Press Briefing by Deputy National Security Advisor Faryar Shirzad on the G8 MeetingsDeputy National Security Advisor Faryar Shirzad
G8 Media Center
July 7, 2005
3:59 P.M. (Local)
MR. JONES: Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to introduce Mr. Faryar Shirzad. He's Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics. He's also the United States G8 Sherpa leading us through the process. Faryar is here to place today's events in context.
MR. SHIRZAD: Good afternoon. We are about midway through, or more than midway through the first day of formal meetings among the G8 leaders. President Bush came into these meetings with several objectives. Those included trying to -- making sure that we work with Prime Minister Blair in advancing his goals of using the summit as a way to advance the objectives with regard to both the issues of climate change and Africa. The President also came into this summit with the goal of continuing the work that was done in last year's summit in Sea Island, which the United States hosted -- in advancing the objectives of promoting an agenda of democracy and freedom in the Middle East, building on the broader Middle East initiative that was launched last year, and then, as well, to work with the other G8 leaders on continuing cooperation of the security agenda, as well as using the G8 to promote economic growth, including through giving an impetus to movement through the WTO negotiations.
The discussions that the leaders have had have gone very well. They started in the morning with discussions among the 8 on the issue of global economy and climate change. They were then joined by the five outreach countries, as well as the heads of a number of international organizations and international financial institutions. And then they went into a lunch session with that larger group to continue their discussion on the broader topic of global economy and climate change.
In the preparations for the summit, and even over the course of the several days that we've been here at Gleneagles, there's been a lot of work done on a number of texts and leader statements that the leaders hope to issue by the time we're done here. The work on those is ongoing. I understand that there's been some delay in terms of formal issuance of some of these papers because of other events. But the work on the formal statements that will be coming out of the summit has been going very well. The work has, over the last six months, been proceeding in a very cooperative, collegial spirit.
Both on the issues of Africa and climate, which have been important issues for the Prime Minister, but also important issues for us, the work we've done has been very good and we're very hopeful that we'll have good results coming out when we're ultimately done with the summit. So with that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q Is the global climate communiqu going to be delayed until tomorrow?
MR. SHIRZAD: I don't know the particulars of what the rescheduling have been. I know a series of documents were supposed to have been issued this afternoon right around this time. I don't know what the presidency has decided to do in terms of timing. Fred may know --
MR. JONES: I don't have an exact time.
MR. SHIRZAD: Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you.
Q Is that one finished? Is global climate change, is that one finished? Because it was supposed to come out at 3:00 p.m., so it must be done.
MR. SHIRZAD: Nothing is done until it's formally out the door. But I think what you'll see is we have worked very, very well together. I think the substance of what we want to do is essentially there. What we were trying to do with the climate piece has been -- and I think what the Prime Minister was trying to do and something that we embrace very much was to try to use this G8 summit as a way to find the common ground on the climate issue. You know there's been a lot of differences, dating back to 2001, over the Kyoto protocol. What this summit has allowed -- has given us an opportunity to do, and the preparatory process has been helpful, is to find the common ground and one that reflects a series of goals that the President has long advocated, which is to look at the issue of climate as a part of a broader set of interrelated issues of economic development, energy security, dealing with the problems of pollution, and then through that, also dealing with the issues of climate change.
So I think what you'll see is the group coming to consensus on a statement that reflects both concrete actions, as well as a statement of how to frame the issue that's very much along the lines of what the President has talked about for a long time on this topic.
Q The Prime Minister talked about not reaching a consensus until maybe 2012, when Kyoto expires. Is that reflected in the document? And is that acceptable to the United States?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question was that the Prime Minister has talked about finding a consensus for 2012. I don't think that's quite right. I think what the Prime Minister and others talk about is the Kyoto protocol will expire in 2012, and the question is, what regime will follow after the Kyoto protocol.
I think what we're trying to do something here is to try to find consensus on a much more immediate course of action that we can launch even coming out of this summit where we can deal with the issues of climate change in -- as a part of this interrelated set of concerns of economic development, energy, security and pollution immediately. A lot of it builds on work that we've done in the United States to try to advance the technology and the science on the issue of climate change, to advance the issues of energy security by promoting clean energy technologies, as well as doing those things in a way that promotes economic development around the world.
The President talked in his speech before he came out to the summit about the challenge of development and the problems with the idea that you would put developing countries on an energy diet. And I think looking at the issue of climate change as a part of an interrelated whole is, I think, the constructive path that he's been wanting to advocate. And I think -- we're hopeful you'll see that in what ultimately comes out of this summit.
Q Can you describe the scene in the room as President Bush and the other leaders learned about what was happening in London? And can you tell us anything about whether the President is having any bilateral or informal discussions with any of the other leaders today about terrorism and related security issues?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question is, could I describe the scene in the room when they first heard about or started discussing the issue of the bombings in London. As you know, one of the things that makes the G8 special and different is that it's very much a setting in which the eight leaders get to meet in private, to have unscripted, off-the-record discussions about issues of common interests. So, in that spirit, there was no staff in the room other than the sherpas. And so, in that spirit, I don't want to characterize the specifics of what happened or how the discussions went.
But I think in terms of the public statements you heard, both the ones that President Bush gave, as well as the joint statement that the G8 leaders, along with the Plus 5 leaders, plus the head of the international organizations, I think reflected the common sense of concern, condolence and outrage among all participants about what had happened, and expressions of support for the Prime Minister and the British people.
Q And what is he doing today? Is he having any other talks with any of the other leaders? They're all gathered here; it's kind of a remarkable gathering of all these people concerned about these issues. Is this not something they're discussing in some way, shape or form?
MR. SHIRZAD: In terms of the formal scheduling, there's only one bilateral that the President had scheduled. But there are a series of sort of informal pull-asides, conversations that have occurred and are occurring throughout the day between the meetings, even over the course of the meetings. It's very much of an opportunity for these leaders to talk through as a group, as well as individually, on issues of interest. And so there's a lot of back-and-forth that occurs among the leaders raising issues, including issues of the day.
Q Has there been any discussion about Iran and Iraq in today's meetings?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question is whether there's been any discussion about Iran or Iraq at today's meetings. Thus far, the sessions have all been focused on the issue of global economy and climate change. They'll be talking about regional issues, including Iran and Iraq, this afternoon and this evening, and that's when I would expect them to talk about those issues.
Q Before the summit began, Jacques Chirac expressed the idea that the euro-dollar rate should be much more guided, shall we say, and also there's the issue of the yuan's pegging to the dollar. Was there a discussion of foreign exchange in general? Was there a discussion specifically of China's role in pegging the yuan to the dollar?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question had to do with whether there was any specific discussion regarding exchange rates, including the specifics of the Chinese peg of the yuan to the dollar. You know, the discussions they had today were wide-ranging, they talked about a number of issues. In terms of whether they talked about specifics of exchange rates, at this point I can't say one way or the other. There was sort of a broad-ranging discussion, but, frankly, I'm not sure if I can go into that level of detail in terms of the specifics of what they talked about.
Q Can you help us out a little bit at least with the time frame of when the two leaders learned about the bombing? Did they learn about it right as they wrapped up their talk with reporters? And did they go into the meeting and talk about it?
MR. SHIRZAD: I think what I'm advised is we'll let Scott deal with sort of the specifics of the timing. I can tell you I heard about it at -- I guess it would have been right before we started the first session of the morning. In terms of when each other leader heard, I don't know, because the specifics of the timing of who heard what, when, I think varied from leader to leader.
Q Can you talk about the progress you've made on phasing out export subsidies for agriculture?
MR. SHIRZAD: I didn't hear the whole question, but I think the question was, what kind of progress have you made on the goal of eliminating export subsidies? There was -- there has been extensive discussion of trade among the leaders, including in the broader session. I think there's a common concern or interest in advancing the Doha development negotiations.
What the President talked about earlier when he and the Prime Minister spoke to the press reflected his strong ambition in the area of free trade to both advance the goal of eliminating subsidies in the ag sector, as well as, as he said in the past, about his broader interest in eliminating market access barriers. You know, the President has long had a very ambitious vision in the area of free trade. He's been a free trader throughout his presidency, and I think -- and even before. And he has laid out a clear sort of vision of wanting to eliminate both subsidies and market access barriers in the ag sector, but to do it in the context where the whole world joins and we eliminate them all together, once and for all. And I think it's an invitation that he's issued to the European Union, in particular, and I know he's very -- has a very high level of ambition in that regard.
Q Are negotiations continuing on the communiqu s that are going to be issued? And if so, can you tell us, have those discussions been affected at all by the -- what happened in London?
MR. SHIRZAD: I don't want to get into the specifics. The question was, are the negotiations on the communiqu s still ongoing, and have the deliberations been affected by the events in London. There's a whole series of communiqu s that have been worked on. Frankly, I haven't quite done the math on them, but I think there might be north of 15 of them that we're working on, dealing with a range of issues -- regional issues, economic issues, security issues, and otherwise. Most of them are done and closed. The ones that aren't done, there's -- I think we're well within reach of getting them done.
At this point, I think the -- I'm not aware of any of the discussions that -- any of the work left being hampered in any significant way. I think there's a sense of determination that everyone has that we need to proceed with the important work here at the summit. I think the contrast that this summit serves in terms of a summit designed to improve the lives of people, deal with the challenges of poverty, I think it would be fair to say it's given a lot of the leaders a sense of determination that we want to see strong results and to get our work -- get the work done. And I think in the end you'll see the results to demonstrate that commitment.
Q And other than the joint statement issued today by the leaders, will there be anything added because of what happened in London?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question was, other than the joint statement that was issued today, will there be anything else added on the events in London. I'm not aware if there will be. I don't know that.
Q In these pull-asides that you referred to a few minutes ago, the conversations that are sort of informal and bilateral, do you think that the President is seeking or getting any further support for his efforts in the war on terrorism from the other leaders in the G8?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question was, in the pull-asides or the informal get-togethers that the President has had, has he been seeking or getting increased cooperation, further support in his goal of dealing with terrorism. You know, a lot of the discussions the President has had have been informal in nature; they cover a wide range of issues. I don't want to get into the specifics of what he's raised at individual meetings and with whom particular topics were raised. So I'll just leave it at that.
Q Let me just try one more time. In what way, in your own words, how would you describe the way in which the dynamic of today's sessions were affected by the news of the bombings?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question is for me to describe in my own words how I felt the dynamics in the room were affected by the bombings. Obviously, each leader has to speak for themselves. I think if I had to characterize, what I saw was a renewed sense of determination on the part of the leaders to proceed with their work, to produce real results that demonstrated their collective commitment to improve the lives of people, to deal with the global challenges in front of us, including the alleviation of poverty.
So I think what I saw was a group of leaders who had a renewed sense of purpose in terms of advancing the common good, in the light of what happened. And I think -- I'm hopeful the results you'll see will underscore that commitment.
Q What were the dynamics about the declaration on terrorism? I mean, was it prepared by the sherpas, or prepared by the British delegation? Was it shown to the Chinese, the Indians? How did they all work together, and how did they share this document? And is it the first time that such a wide group of leaders is taking such a strong statement on terrorism?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question asked to describe the dynamics surrounding the preparation of the joint statement on the terrorist incident -- or on the incident in London -- how was it prepared; who wrote it.
I don't want to get -- the statement is a common statement. It was shared with all the leaders. They all agreed to it. It reflected some input that some of the leaders had. But it was based on a formulation that the Prime Minister put together, the UK put together, but was endorsed by all the leaders. And I think the fact that they stood with him when it was issued underscored the fact that they joined him in the substance and the spirit of what was issued.
Q Is that the first time, according to your records, that such a statement has such wide support?
MR. SHIRZAD: The question is, as far as I know, is this the first time that a statement like this has had such broad support. I have no idea. I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question.
Q Who did he have pull-asides with -- the President? Did he have a pull-aside with each leader? And I'm curious about the Chinese, as well.
MR. SHIRZAD: Remember, it's a very -- the G8s are very informal settings; it's a very small number of people that are in the room. To the extent there are breaks between the meetings, it's a small number of folks, so I would venture that most of the leaders had some moment to talk to each other over the course of -- we'll, by the time we're done, have an opportunity to talk to each other. How extensive the discussions get or how substantive they get, obviously it depends on leader to leader. And a lot of it is very informal in nature; it's just a matter of the leaders getting together and talking, raising issues sometimes just off on their own with no staff there. So it's hard for me to generalize.
I apologize, the question had to do with whether I could characterize further the type of pull-asides the President had.
MR. JONES: Thank you very much. And once again, so I can do this for everybody, that was Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, and also the United States Sherpa, Faryar Shirzad.
END 4:19 P.M. (Local)