White House Gaggle
November 5, 2007
Briefer: Dana Perino
President Bush had his normal briefings this morning. He then received an update on the Iraq Neighbors Conference that took place in Istanbul this weekend. At 10.05 am, the President and Mrs. Bush participate in a ceremony for 2007 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At 11.10 am, the President participates in a photo opportunity with U.S. Walker Cup Team.
This afternoon President Bush will meet with the Prime Minister of Turkey.
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino will brief the press at 12.30 pm today.
This morning, the President received an update on the situation in Pakistan.
The “Government of the United States is deeply disturbed by the proclamation of emergency in Pakistan on November 3rd, “Perino said. She continued to say that such actions are not in the best interest for Pakistan and is damaging the progress the country has made on its path to democracy.
The President has not spoken to President Musharraf directly, though Secretary Rice spoke with him on behalf of President Bush last week, and expressed deep concern and urged against the action.
The Bush Administration is now urging President Musharraf to quickly return to civilian rule, and they want release of the detainees kept, as well as restoring freedom of the press. President Bush also wants to keep the date for the elections in January as scheduled.
There are no plans of any US officials traveling to Pakistan. Perino said. However, our US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, is in contact with Musharraf’s officials and she is reporting back to the United States.
Perino said that it has only been 48 hours since this happened, and the US is now assessing the situation, reviewing the aid package for the country, and continuing to urge a calm return to the rule of law. Perino also stated that this is a difficult situation, since, “We have strong cooperation with Pakistan to protect American citizens from terrorists that are trying to establish a stronghold there, and be able to base operations out of there.”
When asked about why we are talking about sanctions with Burma but are very cautions when in comes to the incidents in Pakistan, Perino said that we need to keep in mind that the situations are very different. “We have critically important counter terrorism cooperation that we are dealing with in terms of Pakistan.”
In addition to the counter terrorism aid, the United States also helps support the people of Pakistan through education, health, and economical efforts.
We will here from President Bush on the topic, following the meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey at around 2 pm today.
There is an important relationship with Turkey, a long-running ally of our in the Middle East, Perino said. “We are concerned about the challenge posed by the PKK terrorists.” The United States will work with Turkey and the Iraqis to make sure that no safe haven is established for the PKK in the region.