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G8 Leaders Close to Agreement on Nonproliferation


G8 Leaders Close to Agreement on Nonproliferation Plan

Endorse initiatives on poverty reduction, polio and HIV/AIDS

The leaders of the G8 countries are close to agreement on a plan to expand international efforts to locate and eliminate weapons of mass destruction (WMD), according to the White House.

In a June 8 briefing with reporters in Savannah, Georgia, National Security Council spokesperson Jim Wilkinson said the plan would expand the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and strengthen the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). President Bush announced the PSI in May 2003.

Savannah is the site of the media center for this year's annual G8 Summit being held June 8-10 at nearby Sea Island. The G8 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Wilkinson said G8 leaders also have endorsed initiatives to end famine in the Horn of Africa, eradicate polio by the end of 2005 and expand micro-finance programs targeting entrepreneurs. Such programs are key to poor countries' economic development, Wilkinson said.

In addition, the leaders have committed to help poor countries develop local institutions to finance access to housing and clean water, he said.

Another part of the G8 poverty reduction effort is an agreement to launch an initiative to halve the costs to workers of sending part of their pay to their home countries, he said. At $100 billion annually, workers' remittances are approximately double the amount of official aid, Wilkinson said.

President Bush and the other G8 leaders have also agreed to establish a global HIV vaccine enterprise, a consortium that would accelerate the development of an HIV vaccine, the spokesperson said.

Following is an excerpt of the transcript of the briefing:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Sea Island, Georgia)
June 8, 2004

PRESS BRIEFING BY JIM WILKINSON, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND
DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS,
AND BARRY BENNETT, DEPUTY OF COMMUNICATIONS,
G8 SUMMIT PLANNING ORGANIZATION

International Media Center Savannah, Georgia

8:05 a.m. EDT

WILKINSON: Good morning. As I said yesterday, the G8 leaders meet this week to take on many key policy issues to promote freedom, democratic reform and prosperity in the broader Middle East, counterproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, strengthen international cooperation in the war on terror, expand global peacekeeping efforts, promote global economic growth and expand trade, harness private sector efforts to help alleviate poverty, dramatically increase our efforts to combat HIV-AIDS, polio and famine, and finally, to protect our environment.

I want to give an update on a couple of these policy initiatives this morning. As the summit begins today, agreement has been reached on several key initiatives. I'll walk through those now, so you have them on the policy side.

On the issue of famine, a special initiative to help end famine in the north -- excuse me, in the Horn of Africa, agreement has been reached. The President and the other G8 leaders are expected to announce soon a new initiative to help prevent famine by improving worldwide emergency assessment and response systems, with the goal of raising agricultural productivity, and helping 5 million chronically food-insecure people in Ethiopia attain food security by the year 2009.

I'll talk a little bit about the problem of famine. As you know, millions of people face hunger or food insecurity in places like Eritrea, Somalia, the Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. At least 5 million, as I said, 5 million Ethiopians are unable at some time in any year to secure an adequate supply of food for their survival. The President believes that famine is a preventable tragedy, and he is determined to commit the international community and the United States to do more to help alleviate it.

We are, the United States is, as a point of reference, the world's leader in food aid. We provide more than -- we have provided more than $1.4 billion in emergency aid, and some 56 percent of all contributions to the U.N.'s World Food Program in FY2003.

In terms of what the G8 will do this week on this particular issue, the President and the G8 will endorse an initiative known as Ending the Cycle of Famine in the Horn of Africa -- that's the title. It will, as I said, improve worldwide emergency assessment and response systems to help combat famine. It will support programs to raise agricultural productivity, by promoting rural development in some of these areas where they have food insecurity. And it would help Ethiopia achieve food security for some 5 million people by the year 2009.

It does this in Ethiopia by supporting land reform, rural infrastructure development, regional economic integration and integrating and making more efficient some comprehensive famine prevention programs.

So that's the first initiative that's reached agreement. Second is an issue I spoke a little bit about yesterday, and that's this commitment to eradicate polio. You can expect the G8 this week to announce that they will take all necessary steps to help eradicate polio by the end of 2005. The G8 will work to close the 2004 funding gap for the Polio Eradication Initiative, and commit to resolve the 2005 gap by the 2005 G8 summit.

A little bit of context. To date, polio remains endemic to six countries and has actually re-emerged in nine additional nations. The Polio Eradication Initiative is a global coalition that works to help eliminate this disease. This PEI, as it's known, has been spirited by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and Rotary International.

The G8, on the issue of polio, will reiterate their commitment to the elimination of this disease. They will urge polio-endemic countries to take stronger steps to eradicate the virus. The will welcome the resolution on polio eradication passed by the Organization of Islamic Conference Summit in Malaysia of October of 2003, and they will recognize the special contribution made by Rotary International to the elimination of polio.

A couple of context statistics. Since 1988, the U.S. has worked hand in hand with the WHO. We've worked to pledge -- we have pledged or contributed some $981.3 million for the Polio Eradication Initiative, including $180 million for the years 2004, 2005. Of the $3.48 billion total pledge worldwide since 1988, the U.S. has pledged or contributed 28.2 percent. And the U.S. has also provided approximately $38 million in additional bilateral assistance since 1988. That's the second issue.

The third issue of agreement, which will be announced later this week is on the issue of applying the power of entrepreneurship to the eradication of poverty. The G8 leaders will announce agreement on an innovative action plan to apply the best of the private sector entrepreneurship to help alleviate poverty.

You will remember President Bush's development policies, such as the Millennium Challenge Account Initiative, which provides foreign aid to those who choose to reform and try to create jobs and reduce poverty.

The G8 this week, on this particular issue will -- there is a long list of these; I'll just go through the steps they will commit to. First is they'll commit to facilitate and lower the cost of remittances. And as you know, remittances is the money that immigrants send back home to their friends and families back home.

As a point of reference, global remittance flows total nearly $100 billion annually, which is, as you know, about twice as large as official development assistance that goes to people in these countries, so you see the significance of remittances.

The G8 countries will agree to launch pilot projects with the view of cutting transaction costs on remittances by half. These costs can sometimes be as high, as you know, as 10 percent to 15 percent, taking money away from these families and people who need these funds for transactions costs, so they will work to cut those by half.

Under the U.S.-Mexico Partnership for Prosperity, the U.S. will reduce remittance costs by 56 percent, putting more money in the hands of recipient families. Another step on this issue will be to expand access to micro-finance funding to help new entrepreneurs establish or grow their businesses and pull themselves out of poverty. The G8 will pilot this initiative in the broader Middle East region, where the G8 has pledged to help over 2 million entrepreneurs help themselves out of poverty through micro-finance loans over five years and establish a micro-finance best practices training center in Jordan. And they will launch the first micro-finance pilot project in Yemen.

The U.S. will expand its already robust micro-finance program which is currently active in 58 countries worldwide, reaching over 5 million clients with total combined loans of more than $2.5 billion. We are working, for example, in Egypt with nine partner institutions to develop lending programs that have already extended more than 1.3 million loans from 1990 to 2003, creating more than 300,000 jobs. As a point of reference, some 40 percent of these borrowers have been women.

Next on this issue will be a G8 commitment to help finance housing and clean water access by developing local mortgage and municipal bond markets. You will see a U.S.-African Mortgage Markets Initiative, which, as you know, was launched in 2003 and is already assisting Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa and others in designing and implementing mortgage finance programs. The U.S. $1 billion Water for the Poor Initiative is working to bring clean water to some 50 million people globally.

Finally, on this issue, the G8 leaders will commit to improve the business climate for entrepreneurs and investors by doing the following: One is launching pilot projects to help committed countries reform this financing. Second is encouraging multilateral development banks to increase lending and technical assistance to small businesses to help create jobs. Third is to encourage developing countries to step up efforts to combat piracy and counterfeit intellectual property.

Next issue of agreement that's significant is the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, which I mentioned yesterday. The G8 and President Bush will endorse the establishment of a global HIV vaccine enterprise, which is a global consortium to accelerate the development of this HIV vaccine. With over 40 million people suffering from HIV/AIDS worldwide, President Bush is leading global efforts to combat this HIV/AIDS pandemic, as you know, through his $15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief and his commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to which the U.S. has pledged more than $1.96 billion, or 36 percent of all pledges through 2008.

The President and the G8 will establish this Global HIV vaccine enterprise, that will help enhance coordination, information sharing and collaboration globally, as we seek to find this vaccine. This concept was proposed recently by an international group of scientists and is analogous to the successful alliance and strategic plan that characterized the approach to the Human Genome Project.

The G8 also, on this issue, will call upon the HIV vaccine enterprise to develop a strategic plan to do the following: The first is prioritize the scientific challenges to be addressed and fill the identified gaps in knowledge, as we seek this vaccine. The second will be to coordinate product development efforts, to make them more efficient. And third will be to help align and channel existing and new resources to the needs at hand.

Finally, on the issue of nonproliferation, you'll hear -- as a matter of fact, let me point out, you'll hear on all these issues today extensive briefings from our policy experts, for those of you who choose to attend.

On the issue of nonproliferation, I think you'll see we're very close to agreement on new initiatives to dramatically expand the international community's efforts to go after WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. You will see an expansion of the PSI Initiative. You will see G8 leaders working to strengthen the IAEA [U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency] with some reforms there. A lot of the things the President talked about in his February 11th speech on reforming our antiquated nonproliferation laws and statutes and organizations to address the global threats of the A.Q. Khan network and other global black market networks and regimes who choose to development these weapons in secret. You'll see a lot of these steps agreed to on that issue. I'll let Mr. Bolton make the news on that today.

So obviously -- sorry for all the substance, but lots of policy agreement this week. This is just a few. We'll come back tomorrow with more and later today, if we have them. But these are some agreements that have already been reached.

QUESTION: Could I get hard copies of your comments just now? And the name and title of the gentleman in the jacket.

WILKINSON: There will be a transcript released, right? This lady right here with the microphone will go back and type very quickly. She will come and find you at the Krispy Kreme truck and bring you the transcript there. (Laughter.)

And, Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications.

Q: When you say agreement has been reached -- are you releasing the documents now?

WILKINSON: I think you'll see formal fact sheets released as you would see through the normal process. As you know, the summit -- negotiations have been going on for some time. The summit begins today. These are agreements that have been reached. As I said yesterday, I went through the long list of policy accomplishments we accept.

Q: For me to do a story, I need to be able to say what's happened with the initiative, what's happened with the document. So right now I'm saying a senior White House official has said that agreement has been reached on these subjects. But I also want to know whether I will actually see the document.

WILKINSON: There will be documents coming out, fact sheets and then, again, the normal --

Q: Today?

WILKINSON: Hopefully today, but maybe as late as tomorrow on these initiatives, because there will be formal policy briefings later today, and we want to let you talk to the experts on these issues.

A good reminder. Again, in Room 103, you know to come by. We have all of these experts who are available. Most of them arrive today who can do one-on-one interviews with you, television interviews, television interviews, anything you want, to a degree, even for someone like you, Andrei, who is a warm and fuzzy friend of ours. But they're available, so you can to --

Q: Do you expect agreement on nonproliferation before Thursday?

WILKINSON: Yes, it could have even happened overnight.

Q: -- the status of the Iraq resolution at the U.N.?

WILKINSON: I will refer you to Scott on that. I think two comments by Negroponte yesterday show that it's moving forward.

Q: Is there any sort of overarching theme in the President's meeting with his -- influential members of the G8 today? What does he hope to get out of the meeting?

WILKINSON: Obviously, I've gone through the long list of policy initiatives. Clearly, promoting freedom, democratic reform and prosperity in the broader Middle East is a key issue. There will be bilateral issues for all the different nations that will certainly come up. But the key issues identified are for peacekeeping, the war on terror, countering WMD and the broader Middle East initiative.

Q: -- will dominate his conversations today, is that what you're saying?

WILKINSON: I think these topics will certainly be on the agenda all week. I think each of them will certainly be discussed. But you will also see specific issues between nations discussed and between the different leaders.

Q: Can I ask you one other question, too? As a chief communicator for the White House, many of us who cover the White House have never seen the kind of outreach that we're seeing at this summit. Is it safe to infer that you see this as a positive moment for the United States in terms of Iraq?

WILKINSON: I think -- we're a host of the summit, and we have thousands of reporters here, many from the international community and we feel a special responsibility to try to ensure as much access as possible to as many reporters as possible, with subject matter experts. These are important issues. The President -- for a moment on the President -- with his compassion agenda on issues like eradicating polio and poverty and HIV-AIDS. These are important issues to him, and we just think it's important to get those subject matter experts with as many members of the media as possible.

A lot of these officials never -- you sometimes -- they're not around or traveling and these sorts of things, so we decided to get them down here and meet with as many of you as possible, just trying to be a facilitator of information.

Q: In that regard, thank you for making those subject matter experts available. At previous summits, on these issues, like famine, like HIV-AIDS, we would be able to bring context to them and not rely solely on the statements of governments and official statements of the summit by having direct access to the NGOs who would have been working on these issues for many years. They would be right with us in the press center, and I'm just wondering, they aren't here this time around, they've been replaced by Verizon and Cingular, companies like that, but I wonder, why was that decision made?

And then, secondly, also on the logistics of it, why is the arrival of the King of Bahrain to this international summit closed to press?

WILKINSON: I don't know the answer to both of those questions, but I'll find out the answers to both of those. Don't know the first thing --

Q: Have the NGOs [non-governmental organizations] been banished --

WILKINSON: I just don't know. I'll find out, though. It's not something I've been involved in here. So we will -- I will get you an answer, though, to both those questions.

Q: When you say you got agreements on these different issues, I assume that doesn't mean, between yesterday's briefing and today is the time frame, roughly, of when these fell into place or --

WILKINSON: As you know, the sherpas have been working diligently for some period of time. Again, yesterday, I went through the long list of all the issues that are on the table, and even for these particular issues I've outlined today, there are so many more sub-issues that have been discussed and agreed. I think your subject matter experts will certainly brief you on those to a great extent. I've only hit the highlights. These have been falling into place for some time now.

Q: To put it differently, did anything break between yesterday and today's briefing --

WILKINSON: A lot of things were finalized and --

Q: And on the remittances, do you have a sense of how the G8 remittances are going to affect U.S. policy toward Cuba?

WILKINSON: Don't know, but again, that's a good question for your remittance expert that will be in Room 103 and available for you later.

Q: Anything that your boss is doing beside the obvious today? I assume she's sitting at the side of the President in bilats -- talking to reporters or anything else on her schedule we should know about?

WILKINSON: Nothing of special interest. She'll certainly be with the President for those meetings.

Thank you all. We'll see you tomorrow morning very early again.
END 8:34 A.M. EDT


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