is, is that first, there is a new -- there's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon, and that's going to be a Lebanese force with a robust international force to help them seize control of the country, that part of the country.
Secondly, when people take a look-see, take a step back, and realize how this started, they'll understand this was Hezbollah's activities. This was Hezbollah's choice to make.
I believe that Israel is serious about upholding the cessation of hostilities. The reason I believe that is I talked to the Prime Minister of Israel about it. And I know the Siniora government is anxious that the hostilities stop and the country begin to rebuild.
I can't speak for Hezbollah. They're a terrorist organization. They're not a state. They act independently of, evidently, the Lebanese government, and they do receive help from the outside.
Q Thank you, Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you. Thanks for breaking in with us --
Q Thank you. Despite what you've just said, there is a perception, a global perception, certainly in the Arab media and in many Western media, as well, that Hezbollah is really a winner here because they have proven that they could, as a guerrilla force, withstand the Israeli army. They have been the sole source of humanitarian aid to many of the Lebanese people in the south. So they've improved their position politically within Lebanon, and militarily, and globally. They've gotten an aura of being able to stand up for so long against Israel. How do you combat that, and the perception that we settled for less than we originally wanted in the U.N. resolution, a less robust force? And what actions can the United States or this international force take if Iran, for instance, tries to rearm Hezbollah?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. First of all, if I were Hezbollah I'd be claiming victory, too. But the people around the region and the world need to take a step back and recognize that Hezbollah's action created a very strong reaction that, unfortunately, caused some people to lose their life, innocent people to lose their life. But on the other hand, it was Hezbollah that caused the destruction.
People have got to understand -- and it will take time, Andrea, it will take time for people to see the truth -- that Hezbollah hides behind innocent civilians as they attack. What's really interesting is a mind-set -- is the mind-sets of this crisis. Israel, when they aimed at a target and killed innocent citizens, were upset. Their society was aggrieved. When Hezbollah's rockets killed innocent Israelis they celebrated. I think when people really take a look at the type of mentality that celebrates the loss of innocent life, they'll reject that type of mentality.
And so, Hezbollah, of course, has got a fantastic propaganda machine and they're claiming victories and -- but how can you claim victory when at one time you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force? And that's what we're now working on, is to get the international force in southern Lebanon.
None of this would have happened, by the way, had we -- had 1559, Resolution 1559 been fully implemented. Now is the time to get it implemented. And it's going to take a lot of work. No question about it. And no question that it's a different kind of war than people are used to seeing. We're fighting the same kind of war. We don't fight the armies of nation states; we fight terrorists who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. And it's a hard fight, and requires different tactics. And it requires solid will from those of us who understand the stakes.
The world got to see -- got to see what it means to confront terrorism. I mean, it's the challenge of the 21st century. The fight against terror, a group of ideologues, by the way, who use terror to achieve an objective -- this is the challenge. And that's why, in my remarks, I spoke about the need for those of us who understand the blessings of liberty to help liberty prevail in the Middle East. And the fundamental question is, can it? And my answer is, absolutely, it can. I believe that universal -- that freedom is a universal value. And by that I mean people want to be free. One way to put it is, I believe mothers around the world want to raise their children in a peaceful world. That's what I believe.
And I believe that people want to be free to express themselves, and free to worship the way they want to. And if you believe that, then you've got to have hope that, ultimately, freedom will prevail. But it's incredibly hard work, because there are terrorists who kill innocent people to stop the advance of liberty. And that's the challenge of the 21st century.
And the fundamental question for this country is, do we understand the stakes and the challenge, and are we willing to support reformers and young democracies, and are we willing to confront terror and those who sponsor them? And this administration is willing to do so. And that's what we're doing.
And you asked about Iran? What did you say about them? My answer was too long to remember the third part of your multipart question.
Q I'm sorry. How can the international force or the United States, if necessary, prevent Iran from resupplying Hezbollah?
THE PRESIDENT: The first step is -- and part of the mandate in the U.N. resolution was to secure Syria's borders. Iran is able to ship weapons to Hezbollah through Syria. Secondly is to deal -- is to help seal off the ports around Lebanon. In other words, there's -- part of the mandate and part of the mission of the troops, the UNIFIL troops will be to seal off the Syrian border.
But, as well, there's a diplomatic mission that needs to be accomplished. The world must now recognize that it's Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah that exacerbated the situation in the Middle East. People are greatly concerned about the loss of innocent life, as are the Americans -- American people. We care deeply about that, the fact that innocents lost their life. But it's very important to remember how this all happened. And Hezbollah has been emboldened because of its state sponsors.
I know they claim they didn't have anything to do with it, but sophisticated weaponry ended up in the hands of Hezbollah fighters, and many assume, and many believe that that weaponry came from Iran through Syria.
And so the task is more than just helping the Siniora government; the task is also -- and the task is not just America's alone, the task is the world's. And that is to continually remind the Iranians of their obligations, their obligations not to develop a nuclear weapons program, their obligations not to foster terrorism and promote terrorism.
And we'll continue working with our partners to do that, just that.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Until the other day, few Americans thought about liquid explosives when they got on a plane. What are the other emerging or evolving threats to the homeland that are most on your mind? That is, what else needs to be hardened as convincingly as cockpits have been hardened?
THE PRESIDENT: Michael, we will take the actions that are necessary based upon the intelligence we gather. And obviously, if we find out that terrorist groups are planning and plotting against our citizens -- or any other citizens, for that matter -- we will notify the proper authorities and the people themselves of actions that we're taking.
Uncovering this terrorist plot was accomplished through the hard and good work of British authorities, as well as our folks. And the coordination was very strong, and the cooperation, interagency and with the Brits, was really good. And I congratulate the Blair government and the hardworking folks in Great Britain. And, by the way, they're still analyzing, they're still dealing with potential threats. And I want to thank our folks, too. It was a really good effort.
But my point to you is that if we find out or if we believe that the terrorists will strike using a certain type of weapon or tactic, we will take the necessary precautions, just like we did when it came to liquids on airplanes.
Q The U.N. resolution says that Israel must stop all offensive action. What do you view as defensive action? If Hezbollah --
THE PRESIDENT: Somebody shoots at an Israeli soldier.
Q They can respond in what way?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
Q Any way Israel responds to that, if they start another ground offensive, that is all defensive?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to -- I keep getting asked a lot about Israel's military decisions, and we don't advise Israel on its military options. But, as far as I'm concerned, if somebody shoots at an Israeli soldier, tries to kill a soldier from Israel, that Israel has the right to defend herself, has a right to try to suppress that kind of fire. And that's how I read the resolution. That's how Ms. Rice reads the resolution.
Q Mr. President, to much of the rest of the world, the United States appeared to tolerate the bloodshed and ongoing fighting for a long time before assertively stepping in, and in the process, perhaps earned the further enmity of a lot of people in the rest of the world, particularly the Arab and Muslim world. What is your thought about that?
THE PRESIDENT: My thought is that, first of all, we, from the beginning, urged caution on both sides so that innocent life would be protected. And, secondly, I think most leaders around the world would give Condoleeza Rice and her team great credit for finally getting a U.N. resolution passed. We were working hard on a U.N. resolution pretty quickly, and it can be a painful process, diplomacy can be a painful process. And it took a while to get the resolution done. But most objective observers would give the United States credit for helping to lead the effort to get a resolution that addressed the root cause of the problem. Of course, we could have got a resolution right off the bat that didn't address the root cause. Everybody would have felt better for a quick period of time, and then the balance would have erupted again.
And our hope is that this series of resolutions that gets passed gets after the root cause. We want peace, Bill. We're not interested in process. What we want is results. And so -- look, America gets accused of all kinds of things. I understand that. But if people analyze the facts, they were to find two things: One, we urged caution, and two, secondly, that we worked on a diplomatic process that we believe has got the best chance of achieving a long-term objective, which is peace.
Final question, then I got to go.
Q Mr. President, four days later, now do you believe that the U.K. terror plot was developed by al Qaeda leaders? Do you believe that there are terror cells operating within the U.S.? Along with Michael's question, what do you say to critics who say there are giant loopholes in homeland security?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first I would say that -- I don't know the loophole question. Maybe you can give me some specific loopholes. But it sounded like to me Homeland Security did a good job, along with intelligence services and FBI in working with the British to shut down a major plot that could have killed Americans.
First part of the question? That's what happens when you get 60.
Q Do you believe the terror plot was developed by al Qaeda leaders?
THE PRESIDENT: We certainly -- I stand by the statements that initially came out of Chertoff, which was, it sure looks like it. It looks like something al Qaeda would do. But before we actually claim al Qaeda, we want to make sure that we have -- we could prove it to you. Of course, the minute I say it's al Qaeda, then you're going to step up and say, prove it. So, therefore, I'm not going to say it until we have absolute proof. But it looks like the kind of thing al Qaeda would do, and --
Q As far as terrorist cells inside the U.S.?
THE PRESIDENT: Any time we get a hint that there might be a terrorist cell in the United States, we move on it. And we're listening, we're looking, and one thing that's important is for us to make sure that those people who are trying to disrupt terrorist cells in the United States have the tools necessary to do so within the Constitution of the United States.
One of the things we better make sure is we better not call upon the federal government and people on the front lines of fighting terror to do their job and disrupt cells without giving people the necessary tools to disrupt terrorist plots before they strike. And that's what we're doing here in this government.
And that's why the Terrorist Surveillance Program exists, a program that some in Washington would like to dismantle. That's why we passed the Patriot Act, to give our folks the tools necessary to be able to defend America. The lessons of the past week is that there's still a war on terror going on and there's still individuals that would like to kill innocent Americans to achieve political objectives. That's the lesson. And the lesson for those of us in Washington, D.C. is to set aside politics and give our people the tools necessary to protect the American people.
END 4:08 EDT
Aug 12, 2006
Latest UN Resolution on Lebanon - UNSCR1701 - below
BREAKING NEWS ON UN RESOLUTION!
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 12, 2006
President Welcomes U.N. Security Council Resolution to Bring Lasting Peace to Middle East
I welcome the resolution adopted yesterday by the United Nations Security Council, which is designed to bring an immediate end to the fighting sparked last month by an unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel by Hizballah, a terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria. The United States and its allies have been working hard since the beginning of this conflict to create the conditions for an enduring ceasefire and prevent armed militias and foreign-sponsored terrorist groups like Hizballah from sparking another crisis.
Yesterday's resolution aims to end Hizballah's attacks on Israel and bring a halt to Israel's offensive military operations. It also calls for an embargo on the supply of arms to militias in Lebanon, for a robust international force to deploy to southern Lebanon in conjunction with Lebanon's legitimate armed forces, and for the disarming of Hizballah and all other militia groups operating in Lebanon. These steps are designed to stop Hizballah from acting as a state within a state, and put an end to Iran and Syria's efforts to hold the Lebanese people hostage to their own extremist agenda. This in turn will help to restore the sovereignty of Lebanon's democratic government and help ensure security for the people of Lebanon and Israel.
The loss of innocent life in both Lebanon and Israel has been a great tragedy. Hizballah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors have brought an unwanted war to the people of Lebanon and Israel, and millions have suffered as a result. I now urge the international community to turn words into action and make every effort to bring lasting peace to the region.
The United States State Department
We have published two versions of this new Security Council Resolution:
1. The Resolution itself with no additional info.
2. Following this we have published the official UN release which includes the resolution and introduction, comments and videos. See it at this link:
Below Please Find All Info related to UNSCR1701 by Secretary Condoleezza Rice.
Below we have:
1. Sec. Rice's Comments Following the meeting
2. Interview of Sec. Rice with NBC News
3. Interview of Sec. Rice with FOX News
4. Interview of Sec. Rice with CNN News
5. Interview of Sec. Rice with CBS News
1. Sec. Rice's Comments Following the meeting
Remarks Following Meeting of the United Nations Security Council
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: I am pleased with the outcome, the Resolution. Obviously, this is a first step and there’s a lot more to do, and I look forward to working with my colleagues. Again, I want to thank the members of the international community who worked so hard, particularly Secretary General Annan, also my colleague Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French Foreign Minister, and also the governments of Lebanon and Israel for their work. We will now endeavor to work very hard. This is a first step, but it’s a good first step.
Thank you very much.
Released on August 12, 2006
2. Interview of Sec. Rice with NBC News
Interview With NBC News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you’ve gotten an agreement on this resolution but there’s no timetable. It’s a framework for a cease-fire but it’s not a cease-fire. What makes you think that there really will be a cessation of hostilities?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the cessation of hostilities will go into being, we believe, the Israeli cabinet has to consider this, the Lebanese cabinet has to consider this (inaudible) but both sides are anxious to see a cessation of the hostilities of the kind that have led to so much suffering for civilians, the rocket attacks against Israel, the strategic bombing and aerial attacks. And so I fully believe that when these governments have adopted this, the cessation of hostilities will go into effect.
QUESTION: But who’s to enforce this? You had said repeatedly that the U.N. force that’s there on the ground isn’t adequate to enforce this. Why all of a sudden are -- is the United States willing to accept that that same UN force will be able to enforce this?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it’s a different UN force, Andrea, that will be coming in. The force that is going to be coming in has the label UNIFIL. There’s no doubt about it. It’s an extension of that force. But it is, as Prime Minister Siniora said in his speech in Rome, a force that is dramatically enhanced in terms of mandate and numbers and capabilities and equipment. And so this is a force that is able, accompanying the Lebanese armed forces, to help the Lebanese government reestablish control of its territory -- because, after all, what caused this was a vacuum in the south -- and then to monitor and to indeed defend the mandate that it’s been given. This is a very robust mandate for this force.
QUESTION: When will the force go in? Could you tell us tonight how long it will take to get this force in?
SECRETARY RICE: I know that Secretary General Annan is already talking to countries about troop contributions. It’s going to be a large force. It needs to be a force that’s several-fold larger than the force that is there now. So there will need to be troop contributions. But I expect that it will happen just as soon as everyone can get the troops organized, because --
QUESTION: Days? Weeks?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can’t give a timeline. I think there has to be a troop contributor conference. We believe and would hope that the cessation of hostilities that has been -- the kind of attacks that have been so hard on civilians can stop relatively soon and then this force can be organized. But I would expect that it would not be -- would not certainly be in the matter of months.
QUESTION: Who is going to disarm Hezbollah?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Lebanese government has a responsibility both under the Taif accords signed in Saudi Arabia in 1989 and under Resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah.
QUESTION: But the Lebanese government has never had the strength to disarm Hezbollah. Why should it now have the strength? Why do you think it has the will?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, just look what the Lebanese government has gained in these last few days. They now have a UN support and UN
troop support to extend their authority throughout the country, to extend their forces into the south of the country to close this vacuum that has allowed the rise of a state within a state. And I think the very firm attention now and urgent attention of the international community to help them really now execute Resolution 1559. To be truthful, it wasn’t executed after it was passed. Now there’s going to have to be an insistence that Resolution 1559 is fully implemented.
QUESTION: This resolution still says that Israel can defend itself. Can’t Israel call attacks on Hezbollah positions defense not offense and still continue firing?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, everybody understands that, of course, the Israelis have to have the right to defend themselves if attacked. But Hezbollah is supposed to cease all attacks and Israel its offensive operations. And so this cessation of hostilities, I don’t want to be overly optimistic here. Of course, there may be some skirmishes. But the large-scale violence is going to stop when these governments have signed on. That’s a big win for the humanitarian situation, for the civilians.
This force has got to come in so that, as it deploys, Israeli forces withdraw. And you’re going to have a fundamentally different situation in the south. And that is going to be good for the stability of Lebanon and it’s going to be good for the stability of the region.
QUESTION: And finally, do you have any guarantee that Iran and Syria won’t interfere with this? Will they, in fact, support it?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly hope that everyone is using all of their influence with Iran and with Syria to make sure that they do not interfere. There are measures that should help. For instance, there is an arms embargo. So that now if you are transferring weaponry that is not authorized by the government of Lebanon, you’re in violation of a Security Council resolution. And clearly, there will have to be work with the Lebanese to be able to enforce their borders.
But the important point here is that everyone should now support this resolution, support the Lebanese government as it extends its authority, and give Lebanon and the people of Israel a chance for peace.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
Released on August 11, 2006
3. Interview of Sec. Rice with FOX News
Interview With FOX News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006
QUESTION: Secretary Rice, it’s good to see you again.
SECRETARY RICE: Good to see you, Sean.
QUESTION: You’ve had a busy day.
SECRETARY RICE: I have, indeed.
QUESTION: Why don’t you sum up what happened today, because I know there was a lot of contact between you and the Israeli Prime Minister and getting this resolution together. Where are we and what was going on today?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we’ve been working, Sean, for now several weeks really to try to bring an end to the large-scale violence that would not allow a return to the status quo ante. I know that there were a lot of people who talked about an immediate cease-fire. We always wanted this to happen as quickly as possible, but the conditions had to be there so that you can’t have a state within a state again going across the blue line, attacking Israel, and then causing -- sort of plunging the region into this chaos.
Today was the culmination of that. I had several conversations with the Israeli leadership, the foreign minister, the prime minister, several conversations with the Lebanese leadership, with Prime Minister Siniora. And I think we got to a good outcome for both Israel and for Lebanon, who want the same thing. They want the south to be a place where the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army, with the help of a robust international force, are able to prevent the kind of vacuum that led to this crisis in the first place.
QUESTION: Is the UN -- we talk a lot and the President has spoken at length about it’s "us versus them," it’s a war on terror. Hezbollah is a terror organization. There has been a state within a state, as you point out.
Is the UN, is this resolution, is it stopping Israel from ultimately defeating Hezbollah, and would that have been a good thing?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Hezbollah has to be stopped. It has to be stopped from being the state within a state. And so you have to ask what’s the best way to do that. Now, I don't think there is any doubt that there has been significant damage to some of Hezbollah’s capabilities, to some of their command and control. But ultimately the way to stop Hezbollah is when there is a Lebanese government and a Lebanese army with a major international force, a robust international force, that can make sure that the south is not the vacuum that it’s been for the last six years. And so this is the really important step forward.
And this force, the international force and its mandate, will be very robust.
QUESTION: At different times, though, during this conflict -- and I know our government has supported the Lebanese government tremendously.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: But at different times, the prime minister, the defense minister has spoken out very supportive of Hezbollah. If Hezbollah is a terror organization and they get outspoken support from the Lebanese government, why are we fighting so hard for them to succeed?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Lebanese government, first of all, has Hezbollah ministers within it, by the elections. But what the Lebanese government has also been saying is that they cannot have armed militias that are operating outside of the authority of the state. They also have said that they have to live up to their obligations under Resolution 1559, the Taif accords, to disarm those militias. And so what we’re trying to do is to create an environment in which the Lebanese government can finally carry through on its obligations to disarm Hezbollah.
QUESTION: Is there a danger that if Hezbollah is not defeated -- because I think we understand the unmatched fanaticism of the terrorists. If they’re not ultimately defeated, if Israel doesn’t finish the job, does it give the funding of Iran, $100 million a year, the support of Iran and Syria, does it give them an opportunity to rearm, to fight another day? How does this resolution prevent that from happening?
SECRETARY RICE: First of all, this resolution has an arms embargo within it, and a responsibility of the Lebanese government to make sure that illegal arms are not coming into the country.
QUESTION: Wasn’t that in 1559, that it was supposed to be disarmed?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, but we’re in a different situation now, where the Lebanese will have help doing that, to make sure that their borders are secure. It’s also the case there was not an arms embargo before. So now Syria, Iran, whoever violates that embargo will be violating a Security Council resolution.
It’s not, Sean, going to be the final step in creating the circumstances we need in the south. It’s a first step. But it’s a good first step because it does just very strongly reinforce the authority of the Lebanese government, the Lebanese armed forces, and a force, an international force that can help them.
QUESTION: What do we do about Iran? In many ways, I think most observers think that Iran was fighting this war by proxy. The Israelis found Iranian revolutionary guards fighting side-by-side with Hezbollah, they fund Hezbollah $100 million a year. The long-range rockets, they took credit for giving it to them. And we now discovered that there had been training of the people that kidnapped the Israeli soldiers from Iran. What do we do? And of course, Ahmadinejad says wipe Israel off the map and annihilate them. What do we do with the Iranian problem?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have said many times Iran is a very big strategic threat. And we have to deal with that strategic threat. For instance, I think it’s extremely important that should Iran not respond to the Security Council resolution that was just passed on its nuclear program, that we go ahead with another resolution that begins to impose sanctions on Iran. I think it’s important that we begin to use financial measures to make it difficult for Iran to engage in the kinds of support of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation that it engages in. And ultimately, the international community has to stand up to an Iran that is a state sponsor of terror, really the central banker of terror, terrorism, that is causing this destabilization in the international system.
QUESTION: If we assume that Ahmadinejad and his incendiary rhetoric continues, if his pursuit of nuclear weapons continues, must America and the world consider military force to stop him and stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power? I mean, assuming that somebody who says they want to wipe Israel off the map is not somebody you can negotiate with or that wants to go along with the world community, at some point a military option has got to be considered, no?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, the President isn’t going to take the military option off the table. He doesn’t take any of these options off the table. We still believe that a robust diplomatic response to Iran’s intransigence on its nuclear weapons will work, on its nuclear program will work. Particularly if strong measures are taken that make it difficult for the Iranian regime to continue to argue that they are paying no price for their defiance of the international system.
I think, Sean, they were surprised that the resolution passed in the Security Council with the weight that it did, Russia voting for it, China voting for it. And so we will, if on August 31st there is not Iranian response, I think we’ll move to another resolution.
QUESTION: Our war, the President said yesterday, is with Islamic fascists. Some people took issue with the use of that word today, but that’s really what it is, isn’t it? Is that the right terminology?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the key here is that Islam is not the problem, of course. The problem is that there are some people who, much as the fascists do, in the name of religion, just carry out the most horrible attacks where really their target is civilians. Civilians are not collateral damage in their wars; civilians are the targets. And what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to destabilize the little roots of democratic governments that are there throughout the region. They are trying to make sure that their vision, which is one of darkness and terror, is one that free nations will not challenge them. And free nations have to challenge them.
QUESTION: I agree. I will tell you -- and you know I have strong opinions. But, you know, there’s been two people that seem to be steadfast and that’s President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. Joe Lieberman, I think you can argue, paid a price for it politically.
In your assessment of the big picture, and we saw this threat that was foiled yesterday, how large, how massive is that perversion of a religion? Is it -- are we talking about tens of millions of people? We hear Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda. We see every corner of the world has been hit, in some regard has been affected by terrorism. How big a threat is it? How many people are we talking about?
SECRETARY RICE: I don’t know how many people there are. I don’t know how many are active fighters who are irreconcilable fighters. I know that there’s a battle for the hearts and minds of a lot of young people that we really have to engage. They shouldn’t be taught this hatred. They should be taught about the technological revolution that’s under way in the world, allowing people in the Middle East and in the Muslim world to reclaim a rightful place in the future of scientific and technological inquiry and progress.
I don’t know how large it is. But I do know, Sean, it’s going to take a long time to defeat it. I do know that this is a long war, not a short one. But that it is a war, that it is not a series of police actions. That this is a struggle for the way that the world, the international system, the world that our children will inherit, that’s what this struggle is.
QUESTION: Let me ask you one last question. A lot of people have been using the analogy of the rise of Nazism and the world fell asleep. There were a few people that tried to wake the world up. Winston Churchill is the obvious example.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: There were other people that thought they could negotiate with Hitler in their time and have peace in their time. Do you see that analogy? Is that applicable in this particular case?
SECRETARY RICE: I think whenever you have irreconcilables, if you will, people who just want to destroy, as the Nazis did, as these fascists do, these modern-day fascists do, I don't think there’s any doubt that you have to see this with moral clarity and you have to see that there’s a right and a wrong. I also think that you need allies in this war. And so those who are trying to be the fresh, new start for the Middle East, those who are trying to bring a more moderate face and voice to the politics of the Middle East, people like frankly Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon or President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority or certainly those brave Iraqi leaders who are fighting now a terrible terrorist toll on their people. We need those allies and we need to support them. But we can only support them if we’re strong and if we’re clear about who the enemy is, and if we’re willing to confront that enemy.
QUESTION: Secretary Rice, it’s always good to see you. Thank you for your time on a very busy day.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
Released on August 11, 2006
4. Interview of Sec. Rice with CNN News
Interview With CNN
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: We have heard from the government of Lebanon that they also believe that this is a resolution that can serve their interests. In fact, the interests of both the Israelis and the Lebanese now is to end the large-scale violence and to begin to lay a foundation for peace. And I believe that you will see both governments accept this. They have to go through a cabinet meeting as well. The Israelis have said they have to have a cabinet meeting; so do the Lebanese. But I would expect that we’re going to have acceptance of this resolution by both governments once it is voted in the U.N., which should happen tonight.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, let’s remember that the parties to this cessation of hostilities will be the Lebanese government and the government of Israel. Hezbollah, of course, has ministers in the Lebanese cabinet and we have been working with the government of Lebanon, and assuming that the government of Lebanon is making sure that all parties represented in its government will abide by the cease-fire.
But let’s remember that we have a democratically elected government of Lebanon whose territory is at issue here, and a democratically elected government of Israel whose territory is at issue here. And when they accept this, we expect that there is going to be adherence to the cessation.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Wolf, it has not ever been the expectation that the disarmament of Hezbollah is going to be undertaken by a foreign force. The obligation to disarm Hezbollah under Taif and under Resolution 1559 is an obligation of the Lebanese government. They will receive whatever assistance they need.
But let’s remember that this force has first and foremost an obligation not to allow a return to the status quo ante, which means that armed groups, arms, cannot operate again in the south of Lebanon, it means that the border area between the Lebanon and Israel has to be secure. And, in fact, at the request of the government of Lebanon, there will also be a need to make sure that arms cannot enter the country illegally. Because one of the problems that has been there is that you’ve had arms entering illegally that are not going to the armed forces of Lebanon but to unauthorized armed groups.
So this force has a big mandate, it has a robust mandate. It has a mandate that will allow it to defend itself and to defend that mandate. But it has never been the expectation that this force is going to disarm Hezbollah. That will have to be done by the Lebanese.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: I think, Wolf, there’s some confusion here. The question of what the force decides or is asked to do and what chapter this resolution is under, those are two different issues. This force has always been intended to create security in the south, to secure the borders, to make sure the arms embargo works, to accompany the Lebanese armed forces so they can take control of their own territory.
And I would encourage people to read the mandate of this force. It is first of all under a resolution that says that Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security. That is language right out of the robust elements of Chapter 7. It is also the case that this force has a very firm mandate to defend itself and to defend its mandate. In other words, to resist those who would try to keep this force from doing its job.
Chapter 7 is very often used when a government is not prepared to accept the force. Lebanon is prepared to accept this force. But this is an absolutely robust mandate. This, by the way, is what helped the Israeli government. They were concerned earlier about the mandate. After we talked about this enhanced mandate in the revised resolution, I think the government of Israel saw that it met their needs.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: The return of the Israeli soldiers should be unconditional. And that has been stated in numerous documents. It’s stated in this document.
There is a sensitive issue about Lebanese prisoners. But I want to be very clear. There isn’t a linkage here and there is no prisoner exchange that is even envisioned in this resolution.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: I don’t think, Wolf, that anybody believes that an American on-the-ground presence would be a stabilizing force, under the circumstances in Lebanon. But the President has said that we may be able to provide some enabling support, logistical support, planning support. We will be talking with the U.N. people about what might be needed. And I’m quite certain that the United States will try and support in whatever way we can and in whatever way is appropriate.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Wolf.
Released on August 11, 2006
5. Interview of Sec. Rice with CBS News
Interview With CBS News
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York, New York
August 11, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: Good evening, Harry.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it was very key for the Israelis, but frankly for troop contributors and I think also for the Lebanese that this be a really robust force, international force, that can accompany and help the Lebanese armed forces, so that we don’t have a return to the status quo ante in the south.
Nobody wants a situation like the one that caused this, where you had a state operating within a state. So the language was strengthened on the mandate. I think it’s a very strong mandate. And this has been good for all sides.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, this has been a negotiation between the democratically elected government of Lebanon and the democratically elected government of Israel to get to this place. And I would just underscore, Harry, what a great victory this is in a sense that the Lebanese government will be exercising its authority throughout the country.
One of the problems has been a vacuum, really now for many, many years, in which the Lebanese government was not able and in some cases not willing to exercise its authority. Now, you have a government willing to have the Lebanese armed forces deploy with this robust international force, willing to take on its responsibilities, including its responsibilities under the Taif Accord and under 1559 to have no unauthorized armed groups. And so I think this is a really big victory for that Lebanese government as well. And there are, after all, Hezbollah ministers who were elected to this government, and I assume that they’re going to cooperate.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, the real question is, what incentive do Lebanese leaders have to make life better for their people? There is no doubt that this resolution, this cessation of hostilities and what follows will both make life easier in the short term, as we’re able to deal with some of the humanitarian problems more effectively than we’ve been able to under the terms -- while there’s been a war there.
It’s also the case that the Lebanese people, I think, are going to be looking to their government to be able to return people to their homes in the south and to be able to create circumstances where this can’t happen again. We have to remember that this happened when Hezbollah crossed an internationally recognized line, abducted Israeli soldiers and then launched this destructive campaign.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you’re absolutely right, Harry. There are external powers at play here. And, first of all, everyone should use whatever influence they have with these state sponsors of terrorism to say to them that they cannot continue to put the region into this kind of peril. But there is also an arms embargo that now, if it is violated, it will be violated in contradistinction to a U.N. Security Council resolution. The Lebanese government has said that it will take its responsibilities to keep unauthorized arms out of its country.
And finally, Syria which, of course, all the way back to Resolution 1559 has obligations concerning the sovereignty of Lebanon, really has to live up to them now.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Harry, it is clearly only a first step. It’s a good first step because it is a resolution when adopted by the parties that will not allow a return to the status quo ante. It is a resolution that will strengthen the authority of the Lebanese government and its armed forces. It will give robust international force support to establishing the Lebanese government’s authority. All of those are very good things.
But it took Lebanon a long time to get to this condition where we have this kind of vacuum in the south. One resolution is not going to fix the problem. And indeed, I would expect that what we’re really looking at is very soon an abatement of the large-scale violence that has been so hard on civilians. But we need to get even further to a more sustainable situation in which you get the international force in and Israeli forces are able to withdraw.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I know that the Secretary General is very actively now seeking contributions from member states. I know that there are a number of member states who have said that they are interested. I think now that the mandate is robust enough that it is clear that people can defend themselves and can defend this mandate, that we will have troop contributors. And I would hope that this would happen very, very quickly.
QUESTION: (Off mic.)
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.
Released on August 11, 2006
Daily Press Briefing - The United States State Department
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
August 10, 2006
QUESTION: Move to Lebanon?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Apparently, the French are circulating -- not a new draft, but a new paragraph in a draft resolution that, instead of calling for an immediate Israeli withdrawal, with the cessation of hostilities, would call for -- simply for the start of an Israeli withdrawal. Are you -- apparently, that's been sent to capitals. Have you seen that? Has that been discussed by Secretary Rice? What's the U.S. view on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: We're -- a few things. One, obviously, we are working very, very hard on the diplomacy. Secretary Rice -- I was counting up her phone calls just yesterday and I don't think I have them all, but at least 11 separate phone calls with her counterparts and foreign leaders just yesterday alone. She has also had a number of phone calls today. She's been in contact with John Bolton up in New York, who is working with his French counterpart, as well as other Security Council perm reps. David Welch is in the region. He is in Jerusalem today, I believe. So we're working this issue.
And we believe that we are having good discussions with the French, as well as others, in coming up with a resolution that we think can be implemented effectively, that would bring an end to large-scale violence, as well as lead to a lasting, durable cessation of violence in the region and bring greater stability to that area of the world. We want to make sure that anything that is tabled, that is voted upon is something that meets the criteria that we have talked about for some time. We've talked about the issues of Israeli withdrawal and the timing of the Lebanese armed forces as well as the international forces taking over that territory. That continues to be one of the key issues that we're working on and it's important to get this right, because it's one thing to have words on a piece of paper and it's another thing to have those words be able to be implemented in a way that is effective and gets you to the solution that you want to get to. So we'll continue to work the issue. I don't have any comment for you on specific language.
MR. MCCORMACK: I know. There's a big wind-up, it's a big wind-up, so that's what I got for you right now.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Was one of the phone calls yesterday between Rice and Mr. Olmert?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, she did speak with Prime Minister Olmert.
QUESTION: And was he speaking to her in a security cabinet?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. You'll have to ask the Israeli Government where he was when he took the phone call, but they did talk yesterday, yes.
QUESTION: What is the U.S. understanding of what expansion means of Israeli -- expansion of the Israeli efforts in Lebanon?
MR. MCCORMACK: You'll have to talk to the Israeli Government about their military operations, Barry.
QUESTION: Well, I don't mean which town or village.
MR. MCCORMACK: No, no, I understand.
QUESTION: Because the Administration now has taken a turn toward criticizing -- it sounds like criticizing -- speaking out against expansion; the very word, of course, that's used to describe the Israelis' military plans. And I wondered if that is based --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Where did you get the criticism from?
QUESTION: I think Tony Snow said -- well, criticisms may not be the right word. But, you know, we’d like not to see expansion.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And expansion happens to be the word. So it’s sort of --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, any time -- I’ll just share with you, Barry, every time I’ve been asked about expansion. My understanding of it is expanding beyond the current theater of operations, which is Lebanon. The question has always come to me in terms of expanding military operations into Syria. And we have heard in public from the Israeli Government that they have no intention of expanding the conflict. In terms of what their intentions are with a more robust ground force operation, you’ll have to talk to the Israelis about that. I’m not going to talk about their military operations.
QUESTION: Are there any plans in place for the P-5 Ministers to get together and meet even if a resolution is not quite done yet?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think they have been having -- they have had almost continuous meeting as far as I can tell up there in different configurations. I think that the P-5 did meet yesterday.
QUESTION: At the minister’s level?
MR. MCCORMACK: At the minister’s level? Well, presumably if we had a minister’s level meeting, we would either have agreed upon a resolution or would be very close to agreeing upon a resolution. At this point, we don’t have anything scheduled up in New York, but Secretary Rice is certainly prepared to travel up to New York either to vote on a resolution, or if need be to work out any last-minute details. But I will say that we are fast approaching a time when countries need to take stock of the situation before them, what is -- what the possibilities of a resolution are, a resolution that could be implemented effectively. And the time is coming when countries are going to have to decide one way or the other which course we’re going to take.
We are working that diplomacy very hard and we are hopeful that we can get a resolution that will lead to a durable, lasting cessation of violence.
We've talked quite a bit over the past several weeks about the elements, what the elements of such a resolution would be.
QUESTION: Is it your understanding that it will remain as originally envisioned, two resolutions with the -- with more specific details about the makeup of the force and the deployment details in the second resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: At this point, Teri, it could be one resolution, it could be two resolutions. I think from our point of view, what matters is the outcome and the practical effect on the ground, so I think that people are looking at both of those options at this point.
QUESTION: But there is a significant difference if it's two because then you have a period of waiting in between the resolution that may be passed in the next couple of days and the details on setting up the force, right?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the long pole on the tent would be how long it takes to generate and deploy an international force. It's not necessarily how long it takes to pass a resolution. You can pass a resolution in 24 hours if you want to. So it's really a matter of -- it's really a matter of the practicalities on the ground, how quickly can you generate and put in place and deploy an international force so it would start to flow in with the Lebanese armed forces so you would have that deploying/withdrawing dynamic underway.
QUESTION: So the U.S. would want at least that much detail, that much certainty about the international force, in the first resolution if there were to be two?
MR. MCCORMACK: Again, we are -- you know, again, we are working on various ways to approach this. The diplomatic situation is fluid. It has been very intense over the past few days. Lots of different drafts going around, lots of different versions of sentences and paragraphs, to get at these ideas, to encapsulate these ideas. So I'm going to defer from any specific comment on any particular approach, only to say that what we are interested in regardless of the mechanism of one versus two resolutions is what is the outcome, what is the practical effect of being able to implement the words on those pieces -- piece of paper or pieces of paper.
QUESTION: Sean, the Israelis said that they were going to wait to start a larger ground offensive to let negotiations play out a little bit more. As far as you understand it, is that a result of heavy U.S. pressure to get them to wait a little bit?
MR. MCCORMACK: The Israeli Government makes its own decisions about military operations and what it does to act in its own self-defense. Those are decisions for Israeli leaders to make.
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 9, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
Crawford Middle School
1:18 P.M. CDT
MR. SNOW: Good afternoon. Let me get you apprised first of the President's day. Also a couple of key issues I know you want to talk about. I'll cover those first, and then we'll do questions.
The President this morning received his briefings from his national security team. He did have a bike ride. He has had a private lunch. I don't know who it's with, because it's none of my business. And he has also been talking on the phones today with the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State.
Two issues that I know everybody is interested in, and let me address those right up front, and as I said, then we'll take some questions about it. First on the issue of the United Nations. As you know, conversations are still ongoing within the United Nations Security Council. Secretary Rice and National Security Advisor Hadley have been working very actively on the phones. We know at this point -- and by the way, there have been a lot of contacts with the chiefly concerned parties, which are the Lebanese and the Israelis, but also including the -- others, including the French, the Secretary General of the United Nations and others.
A lot of different views, there's a range of views, and a lot of concerns, and we are working to accommodate those concerns. Our primary goal is to have an end of violence, but an end that will also ensure that there are not conditions for future violence, because we've seen this recur many times in Lebanon. That would mean creating a credible force that would allow the government of Lebanon to seize effective control and authority over southern Lebanon, and also would not lead to a situation where Hezbollah once again could arise as an independent militia, a state within a state, and to work while independent of the government, and also to destabilize Lebanon.
We are working hard now to bridge differences between the United States position and some of the positions of our allies. As I've said, we do not -- we want an end to violence and we do not want escalations. We are also working to -- on a draft that will meet the concerns of our partners, and the way forward is clear: the principles that were laid out in the G8, that were laid out in the statement by the G8, that were laid out in Rome, remain the conditions that we think are still appropriate for trying to meet the long-term concerns of the Israelis, the Lebanese and everybody in the neighborhood.
We know at this point that we still have some work to do. Furthermore, we also know that the Lebanese army, while an absolutely essential part of any solution, is not itself independently capable of dealing with the problem, at least not yet. And one of the goals is to make sure that, in time, the Lebanese government and its authorities have the ability to do it. We are also concerned and remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Lebanon, and want to make sure that people who have been displaced and are in need are able to receive the kind of support and care that they need. So that is a quick statement on the United Nations.
Hezbollah remains also an independent actor which is operating with the support of Iran and Syria, firing not only Katyushas, but Zilzal rockets into Israel, with the desire not only of fomenting larger hostilities, but also hoping to destabilize the prospects for democracy in the region. The reason I say this is that the stakes are high, it's an important debate to have, and it is clear that at least some of the leadership in the Democratic Party believes that the proper way to address this is to point a finger at the United States and to counsel walking away. The view of the President is that this is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity, and let me outline that part.
Democracies operate on different principles than totalitarian states. In a democracy, you have to respond to the will of the people. In a democracy within the United States, whether it be Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont competing for votes in Connecticut, or on the local level, dealing with the needs for people to have safe streets, good schools and services they can depend upon, those are the things. You respond to the stated desires of the people. In totalitarian states, the despot alone has the opportunity to declare what he or she wants to do, and frankly, quite often they are much more warlike.
The President believes, and history will bare him out, that free and democratic states are far more peaceful, and create the basis and opportunity, especially in an unstable part of the world, for economic, social, political ties that in the long run are going to be a lot closer than they are today.
And with that, I will take questions.
Q Tony, you said the United States wants an end to violence and we do not want escalations.
MR. SNOW: That's correct.
Q Is that a message to Israel, which today voted to widen its campaign in Lebanon?
MR. SNOW: It's a message to all parties. If you're going to have diplomacy in this situation, you have to make sure that you're addressing the root causes of the problem, a power vacuum in southern Lebanon. You have to remember that Hezbollah started this with the firing of rockets. That, of course, followed on crossing over the Blue Line and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
So the escalation is something that we do not want to see. But, also, you have to have a resolution that addresses the root cause of Hezbollah, has a practical solution to making sure that the Lebanese government will be able to have military and political control over the south so that the Israeli government then -- and the Israeli government has expressed willingness to move out of Lebanon if those conditions are reached. So the question is whether the United States and its allies can bridge those gaps to return to the principles that have been agreed upon by the European community and others, both at the G8 and also in Rome.
Q Tony, a few days ago Steve Hadley stood before us and said he expected a vote on the U.N. resolution Monday afternoon, possibly Tuesday morning. What is the administration's estimate now on when we're going to see a vote, if at all?
MR. SNOW: We're not making estimates. At this point what you've had are some fairly -- you had some dramatic testimony and comments -- by the way, you can expect people to be ventilating these differing points of views in coming days. So there was an emotional day yesterday at the United Nations. The United States continues to work with the concerned parties, principally the Lebanese and the Israelis, but also our negotiating partners. But I think at this point, Sheryl, it's beyond any of us to come up with a firm prediction about when you get a resolution.
Our view is you have to have a resolution that offers a solution. And that has been one of the keys all along, is to make sure that you not merely have the words -- because we have 1559, 1559 talks about all the conditions you need: no more militias, no more use of foreign forces; it's on paper. But what you also have to do now is to have on the ground the kind of support for the Lebanese government that can make those promises real. And that is the thing that this administration continues to pursue.
Q So, Tony, just to be clear, that's the impact, is that the administration is insisting on this international force to be present before the Israeli troops pullout. That's the impasse?
MR. SNOW: I'm not going to -- I think rather than talking about an impasse -- as the President said the other day, diplomacy is not neat and prim and predictable. And you're going to have people -- there is sometimes, you'll be surprised to hear, a disparity between comments made in public for domestic audiences around the world, and comments made in private, as well.
I think what the administration -- we're not declaring an impasse here. What we do see is not only the opportunity to work with our allies, but the necessity of bridging differences and working toward a cessation of violence that creates conditions for a sustained peace.
Q Well, what's the difference? Where does the difference lie?
MR. SNOW: Again, I'm not going to get -- and I noticed that Ambassador Bolton was not going to do this either, and he's doing the direct negotiations. I think at this point it's not fruitful to try to get into fine points that are being discussed behind closed doors.
Our desire is, rather than trying to litigate this publicly, let's go ahead and, in conversations with our allies, try to resolve it so then there can be some public discussion of how to move forward.
Q Are you saying, Tony, there are substantive differences between the comments that the French are making in private and those they're making in public?
MR. SNOW: I made a general comment about the kinds of comments people made. And as I just told Suzanne, I'm not going to get into characterizing individual positions that have been taken in the conversations.
Our clear desire is to work with our allies so that we have not only a unified front, but a resolution that is going to create real hope for sustained peace and an effective, lasting democracy in Lebanon for people who, themselves, have been whipsawed by foreign governments for way too long and deserve the opportunity to live in democracy and peace.
Q Tony, you say you're not at an impasse, you want to work with our allies in this matter. Do you think it may become necessary, in order to get an end to the violence, for France and the U.S. to present separate resolutions to the U.N. to deal with this?
MR. SNOW: I don't even want to get into that. We are still working with allies to come up with a resolution that everybody can agree upon. I can't tell you what the end state is going to be. I can tell you that the American position remains the one to which G8 governments, and also the governments that gathered in Rome, were committed to from the very beginning.
You've got to remember how it started with Hezbollah. You also have to remember that if you have Hezbollah still maintaining the ability to operate independently and to use military might -- in defiance of 1559 -- getting rockets and getting rockets of various varieties, one assumes from Iran -- that that, in fact, that situation simply cannot remain. And that is what set off this chain of events. And we are hoping that everybody not only continues to recognize the fundamental problem, but also knows that the way forward is pretty simple, which is, address that problem, Israel has expressed the desire to get out if that threat is gone. We know that the Lebanese government wants the ability to operate independently. And we are continuing to work toward all those goals at the same time.
Q Two things. Do you worry that the diplomatic process is dragging on too long, while the violence continues?
MR. SNOW: The diplomatic process never drags on too short, in most of our experiences. You know, it is what it is. Again, just as we have said, we don't want to be trying to shape an Iraq strategy on the basis of a timetable. What you have to do is you have to work hard and exhaust every possible avenue so that you can try to get to that end state, to try to get to the kind of resolution that you think is going to provide the proper conditions so that the Lebanese people -- who, you know, they've got paper resolutions that say all the right things, but they need a reality on the ground that is going to permit them to go forward under the conditions that were laid out in 1559 and to this day have yet to be fulfilled.
Q Tony, just to follow up on that. Does this shake up the political landscape conventional thinking of how November midterms are going to go and strategy looking forward to '08?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I mean, if you take a look at the midterms, again, every candidate is going to tell you that his or her campaign is a local campaign, and quite often local issues are going to condition them.
There has been some attempt on the part, again -- a lot of Democratic leadership getting involved in this Connecticut race, trying to nationalize around one issue. That is obviously a key issue; but, on the other hand, everybody has known all along that that's a key issue. The President's view has always been that good policy is good politics. We are sticking with the positions we have taken. We think that they're the right positions to take.
One of the interesting things that happened in this Connecticut race, by the way, was there appeared to be some buyer's remorse as election day approached. Maybe the polls were rigged; maybe the polls were bad. But at least the lead that Mr. Lamont had went from 13 points to six to four on election day. That indicates that even in a fairly liberal state like Connecticut, where this is the one issue, where you had a well-financed candidate who had more money than the incumbent, that you still had a 50-50 split more or less within the Democratic Party on this issue.
It's going to be up to the Democrats to see exactly how they want to play it. I will tell you the President's position, which is the war on terror is vital, not only because the stakes are high, but, also, the rewards are high. When you have created a democracy, when a democracy is able to stand up in Iraq, and when a democracy is able to stand up in Lebanon, when a democracy is able to function for Palestinians, you send a powerful message that these things are possible anywhere in the world. And you create ties that are motivated no longer by ideology or sectarian hatred, but, instead, by self-interest, which means ties of trade, ties of politics, and real opportunities for closer relations throughout the world. And it makes it a more peaceful world.
Q Tony, President Chirac interrupted his vacation to go meet with some of his cabinet members, and Tony Blair delayed his to make some phone calls. Has the President given any consideration to doing something like that, and get more involved to move this along?
MR. SNOW: The President is involved. As I said, he's been talking actively with Secretary Rice and also National Security Advisor Hadley. I know that they've been in close contact today with Israeli, Lebanese, French, U.N. and other officials. So I daresay the President is very actively engaged in this. He may go for a bike ride in the morning, but he's spending a lot of time -- morning, noon and night -- working these issues.
Q But the President is not calling any foreign leaders or anything --
MR. SNOW: No foreign leader calls so far today.
Q I'm wondering if you're willing to go a little farther off-camera than you were on-camera on this difference we're having with the French? You know, a couple of weeks ago you had the world pushing the President for an immediate cease-fire, and Mr. Bush saying, no, the terms aren't right. And now you have the President pushing for an immediate -- or a quick end to the violence. And you have other leaders saying, no, the terms aren't right.
MR. SNOW: No, I think you've got it wrong on both counts. First, the term "immediate cease-fire" did not appear in the G8 declaration, it did not appear on the Rome declaration, and it did not appear on the EU declaration.
Q It's a loaded term, I'll grant you.
MR. SNOW: Well, it's also a term that wasn't used, so that's important to acknowledge. In this particular case, we want an end to violence, but we want an end to violence under the right conditions. And I think now the question is, what are the proper ways to get that, and to get a lasting end to violence.
So those are the practical considerations that now are being debated and hammered out. We understand that there will be a sense of urgency. We had two foreign ministers, and Amr Moussa, in speaking yesterday at the Security Council. And they made their point strongly. We understand the humanitarian concerns of Arab nations -- for that matter, for Lebanon and for Israel. I mean, we understand those.
But on the other hand, we also want to make sure that you don't create a sense that will create even more and deeper human tragedy in the long run. And that is the challenge that lies before us.
Q But how is it that we had this shift over a period of two days and you were --
MR. SNOW: Our position hasn't changed. The answer is, what happens in diplomacy? The answer is, sometimes people adjust their views, or at least adjust their approaches. We're continuing to work with the French and the Israelis and the Lebanese and the Secretary General of the U.N. and others on the basis of the principles that have been unchanged, really, since the President made his first comments the day of the kidnappings, which was the 12th of July.
Q Israel's stand in expanding its military operation, doesn't that kind of complicate what you're trying to do on the diplomatic front? I mean, it said it could take up to 30 days.
MR. SNOW: Well, having Hezbollah fire 300 rockets a day complicates things. I mean, the fact is the Israelis are responding to what they see as their military and domestic security needs. Obviously, you've got to find ways -- it seems that the best way to security is to find a situation where Hezbollah stops using Lebanese citizens and civilian areas as staging grounds, and citizens as human shields and decides -- as I said before, makes the choice to adopt a political, rather than a military, path, and decides that it will answer less to Iran than to the people of Lebanon.
That is the most important factor to deal with here.
All right, thank you.
END 1:48 P.M. CDT
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 8, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Crawford Middle School
12:07 P.M. CDT
MR. SNOW: All right, welcome. Let me just start with a couple of little items of business here, and then we'll go to questions. Those of you who are eating, you may proceed through the line and shout out whatever you want.
First, the Department of Commerce has released the latest numbers on wages. Productivity growth continues to be strong. It's 2.4 percent over the past four quarters. Hourly compensation is averaging 5.7 percent over the last four quarters.
Today the President got up, had his normal intelligence briefing. He also had briefings from the National Security Advisor and the Homeland Security Advisor. And I believe they're working on a dock today. There will also be other adventures in the afternoon.
Q They're working on a dock?
MR. SNOW: They're working on a dock.
Q They have a lake?
MR. SNOW: I believe that there is no waterway directly to the ocean, so I think a lake or a pond would be a more likely option. (Laughter.)
Q Tony, what do you think about this Lebanese proposal to deploy 15,000 troops into southern Lebanon? The Israelis called it an interesting step.
MR. SNOW: Steve was asking about a reported proposal by the Lebanese to deploy 15,000 troops. I think also with the UNIFIL troops. Obviously, interested in taking a look at it. As you know, there are three Arab diplomats have shown up in New York, the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, along with Amr Moussa the head of the Arab League. And there will be discussions today in the Security Council; the U.S. and the French also have been talking about ways forward.
We certainly welcome any help in trying to figure out how to supplement the Lebanese armed forces and get us to one of the key goals in Lebanon, which is to permit the government of Lebanon to assert full control over the south, and also to prevent Hezbollah from asserting independent control. So those are all items that are going to be under discussion in the next day, and who knows how long it's going to go. But, obviously, it's a topic of conversation in the U.N. and will continue to be.
Q Tony, I assume that if the Lebanese army was strong enough to have taken control without any multinational help, anytime in the last however many years, they would have done so. So is it fair to say that the administration would be skeptical of this idea?
MR. SNOW: I think it would be safe to say that the administration understands that the Lebanese armed forces is going to need some help, and we're working with allies to try to figure out the proper way to do it, and also with the Lebanese government, which clearly has the strongest interest not only in making sure it's done effectively, but it's done in a way they see fit and proper.
Q Does the administration view this latest proposal by Lebanon as a setback to getting this resolution moving along?
MR. SNOW: No, no. We do not view it as a setback. As the President said yesterday in the hanger, and he's said on a number of occasions, diplomacy takes time. And you've got a lot of interested parties here who have their own views on how to proceed. And the real challenge now is to work forward in a manner consistent with the principles that not only the President laid out on the 12th of last month, but that were reiterated by the G8 and in Rome and in the draft resolution put together by the U.S. and the French.
So I think everybody is really still pulling in the same direction. There are a lot of ideas about how best to get there.
Q One of our reports got from an administration source this line, "It is a line in the stand for the United States that there has to be an international force deployed alongside the Lebanese in the south." Is that inaccurate?
MR. SNOW: I think we've always said that there is going to be a force to supplement the Lebanese armed forces. I'm not going to react to blind quotes from unnamed administration officials about lines in the sand; I don't think that's particularly helpful. I think the whole point is to try to find out a way for forces to be able to supplement the Lebanese armed forces, so that they can, in fact, be effective in the southern part of Lebanon.
August 8, 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
August 8, 2006
12:30 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. No opening statements, so we can get right into your questions. Whoever wants to start first?
QUESTION: Let’s take a look, if we can, of what's going on in New York. The Secretary's going up. Do you know when?
MR. MCCORMACK: No announcements on her travel plans, Barry. She certainly looks forward to being able to go up to New York to vote for a Security Council resolution that brings an end to the violence in such a way that it lays out a pathway for a lasting, durable peace in that part of the world.
QUESTION: In other words, she times her arrival or her trip to completion of a draft that can be put to a vote?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that's fair, yeah.
QUESTION: And she -- the drafting -- the negotiations of the drafting, she's obviously working here.
MR. MCCORMACK: She is.
QUESTION: But she’ll want to be up there to apply the clincher?
MR. MCCORMACK: Apply the clincher.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we have John Bolton who's on the ground, Barry.
QUESTION: Yeah, sure.
MR. MCCORMACK: And Secretary Rice is in close contact with him, as well as other of her foreign counterparts as well, working on this. A lot of people working hard on it. John up in New York, Nick Burns, David Welch out in the region, as well as a host of others here at the Department.
QUESTION: Can I ask you one substance question and then I'll give way?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: The Arabs want an Israeli withdrawal. The President has said he doesn't want to see a vacuum that Hezbollah could jump into. Would the United States support a withdrawal before the hole is filled, so to speak?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, what we're working on, Barry, I think it's fair to say one of the key issues remaining in the resolution is how do you solve the following problem: not have a vacuum as President Bush talked about because we don't want to end up right back where we were three weeks from now. You also don't -- and everybody agrees on that. Everybody agrees also that you don't want foreign forces on Lebanese territory. I think if you ask the Israelis that, you ask the Lebanese that, you ask us, any member of the international community, they’ll agree on that.
So how do you affect that situation where you get to a point where you have the Lebanese armed forces deployed down to the southern border of Lebanon which Prime Minister Siniora yesterday made the proposal that the Government of Lebanon would do and we think that that is an important proposal. We think that that proposal is -- it is a necessary step for peace. But you also have to have that kind of deployment done in the context of the current discussions up in New York, so that you don’t return to the status quo ante, so that you don't have armed militias roaming freely along the southern border of Lebanon, free to threaten Israel and plunge the region into violence.
So there is also a discussion about the international forces component of that. You will need the international forces to support the Lebanese armed forces. They are not a -- at this point a robust enough entity to be able to on their own exercise total control of that southern area of Lebanon. That's why you have the need for a international force. So that's -- those are the pieces that we're dealing with, Barry, and a lot of this comes down to timing and sequencing and that's what's being hammered out up in New York as well as the capitals around the world.
QUESTION: So under what circumstances then could the United States support the Arab call for an Israeli withdrawal? What among those -- sort of that global picture you drew has to happen in what order before you can start?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that’s what we’re working out diplomatically, and that’s best done through private diplomatic channels and not negotiated in public. We all share the same goal here. The Arab League, the Arab representatives that are going to be up in New York today, the United States, Lebanon, Israel, everybody wants to have an end to the violence, but we want to have an end to the violence that is durable. Nobody wants to be back in this same situation three weeks, three months or three years from now.
We’ve seen the results of negotiating ceasefires in which you have groups like Hezbollah that are allowed to re-arm, build themselves back up, build fortifications and pose a threat to peace and stability in the region. Nobody wants to go back to that situation. So everybody has the same goal. We’re working together -- we’re working together and with members of the Security Council. We want to hear what the representatives from the Arab League as well as the UAE and Qatari Foreign Minister have to say. Certainly the Counsel will factor into its deliberations what they have to say. And I think also these Arab countries, as well as other Arab countries; can play a positive role in the future. There will be an end to this violence and Lebanon will see another day when it will be up to the people of Lebanon and the international community to help rebuild Lebanon. That was a task that was there prior to the beginning of this conflict and, certainly, it is a significant task after this conflict.
So I think it’s also -- it’s also important for those Arab League representatives and those representatives of Arab states to look within themselves to see what they might do in the future to help Lebanon rebuild itself and realize a brighter future.
QUESTION: I know you said the Lebanese army’s a robust enough entity to play a long-term stabilization role. Is it?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, it’s not quite what I said. At the moment, it is not an entity that by itself could exercise sovereignty over all of that area of southern Lebanon. Certainly, the goal is to have the Lebanese army be able to do that. And that’s why you now have this question of an international force. We want to help them.
I don’t think the Lebanese army has been deployed down to that southern border since the late ‘70s. You can check exactly when the date was. I think its right around 1978. So it’s been nearly 30 years since they’ve been down there. And they would need the support of an international force. I think Prime Minister Siniora has indicated as much in his statements.
QUESTION: But could they play an interim buffer role, which has been proposed now, to allow, facilitate a quicker Israeli withdrawal pending deployment?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, all the timing and sequencing, that’s a lot of what we’re working on up at the UN. Certainly the deployment of Lebanese forces, as I’ve said, would be a necessary step for peace. It would play an integral role in a resolution of this conflict in such a way that we are not subject the whims of Hezbollah on that southern border firing rockets at Israeli towns or kidnapping Israeli soldiers.
So they will play a very significant role, and that is part of the overall vision, the vision of the Lebanese people, who have spoken through the ballot box, and the international community that they have to have control over their own destiny. They don't want to be subject to the whims of armed groups, states within a state, that can take the Lebanese people off into a tragic direction. They don't want that.
QUESTION: The Lebanese actually don't favor an international stabilization force. They favor a beefed-up UNIFIL force and argue that if you handle all of these things -- beefing up UNIFIL, deploying the army and a comprehensive political settlement up front -- this is going to eliminate the very reason for Hezbollah's existence and you won't need -- and Hezbollah won't see the need to take up any arms, and so that's why it's important to have this political settlement up front and not prolong it for another resolution which creates a permanent ceasefire and political settlement. What's your response to that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our response is we're working closely with the Government of Lebanon. We're having a lot of conversations with them. Ambassador Feltman is in close contact with them. David Welch has been to Beirut recently. He remains in the region. Secretary Rice just this morning spoke with Prime Minister Siniora. So we are in very close contact with the Government of Lebanon. I think they have a full appreciation of our thinking as well as the thinking of other important members of the Security Council on how to move forward. And look, we all have the same goal and I think that we are trying to work towards a solution that works for everybody.
As the President pointed out and as Secretary Rice pointed out yesterday, that the Lebanese have items on the agenda, the Israelis have items on the agenda, the international community has items on their agenda. Are the agenda items of the Lebanese Government and the Israeli Government going to be fully consonant? Probably not. But the international community does have a view of how to solve this and we're going to work out a solution that will bring an end to the violence, has a positive pathway forward, political pathway forward to address the root causes of the beginnings of this violence, and have it be done in such a way that you have the Lebanese exercising sovereignty over all their territory with the help and support of an international force.
QUESTION: But this idea -- if I may. This idea that you've been moving towards in the last several days about a two-phased approach, I mean, the Lebanese case is that this prolongs a long-term settlement and you need to have a settlement up front which will create the conditions for the Lebanese to deploy the army, to create a political settlement, to help them exercise their authority. And you said that what you want to do is strengthen the Lebanese Government.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. And stay tuned. We're working on a resolution. A lot of this diplomacy gets done privately, doesn't get done in public from podium -- from podia or in news interviews. So we'll try to keep you abreast on how we're doing in a general sense. A lot of the details we're not going to talk about in public and I think people understand that.
QUESTION: Sean, you had mentioned --
QUESTION: A very quick follow-up?
QUESTION: -- that Prime Minister Siniora had expressed his support for an international force. So that's something that is in contrast to some of the other things we've heard from Lebanese officials. So Prime Minister Siniora is expressing -- this is a question, not a statement -- is expressing to you, to Secretary Rice?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think in his public statement yesterday he did talk about the international presence to assist the Lebanese armed forces. Now, we --
QUESTION: But once again, they're saying UNIFIL, you're saying international force.
MR. MCCORMACK: UNIFIL is an international force --
MR. MCCORMACK: -- by definition.
QUESTION: Would UNIFIL, for you, fulfill the mandate of an international presence?
MR. MCCORMACK: You want to have, overall, looking at the total picture down in southern Lebanon, robust enough forces -- and I say forces -- so that you can have those entities exercising some control and sovereignty over the southern part of Lebanon. Now, it's envisioned that ultimately over the medium- and long-term that's the Lebanese armed forces alone. Everybody wants to get to that end state. They will need some support in the interim, at the very least, getting down to the south, traveling down to the south and in other ways as well.
Having -- the handover of areas of operation and responsibility from one military to another, even when it's within a single military; say, for example, in Iraq handing over a U.S. military to another U.S. military entity, is very complicated operationally. It requires a lot of planning and it requires a lot of communications capability, logistics capability. And the Lebanese armed forces I think would need some assistance with this.
QUESTION: My question is much narrower than that. Is a UNIFIL force -- is a beefed up UNIFIL force, for you, the same as an international force or are you talking about a new international force for which you are now -- you have been speaking with other countries about sending troops?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, to get back to the beginning, UNIFIL is an international force.
QUESTION: Right. But you're --
MR. MCCORMACK: But the specific -- you're asking the question of, well, what are the -- what's the specific mandate? What does this international force look like exactly? What are the rules of engagement? You know what, those are questions that are now being discussed and those are being discussed in private through diplomatic channels. And at this point, we're just not going to get into the details of those discussions until we have something that is agreed upon by all the parties that need to sign off on something like that.
QUESTION: But you are willing to rewrite the resolution to reflect this, to reflect the change of 15,000 new troops?
MR. MCCORMACK: We want -- well, I think it was already envisioned and stated from the very beginning. I think, if you look back to the St. Petersburg comments and all throughout, that it was envisioned that the answer -- the medium- and long-term answer to exercising sovereignty and exercising control in south Lebanon so you don't have Hezbollah doing that with militias -- was the Lebanese armed forces. They're going to need some support.
So the question is: How do you -- how best to support those Lebanese armed forces and how best to sequence in time this handover so that they are in fact down there, they are playing a role, that they are fulfilling what is in an eventual Security Council resolution. Now those are questions that are all being discussed right now. The very questions you're asking about -- the who, what, when and where -- of an international force. Those are things that are being discussed right now.
QUESTION: So you don't rule out --
QUESTION: You're not ruling out UNIFIL doing the job?
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, I'm not going to --
QUESTION: That's amazing. You don't want to go to the status quo ante. UNIFIL has been inept.
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, Barry --
QUESTION: Do you want to do -- no, I'm asking you, is that a possibility?
MR. MCCORMACK: Barry, I think I just gave a very long answer here. And if you listened carefully, what I talked about is you want to have forces that are in the south of Lebanon.
MR. MCCORMACK: That don't allow a return to the status quo ante.
MR. MCCORMACK: And the calculation of what kind of international force is required to support the Lebanese army is one that is now ongoing. I -- safe to say, it will have to be a robust international force certainly.
Because if you talk about -- I just made the point, you talk about the Lebanese armed forces, how long has it been since they’ve been down on the southern Lebanon border? Nearly three decades. And I think everybody understands. The Lebanese Government understands that the Lebanese armed forces need to be built up. We ourselves have talked about how thinking ahead to this very idea that we’re going to provide funds. We’re not going to send trainers. We’re going to provide funds to train and equip the Lebanese armed forces. I suspect there are other countries that are going to be doing that as well.
QUESTION: Did the Secretary -- just wanted to tie one thing up. She spoke to the Prime Minister. Did she at that point say favorable things, as you have publicly, about the Lebanese proposal? Did she tell him --
MR. MCCORMACK: I didn’t talk to her about the phone call. But what I’m telling you about our reaction to Prime Minister Siniora’s proposal certainly reflects her thinking on that.
QUESTION: No, I know that. I just wondered if she informed them. But we’re not for sure?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: We’re not sure. Okay.
QUESTION: Do you have any more details on how much funding the U.S. will put into training and providing equipment, what kind of equipment?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll try to get you an exact count on that. I think it’s $10 million plus, in that neighborhood.
QUESTION: And secondly, who’s going to disarm Hezbollah? Would it be the Lebanese forces? Would it be the beefed up UNIFIL? Would it be a completely separate international force? What’s your plan there?
MR. MCCORMACK: That is so -- that is a question that has to be addressed and has to be addressed ultimately by the Lebanese Government.
QUESTION: Is it included in a new resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. I mean the international forces?
QUESTION: Disarming -- no, the disarming of Hezbollah.
MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll see. It’s certainly the end state that is envisioned by the Taif Accords as well as 1559 it would be reflected in the resolution. But I don’t expect it's international forces that do the disarming of Hezbollah.
QUESTION: Is it -- is the U.S. preparing a new draft or -- France openly admits that it is. Is the United States --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’re working with the French and we’re --
QUESTION: But does the U.S. have a different version that it’s preparing to present or is this continuing to be a U.S.-French draft?
MR. MCCORMACK: These are all -- yeah. These are all, you know, kind of version 2.0, 2.1, 2.3, 2.4 to sort of borrow a software comparison. I mean, it’s all -- it’s all -- it’s an evolutionary iterative process. So you could argue that every time you have a word or sentence change you have a new draft. It’s a rolling text. The draft that we -- that was circulated by the French and the United States earlier is the foundation from which we’re working. Of course there are going to be changes to it as we get inputs from other countries, and right now the work continues.
QUESTION: What, in its current iteration are they -- in its current iteration is it still a joint text?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are still working on the joint text.
QUESTION: And is one of those inputs specifically an Israeli withdrawal? Is that language that the U.S. is willing to see put in the resolution?
MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, we’re not going to negotiate in public on this.
QUESTION: About a million refugees -- Lebanese refugees and displaced people have been spread in Lebanon and going to Syria and after the bombing by Israel of their villages and houses. They look back and they see the Palestinian refugees escaping certain bombings in the past and refugees from the Golan Heights, the Syrian Golan Heights, who thought that they will be back to their villages and homes when they -- and they’re -- there’s one million Lebanese, they look at their situation now. They find themselves in a catastrophic situation and they don’t hear much from the United States’ side, much mention of their catastrophic situation. What kind of assurances can you give them that you are taking into account their return fast and -- very fast return to their villages and their houses? That you care as much about that as you care about what you talk about the Israelis, you know, living in peace and all that.
MR. MCCORMACK: I would just point to the most recent comments from President Bush just yesterday expressing his real concern for the humanitarian situation of the Lebanese people. Of course we are very concerned about that. It's why you want to bring an end to the violence. Of course you want to have a safe, orderly, timely return of those people to their houses, to their towns, to their villages.
But you know, let's remember why they find themselves displaced. They find themselves displaced because Hezbollah launched an unprovoked attack across the blue line into Israel. And it's not only the Lebanese people that are suffering; it's the Israeli people as well. There are -- I don't know the numbers, but there are significant numbers of Israeli -- innocent Israeli people who have been displaced who are living in bomb shelters fearing a Hezbollah rocket is going to fall on their head.
So these two populations are suffering and we want to see that come to an end. And the United States has contributed. We have announced our intention to contribute $30 million for humanitarian relief supplies. Our people are on the ground working to get humanitarian relief supplies through. We're working with the ICRC. We're working through with international NGOs to do the best we can to see that food, medicine and other kinds of supplies get through to those people, especially in the south, that need them. It is a very difficult operating environment; I grant you that. But we in no way have abandoned the Lebanese people. We are there on the ground working to try to help them in what is a very difficult humanitarian situation.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, they don't have much problem of receiving humanitarian aids. They are getting medicine and food from Arab countries. But they care about --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, not only Arab countries. They're getting it from --
QUESTION: From other countries, too.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yes. But you are doing -- you know, I hope that you don't, you know, continue to be misunderstood by many people in the Middle East when you say that the reason for their becoming refugees is Hezbollah as if you are endorsing the violation, the Israeli violation of Geneva Conventions that Israel should not use its might against a civilian population, destroying their villages and houses and lives.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, okay. I mean, we can get into a long conversation about Israeli military operations, but just one general comment about that. We have from the very beginning talked to the Israeli Government about the fact that it needs to take the utmost care in defending itself against Hezbollah. But let's point out here, let's remember exactly what the tactics of a group like Hezbollah are. This is a group that will hide itself among civilian populations, launch rockets at other civilians across a border, hoping to kill them, and hide themselves among families, at schools, hospitals, almost daring other forces to try to get them. I mean, this is the sort of -- these are the sort of cowardly tactics that this group -- that these groups employ.
And that while for the Israeli Government, a responsible democracy, member of the United Nations, there are mechanisms to look at their actions to see if they did in fact fall outside the Israelis' rules of engagement, whether or not they complied with international treaties. Those aren't judgments that we make. In large part, those are judgments that democracies themselves make. They look at those things. The Israeli Government has launched investigations into its actions. There is no such accountability mechanism for a group like Hezbollah that operates outside the boundaries of laws and treaties and norms of civilized behavior.
So let's just remember, let's remember that. We're dealing on one hand here with a responsible democracy, a free people governed by rules and laws, and on one hand; and on the other hand, a terrorist organization that operates outside the bounds of laws and norms of international behavior.
QUESTION: Two questions. First of all, the Red Cross has said that the Israelis have stopped a lot of shipments of aid that they're trying to get through and in fact have imposed what amounts to or what translates into a blockade of some areas. Do you have any information on that? Have you talked to the Israelis on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have been working with the Israeli Government as well as with international NGOs, including the ICRC, to make sure supplies go through. You know, it is a complicated process of coordination. They are operating in a zone of conflict. So it is something that we ourselves are involved in, working with the Israeli Government, working with others to try to facilitate that process. I'm sure that there have been instances where, for one reason or another, humanitarian supplies have not gotten through in the way that they were intended to. Our goal is to see that people who need those things -- food, medicine, materials to construct shelter -- get them. It is a real concern for us. We're devoting a lot of energy to it.
QUESTION: I know also you say that you don't talk to the Israelis specifically about their various operations, but you have told them to be careful of targets and make sure that their target is an intended Hezbollah strongholds. It seems as if more and more Christian neighborhoods that traditionally are not believed to be Hezbollah strongholds, Hezbollah targets, are being targeted. I mean, how involved with you are the -- how involved with the Israelis are you in terms of asking or ensuring that these targets are necessary targets?
MR. MCCORMACK: We speak in general about these things. I know that there were some questions several days ago about some bridges in the north of Beirut that were targeted. The Israeli Government in public said that they were targeting those routes because they were using them as new supply -- Hezbollah was using them as new supply routes. I can’t speak to the validity of it. But they are talking about the reasons for their actions, and I think they’re probably in a better position to talk about them than I am.
QUESTION: But while you say -- but while you’re not kind of directing your operations or talking to them about specific operations, how do you balance that with your desire to ensure that these are targets that are legitimate targets and not indiscriminate targets in the country?
MR. MCCORMACK: Elise, we talk to them in general terms. They themselves are held to account by their own public as well as people reporting on the ground. They’re the ones that have to answer for those questions, the questions that are raised by their actions. We, for our part, it’s not our job to pick and choose targets for the Israeli military. That’s not a business that we get into, but we do talk in general terms about what our concerns are.
QUESTION: A new topic.
MR. MCCORMACK: On Lebanon?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay, Lebanon.
QUESTION: Sean, as far as terrorism in the Middle East is concerned, how many Arabs in Muslim countries have officially or publicly denounced terrorism in the Middle East? And also because we see the pictures that millions of people there celebrating attacks by Hezbollah against the Israelis. I’m not disputing innocent people has been killed from both sides and it must stop. But what I’m talking about is that as far as UN resolutions are concerned, are we talking about a resolution with a country because war is always between two countries. Here you’re talking about number of countries in war supporting terrorism.
And then what is the resolution all about is it against countries or against terrorist organization? Why don’t we go after the countries who are supporting them and providing all those rockets?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there are international conventions against that. There are resolutions that call upon member-states not to support terrorist groups. Sadly, there are countries like Iran that ignore those resolutions and that employ support for terrorist organizations as an integral part of their foreign and national security policy.
It is up to the international community to highlight these instances. And I think that countries like, in this instance, countries like Iran find themselves very much isolated from the mainstream of the international community.
Now while there have been a number of Arab states that have called for immediate ceasefires, they have taken slightly different approaches in policy from us, we all share a common goal of ending the violence and ending the violence in a way such that Hezbollah can’t pull the cord and have the entire region descend into violence.
So that is something that ultimately we hope, we believe that when the situation is resolved and there is an agreed upon pathway supported by the international community to end the violence and to end it on a durable basis, that you will find countries like Iran, they will find themselves much more isolated at the end of this conflict than they did at the beginning of the conflict, that it will be in essence a strategic setback for countries like Iran.
QUESTION: Just to follow up quick, it’s always a Muslim people who die no matter where in the world.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: As far as this resolution is concerned, how can we guarantee that terrorists will lay down their arms? And who will guarantee, because this has been going for years and will continue?
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. Well, there are examples around the world where you do -- you have had processes where terrorist group, armed militias operating outside the rule of law have laid down their arms. There are precedents for that. And there are precedents for political reconciliation. And I think if you look at a lot of these cases, at the heart of it it is a political process. Certainly this disarmament through a disarmament process is an important practical step and needs to happen. But at the heart of it, it is a political process, and that is a big part of what we have been talking about, a big part of what 1559 is about and what the Taif Accords were about. So there is precedent for this, Goyal, and it is our goal to work with the Lebanese as well as others to see that that is, in fact, our end state in Lebanon.
QUESTION: Can I just ask one more, ask you specifically on the Lebanese proposal for the 15,000?
MR. MCCORMACK: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Can I ask you to comment specifically on the fact that it was supported by the two Hezbollah ministers and whether that surprises you at all and what it tells you, if anything, about the willingness of Iran and Syria to abide by any ultimate settlement?
MR. MCCORMACK: I will -- I -- you know, I don’t know -- I don’t know what Syria and Iran think about this proposal by Prime Minister Siniora or an eventual settlement. They’ll speak for themselves about it.
As for Prime Minister Siniora, I think that it was his proposal. I can’t speak to the internal deliberations within the Lebanese cabinet, but I think that certainly on this count Prime Minister Siniora has demonstrated real leadership and has demonstrated that he is looking for a way to end the violence, to -- for the Lebanese Government to play an important role in that and that ultimately he is with this proposal and this commitment to act positioning the Lebanese Government in such a way that it will be able to exercise sovereignty over all of Lebanese territory as was envisioned by him, the voters of Lebanon, as well as by the international community under 1559.
QUESTION: So you are or are not surprised that the two Hezbollah ministers --
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, I can’t speak to their calculations.
MR. MCCORMACK: On the same subject, okay.
QUESTION: Mr. McCormack, any communication between Secretary Rice and the Greek Foreign Minister Theodora Bakoyannis for the war in the Middle East?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t believe there has been. I know that we have been in touch with the Greek Foreign Ministry on the topic. I don’t think that we -- Secretary Rice, just doing a quick review of her phone calls here -- has had any recent phone calls with the Greek Foreign Minister.
QUESTION: Can we have the list?
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. I think you’re pretty much up to date from yesterday. She spoke with Foreign Minister Steinmeier. Today she has spoken with, as I said --
QUESTION: Also yesterday, right?
MR. MCCORMACK: What’s that?
QUESTION: Also Steinmeier yesterday?
MR. MCCORMACK: Steinmeier was yesterday, Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. Sorry.
MR. MCCORMACK: So today we have Prime Minister Siniora from Lebanon, Secretary General Annan, Danish Foreign Minister Moeller, and Canadian Foreign Minister MacKay.
QUESTION: Any update on your efforts for a multinational force in Lebanon for which Turkey has been asked to provide 1,000 soldiers?
MR. MCCORMACK: Excuse me?
QUESTION: Any update in your efforts for a multinational force in Lebanon for which already Turkey has been asked to provide 1,000 soldiers?
MR. MCCORMACK: Nothing beyond our extended discussion earlier in the briefing.
QUESTION: Did you ask NATO to get involved?
MR. MCCORMACK: NATO as an organization, I don't think, is going to be involved in generating a force.
QUESTION: No, in your diplomacy did you get the chance to discuss that with the Secretary General of NATO if such a possibility exists to deploy NATO forces --
MR. MCCORMACK: Lambros, I don't think that's going to happen. As for what conversations happened with Mr. de Hoop Scheffer, you know, I can't tell you, but I don't think anybody envisions that this is a NATO force.
QUESTION: On the Turkish -- Mr. McCormack, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan expressed his outrage over the ongoing Israeli military assault, as he is saying in Lebanon, saying that the war unfolding in the Middle East can never be considered legitimate. Any comment?
MR. MCCORMACK: I haven't seen his comments.
August 6, 2006 - Download the pdf's below
-- Press Briefing by Secretary of State Condi Rice; Crawford Middle School; Crawford, Texas
-- Interview on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopooulos; Crawford, Texas
-- Interview on NBC's Meet the Press With Tim Russert; Crawford, Texas
Aug 6, 2006 - Download the pdf's below
BREAKING NEWS ON UN RESOLUTION!
1. Draft of UNSC Resolution (English)
August 4, 2006 - Download the pdf's below
-- Interview with Time Magazine