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Dr. Rice: I have a brief statement about the President's upcoming trip to Asia, and then I'll touch on a few of the scheduled events, and I'll then turn to your questions.
The President's upcoming trip to Japan, South Korea and China is a promise made and a promise kept. When the events of 9/11 necessitated cutting back his trip to the region last year, the President promised to return soon. And as you know, he's a man who does what he says, and so he is going to return to the region.
This trip allows the President to advance U.S. interests on critical issues. He will highlight our strong alliances and the importance of nurturing and strengthening these alliances, which have helped to keep the peace in the region for 50 years. When he meets with the leaders of Japan, South Korea and China, the President will focus on the three priorities about which he talked in the State of the Union -- the war on terrorism, homeland security for the American people, and economic security.
All three nations have made vital contributions to the war on terrorism. Shared intelligence and coordinated law enforcement efforts between these nations are some of the most effective ways to counter terrorism, not only in America, but in their countries, as well. The war against terrorism underscores the continuing importance of our alliances with the great democracies of Asia, and our allies have stood with us, providing not only sympathy, but military assistance necessary to help win the war, as well as a host of other help, including shutting down financial networks and working to bring the terrorists to justice.
Finally, our own economic security is supported by free trade. The President will talk about opening markets, including agricultural markets. He will talk in China about the importance of WTO implementation. And he will talk about tearing down barriers to trade between nations to create jobs here at home, raise living standards among our trading partners, and contribute to global political stability.
We will arrive in Tokyo on Sunday evening, and on Monday, the President and Mrs. Bush will visit the Meiji Shrine, a symbol of Japan's ability to cherish its culture as it embraces the modern world.
While in Japan, he will meet privately with Prime Minister Koizumi, a well as hold expanded bilateral talks and a working lunch with the Prime Minister.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Koizumi will host a reception for the President and Mrs. Bush, followed by a small intimate informal dinner at a local restaurant.
On Tuesday morning -- that means none of us are invited. (Laughter.) Tuesday morning, the President will breakfast with American and Japanese business leaders. The President will then address the Japanese Diet in remarks that will stress the importance of our alliance, and express appreciation for Japan's leadership role in Afghan reconstruction and international assistance efforts.
He will also offer support for the Prime Minister's reform initiatives, and express confidence in the ability of the Japanese people to take on the economic difficulties which they currently face, in hopes for the long-term success of Japan's economy.
Next, the President and Mrs. Bush will meet and lunch with their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, at the Imperial Palace. The President and Mrs. Bush will then depart Tokyo for Seoul.
On Wednesday morning, the President will meet privately with President Kim Dae-Jung, as well as hold expanded bilateral talks. He will then visit the observation post at the DMZ, where he will have lunch with American troops. The President will also visit the transportation corridor at Kaesong-Munsan Road and the Dorasan Train Station, symbols of the South Korean people's unfulfilled hope for reconciliation with the North.
That evening, President Kim Dae-Jung and his wife will host a reception and dinner in honor of the President and Mrs. Bush at the Blue House.
On Thursday morning, the President and Mrs. Bush depart Seoul for Beijing, where the President will meet with President Jiang Zemin and hold bilateral expanded talks. The President will visit the Cummins Bus Engine facility, a branch of an American-owned company in Beijing, that symbolizes the growing trade relations between our countries. That evening, President Jiang Zemin will host a dinner in honor of the President and Mrs. Bush.
On Friday morning, the President will have a working breakfast with Premier Zhu Rongji. He will then visit Qinghua University, where he will address and take questions from students in remarks that will be broadcast nationally in China. In his remarks, the President will focus on values that are important to the United States, we believe important to the future of China, and we believe important to our future relations. The President and Mrs. Bush will then visit the Great Wall of China and depart Beijing for home.
I'm now happy to take questions.
Question: South Korea has what they call a sunshine policy with North Korea. President Bush calls North Korea part of the axis of evil. When those two leaders get together, how will they reconcile those two positions?
Dr. Rice: The President sees absolutely no contradiction between calling the North Korean regime precisely what it is, a secretive and repressive regime that is trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and therefore, is a danger to peace and stability -- not to mention being the merchant for ballistic missile technology around the world -- and efforts by the South Korean President, really very intensive efforts by the South Korean President, to try and open up an avenue for North Korea to come across, to get out of its bad behavior, and to seek reconciliation with the South.
If you just look at the remarkable progress of South Korea, the effect of democratic institutions and markets -- and by the way, President Kim Dae-Jung is, himself, a symbol of that great democratic progress -- and then you look across at what the people of the North endure every day, you can see that the values that South Korea embodies are really so important to trumpet and to support. And that's what the President is going to be doing.
But we believe that you can have a policy that speaks the truth, speaks clearly about the North Korean regime, and yet leaves open the possibility of dialogue. And we've made that offer to the North Koreans; they've yet to take us up on it.
Question: Dr. Rice, can I follow on that? Is the tougher talk, though, a sign of some frustration that engagement might not be working and might not be getting the results we have been looking for, so trying a different approach to see if this works?
Rice: Well, from the very beginning the President has been pretty clear about the nature of the North Korean regime -- from the very beginning. He's also been very clear, once the policy review was undertaken and done, that we wanted to put on the table with the North Koreans a complete agenda about missile transfers, about their indigenous nuclear program and about their indigenous missile program, as well as about measures that need to be taken to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula -- that that also was a strategy that we wished to pursue, dialogue about those issues.
It's not frustration. We believe the ball is in the North's court. But the President is going to continue to speak clearly about the nature of the regime.
Question: Can I follow up? I think you had used the word that North Korea is a bazaar for missile technology.
Rice: That's bazaar, b-a-z-a-a-r.
Question: Yes, exactly. What do you mean by that? Who are the North Koreans selling to? Is it other states, or do you have proof they're going to terrorist groups, as well?
Rice: Well, it's, we believe, principally other states. I don't want to get too much into what we are seeing. But let's just say that the North Koreans have been known to go around with glossy brochures about their ballistic missiles. They are stocking a lot of the world right now.
Question: During the trip of the President to China, will he specifically bring the issue of persecution against Falun Gong to the Chinese leader, Jiang Zemin? Because clearly, we know that's the most ongoing, most intensive, extensive and severe human right abuse.
Rice: The President will clearly raise with President Jiang Zemin specific cases, as well as the broader issues of religious freedom and of human rights; absolutely. In fact, in his discussion in Shanghai, one of the longest exchanges that the President and Jiang Zemin had was about religious issues. So, yes, you can expect the President to raise those issues.
Question: To follow up on that, if I may. To what extent do you expect weapons proliferation to come up in the talks with the Chinese? Who do you believe that they're proliferating to other than Pakistan? And have you discerned any shift in their attitude on proliferation since September the 11th?
Rice: We believe that we have another chance with the Chinese to talk seriously about the proliferation issue. I can tell you that there has been some small progress, and we expect to try to extend that progress.
You know that we had concerns not just about Chinese proliferation in Pakistan, but, for instance, we raised earlier in the administration concerns about what might be going on with Iraq. We continue to discuss those issues. It's not something that we expect is going to be solved overnight. But it is a very serious issue for the United States. It's been raised at every level, was raised by the President when he was in Shanghai, and it will be raised again during this visit.
Question: Dr. Rice, following up on Kelly's question, do you believe that North Korea is exporting to Pakistan, specifically?
Rice: I can't get into specifics of where we think the North is exporting. But we believe the North is exporting to just about anybody who will buy.
Question: Can I have a follow on a different country, on China? Will the President reassure the Chinese that missile defense is not specifically aimed at them?
Rice: The President offered to have a strategic discussion with the Chinese about these issues. And, by the way, for reasons having to do with kind of the history of the Cold War and arms control being locked up in that history, the United States has really not, as a country, engaged China on issues of strategic nuclear policy, and we want to do that.
Clearly, the President has always said that our missile defense program is defensive in nature, it is not aimed at anybody, it is not intended to give the United States unilateral advantage. All peace-loving countries should be comfortable with our efforts to acquire missile defenses. And I think that's the message he will take to the Chinese and we're happy to have that discussion.
Question: Dr. Rice, while in China, how much the President is going to discuss with the Chinese leaders about the Chinese and India relations, and also Kashmir issues and India-Pakistan, since General Musharraf was here? And also, General Musharraf has said that he blamed or some kind of allegations that India is testing another nuclear missile or nuclear -- so how much do you believe that?
Rice: Well, we don't have any evidence at this point of that. But we will have a discussion with China about general issues of regional stability.
Look, we don't see Pakistan or India as objects of discussion with any other country. What we do see is that there are a number of countries that are concerned about stability in South Asia, that want to try to help to encourage dialogue, that want to try and avoid the kinds of tensions that we've had in South Asia in recent months. And we believe that that's an interest that the Chinese share. And so, of course, I think we will want to discuss that.
Yes, you can follow up.
Question: And the tension is still there because the forces from both countries are aiming at each other and they are not saying that they do not rule out any war in the near future.
Rice: I don't disagree that there are still very strong tensions there. We do believe that some progress has been made, largely as a factor of what President Musharraf has been doing since his speech about a month ago, and we've encouraged him to continue to make progress.
The problem that we encountered when the Indian Parliament was attacked -- when democracy, the symbol of democracy, was attacked in India -- I think showed to everybody that terrorism was a threat, in this case not just to India, but it was also a threat to a stable and secular Pakistan. And what General Musharraf was saying was, my country cannot deal with terrorists and extremism and be a forward-looking, moderate Islamic country. And so that's a message that he's been carrying; it's a message we very much applaud.
Question: You mentioned that there is a willingness to conduct dialogue with North Korea, and I believe you said that the ball was in their court. We understand that they have suggested they might be available for a dialogue if the United States would send a former President, someone of that rank, to initiate it. Would you entertain such an idea?
Rice: I'm sorry, I missed the very first part, Bill. You said --
Question: Just mentioning that you said the U.S. was willing to have a dialogue with North Korea.
Question: And you said, I think, that the ball is in their court.
Rice: That's right.
Question: It's my understanding that they have communicated that they would be willing to have a dialogue, but with somebody of rank, such as a former President.
Rice: We have one President at a time. We have a Secretary of State. We have a number of lower-ranking officials with whom they can talk. I don't think we need any help from the outside. The North Koreans need to take up the offer.
I'm sorry, you were trying to get clarification on something.
Question: Yes, you mentioned something -- secular Pakistan?
Rice: No, what I meant was that a Pakistan which is not given to religious extremism.
Question: And another clarification -- (laughter) -- that the U.S. and China can play a --
Rice: His definition, not mine. Yes?
Question: -- the U.S. and China can play a bigger role to solve the problem in South Asia?
Rice: You got another question in there while I was giving you clarification.
Look, the United States is always prepared to help in any way that it can. But we don't believe that this is something that mediation or facilitation is going to help. What will help is that the two parties decide that it's time for dialogue, and we are encouraging that.
Question: Dr. Rice, since the State of the Union, there has been much rhetoric by the President, himself, and other senior members of the administration about dumping Saddam Hussein and going after Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Is that really saber-rattling, or does the United States intend to attack Iraq again? And, if so, when? (Laughter.)
Rice: The fact of the matter is that, ever since this President came into office, we have said that Iraq is a problem. It is a country that has flaunted its obligations that it undertook in 1991 in the armistice after the Gulf War. It has kicked out international inspectors. It has tried periodically over the course of the last few years to get weapons of mass destruction. It threatens its neighbors; it can't find a way to say that its neighbors have a right to exist.
The nature of this regime is not a secret to anyone. And that the Iraqi people would be better off with a regime that they deserve rather than the regime that they have is also no secret to anyone.
Now, we are not in a position where the President is trying to make an imminent decision about how to deal with Iraq. He has made very clear that the world has a problem with Iraq and that the status quo is not acceptable. But we're pursuing a range of policy options, including, for instance, trying to change the nature of the sanctions with Iraq. But there's no doubt, this is a very dangerous regime, and the President is going to reserve his options. But this a very patient President. We've learned that about him. He speaks clearly, speaks plainly, and acts patiently and prudently.
Question: Just to follow up, please? Under those range of options, I assume you're not ruling out the military option.
Rice: We're not ruling out any options.
Question: Does he plan to raise this thinking about Iraq with China, Tokyo and --
Rice: We'll talk about anything that anyone wants to talk about. We tend to talk about all regions when we're talking with a global power like the Chinese.
Question: Do you get the feeling that in particular these countries want an explanation for why North Korea is part of the axis of evil?
Rice: Oh, I think it's very clear why North Korea is a part of the axis of evil. These countries share several characteristics. These are repressive, closed regimes that are trying aggressively to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and in the case of the North Koreans, as I said, spreading technologies around the world. The North Koreans got on the list the honest way.
Question: Will there be a joint statement, a Sino-U.S. statement, in memory of the 30 years anniversary of the Shanghai Communique and should we be prepared to hear a new statement on Taiwan? If yes, what kind of statement? Thank you.
Rice: Of course. I think that -- look, U.S. policy on Taiwan is very clear and it can be easily restated -- I don't think it needs to be restated in a further statement -- and that is that the United States doesn't want to see any unilateral change in the status quo. This is an issue that people on both sides of the Straits need to resolve peacefully. But the United States has certain obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan defend itself. Those are the cornerstones of American policy toward Taiwan. That's not changed, and I don't think it needs particularly to be restated.
Question: Who from the President's economic team is going on the trip? And what specifically does the President want Japan to do about its economy?
Rice: The President is going to talk with the Japanese Prime Minister about the importance of getting the Japanese economy going again. It is the second largest economy in the world. He will talk about also U.S. responsibility to get the American economy going again.
But, look, it is really up to the Japanese to design their economic program. It is no secret that there are a number of problems that the Japanese economy faces. They may talk specifically about those problems, but the President will do that privately. I don't think it's any secret to anyone that the Japanese have specific problems that they need to deal with.
Question: -- economic team?
Rice: It will be a standard traveling package with the Secretary of State, not an economic --
Question: -- U.S. want a dialogue with North Korea. What if North Korea does not listen to the dialogue? Then what measure United States should take?
Rice: Well, the United States is very clear that we are going to keep our options open. Everyone at this point should be pressuring the North Koreans to stop doing what they're doing. What they're doing is very dangerous. The North Koreans have an agreement -- the KEDO Agreement, with the United States, Japan, to get light-water reactors, for instance -- the so-called framework agreement. They also have a responsibility to have IAEA safeguards in place before those light-water reactors go in. That's an issue that we need to talk about. But so far, the North Koreans seem to be uninterested in talking.
So the President's statement was to simply put the North Koreans and also the rest of the world on notice that we have to get serious about stopping them. Now, one way that we can stop them is we can all make greater non-proliferation efforts in what they're doing with ballistic missile technology around the world. So we have a number of options with North Korea. When we say we want dialogue, we do want dialogue, but we want dialogue on some specific issues. We do not want dialogue for the sake of dialogue. That's not worth it.
Question: And on that subject, you mentioned the unfulfilled hopes of the South Korean people for reconciliation and easing of tensions on the Peninsula. It seems a lot of people there feel that the President's rhetoric and the United States' attitude in the wake of September 11th are interfering with that, or that there's a divergence of interests now between the United States and South Korea. And how do you explain that there's not? Isn't now the U.S. main goal in regards to North Korea to contain the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?
Rice: You can have several priorities with North Korea. And the most important priority for the United States is to get North Korea to stop doing the things that it's doing, so that it is not a danger to the Peninsula, a danger to the region -- and, it turns out now, a danger globally. We absolutely support the priority that the South Korean President places on lessening tensions on the Peninsula, on family reunification.
Let's be realistic: The peace on the Peninsula has been kept not because of North Korean goodwill, but it has been kept because of the very strong alliance between the ROK and the United States. That includes the deployment of 38,000 American forces that are there for purposes of deterrence. I mean, there's a context here for why there's peace on the Peninsula, and that has to be kept in mind. And if there is to be reconciliation, if there is to be progress, it is going to have to be in the context of that strength being maintained.
And so what the President recognizes is that by going to South Korea at this time, he can reaffirm the importance of that underlying pillar of peace and stability in the region, on which any reconciliation would ultimately be built.
Question: A question about China's proliferation record. You mentioned certain progress, but yet the administration has imposed sanctions twice in the past six months. I understand there's some consideration for lifting the missile sanctions against Pakistan. Is that the case, and could you elaborate on what the progress was?
Rice: We've made no decision on what to do in terms of proliferation -- in terms of lifting the sanctions on Pakistan, although we're looking at it very carefully.
In terms of China, I would say that we've just had recently better discussions with the Chinese, more forthcoming discussions. But there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. And, yes, we will always sanction Chinese companies when they are engaged in some of the activities that they have been engaged in.
Question: I understand they're supposed to be promulgating some export controls. Have they -- are they any closer to doing that?
Rice: That's one of the issues that we've been discussing very recently. And it's our hope that they're going to act on that soon.
Question: The Japanese economy is sinking deeper into recession, with really no tangible progress on the economic reforms there. Is the President more concerned about the Japanese economy now? Does he really support Prime Minister Koizumi's economic reform agenda without any reservation that he did at Camp David last June, or is he willing to give him advice in Tokyo as a friend?
Rice: He is certainly willing to give advice as a friend. He recognizes that he's got a job here to do at home, also, to get the American economy moving. So they can have a discussion, I think, of how to get an economy growing again. There's no doubt that the Japanese economy is having serious problems. That is well-known to the Japanese, as well as it is well-known to the United States. But the President believes that Prime Minister Koizumi is a person who has the potential to really rally the Japanese people and Japanese society to take on these difficult problems.
And that's really the role of the United States here, is to support that effort; not to try to micromanage the Japanese economy, but rather to support Prime Minister Koizumi in mobilizing Japan to do what Japan needs to do.
Question: Any update on the terrorism threat and also on Daniel Pearl?
Rice: I'm sorry, no update on Pearl. I don't have any further information or on the terrorism threat.
Question: Dr. Rice, what assurances has the White House been given that the Qinghua speech will be broadcast in its entirety? And second, does the President have any plans to meet with Hu Jintao and if so, what will be the message to him?
Rice: We don't have plans to meet separately with him. It may well be that they will see each other in some forum, but there's no planned meeting for the President with Mr. Hu.
The Qinghua speech, we fully expect that the Chinese will broadcast the President's speech.
Thank you very much.
Question: Happy Valentine's Day.
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