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Homeland Security

03 March 2003

White House Report, March 3: Turkey, Pakistan/Al Qaeda, Iraq

(Press Secretary Ari Fleischer briefed) (880)
Asked about the vote by Turkey's parliament over the weekend that
would keep U.S. ground forces from using its bases for an invasion of
Iraq, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said March 3 that the
outcome was a surprise but that there are other options and
alternatives available to the United States.
The government of Turkey "did not expect this outcome and neither did
we," Fleischer said.
"The vote is a disappointment because the president thinks that it's
very important for the world to join together to disarm Saddam
Hussein. Turkey remains a NATO ally Fleischer said.
He projected a hope that Turkey will revisit the issue but said, "No
matter what course Turkey selects, if the president authorizes the use
of force (against Iraq), no matter which route he takes, there is no
doubt it will lead to a successful military outcome. Turkey is
reviewing its options and we're reviewing ours as well," Fleischer
Fleischer said there has long been talk of a so-called Plan B. "There
are other ways to accomplish military objectives," he said. "It's more
complicated. The preferred outcome would have been for a successful
vote. That did not take place."
Asked what happens to the proposed aid package to Turkey if the U.S.
troops do not go there, Fleischer responded that "all matters are
being reviewed, and again, it is too soon to say what would happen
with that. Turkey is reviewing it, we're reviewing it. We'll find
President Bush "expresses his deep appreciation and gratitude to
President [Pervez] Musharraf and to the government of Pakistan for
their efforts this past weekend that led to the capture of Khalid
Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attack,"
Fleischer told reporters.
"This is a very serious development and a blow to al Qaeda," he said.
"The president is appreciative to Pakistan for their fine efforts that
they have been carrying out in the war against terror and their fine
work in this most recent success."
Fleischer told reporters he had been asked not to discuss any details
concerning Mohammed. "I am not going to be able to provide you any
information about his whereabouts, or whether he is/is not in any one
or other person's or nation's custody," he said.
He said U.S. authorities are hopeful that information obtained from
Mohammed will lead to the capture of other high profile al Qaeda
suspects, perhaps including Osama bin Laden.
Asked to comment on the destruction by Iraq of some of its Al Samoud
missiles and whether this showed that the Saddam Hussein regime is
complying with United Nations weapons inspectors, Fleischer said only
"complete, total, immediate -- immediate -- disarmament, per
Resolution 1441" on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction would be
"We have not seen complete disarmament," he said. "We have not seen
total disarmament. We have not seen immediate disarmament. We have
seen nothing that the United Nations Security Council called for
except for -- under pressure -- Saddam Hussein finding things that he
said he never had and apparently destroying small numbers of the
things that he says he never possessed."
Fleischer repeated that the president just over a month ago said the
timetable (to decide on whether military action is necessary to disarm
Iraq) is weeks, not months, "and nothing has changed that timetable."
"There's only one standard of disarmament: full, complete and
immediate," Fleischer said. "The United Nations resolutions did not
call for a little piece of disarmament. It didn't say, 10 percent
disarmament four months after we call on you to do it immediately.
None of that was in 1441. And the only reason this is even happening
today in the small degree that it has indeed happened is because he is
under great pressure from President Bush, the United States and the
coalition of the willing."
Fleischer repeated that President Bush "has not made any final
decision" on military action. "What the president has done is put in
place a military buildup that puts increased pressure on Saddam
Hussein so, hopefully, this can be done through diplomacy. The
president has said that what remains important, as you heard him say
last week in the Cabinet Room, is complete disarmament -- complete,
total and immediate disarmament -- which is nothing less than what the
United Nations called on Saddam Hussein to do."
The President began his day with a phone call to Colombian President
Alvaro Uribe. "They had very substantive conversations," Fleischer
said. President Bush "views President Uribe as a close friend and
ally. They both expressed concern about the United States citizens who
have been taken hostage by FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia) and the need for continued close cooperation to get them
released. They both stressed the need to work together to fight
terror. They also agreed on the importance of the disarmament of
Saddam Hussein."
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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