Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS


White House Briefing

Aired June 5, 2002 - 13:07   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: And now, we want to take you live to the White House, where Ari Fleischer is briefing the press on the situation in the Middle East on the day of a terrorist attack in northern Israel.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States will continue to work with Chairman Arafat, with all members of the Palestinian Authority. As you know, Director Tenet was just in the region. He met with Yasser Arafat. Secretary Burns is in the region. He met with Chairman Arafat and numerous other Palestinians.

So our efforts will continue on a multilevel within the Palestinian Authority, that includes Chairman Arafat. But the point of the president is what the people of Palestine need and what the people of Israel need is a leadership that is willing to take action to prevent violence.

QUESTION: Why did the president make these calls to these leaders today?

FLEISCHER: Well, what you're seeing is an ongoing diplomatic effort that has been launched not only directly and personally by the president, but by other leaders around the world.

FLEISCHER: President Putin, for example, held a recent meeting in Asia and has played a constructive role directly with the principals, with Prime Minister Vajpayee and with President Musharraf. And as I mentioned, we have the upcoming visits by Secretary Armitage and Secretary Rumsfeld to South Asia.

So, it's part of ongoing efforts to help the parties to help themselves to reduce the violence and reduce the tension.

QUESTION: Is it fair to see this presidential intervention as a sign that things aren't getting better?

FLEISCHER: No, I think it's part of ongoing efforts in a tense region, a region that remains tense and delicate and a region that the president will remain personally engaged in and involved in. So, too, will his government.

QUESTION: Has the president spoken to President Putin about his efforts? And does he think he can succeed in some way where Putin... FLEISCHER: Well, the president spoke with President Putin during his visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg directly about the situation between India and Pakistan. President Putin, when he told President Bush that he would be meeting with the two, President Bush welcomed it, said that's constructive, that's wise of you to meet with these leaders.

And I think it's part of a world that's now shoulder-to-shoulder on giving India and Pakistan a unified message: War is not in your interest, and war is not in the interest of your neighbors or nations that live far away.

QUESTION: But Putin failed to make progress at the Kazakhstan meeting. Is there something else President Bush thinks he can do...

FLEISCHER: I don't -- progress is going to be measured day by day in a tense situation. Lack of war is the goal. Reduction of tension is the goal. And while it remains tense, it remains delicate, war is not inevitable. And the diplomatic efforts of the United States, from the president on down, are aimed at making sure it's not only inevitable, but we do everything we can to prevent it from happening.

QUESTION: Is this the first time the president has made these personal calls to the leaders?


QUESTION: And also, does he have a solution in the event that they do pull back? Is there another step to be taken?

FLEISCHER: Well, you know, very often, in crises like this, one of the reasons that things can escalate and get out of control, or lead to war, is that the two parties don't listen to each other. And very often, what they look for is a third party to come in and make sure that messages are communicated back and forth, that lines that the two parties themselves might close are forced to be open as a result of the diplomacy of others.

FLEISCHER: And so, we continue to urge dialogue between India and Pakistan, and that's where the situation is.

QUESTION: Ari, in terms of what the president is willing to do to resolve a crisis between India and Pakistan, is he willing to put forward the services of the United States as a mediator in the Kashmir issue?

And what's the president's position on the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president does believe that the voices of the people of Kashmir has to be heard in this dispute.

But the question of a mediator, the United States is playing the role of a party that is helping to bring the two parties together through communications and dialogue. But we will help the two parties to the degree that they think are wise and are welcome. Fundamentally, this is an issue where India and Pakistan need to talk to each other to help reduce tensions, and we're there to facilitate that.

QUESTION: Ari, can I follow on that? Did the president encourage, was there a discussion about the two sides talking directly at this point to each other?

FLEISCHER: The president made the case that I just described. And he stressed the importance of dialogue.

QUESTION: Did they respond -- the two sides said that they were willing..

FLEISCHER: Again, time will tell.

QUESTION: One more question. Any discussion of the U.S. providing any monitors to patrol the Line of Control...

FLEISCHER: No, that was not part of the discussion.

QUESTION: Is that under consideration?

FLEISCHER: Again, the United States role will be to continue to encourage a de-escalation, a reduction of tension, and communication between he nations, and that's the -- that's what's under discussion now. I'll just leave it at that.

QUESTION: When you say "de-escalation" for India, pulling troops away from the border, is that what you mean?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think, clearly, one way to reduce the risk of war is to de-emphasize the instruments of war, and that includes troops.

QUESTION: Ari, back on the Middle East, please. How much time will the president give Chairman Arafat before he will finally, you know, give up on any hope that he's going to take stronger steps?

FLEISCHER: You know, the efforts of our government are focused on the Palestinian Authority, on Arab nations, on people who have demonstrated a willingness to work toward peace in the region.

And so, from the president's point of view, it's not the business of the United States to pick the leaders of the Palestinian people. Chairman Arafat is the leader of the Palestinian Authority.

FLEISCHER: What the president is interested in is results, from whatever corner they may come from. If that's Chairman Arafat, that's fine with the president; if it's others, that's fine with the president. The president wants to make certain that there are results that lead to what the president has outlined in the Rose Garden, which is a state of Israel and a state of Palestinian that can stand side by side in peace and security. The president believes that's also what the Palestinian people seek.

QUESTION: The question about Chairman Arafat keeps coming up. Do you see this as a potential diversion from the actual peace process itself -- that is, questioning whether or not we should deal with Arafat, whether he...

FLEISCHER: Oh, we are dealing with Chairman Arafat. He is the leader of the Palestinian people.

QUESTION: But isn't it a diversion from the actual peace process? Is it a problem, in other words, from settling -- from getting down to working out...

FLEISCHER: I'm sorry, is what a diversion?

QUESTION: Is the question of Arafat's creditability if he's the leader? It keeps coming up.

FLEISCHER: The president is interested in results, the president is interested in action. And that's what he has called for.

QUESTION: Ari, if I could say something for a second. This morning you said that the president quoted a speech indicating that the president believes that human activity is largely responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases. But I'm wondering if he also agrees with an EPA report which indicated that human activity is likely to cause global warming?

FLEISCHER: OK. Let me just read from the president's statement of June 11 on global warming, and let me read from the recent report the EPA submitted to the United Nations. And I think you'll hear that on the key issues, they really sound very, very similar.

This is the president on June 11 in the Rose Garden in a speech where he announced his global warming policies. Quote, "Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due, in large part, to human activity." That's the president himself speaking.

Here is from the report, page 4, that was just submitted to the United Nations by the EPA. Quote, "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in the earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities. Present global means surface temperature and subsurface ocean temperature to rise. While the changes observed over the last several decades are due most likely to human activities, we cannot rule out that some significant part is also a reflection of natural variability." And I think what you're hearing is the same thing.

QUESTION: Well, let me just -- if I could make a connection explicitly, since the president addressed greenhouse gases but not specifically global warming. Does the president agree with the conclusion that human activity is likely the cause of global warming?

FLEISCHER: That's what the president said in his speech in June.

QUESTION: He does agree with that?

FLEISCHER: When the president cites the National Academy of Science as saying that National Academy of Science indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity, I don't know how the president could say it more specifically than that.

QUESTION: So he hasn't changed his mind at all?

FLEISCHER: No. The bottom line for the president is, number one, he has made a proposal that he believes is a proposal that not only can reduce the problem of greenhouse gases and global warming, but it also protects the American economy, so the American economy can lead the world in technological and scientific advances that also have an effect in reducing pollution.

The president has said, citing the National Academy of Sciences, that the increase is due in large part to human activity. The president has also continued, citing both now this report the EPA has sent to the United Nations, previous evidence from the National Academy of Sciences, that there is uncertainty. And the recent report notes that there is considerable uncertainty. That's the state of science, and the president agrees with it. I don't think people dispute that.

LIN: The latest on global warming there, as well as a variety of other topics being covered by Ari Fleischer, the main spokesperson for President Bush. Also noting that President Bush called the leaders of India and Pakistan, urging both sides to show restraint to do whatever possible to reduce the chances of war. Our comments on today's massive suicide bombing in northern Israel. President Bush and the administration critical of Yasser Arafat, still saying that the Palestinian Authority chairman is not doing enough to stop the violence.

As you know president of Egypt Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak, is coming to the White House to visit this week, and next week the president will be hosting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, who has asked his own security cabinet today to show some restraint prior to this meeting at the White House.




Back to the top