For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 13, 2002
Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer [Excerpts]
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
2:30 P.M. EST
MR. FLEISCHER: ...
The President met with President Musharraf of Pakistan for approximately 45 minutes to an hour in the Oval Office, and then had a one-hour lunch with President Musharraf back in the residence.
During their time together, they discussed the war on terrorism, bilateral relations with India and Pakistan, and economic assistance for Pakistan. The President views President Musharraf as a stalwart ally in the war on terrorism and is very grateful to President Musharraf for the strong actions that Pakistan has taken.
Q A couple questions about Pakistan. Did the President make any assurances to President Musharraf about the $3 billion in debt forgiveness that Pakistan wants? In the issues of being able to sell textiles, was there anything given by the U.S. on that? And the same with their ability to buy military goods from the U.S.
MR. FLEISCHER: On the question of textiles, discussions are ongoing. That's an important topic. There are many people on the Hill who have strong opinions about that issue. So those discussions are ongoing.
On the question of economic assistance, the President has committed to $200 million worth of economic assistance to Pakistan, which will result in a paying down of approximately $1 billion worth of Pakistani debt. That's for the '03 budget.
Q Is that new money, or is that the old --
MR. FLEISCHER: That's for the '03 budget, new money. In addition, they did talk about additional funding this year, to help Pakistan with education assistance, law enforcement assistance and economic development. No dollar amount.
Q How about military? Well, first of all, let's go back to $200 million. That will -- how does that help pay down $1 billion in debt?
MR. FLEISCHER: Ron, that is a great question, and I have asked it to the people who do work in the realm of international debt. And I have been advised that if you give $200 million of assistance, it pays down $1 billion of debt. I can only repeat it. I can't understand it. (Laughter.)
Mr. Sanger, perhaps you can explain it.
Q I'll read it in the paper tomorrow. How about the military goods? Are they going to be able the F-16s, any of the military goods they need?
MR. FLEISCHER: On military matters, they did discuss, and we will have a program of military cooperation in exchange with the Pakistani government. That has been suspended for an approximately 10-year period. And the President views that as a very constructive change in the relationship, showing the long-term commitment of the United States and Pakistan.
Q But no immediate progress --
MR. FLEISCHER: Keep going.
Q Okay, is there any immediate progress -- oh, you're --
MR. FLEISCHER: I guess you're keeping going. On other issues involving the military. The President is meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld this afternoon. You may want to get updates from the Pentagon about any other discussions about anything involving weapons or weapons systems. On the question of the F-16s, no change in the status from what the President said in New York City on that topic.
Q Two questions on Musharraf's meeting. The President has said on many occasions that he was quite concerned about missile proliferation, particularly from North Korea, one of the axis powers. And, of course, Pakistan has historically been one of the largest importers of missiles from North Korea. Was there any discussion of this, and were there any commitments from President Musharraf to cease importing missile technology from North Korea?
MR. FLEISCHER: There was no discussion that I heard.
Q Is any of the aid money contingent on Pakistan ceasing its missile purchases from North Korea?
MR. FLEISCHER: Not that I've heard. That did not come up in the meeting that I was attending.
Q Ari, President Bush said something today about the education reform in Pakistan, that this year he would be putting up $34 million. Is that on top of -- is it $100 million this year, as well, and $34 million?
MR. FLEISCHER: The $200 million, it would go for the debt reduction. It would have a wide-spread impact because it frees up other money that Pakistan would otherwise have used that would have prohibited them from spending more on education.
Q But specifically, the money is targeted for education reform with a religious component to change, to get into sciences and things of that nature -- mathematics and Pakistan --
MR. FLEISCHER: That's Pakistan's determination, how to spend their dollars. And the President is pleased with the efforts they're making, but it's not for the United States to dictate on a micro level how Pakistan should spend its money.
Q Ari, just to clarify, you said additional money is coming in terms of economic aid, education assistance, et cetera. Do you have any ballpark about what you're talking about for this year -- on that additional aid that's forthcoming?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, they did not discuss a specific dollar amount.
Q Is there a specific amount that you all are looking at to help?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll keep you advised if a specific dollar amount is attached to that. President Musharraf is going to have additional meetings with Secretary Powell, he met with Secretary O'Neill this morning; as I mentioned, his meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld shortly. So we'll keep you advised about that.
END 2:51 P.M. EST