THE WHITE HOUSE
the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART
Lisboa Hotel and Towers
5:07 P.M. (L)
MR. LOCKHART: Good afternoon, everyone. Let me say from the outset that
any questions on national missile defense will be handled by Mr. Blinken.
(Laughter.) He just left. I'm sorry. (Laughter.) Let me just --
talk about the schedule for tomorrow real quickly to bring you up to date on
the changes. I expect at about 10:00 a.m. tomorrow at the President's hotel,
the meeting with Prime Minister Barak will take place. That will be stills
coverage. At roughly 11:35 a.m., the President will go over to the embassy for
that scheduled event, which has been pushed back a bit. I'm sorry, that will be
at the hotel with the embassy personnel.
We'll depart the hotel around
noon. We have the departure ceremony at the airport. We arrive Berlin about
4:45 p.m. The President will have a brief meeting with President Rau. I expect
he will then see Chancellor Schroeder at around 6:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. He will, at
around 8:00 p.m. see the new leader of the CDU, and then will have dinner.
That's it for tomorrow.
Q Will there be no chance for the
President to talk to the pool or something after the Barak meeting?
LOCKHART: We'll try to make some of the participants of that meeting available
to the pool, if not a briefing in Berlin. But as far as the President, I can't
guarantee that for tomorrow.
Q When do you anticipate going with the
press corps -- are you going to delay the departure here?
Yes, we're working that out now and we'll let you know as soon as we have it
done. But I expect you'll be here. Press will probably depart here at 1:15 p.m.
Q Does that mean you're going to give us a readout on the meeting?
MR. LOCKHART: That's what the next sentence says here -- hope to do
readout of Barak at file following meeting. (Laughter.)
Q Knoller is
MR. LOCKHART: Now, I have two pages here, Mark, so what's
on page 2. (Laughter.)
Q -- talking to the Grand Jury -- (laughter) --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, Mark, join the club. (Laughter.) Okay.
Wouldn't the President like to say something about the Barak meeting before he
goes to talk to the embassy personnel?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll ask him about
that and see if he wants to do that.
Q Is the embassy meeting -- is
that closed press? I think it said initially --
Generally, what he's doing -- I think he's just going to go in and shake hands.
If, for whatever reason, we have something to say and that's an appropriate
place, we would obviously bring the pool in.
Q In other venues, the
embassy meetings have been open.
MR. LOCKHART: Right. Mostly if he's
going to speak to them. I think he's, at this one, at this point because we've
squeezed the schedule a little bit to accommodate the Barak meeting, I think
he's just going to go in and shake hands. But all of this is a little bit
fluid, and I think I sense your concern and will raise it at the highest
Q When the President said that we might make more headway than
people expect in Russia, what was he talking about?
MR. LOCKHART: I
think as -- if you go back to Mr. Berger's briefing for the trip, he, I think,
tried to put in appropriate context what we expected as far as breakthroughs on
our arms control agenda, but also said that we're working hard on a number of
other areas. I think he specifically mentioned plutonium and a potential
agreement there. So I think that's what the President was referring to.
Q We already expected that.
MR. LOCKHART: I mean, he read a
number of your stories that lowered expectations to such a point that he wanted
to make sure that you all knew that it would be a good meeting and something
would come out of it.
Q So just plutonium then. He's not hinting at
anything in terms of --
MR. LOCKHART: No, he was not hinting at
anything other than a few things that we've got going. But I think for those of
you who bought into Mr. Berger's expectations, those are still valid.
(Laughter.) For those of you who didn't, you're on your own.
Q Why was
the venue changed for the meeting with Barak from Berlin to London?
LOCKHART: It was done at the Prime Minister's request. I understand there is a
holiday tomorrow or the next day in Israel concerning Jerusalem, and this more
easily accommodated what he needed to do as far as the holiday went.
What's the holiday?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's something called
Jerusalem Day or -- I don't know exactly, but it's something he wanted to
attend to at home.
Q When the President said -- when he was talking
about missile defense and he said it would be unethical not to share this with
civilized nations, is he speaking about extending the umbrella over Europe or
just giving them pieces of paper that would show them how we do it?
LOCKHART: This is something he has said before when asked questions about this,
that as we move forward, if we move forward, based on the criteria that he laid
out, that we would work with our friends as far as sharing technology. So
there's nothing new there.
I think that's slightly different than the
ideas that have been laid out in the last week or two by Governor Bush, who is
talking about building a system that goes beyond that. And it's his right to
articulate that. It's, in that context, somewhat unusual for him not to want to
get more information, and somewhat odd that he would turn down a briefing from
the Joint Chiefs on where we are as far as some of the ideas that he's laid
out. But again, that's a decision for him to make.
Q Joe, does that
MR. LOCKHART: Well, we've already had discussions, as
you know, on early warning with Russia. So I think, obviously much of this is
premature, based on a decision that has not been made. But we're going to look
at this, and how we do this with our allies, with other countries, on a
Q Joe, the idea that if we went forward, we would
build a system, and we would say, here's how ours works; if you want to build
the same system, we'll help you, but you'll have to pay for it?
LOCKHART: I don't think the ideas are formulated to the point that I can
articulate beyond the President's statement today, where he's committed to
sharing technology. But listen, we are a very important step away from those
issues, but the consultations have been going on for quite some time. As you
know, one of the important parts of the criteria is how this all works in the
context of our arms control position. And those discussions are happening both
in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and in the context of the U.S.-EU
Q Can you find and cite other examples in which the
President has used the phrase "share technology" or similar words?
LOCKHART: We'd have to go back and look, but I certainly had the feeling that I
had heard it before. And I think --
Q Will you look and provide --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. We'll go back and look. I don't know how quickly
that can be done, but he has -- I know, and it's certainly his view, that if we
move forward with this system, that we need to work with our allies and
countries around the world with an idea of seeing what technology we can share.
Q Yes, but how would he address the concerns of the European nations
that they might not be able to afford the kind of technology we might be
willing to share?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, listen, as I said, this is a
step-by-step process. We are now one important step away from that issue. We're
going to have to make a decision, based on our national security interest, on
questions of affordability, threat, and our arms control -- our overall arms
control position. And what the President is committed to is working with our
allies and nations around the world to work together as we move forward, and as
we make our decision.
Q Well, let me just be clear here. It seems like
there's a huge gap between what the President says, that we'll share the
technology and ideas, and what Governor Bush says, that whatever we develop
should defend our allies.
MR. LOCKHART: I think you have correctly
noted that there is a difference. And I think we are going to go forward and
make our decision based on the criteria that the President has put forward.
You know, the Governor has not really laid out what he means by any of
this, how he would pay for any of this. And he, in the last day or so, has
rejected receiving any sort of briefing on these issues, as far as national
missile defense and his other ideas of unilateral arms reductions. Again,
that's a decision that is for him to make. It is surprising that he would view
the offer from Secretary Cohen as political, given Secretary Cohen's background
and the fact that there is a bipartisan tradition of having an informed and
nonpartisan debate on foreign policy.
But there have been a number of
charges made over the last week, as far as this administration. And I'm sure
that as time goes on, the Governor will have a chance to articulate in detail
what exactly he means, how he will do it, how he will pay for it.
you get the sense that European allies have been reassured by this idea of
sharing technology, that they no longer have concerns about the American
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think if you look at the words of the
Prime Minister and Mr. Prodi, they came out of the meeting in a very positive
frame of mind.
Q What expectations does the President have for the
meeting with Barak tomorrow? What does he expect to come out of it?
LOCKHART: Well, I would caution against any thought of a breakthrough in the
process. I mean, this meeting in a sense will make up for the meeting that we
were supposed to have, I think, about two weeks ago, that Prime Minister Barak
needed to postpone.
Obviously we're at an important stage of the
process. There are very difficult issues that have to be worked through. And
the President, both in his conversation with Chairman Arafat today on the
telephone, just after the press conference, and in his meeting with Prime
Minister Barak tomorrow, is going to be looking for ways to move the process
forward. So I think this is more of an attempt to make sure that we're doing
everything we can to keep this moving in the right direction and to get the
process going than some sort of magical formula for a breakthrough.
Do you have any independent --
Q -- comments today on this seemed to
impart a real sense of urgency in his mind, a sense of perhaps now or never. Is
it fair to move from that to an interpretation that the United States is really
going to try to force the pace, not only in the conversation tomorrow with --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't think it's our role to force the pace. The
pace, and the timetable of this, was set by the parties. Prime Minister Barak
said very clearly as he embarked on this stage of the process that he thought
the time to move was now. And he set the framework for trying to work something
out by September.
So I don't think it's our view, or our position, to
try to force the pace. I think it is our role to try to work with the parties
and see what we can do to, where there are logjams or where there are issues
that we can move the process along in our role, that we can do that. And I
think that's part of the reason that the President has stayed in such close
consultation with all the parties, and he'll continue over the next few months.
Q Do you have any independent confirmation that the Syrians have
accepted the Israeli pullout from Lebanon?
MR. LOCKHART: I checked on
that just before I came out, and I had none, and have none.
Q Has the
President tried to reach President Assad, or has any senior American official
tried to reach Foreign Minister Shaara?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm
Q Joe, if you share the -- if you get to a point where you
can share missile technology, how do you do that without giving away the ideas
that private enterprise has developed?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, obviously
these are issues that will have to be worked out down the road. But I think the
President wanted to make clear, and did make clear today, that it's his view as
we -- if we move forward, that there is information we can share with our
Q But Joe, are we not -- I'm not clear -- you're apparently not
willing to say we'd share it with the Russians?
MR. LOCKHART: Well,
what I said was, we've already started a process with the Russians where we're
in discussions coming out of Cologne, I think -- when the President met -- or
it may have been Auckland, I'm not sure -- but one of the meetings where we've
had discussions on sharing information as far as early warning. So those
discussions are ongoing, and this is something that will be a step-by-step
Q Joe, on the Barak meeting, there have been some stories that
the President and Barak want to lay a plan for a Camp David-style meeting,
where all three leaders get together and try and finalize the deal. Has that
MR. LOCKHART: It certainly hasn't been brought to my
attention. I know that there have been stories from time to time that talk
about this, and you know, who knows as we go down the road what will serve as
an appropriate vehicle for coming to a final agreement? I can't really
speculate one way or the other. But I haven't heard any serious discussion
about putting together some sort of imminent meeting that would look like that.
Q Joe, is there anything to say on Peru? Is the U.S. seriously weighing
any sort of sanctions or any unilateral action?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I
think we, our effort right now is working through the OAS. They are meeting
today, I believe, to try to formulate a position and a plan for next steps. And
we think it's important to work within the context of that group with our
friends in the region to have a united view on how we move forward.
Has the administration backed off from the sense of outrage that it seemed to
have at the very beginning, or is that the same?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen,
I think there's been a sense of seriousness and very clear messages to the
government of Peru, now, for several months. And I don't sense that we have
backed off from that, and I don't have a sense that we've backed off from our
I think it is appropriate, though, that rather than moving
forward in a unilateral way, that we work within the OAS and try to do this in
a way that sends a very strong message not just from the United States, but
from Peru's neighbors and partners in the region.
Q Joe, Lael said that
there was no progress at all on Airbus, FSC, bananas, beef. I know you weren't
expecting to totally settle these, but was the President disappointed that
there seemed to be just no movement at all on any of those issues?
LOCKHART: No, I think the President understands that these are complicated
issues that will require time to work through. I will take this opportunity to
say that if you look as far as the overall relations, we have very good -- both
trading relations, economic, political relations with the EU. But from time to
time we have had issues that have created serious differences of opinion on
both sides of the Atlantic. And we have to find a way to work through them. And
this is part of the process, but certainly not the whole process.
Joe, with the agreement on combating AIDS and other infectious diseases, is it
fair to say that in future EU and G-8 meetings, this issue will have a higher
degree of prominence than it has had previously?
MR. LOCKHART: I think
you'll find if you go back over the last few big multilateral summits, whether
they be G-8 or U.S.-EU, it has already been put on the agenda. And that's only
going to become more of the standard. I think, as we have talked about, our
national interest in combating AIDS both at home and abroad, that is something
that European countries share. And I think as we move forward, infectious
diseases will become an increasingly important part of an international agenda.
I think at last year's G-8 meeting there was discussion and I expect as we move
forward, as I said, this will be a more important issue.
President said that he considered the threat of attack from a rogue nation a
real threat. In your memory, is that the first time he, himself, has declared
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think if you go back and look,
certainly in the aftermath of reports, including the Rumsfeld report, that
looked at what the threat was, I think that question has been answered for some
time as far as the threat. But there are four criteria they were looking at,
and the other three have to be addressed and answered in a satisfactory way
before we move forward.
Q So he has said before that the threat is
MR. LOCKHART: We'd have to go find it, but that didn't strike me
as new. Yes -- apparently, in the Coast Guard speech. But I think that this
goes back some months, this is not something that we've come to a conclusion on
in the last few weeks.
Q Joe, when the President meets with Chancellor
Schroeder tomorrow, how receptive do you think the Germans are going to be to
U.S. concerns about German courts in custody cases, and how there are concerns
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't want to preempt Chancellor
Schroeder. You will certainly have a chance to talk to him over the next few
days. But I think that's an issue that we have worked closely with them on and
in a way that's -- and in a cooperative way.
Q Do you think it's going
to cause any awkwardness in other talks?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't expect
so. I think if you look at -- as we look at U.S.-EU, our real and perceived
differences are vastly outweighed by areas of agreement where we work together.
And I don't expect there to be any awkwardness in the discussion with
Chancellor Schroeder. I think the President enjoys a very warm, personal
relationship with him and is looking forward to not only the bilateral portion
of the meetings in Berlin, but also the Third Way discussions that Chancellor
Schroeder has taken such a lead role in.
Q But do you expect the
President to raise with Chancellor Schroeder the underlying assumption which
causes this problem, namely that children are in any case better off in Germany
than even with a biological parent?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I will let you
know as we venture up to the line of that meeting.
Q Does this change
of schedule tomorrow mean that there will be no meeting with these young
leaders in Berlin?
MR. LOCKHART: It does, unfortunately. We had had a
roundtable scheduled for some time now, but because we've added the meeting
with Prime Minister Barak, it will make it impossible for the President to have
Q Can you tell us anything more about the discussion with
Arafat today, what they talked about?
MR. LOCKHART: They talked for
about 20 minutes, and I -- without getting into any great detail, the
conversation with Arafat I think will be somewhat similar to the conversation
he will have with Prime Minister Barak -- that we're at a very important part
of the process. And they just spent, again, about 20 minutes discussing where
they were and trying to formulate a way to move forward and move the process
Q Could you kindly share with us what percentage of the
President's time today in these meetings was taken up with trade issues, how
much time on security issues, and how much time on --
MR. LOCKHART: Let
me take that question because -- Tony can answer that for me, because I didn't
sit in on the meetings. But we'll get you an answer for that.
was some discussion about -- in fact, it came up when the President was in
Norway -- about a three-way summit at Camp David on the Middle East. Do you
know, is that still on the table, and do you expect that idea to be advanced
MR. LOCKHART: I don't expect any sort of three-way meeting
to come out of tomorrow's meeting. As I said to an earlier question, it is
certainly always a possibility that we view our role as one where we can help
bring the parties together, but at this point, we believe that the best process
is the process that Ambassador Ross had been engaged in directly with the
Q When you answered my colleague from the New York Times
question, can you just make that public --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, yes.
All set? Thank you.
END 5:30 P.M. (L)