Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One En Route Little Rock, Arkansas
10:46 A.M. CDT
MR. MCCLELLAN: Good morning, everybody. Lucky Duck says good morning, too. Let me go through the President's day. Let's see -- the President had his usual intelligence briefing on board the flight. The President also called President Sezer of Turkey. The primary purpose of the call was to extend his condolences to the President for the men, women and children who were injured and killed in the recent earthquake. He was particularly -- the President was particularly saddened by the children that were killed and injured in the earthquake -- and to let him know that the United States stands ready to help.
The President will participate in a roundtable of small business owners and employees at 11:25 a.m. in Little Rock. And we're working on getting you a list of those people. Then the President will make remarks. Approximately -- well, over 2,000 people are expected to be in attendance -- make remarks on his jobs and growth plan. The President will talk about the need for Congress to act quickly when they return and pass this jobs and growth plan. And it's about creating new jobs, particularly in light of Friday's unemployment news, it's all the more reason for Congress to act quickly.
Following that, the President will arrive at the White House at approximately 4:25 p.m. this afternoon. And then at 5:30 p.m. he has a meeting with the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson.
MR. MCCLELLAN: At this point, I'm told that it's closed. If anything changes, we will let you know.
Upon arrival, there's a Freedom Corps greeter, David Shapiro. He's a member of SCORE -- Service Corps of Retired Executives program -- which is administered by the Small Business Administration, and they -- he serves as an advisor and mentor to small business owners and individuals interested in starting a new business.
With that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q: What's the agenda on the NATO meeting? Why does he want to meet with Robertson?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, some of this is following through on the Prague Summit. If you look at the statement from the other day, as well, that was put out on announcing the visit, they will talk about -- I expect they will talk about transformation and future missions of NATO for the 21st century and addressing the threats of the 21st century, as well as the leadership role that NATO will play in Afghanistan later this summer.
Q: Has the White House -- or the administration received any aid requests from these states hit by tornadoes?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not aware at this point. FEMA is continuing to monitor the situation and coordinate with local authorities on any assistance. I'm not aware of any official requests that have been made. Obviously,, the President's thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost homes, who have lost loved ones, as well as those who have been injured.
Q: Do you think he'll address it all today when he makes his remarks?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I think he should. Listen to his remarks, and I expect that he will.
Q: Has the President tacitly conceded that North Korea is a nuclear power and it's not going to -- does he still want them to dismantle their nukes, or just not sell them?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I saw those reports, and I think that our position remains the same, that the United States, as well as the international community, is concerned about North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and potentially transferring nuclear materials to others. We're continuing to consult with friends and allies, after our recent discussions with North Korea, about the next steps to take. Remember that we are approaching this in a multilateral forum, and that the international community has made it clear to North Korea that its relations with the outside world hinge on its verifiable and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons program.
Q: No change in policy?
MR. MCCLELLAN: -- North Korea will continue to isolate itself as long as it pursues a nuclear weapons program. But we remain concerned about both the possession of and transfer of nuclear weapons, or nuclear weapons materials.
Q: Scott, is the U.S. considering unilaterally lifting sanctions on Iraq?
MR. MCCLELLAN: There's really no change to report on the U.N. sanction front. The President has made it clear that now with the regime of Saddam Hussein gone, that those sanctions are no longer needed, the U.N. should lift those sanctions. And we are consulting with members of the Security Council. We are consulting with our friends and allies and others about moving forward through the U.N. on lifting those sanctions.
Q: Do you stand prepared to do it just as the United States if the U.N. doesn't act?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think -- right now we're consulting with the Security Council members. The President has called on the U.N. to lift those sanctions. And we are consulting with Security Council members, friends and allies before moving forward.
Q: How soon do you see that resolution from the U.N.?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, there's no update on the timing of that again. We're still in the consultation phase with Security Council members and working to determine how we move forward through the U.N. to lift those sanctions, about any resolutions that might be introduced in the near future.
Q: Scott, how does today's event, which is focusing on jobs and growth, square with the reasoning we got for the cancelling of the Ottawa trip, which was that the President needed to stay to focus on Iraq?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, Canada is a friend and ally, and the trip to Canada was postponed. That was the decision that was made in mutual consultations with Canada. So it was a mutual decision about postponing that trip. The President looks forward to visiting Canada in the future. And remember, the reasoning for the postponement of the trip was related the situation in Iraq. Remember, presidential visits to foreign countries aren't done in one day. It takes planning and preparation.
END 10:53 A.M. CDT
Scott McClellan, Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/271933