Tony Snow: Briefing in Chicago. Added starter---British PM Tony Blair. Calls Prez Tuesday meeting with Israeli PM Olmert a ``getting to know you’’

SHARE Tony Snow: Briefing in Chicago. Added starter---British PM Tony Blair. Calls Prez Tuesday meeting with Israeli PM Olmert a ``getting to know you’’
SHARE Tony Snow: Briefing in Chicago. Added starter---British PM Tony Blair. Calls Prez Tuesday meeting with Israeli PM Olmert a ``getting to know you’’

Just added to the schedule, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said British Prime Minister Tony Blair will visit Washington later this week.

New Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won’t get Bush’s blessings for his plan to draw a border between Israel and parts of the West Bank. Snow called it a “getting-to-know-you meeting.”

Subj: PRESS GAGGLE BY TONY SNOW

Date:5/22/06 12:23:17 PM Eastern Daylight Time

From:Press.Releases@WhiteHouse.Gov

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

(Chicago, Illinois)

For Immediate Release May 22, 2006

PRESS GAGGLE

BY

TONY SNOW

Aboard Air Force One

En route Chicago, Illinois

10:23 A.M. EDT

MR. SNOW: As you know, the President will be traveling to Chicago.

Before the restauranteurs he will be talking about immigration reform

and also making his first extended comments on the formation of a

government in Iraq.

Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Prime Minister Blair’s office

has announced the Prime Minister will be making a visit to Washington

later in the week. Details at this point still to be determined. As

soon as we have a schedule we will let you know.

That’s about it, a very quick statement, and whatever questions you

have.

Peter.

Q What’s the purpose of the Blair-Bush meeting?

MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, the Prime Minister has been in Iraq, so

what I think what they’re going to be doing is talking about Iraq and

the next steps forward.

Q Does he want to pull troops out, or what’s the — he said over the

weekend, or there have been reports over the weekend that he’s anxious

to pull troops out.

MR. SNOW: Well, I can’t speak for what the Prime Minister is going to

do; he may report on his desires. Prime Minister Maliki has also said

that he would like Iraqi forces to be taking — asserting much more

control by the end of the year.

As we’ve always said — and Prime Minister Blair reiterated this

yesterday — I mean, today, as least as far as the readout I’ve gotten

— which is it’s all conditions-based. The conditions on the ground

still determine how long troops stay there.

Q Does he look forward to the meeting tomorrow with Olmert? Can you

talk about — there was an Israeli newspaper report that says the

President was going to present him with some new ideas for advancing the

peace process.

MR. SNOW: Well, I think at this point this is as much a

getting-to-know-you meeting. Obviously, they’ll be talking about the

roadmap and the way forward. I don’t expect anything formal, but the

two of them obviously are going to be talking about ways to keep moving

forward.

Q What about a response to his comments yesterday on CNN, that he

said Abbas was too weak to advance such a process?

MR. SNOW: Well, on the other hand, there have also been reports that

the two of them have had cordial meetings. So, obviously, again, the

viability of the Palestinian Authority is a key matter. Most

importantly, the administration continues to say, the President

continues to say that we are not going to recognize Hamas until they

renounce violence.

Q With a unified unity government now in place, what are the chances

that American troops will start pulling out before the end of this year?

MR. SNOW: Well, once again, it’s all conditions-based. You don’t simply

say because you have a government you pull out. The President has been

pretty clear, troops will return when they’re no longer needed. And it

is still our desire to see that the Iraqi military and police forces are

trained up and capable of providing for public security in Iraq.

Q But you have seven months ahead, so is the seven months enough time

to just — my question is, what is your assessment, I guess, of what

Iraq is going to do in the next seven months, if you’re not willing to

say that seven months is enough time to begin pulling troops out?

MR. SNOW: Well, if you can tell me exactly what’s going to happen in

the next seven months, I’ll give you an answer.

Q What does the U.S. government want to accomplish by encouraging

these European banks to limit their dealings with Iran?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, what’s been going on is that there has been

attempt to try to get the Iranians to come back to the table, to deal in

good faith, with serious negotiations toward renouncing any nuclear

military ambitions. We don’t have any problem with peaceful civilian

use of nuclear power, but it’s important to get the Iranians to engage

seriously.

Q Tony, Prime Minister Olmert also said that Iran was months away

from developing a nuclear weapon. What does the U.S. think of that

prediction?

MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not going to get into our particular, precise

estimates of Iranian nuclear capabilities.

Q Do you disagree with him them that —

MR. SNOW: To tell you the truth, I don’t know.

Q Can we go back to the banks? If the U.S. government and the

Treasury Department are encouraging the European banks to not have

dealings, how does that play into this works with European allies to

stop them from having the nuclear weapon or the nuclear ambitions? Why

are you going about it this way — encouraging these banks to limit

their dealings —

MR. SNOW: I’ll tell you what, I’ll try to come up with more precise

guidance because, frankly, for me to try to come up with rationales for

this is going to be talking through my hat — and that would be

irresponsible for me, you and the government.

Q Is he going to take questions today?

MR. SNOW: There is a possibility that he’ll take some from the

audience.

Q Thank you.

END 10:28 A.M. EDT

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