White House Daily Briefing, June 7
07 June 2005
Prime Minister Blair's visit, North Korea, Air Force-Boeing lease deal, climate change, Blair/African aid plan, China/trade, China/Six-Party Talks, Iran, Darfur/Sudan
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan briefed reporters June 7.
Following is the transcript of the White House briefing:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 7, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
-- Prime Minister Blair's visit
-- North Korea
-- Air Force-Boeing lease deal
-- Climate change
-- Blair/African aid plan
-- China/six-party talks
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 7, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:25 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. The President looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Blair back to the White House this afternoon. There is no closer ally than the United Kingdom and no greater friend than Prime Minister Blair to the United States. And this meeting will be an opportunity to continue discussing the broad agenda that we share. It will be an opportunity to talk about the global war on terrorism and the progress we're making to win the war on terrorism.
I'm sure they will talk about our efforts to advance freedom and democracy, to bring hope and opportunity, to defeat the ideology of hatred that terrorists espouse. I expect they will talk about the European Union's -- or the European 3's efforts to get Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. I know the President looks forward to hearing from Prime Minister Blair on that important priority. I'm sure that they will continue to talk about our efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure they will talk about the importance of making sure that the institutions are in place, as Prime Minister Sharon moves forward on his disengagement plan, that the institutions are in place for a Palestinian state to emerge. And I'm sure they'll talk about the progress we're making in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well.
And I know the President looks forward to discussing the upcoming G8 summit with Prime Minister Blair. This will be an opportunity to talk about our shared commitment to promoting reform and development in Africa, and to address other issues, as well.
And with that, I will be glad to go to your questions.
QUESTION: Scott, can you say, why did the United States pull back on its threat to go to the United Nations for sanctions against North Korea?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know -- I would not characterize it the way you did at all. I don't know what you're referring to in terms of that.
Q: -- Secretary Rumsfeld said that the United States was going to do it within a matter of weeks.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld also spoke to that issue and stated that we have never put any timetable on that. That's always been an option, but we've never put any timetable on it. What we're trying to do is work with our other partners in the region to get North Korea to come back to the six-party talks. There was a discussion in New York yesterday; North Korea expressed their commitment to the six-party process, but they did not indicate a date when they would be returning to the talks. And we are hopeful that North Korea will return to the six-party talks soon. We believe that is the way to achieve a diplomatic solution for a nuclear-free peninsula.
That is a goal that all parties to the talks share, and that is the message that all parties are sending North Korea: We want to see a nuclear-free peninsula. And it's important that when North Korea comes back to the six-party talks that they come back prepared to talk in a serious way about how to move forward on the proposal that we outlined. We outlined a proposal at the last round of talks, a year ago; it was a proposal that we believe addresses the concerns of all parties and is the way forward to resolving this matter. And so we hope that North Korea will come back at an early date without any precondition. We've made it clear that there are no preconditions for returning to the six-party talks.
Q: When you say they expressed their commitment to the six-party process, do you think that that would -- do you regard that as a positive development?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it's always positive when you're exchanging information in a setting like that.
Q: Can I follow, Scott? What does that mean when you say that they say they're committed to six-party talks? What does that mean?
MR. McCLELLAN: It means exactly that. They expressed their commitment to the six-party talks. But we did not get any indication that they were yet ready to return to the talks, or they didn't give any date of when they were going to return to the talks.
Q: So did they express an intention to return to the talks, is that what that means?
MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't describe it that way. I'd say they expressed a commitment to the six-party talks.
Q: Okay. You also said that "when" they return, not "if" they return to the six-party talks. That also indicates some sort of commitment by North Korea --
MR. McCLELLAN: I would say that we're hopeful that they will return to the six-party talks soon so that we can move forward on the goal of nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
Q: Then what makes you hopeful, the statements -- the recent statements from North Korea?
MR. McCLELLAN: Some of what I just expressed, sure, in the discussions. They talked about a variety of issues at the meeting yesterday, and expressed their commitment to the talks. But, like I said, they didn't give us any indication yet of returning -- that they are ready to return to the talks.
Q: So it's just a timing issue, not a commitment issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd leave it to North Korea to comment on those questions. We're hopeful that they will return soon. We continue to urge them to come back to the talks at an early date, without precondition.
Q: Scott, a question about this Inspector General's report, involving the lease deal between the Air Force and Boeing. In that report, there are 45 references to White House officials that have been deleted in the Inspector General's report. And that has to do with White House officials' involvement in this particular deal as it was being negotiated and then became more controversial. The question is, would the White House object to these names -- the names of the White House officials in this report being unredacted, being made public? And, if not, would it, in fact, invoke executive privilege to keep those names -- the names of those officials secret?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think it was understood going in that this is a jurisdictional matter. The Inspector General for any department only has jurisdiction over that particular department.
Q: So what?
Q: I'm sorry, I guess I don't understand -- what does that have to do with --
MR. McCLELLAN: It's the Inspector General for the Department of Defense, in this instance. They only have jurisdiction over their particular agency. We worked to help facilitate the investigation by the Inspector General, but this is a jurisdictional matter.
Q: Is that to say that the White House will not allow those names to be made public?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's a jurisdictional matter, and like I said, it was understood. I mean, I think it --
Q: Is that a "yes" or a "no," Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think it was understood --
Q: How is it a jurisdictional matter, for god's sake?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that that information would not be part of the report. But the Inspector General had access to the information he needed to complete his report.
Q: So who in the White House was involved in putting pressure to make sure this deal went through? The Washington Post reports and names Andy Card as having some conversations about it, perhaps pushing for the deal. Is that accurate? Were other officials within the White House involved in pushing the deal forward?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I wouldn't describe your characterization as accurate. In terms of Andy Card's involvement, I've talked to that previously. He served, as he does on a host of issues, simply as an honest broker to make sure that all views were represented and to make sure that it was completed in a timely matter, because it was relating to a national security need that was pressing. And that was the extent of his role.
Q: Would the White House invoke executive privilege to keep these names, the names of White House officials -- and I don't know how many we're talking about, you could tell us -- to keep those names from becoming public?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, a couple of points. I think, as I said, it was understood the jurisdictional matter that is involved here, that that information would not be part of the report. The Inspector General had access to the information. Now, in terms of this issue, there was wrongdoing, and the people who were involved in that wrongdoing are being held to account; people are serving jail time because of what they did and others are being held to account for what they did in other ways. The Pentagon canceled the project, they canceled the contract. There are oversight measures that are in place when it comes to issues like this, and in this instance, those oversight measures worked to catch this and it enabled the Pentagon to cancel the contract.
Q: So you deny any -- any -- improper interference in this negotiation on the part of any White House official?
MR. McCLELLAN: There has not been any suggestion of that whatsoever.
Q: Then in the interest of transparency, why not make all those names public?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have worked to provide Congress with information. We worked to facilitate the DOD investigation and congressional leaders have been looking at this, as well. As I said, those who were involved in wrongdoing are being held accountable.
Q: But if White House officials were also involved in the conversation, by making the names public you could then assure everyone that no White House officials were involved in trying to persuade people to push this deal through.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what oversight measures are for. There are oversight protections in place to look at all these issues, both from Congress, as well as internally, with the Department of Defense. And in terms of this issue, it's not related to anything that you're bringing up, it's related simply to a jurisdictional matter.
Q: No, but if you fall back on the excuse that jurisdictional concerns prevent those names from being made public, you let us wonder whether there was any connection between any of the White House names in that report and any of the wrongdoing.
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, that's all been looked into and continues to be looked into by members of Congress. It was looked into by the Inspector General. The Inspector General, as I pointed out, had access to this information so that he could look at it, and look at it in the overall context, as well.
Q: You're suggesting that jurisdictional matters would have prevented him from doing any of that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, maybe if you have something to bring to my attention, you ought to bring it to my attention, but --
Q: I'm asking you why you don't want to be more transparent.
MR. McCLELLAN: The people who were involved in wrongdoing are being held to account.
Q: Basic question: Does the President believe that global warming is real and that humans are significantly contributing to it?
MR. McCLELLAN: There's serious challenges that we face when it comes to climate change and the President is acting to address those challenges. If you'll recall, back in 2001 there was a report issued by the National Academy of Sciences which gave us the latest scientific information in terms of what we know about climate change, and while there are some uncertainties that remain when it comes to the science of climate change, there are many steps that we can be taking now to address it. And we are. The President is acting in a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to work in partnership with others around the world to invest in new, cleaner technologies so that we can reduce pollution and so that we can address this important challenge.
Q: That sounds like a yes, the President believes global warming is real and humans are contributing to it.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you go back and look at the National Academy of Sciences report from 2001, it talks about how human activity is contributing to a rise in temperatures. But there are a lot of uncertainties regarding the science of climate change that we're still trying to understand. But in the meantime, while we learn more about the science, there are a number of ways we can be acting, and the President has put forward a comprehensive and innovative approach, both on the domestic and international front, to address these issues.
Q: How urgent a problem is it?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why, and you will recall, his hydrogen initiative, for instance. You'll recall on the international front the methane-to-markets partnership that we're working with other countries, like the United Kingdom and India -- India was a country that did not have obligations under the Kyoto protocol, for instance, but this methane-to-markets partnership is an innovative approach that will allow us to reduce a greenhouse gas pollutant, also providing cleaner burning electricity.
Q: There have been several studies in the Journal of Nature recently which have found that mass extinctions are already beginning, and that the extinction rate in species has increased perhaps as much as a thousand times, suggesting an urgency. Does the President share that this is an urgent problem?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is an important priority and that's why we're acting to address it now. If you'll recall, the President also is moving forward on our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas intensity. That's the amount we emit per unit of economic activity, and we're committed to reducing that by 18 percent over 10 years. So we are acting and leading the way when it comes to research and development, and investing in new technologies. While we work to continue to grow our economies, we also need to make sure that we're investing in cleaner, newer technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that's what growing economies enable us to do. And so the President is working to address it in a number of different ways. There are a number of partnerships we're working with people on around the world from, like I said, the methane-to-market to the hydrogen initiative, where we have hydrogen-powered cars -- remember, the President went to the Shell station here in town recently. We also need to make sure we have the infrastructure in place to be able to move forward on those initiatives.
Q: Does he regret at all the fallout from his early decision to reject the Kyoto Protocol, and the way that that was taken around the world as the United States --
MR. McCLELLAN: And the United States Senate unanimously rejected it, as well.
Q: I'm asking about the President.
MR. McCLELLAN: And we stated our reasons why, and we stand by the reason behind that decision. Remember, this would have cost millions of jobs and it would have increased our costs substantially. The President believes that there are ways we can move forward to keep our economies growing around the world while also working to make our environment cleaner. And that's exactly what we are doing. But the Kyoto Protocol was something that was rejected unanimously by the United States Senate because it would have been a huge job-killer here in the United States, and because it didn't address developing nations in that protocol, as well.
Q: Scott, if there is no closer ally than Prime Minister Blair, why not sign on to his African aid plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think you need to let the meeting take place later today. In terms of Africa, we do have a shared goal. As I talked about, and as I expect the leaders will talk about, we have a shared goal to promote strong democratic institutions in Africa and to help promote economic prosperity in Africa.
The President greatly appreciates Prime Minister Blair's leadership when it comes to putting reform and development in Africa at the center of the G8 summit. The United States has tripled funding to Africa under the President. We have moved forward on the President's emergency plan for AIDS relief, a $15-billion commitment over five years, to address those needs in countries where people are most afflicted -- namely, African countries. We have worked to make sure that we are providing humanitarian assistance to alleviate poverty and alleviate hunger. And I think you need to go back and look at what we are doing. We will continue to provide significant resources to help developing countries in Africa. The President wants to make sure that those resources are going to the poor countries that are committed to governing justly, investing in their people and promoting economic freedom. That's what we're doing through the Millennium Challenge Account, an initiative that this President launched.
And so we will continue discussing these matters with Prime Minister Blair. Both countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, have been leading the way when it comes to providing debt relief to countries in Africa. We continue to discuss those matters with the United Kingdom, and I'm sure the President and Prime Minister will have a good discussion about how we can move forward on that. I mean, the G8 summit is still a few weeks away. This is their first time to sit down together and talk about some of the issues that will be on the agenda and how we can move forward to meet our shared goal.
The United States has been working to fulfill our commitments under the Africa Action Plan that was adopted by the G8 back in 2002, and we encourage others to make sure that they're working to fulfill their commitments, as well.
Q: You're saying you can't afford his plan since you have money tied up in other projects?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm saying we're already providing significant resources to Africa and we will continue to provide significant resources to Africa. I think Prime Minister Blair addressed in an interview that specific plan, and that wasn't something he was coming here to ask us about, specifically, in the interview.
Q: -- how much money you've actually spent of that $15 billion so far?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can get you that information. No, I don't have it off the -- remember, it's ramped up over time.
Q: Right, right. But it's nowhere near $15 billion at this point, and it's nowhere near what was committed --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we're fulfilling our commitment.
Q: Can you explain to me why you haven't come through with the $5 billion --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's wrong -- that's a wrong way to characterize it. You need to go and look at the facts. We are meeting our commitment, we are meeting our obligation of that $15 billion for the emergency plan for AIDS relief. And we are continuing to move forward on it.
Now, remember when we started it a few years ago, we needed to make sure that the infrastructure was in place in Africa to get those -- to receive those funds and disburse them so that they could get to those people in need and help not only those who are afflicted with HIV or AIDS, but also help prevent people from getting it in the first place.
Go ahead, Ed.
Q: When was the last time the President uttered the phrase, "climate change"?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can go look on our website, I'm sure you can find a number of times when he's -- when he's talked about it. But this is something that we -- that is a priority for this administration. We have a Council on Environmental Quality that is ably led by Jim Connaughton, and he works with -- not only here in the United States, but with our partners around the world to move forward on the initiatives that the President outlined. We are acting. We're not -- we're acting to move forward to address the challenges that we face when it comes to climate change.
Q: Can I just follow on the African aid question, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q: What's the President's concern about corruption, and which African countries pose most of that concern, when it comes to delivering the aid and making sure that it reaches those who need it? And is that a stumbling block to providing more of a commitment, as Tony Blair is asking for, through the G8?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I should have backed up in response to Steve's question and pointed out one other thing, because the President and Prime Minister also recognize that there are some humanitarian emergencies right now in Africa that need to be addressed. That's why they're going to be announcing a joint United Kingdom-United States initiative to address that emergency need. And the Horn of Africa, in particular, is where our resources are going to be focused. There is a great concern about famine in the Horn of Africa. And so we are providing an additional $674 million in funding to get food to people in places like Ethiopia and other countries in the Horn of Africa. This is something that is a growing problem, and it is upon us right now. That's why we need to act now. So the President is pleased that they'll be announcing that.
In terms of corruption --
Q: That's not new money, right? That aid money was not --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's new money that hasn't gone to Africa at this point, and some of it --
Q: It was in the budget, it just hasn't been earmarked for a particular country?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, some of it was in the supplemental under humanitarian assistance funding, and some of it will come from a trust at the United States Department of Agriculture. But it will -- our resources will be going to Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as providing some additional resources to Somalia and Djibouti. And it's estimated that 14 million people who are at risk in Ethiopia and Eritrea will have their food needs met because of this funding that we're providing. The United Nations has called on countries to contribute a total of about $4.5 billion to meet this urgent humanitarian need right now, and we've already provided nearly $1.4 billion. This is in addition to that money.
Now, in terms of corruption, obviously, that's been at the cornerstone of the President's efforts to provide aid to developing countries. That's why the President launched the Millennium Challenge Account. We want to make sure that countries are adhering to democratic principles and good governance, and that they're transparent, and that they're committed to rule of law, and that they're moving in that direction. Otherwise, that aid money is simply going to be going to a country that is not meeting the needs of its people, that may be corrupt, and that funding is not going to achieve its intended results. We want to make sure that the funding is achieving its intended results.
Q: Is that one of the reasons why the President was not willing to support the level that Prime Minister Blair wanted him to?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, I mean -- again, let's let the meeting take place, and I'm sure they'll continue to talk. But we're going to continue providing significant resources to Africa. We have provided significant resources, and we will continue to provide significant resources to developing countries in Africa, those that are in need of help.
Q: So can you tell us what percentage of the $678 million [sic] is actually for Ethiopia and Eritrea? And is the fact that some of this money is going to Djibouti and Somalia an expression of the administration's belief that corruption is no longer a problem in those two governments?
MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't necessarily say that. This is about addressing the humanitarian need that is before us right now. There is a concern about famine, widespread famine in the Horn of Africa. And we want to do what we can to help alleviate that problem, and we're doing our part by stepping forward. The Prime Minister and the President are also calling on other countries to increase their funding to address this pressing humanitarian need right now. This is something we can do now that can have a practical effect and help save lives.
Q: A question about China: On Capitol Hill there is increasing sentiment to pass some kind of legislation to retaliate against China for its currency and other trading abuses. Does the President applaud this? Or would he veto legislation that would --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure about the specific legislation you're referring to, but the President is committed to making sure that we have a level playing field when it comes to trade. We have expressed concerns when it comes to China and our trade. And the President, in fact, met with some Chinese legislators that are in town earlier today, and this was one of the issues that was mentioned. And the President reiterated some of the concerns we have here in this country.
In terms of making sure that that playing field is level, we have a great United States Trade Representative in Ambassador Portman. He is committed to making sure that our trade laws are enforced, and we will not hesitate to enforce those laws if need be. And, in fact, in some instances, we're already moving forward on action when it comes to certain textile products. In terms of the currency, I mean, we've expressed our view. And China has expressed a commitment to moving forward toward a flexible market-based exchange rate, and we continue to urge them to move in that direction.
Q: Would you prefer the Congress remain at bay? Or if they pass, say, a tariff, or some other retaliatory measure, would the President sign it, or veto it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Ambassador Portman will continue working with members of Congress, and Ambassador Portman is -- and others in our administration are going to continue making it clear to China what our concerns are. And we're also going to continue acting to make sure that that playing field is level for our farmers and for our producers and for our businesses. And that's what we're going to do. We believe that that is the best way to address this issue.
Q: Two quick questions. One, now, can you confirm, please, about the Prime Minister of India visit on July 18th?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can, since we announced it, I believe, on Friday. The President looks forward to seeing him.
Q: And second question, as far as China is concerned, over the weekend thousands of Chinese around the globe demonstrated against the Chinese when thousands were killed in Tiananmen Square, including in Washington here they were gathered. And they're calling on the Bush administration, especially on the President, that they should support democracy in China and those people who died, there should be some kind of dialogue with the Chinese, that they should not be -- in China, now people are standing for democracy there. And what do you think now that President --
MR. McCLELLAN: We make our views very clear to countries like China and others that we want to see them move toward greater freedoms when it comes to political freedom, when it comes to economic freedom. And those are issues we always discuss with world leaders. The President has a good relationship with President Hu, where we're able to discuss these issues and talk about what our views are. And I think our views have been made very clear by the President and by others in this administration -- Secretary of Defense recently was in the region and talking about some of those issues, as well.
Q: -- do you think the President is worried about what statements are coming out -- Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, they are saying that now there's a big concern as far as Chinese military buildup and there's -- I have been asking for over the year here and at State and -- the same questions, that China is going to be a threat to the United States in the future. And now the reality is coming out.
MR. McCLELLAN: We do have concerns about that and the Secretary of Defense expressed it, expressed our concerns, expressed our commitment to continue to promote stability and peace in the region and how this affects that; and expressed concerns about why this is even necessary.
Q: Scott, considering the enormous amount of national and international coverage, the President is aware of the University of Texas paying $5 million for the papers of Woodward and Bernstein --
MR. McCLELLAN: I thought you were going to ask about winning the regional championship in Austin and going to the super regionals maybe on their way to the College World Series. (Laughter.) He and I both are aware of that. (Laughter.)
Q: -- the President wonders why part of this $5 million and part of their book and movie income is not shared with Mark Felt, doesn't he, in his commendable concern for fairness?
MR. McCLELLAN: We haven't had a discussion about it, Les.
Q: Since the President values the American way of debating all national issues --
MR. McCLELLAN: I, being a University of Texas graduate, though, I think it's great that they have those papers.
Q: You're going to give us a copy of your speech.
MR. McCLELLAN: That was a personal opinion. (Laughter.)
Q: The President would relish seeing Pat Buchanan versus Ben Bradley on Watergate, wouldn't he, if Bradley would not flee?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has expressed his views on this whole matter.
Go ahead, Bill.
Q: Regarding China, Secretary Rumsfeld, in Singapore, singled out China, not just with respect to its military budget, but he also said something that could be taken to suggest China is not doing as much as it could be to help North Korea and the six-party talks. Now that North Korea has come back and, as you announced this morning, said that they don't intend to participate in those talks despite whatever the commitment phrase is, does the administration feel --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we didn't get an indication that they were yet ready to return to the talks, but they did express their commitment to the six-party talks.
Q: Does the administration -- senior officials in the administration feel that China has been an honest broker in the six-party talks, or could they be doing something differently to be more helpful?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's always more that can be done, but we appreciate the efforts of China to move forward on the six-party talks. The President -- that was another issue the President talked about with the Chinese delegation that was in town, that Senators Stevens and Inouye were both at that meeting, as well. And that delegation reiterated China's commitment to the six-party talks. They are one of five partners, along with us, who are saying to North Korea, we want to see a nuclear-free peninsula. And we want to move forward in a serious way to achieve that objective, or achieve that shared goal. That's why we put the proposal on the table. That's why we're working with all our partners in the region. China is being helpful in that effort. There's always more that can be done.
Q: Can you elaborate a little bit more about the Chinese legislators visit? Why did the President decide to meet with them, and what did they talk about?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think they were invited here by Senators Stevens and Inouye, and they were meeting with members of Congress. They were in town, and Senator Stevens thought it would be great if the President could sit down and visit with them. So he had a brief meeting with them. I'd say it was probably 15 to 20 minutes. And it was an important for the President to bring up some of the priority issues that I mentioned a minute ago, and it was also an opportunity for him to hear from the delegation.
And the President talked about how he had good relations with President Hu, a good personal, diplomatic relationship with him. And the President talked, really, about -- I guess there are three kind of key areas. He talked about economic issues, and trade came up in that context. He talked about the six-party talks and North Korea. And they also talked about China and Taiwan. And the President reiterated that our position remains the same, that nothing has changed when it comes to Taiwan.
Q: Can I ask you a question about the Chinese military threat? How do you square this to the Chinese audience? The U.S. military budget is more than $400 billion, and the Chinese have less than $50 billion. And how do you explain to the Chinese that China is a threat? Secretary Rumsfeld said no country is threatening China, but in the United States we know you are doing two wars, but no other countries, really are threatening the United States, really. How do you square this --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you point out, we are a nation at war. We're a nation at war on terrorism. There are serious threats that we face when it comes to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and those weapons getting into the hands of terrorists. There are threats that the international community -- threats when it comes to North Korea and Iran and places -- rogue states. And so in terms of our military efforts, I mean, I think that has been addressed in that context.
The Secretary spelled out some of the concerns we had and asked why it was necessary that this needed to be done, and that peace and stability in the region is a priority for this administration. And we have concerns when a country is taking the steps that China is like that, and the Secretary was simply expressing those concerns.
Q: Thank you, Scott. Yesterday the United States delegation and North Korea meeting in New York -- has North Korea ever proposed --
MR. McCLELLAN: Has North Korea ever what?
Q: Ever proposed direct talks with the United States instead of six-party talks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think our views are well-known when it comes to the six-party talks, and there's always plenty of opportunity for North Korea to talk to us directly through those six-party talks. And we have had discussions directly with North Korea in the six-party talks. Our view hasn't changed when it comes to that.
Q: North Korea is one of the axis of evil countries. If they do test a nuclear weapon, is that almost considered a prelude to war?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to try to speculate about what-ifs. We're trying to --
Q: -- don't they --
MR. McCLELLAN: We're trying to resolve this in a diplomatic manner through the six-party talks. The President just last week in the press conference reiterated our commitment to resolving this through the six-party talks. And he believes that we need to continue to work through that process. It came up on bilateral discussions; well, that didn't work. North Korea violated that agreement. That's why it was important to bring all the other nations in the region to the table, because this is something that affects them, and we're all working through the six-party talks to try to resolve this matter in a diplomatic --
Q: Now they've got --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- in a diplomatic way. Well, the Defense Department talked about that, and I would leave it where they did.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q: Scott, in regards to aid for Africa, has the President talked about increasing federal funding towards Africa being viewed as a modern day Marshall Plan? Has he talked about that at all?
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, we've made -- I think you're referring to something Prime Minister Blair has talked about. I'll let him speak for himself. But we both have a shared goal, and we're talking about how we can meet or achieve that shared goal. The United States and the United Kingdom have both been leading the way when it comes to promoting reform and providing development in Africa. And that's what we will continue to do. They are a close partner in these matters. And we will continue to work through the G8, as well, to get others to fulfill their commitments and continue to step up to the plate.
Go ahead in back.
Q: Is there any clear understanding of the agreement between the United States and Britain on what the next steps would be in case the EU-3 talks fail? And could you count on the support of Tony Blair should a military action be taken against Iran, considering that he lost a lot of political capital --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think again these are getting into hypothetical questions at this point. We have expressed our concerns when it comes to Iran's intentions with regards to their nuclear programs, and what we're doing is supporting the efforts of the European 3 to resolve this matter. We are working closely with the United Kingdom to make sure that there is an objective guarantee that Iran will not use its nuclear programs to develop nuclear weapons. And I think it's important that there is a guarantee that includes the permanent secession of all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. We've made that clear. And we're continuing to support the efforts of the European 3.
Q: Is there a shared understanding with Britain what the next step would be if in case it failed?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you know, the negotiations are ongoing right now and those continue. They had a recent meeting and that meeting was productive. And you've heard from Iran, as well, and that process is ongoing at this point. We want to continue to support those negotiations. But, as I said, it's important that there are objective guarantees in place at the end of this process.
Q: -- our President and the Prime Minister today talk about things like the crisis in Darfur? That's something that they haven't really touched on here and that's something that's obviously very threatening to these people that are getting displaced into eastern Chad. Having been there myself on a humanitarian aid mission, it's something that obviously needs some funding.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you for going there and helping out. The United States has been providing significant humanitarian assistance to the people in Darfur. It remains a high priority for this administration. We've been leading when it comes to addressing the issue of Darfur, and also to the issue of Sudan, in general. But we continue to have concerns -- while the violence may be down in the Darfur region, we continue to have concerns regarding ongoing violence there. We want to make sure that that humanitarian assistance is getting to the people who need it in Darfur.
So this is something we -- and certainly Ambassador Danforth was someone who led the way in helping to get a north-south peace agreement; he was also very involved in Darfur. Ambassador Zoellick has just been to Darfur so he can see firsthand what the latest developments there are on the ground. But to date, we've committed more than $95 million for equipment and logistics to support the African Union mission in Darfur, and there's another $50 million coming from the supplemental that we signed on May 11th -- that the President signed on May 11th. And we've also committed to provide some aircraft for logistical support in the region.
Q: Is it true that Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has given more money than our government towards --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what he's provided. But we appreciate the help of all those who are providing humanitarian assistance to people in need.
Q: Going quick back to Tehran, Scott -- have you seen any indications from Tehran and/or the EU3 that the criteria that you just laid out, in terms of permanent secession and objective guarantees, is anywhere close to being agreed to?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those discussions are ongoing with the Europeans and we need to let those discussions continue. Remember, the President -- we had a common goal and a few months ago we came out and said, now we have a common approach that's important to resolving this matter. And we want to continue to support their efforts as they move forward. The President looks forward to hearing more from Prime Minister Blair on those efforts.
END 1:08 P.M. EDT
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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