Monday G8 Press Briefing
with Jim Wilkinson, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications, and Barry Bennett, Director of Communications, G8 Summit Planning Organization
International Media Centre, Savannah, June 7, 2004, 08h12
MR. BENNETT: (IN PROGRESS) briefings that are going on that day and any updates to the schedule that we might have.
Right now let me go over the briefings for today, as we know them. At 9:00 a.m. - there are three briefing rooms in the center; this is Briefing Room A. Briefing Room B is catty-corner across the hall, and Briefing Room C is at the other end of the building on the second floor.
In Briefing Room B at 9:00 a.m. there will be a briefing describing and demonstrating the tablets that the sherpas are using in the meeting rooms for the first time. It's a nice technology tool that really helps keep the meetings very small and informal.
At 10:00 a.m. Dr. Rice will be here to brief in Briefing Room C. That will be an open press, for-the-record event. At 10:30 a.m. the Mayor of Savannah will come over and he will brief in Briefing Room B.
At 11:00 a.m., Elliott Abrams will do a background briefing on the Middle Eastern Initiative. At 12:00 noon the State of Georgia's Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism will have an event in Briefing Room B to discuss travel and tourism. And at 2:00 p.m. in Briefing Room B, Georgia will do a high-tech briefing from - again, from their Department of Industry, trade and tourism.
In the building you will find two restaurants, both at the other end of this hall, one on the second floor, the River View Bistro, which is quite nice. Downstairs you will find the Sea Island Grill, which is a chop house, which is quite nice.
But most importantly, at the end of the building, through the back door, you will find the Krispy Kreme mobile manufacturing facility, which is phenomenal. (Laughter.)
As is G8 custom, food is gratis to the press, so please - we've spent the money; make sure you take advantage of it.
Jim has got a few little policy things, and then we'll take questions.
MR. WILKINSON: A couple of things. An important phone number for people, even you, Bob. (912) 652-4707, and 4706. That is the surrogate booking office, and we have a long list of surrogates, from Dr. Rice, Secretary Card, Elliott Abrams, a whole list of foreign policy experts who will be down here, who will be available for one-on-ones. They will do a series of briefings this week. We'll have several briefings a day. But we have - we've brought a whole team down to facilitate one-on-one interviews if you want to talk to some of these folks. So just call that number. We're in Room 103, if you just want to come down and talk.
A couple of policy points, looking ahead to the week, just to give you a preview of the week, and I'll do this again tomorrow. Congratulations, you're the only - or, I'm sorry, you are the only reporters that are up at this hour. The rest of them are sleeping in their booths watching on Host TV.
We expect the leaders this week to agree to take new actions to do the following: Here are some key themes and then I'll go through some of the policies. First is promote freedom, democratic reform and prosperity in the broader Middle East, counter proliferation of WMD, strengthen international cooperation in the war on terror, expand global peacekeeping efforts, promote global economic growth and expand trade, harness private sector efforts to help alleviate poverty, dramatically increase efforts to combat HIV-AIDS, polio and famine and protect our environment. I'll go through some of the policies they will discuss and some of the agreements we expect this week, looking ahead.
Just as a note, as you know we have visiting delegations. We have - the G8 will be meeting with the leaders of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and we're very excited to welcome the President-designate of Iraq, who will be coming this week.
Just a reminder, as Dr. Rice will say later this morning, a little more than a year ago they were governed by an evil dictator. Now they have their first free president who will be here this week. We're very excited for that.
The leaders will also - with these Middle Eastern leaders, the President and the rest of the G8 will discuss the President's broader Middle East initiative, which I'm happy to talk about when we're done.
Also this week, the G8 is going to expand, and to include the leaders from African nations of Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda. They'll be here as well.
The key issues: Obviously, the broader Middle East Initiative. You will remember back in November of 2003 that President Bush announced his forward strategy of freedom, to announce freedom, democracy and prosperity in the broader Middle East region. This initiative, when the President unveiled it, sought to expand freedom in the region by increasing opportunities for democracy to flourish, and by providing, among other things, education, development and trade assistance.
Since the President unveiled this initiative - and learn this initiative now because it will be a key part of this week's activities - since he's unveiled it, support has grown in the region. You've all seen the business, political and civic leaders who have issued the calls for reform. I would quote from the May 22nd and 23rd Arab League Summit, where they declared their determination to, quote, "firmly establish the basis for the democracy."
We expect the President and his counterparts to meet with the Middle East leaders on this and to launch a new partnership program this week. Also, that the leaders make news on that front.
On the issue of nonproliferation, you're all familiar with the PSI, the Proliferation Security Initiative the President has announced that led to great successes, including the success in intercepting the ship, the BBC China, which was full of the weapons bound for Libya. Those weapons components now sit safely in Oak Ridge, Tennessee at the Y-12 complex.
This week, we expect the G8 leaders to finalize new initiatives to counter the proliferation of WMD, including an expansion of the President's PSI initiative, which, as you know, would enhance military intelligence and law enforcement cooperation to shut down these proliferation networks.
You're all familiar with the AQ Khan network. We'll have Mr. Bolton from the State Department here and Bob Joseph as well from the NSC will be down here to do one-on-one interviews with you to talk about this issue. It's a very significant issue.
On strengthening international cooperation in the war on terror, the G8 leaders are expected to launch a major new initiative to enhance international travel security while facilitating trade and travel. We expect the leaders to commit to implement improvements in airline passenger screening, increase threat information sharing among international law enforcement agencies, and accelerate efforts to destroy portable shoulder-fired missile systems - these are MANPADs - as you know them.
On the issue of peacekeeping, we expect the G8 leaders to endorse an initiative that we in the U.S. have driven to expand global peacekeeping efforts, including a five-year plan to train 75,000 new peacekeepers. We also expect them to agree to establish a clearinghouse mechanism to help coordinate G8 peacekeeping assistance and a new transport and logistics support arrangement to peacekeeping missions.
On the issue of economy and trade, as you know we, the United States has been the key driver of the global economic recovery. This week, President Bush will urge the other G8 leaders to take decisive action to spur growth in their own economies, just like he's done here at home - and you've seen the recent job numbers - and to get these leaders to work together to get the WTO Doha round of trade negotiations back on track to successful conclusion.
On the issue of applying the power of entrepreneurship to help eradicate poverty, the G8 leaders are expected to launch a new initiative this week to harness the private sector to help the developing world create jobs, reduce poverty, increase access to housing and clean water, improve investment and business climates, and to facilitate the roughly $100 billion in remittance payments that are sent annually by immigrants back to their families and their home countries.
On the issue HIV AIDS, we expect the G8 leaders to endorse the establishment of a new global HIV vaccine enterprise to accelerate efforts to develop an HIV vaccine. As you know, the President has a strong commitment to combating HIV-AIDS worldwide. This initiative would build on his leadership on combating AIDS with his $15-billion emergency plan for AIDS relief.
On the issue of famine, the U.S. is the world's leader in food aid, having provided more than $1.4 billion in emergency aid, and as you know, some 56 percent of all contributions to the U.N. World Food Program in the year 2003. We expect the G8 leaders to discuss new proposals to help combat hunger, including a new initiative that would help end famine in the Horn of Africa - in places like Eritrea, Somali, Ethiopia.
Polio - there's only two more, I promise. Polio. As you know, the U.S. is the world's leading supporter of polio eradication efforts. We contribute more than $1 billion, and we have contributed more than $1 billion since the launch of the Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. And G8 leaders we expect this week that they will commit to act together with other donors to ensure we help meet the goal of eradicating polio by the year 2005.
And finally, one my favorites, the Methane to Markets Partnership. We expect the G8 leaders this week to launch a new initiative - the Methane to Markets Partnership - to help capture waste methane, which is, as you know, the second most prevalent greenhouse gas. And this initiative would capture this waste methane and try to use it as a clean energy source.
That's sort of a look ahead on some of the key policy developments we expect this week. We'll be putting out fact sheets every day as the leaders make agreements and forge new initiatives. A very significant summit, a heavy agenda - Dr. Rice will discuss this agenda at her briefing at 10:00 a.m. You can direct your deeper questions to her then.
We just urge to take advantage of these experts that are there this week - Elliott Abrams and some of these people who are leaders in their field. They are here, they want to spend time with you and talk so just let us know.
And that's it.
Q Have you counted the number of new initiatives?
MR. WILKINSON: Numerous. Many. I haven't counted them. Again, there and with each of the pillars I went through with you - each of those will have many, many sub-initiatives. There will be sort of detailed sheets coming out on them. Gary Edson and the - so there'll be many more.
Q Also, do you have a schedule for tomorrow's arrival
MR. WILKINSON: Yes, we'll announce that - he said this afternoon.
We have a draft schedule of briefings later this week that's available. If you want me to go through that now I'm happy to - who's going to brief when. We can put that out later. Yes, sir?
Q Are there any changes in the schedule of the President or of the summit in general because of the death of Ronald Reagan?
MR. WILKINSON: Don't know of any, no.
Q So he expects to meet his schedule?
MR. WILKINSON: I don't know of any changes. If there's any announcement, obviously Scott and the Press Office would make those. But I just don't know of any change at all.
Q Are there any salutes planned or anything
MR. WILKINSON: I'm quite sure that all the leaders would, I'm sure, speak about it, but I just - I don't know of any sort of formal tribute, do you?
MR. BENNETT: We haven't
Q Have any of the leaders coming in indicated they've decided to go to Washington and take part in the memorial service?
MR. WILKINSON: I haven't been in contact with all the delegations. I have to refer you to them - just don't know.
Q transportation question?
MR. WILKINSON: Yes?
Q My colleague is actually stuck on a boat and he can't come - and what about after tomorrow?
MR. BENNETT: I think the only traffic that's being shut down on the bridge are trucks of 2.5 tons or more. And I've paid for every 20 minutes, and if it's not running every 20 minutes, I'll speak to that. (Laughter.)
Any other questions?
We have - I want to tell you also - we have about a half dozen or so information stations that are scattered around the building cleverly titled "Information." Those people may not have the answers to your questions, but they know how to get them. They also have all the paper and everything that's available on the portal and on the website. So they can be very helpful. They can also help you get in contact with Jim or I very quickly.
Thank you for coming. We'll see you tomorrow morning and 8:00 a.m.
Source: Official G8 Sea Island site