03 February 2004
White House Welcomes Annan Decision to Send U.N. Team to Iraq
White House Report, Feb. 3: Annan/Bush, Pakistan/WMD, Cyprus, Ricin Investigation
The White House welcomes the decision by U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to send a U.N. team to Iraq "to assess the way forward to a transitional government" there, White House Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters February 3.
He briefed following what he called "a very constructive" meeting between Annan and President Bush in the Oval Office that was followed by the two leaders having luncheon in the residence.
Bush and Annan "discussed a range of issues. The president believes that the United Nations has an important role to play in world affairs, and he talked about ways we can continue working together to address our common challenges," McClellan said. "The U.N. has played a vital role in Iraq, and we look forward to" it playing a vital role in the future.
McClellan said "the two leaders also discussed the good progress in Afghanistan, the welcome dialogue between India and Pakistan, the progress toward a comprehensive peace in the Sudan, and they also discussed the Middle East, as well. The president appreciates this opportunity to visit with the secretary general and discuss ways we can continue working together."
Asked about the discussion on India and Pakistan, McClellan said "both leaders were expressing how they welcome the developments" between the two countries. India and Pakistan, he explained, "are moving forward on a high-level dialogue ... to help reduce tensions in the region. And that's important to help bring about greater peace and stability in the region."
WHITE HOUSE SAYS IT VALUES MUSHARRAF ASSURANCES
The White House says Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has assured it that the government of Pakistan had not been involved in illegal transfers of nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Libya.
"President Musharraf has assured us that Pakistan was not involved in any kind of proliferation.... We value those assurances," McClellan told reporters.
The ongoing investigation into these proliferation issues by the government of Pakistan "demonstrates their commitment to working to address proliferation issues," the press secretary said.
News reports say that Pakistan's top nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, recently told investigators that he gave nuclear weapons to other countries with the full knowledge of the government, including then-General Musharraf. Khan is currently under investigation by Pakistan's government for the illegal transfer of nuclear weapons technology to Iran and Libya.
The United States is working closely with Pakistan on a number of issues in the global war on terrorism, McClellan said.
WHITE HOUSE URGES SETTLEMENT OF CYPRUS ISSUE
"We welcome the sincere willingness to advance a Cyprus settlement on the basis of the (U.N.) secretary general's formula that Turkish Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan conveyed to us during his visit last week," McClellan said.
"We urge all parties, our friends on Cyprus and in Greece and Turkey, as well, to agree to finalize a settlement, allow the secretary general to resolve outstanding issues, and submit a settlement to referenda by a date certain.
"We believe such a settlement will bring greater security and prosperity to all people on Cyprus, and Turkey and in Greece, as they deepen their integration into Europe."
Secretary of State Colin Powell "has remained actively engaged on a daily basis in support of the efforts of Secretary General Annan and the U.N. mediator (Alvaro) DeSoto to foster a fair and lasting agreement on the basis of the secretary general's fair and balanced plan," McClellan said.
He added that President Bush and Secretary General Annan discussed the Cyprus issue "very briefly" in their initial meeting in the Oval Office, but he said it might have been discussed further at their luncheon together.
RICIN INVESTIGATION CONTINUES AT U.S. CAPITOL
Three U.S. Senate office buildings were closed February 3 due to an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into a suspicious white power found in the Dirksen Building office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist .
The FBI and Capitol Police are investigating the incident, McClellan said.
"(S)ome initial tests... came back positive," for the toxin ricin, he said. "(T)here was at least one" that was negative, "and the testing continues at this point, and the investigation continues," he said.
Later, Senator Frist at a Capitol Hill news conference confirmed that ricin was found in the mailroom of his Senate office, but he said the powder appeared to have been contained and that people exposed to it have so far shown no signs of ill health.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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