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US Department of State
14 November 2001
Transcript: Backgrounder on Putin Visit by Senior U.S. Officials
(Nov. 13: U.S.-Russia relationship "growing and maturing") (5620)

The relationship between the United States and Russia is "growing and maturing" and is now one in which the two countries have a common interest in most areas, reporters were told during a background briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Crawford, Texas, November 13.

The briefing by two senior administration officials covered the topics discussed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meetings at the White House that day and gave a preview of the visit by Putin to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, on November 14.

The official said the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States "have just given a tremendous new impetus to where this relationship is going," adding, "the kind of support that we're getting from the Russians on the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, is evidence that there is something very real here."

The main topics discussed during the White House meetings were Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, and proliferation.

The official said the announcement of offensive missile reductions by President Bush during a joint press briefing with Putin "really does show that the relationship is moving along very, very quickly." Putin was "very pleased" with the size of the reductions and said that he "would expect to reciprocate in kind."

Asked about continuing U.S.-Russian differences on the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, the official replied that the two presidents said "they're going to continue their discussions toward a new strategic framework. We're continuing to work on how to move beyond the ABM Treaty, because the President continues to believe that that's the best option. President Putin continues to say the ABM Treaty is still an important element. But we're continuing to work on it."

The official later said the United States is open to discussing with the Russians whether or not the new strategic framework takes the form of a legal document.

The senior official also discussed Iraq, Iran, the President's announcement that he would work with Congress to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment, China, and the strategic petroleum reserve.

Following is the White House transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

Office of the Press Secretary
November 13, 2001


Aboard Air Force One En route Crawford, Texas

4:16 P.M. EST

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All right. I'll be glad to take questions, but let me just say that I think that today was historic from a couple of points of view. First of all, obviously, this relationship is growing and maturing and the events of September 11th have just given a tremendous new impetus to where this relationship is going. And it was extremely interesting to me that the great bulk of this conversation today focused on Afghanistan, on counterterrorism, on proliferation.

And I think you could see from the press conference that the Presidents have very similar views on counterterrorism -- particularly on Afghanistan. But it was historic from another point of view, too, going all the way back to the Citadel speech, which then Governor Bush gave in 1999. He talked about wanting to bring American strategic nuclear forces into line with the deterrent needs of the new era, and not being stuck in the Cold War.

And today, after an extensive review,of America's deterrent needs, of America's security requirements, he gave the Russian President a range that he thought was consistent with America's needs; didn't have to have an arms control negotiation to do it, didn't have to sit through hours and hours and days and days and papers and papers. I think all of you probably who have covered this know how long it used to take to get any warhead reduced. And today the President announced that he's going to go to 1,700 to 2,200 over a period of 10 years.

And I might just explain that it takes a long time to bring down nuclear forces, because you can't do this all at once. It just takes a long time to bring it down. It'll come down over 10 years.

Q: Will they be actually dismantled, or will they be stored?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He will -- what he meant, 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed warheads. So that means that the warheads will not -- any warheads -- not in that 1,700 to 2,200 at the end of 10 years would not be on missiles, would not be on launchers.

Q: Did he give you a range? We had heard that both men might give a range.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Putin -- first of all, it's the first time the Russians have heard the range. The President wanted to deliver it directly to President Putin, so it wasn't delivered to either the trans minister or to the foreign minister before. We expected him to then need to go back and to look at his own forces. Although, I think he said that he would expect to reciprocate in kind, or something like that. You can check his words in the press --

Q: How many do they currently have? I've heard we have, like, 6,000 to 7,000?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Currently, about 6,000-plus. They're currently at about 7,000. And the Russians have been talking about ranges significantly lower than that. But Putin was very pleased with the number, he said he was very pleased with the number and said he would get back to the President.

Q: Do you expect him to do that tomorrow?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it will probably take him a little longer than that. Crawford, I expect Crawford to be about building the relationship more broadly. There are some subjects they really didn't get a chance to discuss in depth -- some of the regional issues, for instance. They didn't have as much discussion of some of the economic issues, as they might have. And I suspect those will be subjects at Crawford.

But I would assume he's going to have to go back to Moscow before we get a number back from him.

Q: It sounded like there was some deadlock on ABM. President Putin said that his position hasn't changed. So how do you guys move forward when there is obviously disagreement on this?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS: The President and President Putin said that they're going to continue their discussions toward a new strategic framework. We're continuing to work on how to move beyond the ABM treaty, because the President continues to believe that that's the best option. President Putin continues to say the ABM treaty is still an important element. But we're continuing to work it.

You know, we said that we didn't think that there would be any agreement out of any particular meeting. They're going to continue to talk about it at Crawford, they're going to continue to talk about it past Crawford. And we'll see what we're able to do about that piece of it.

But I think that the fact today that we were able to make this historic step on the offensive side, really does show that the relationship is moving along very, very quickly.

Q: -- continue to talk about it, that means that you don't anticipate an agreement tomorrow or Thursday, necessarily?

SENIOR ADMINISTRAITON OFFICIAL: I would not anticipate an agreement tomorrow or Thursday.

Q: Did I read the fact sheet correctly, that it seems as though the Russians are saying they wanted to help build parts for the nuclear -- the testing of the nuclear shield. It almost seems as though the Russians are saying, we would like to be building parts for this -- which I took as a statement of, I think they support it.

SENIOR ADMINISTRAITON OFFICIAL: They have been very interested in perhaps defense cooperation, what they call military technical cooperation on defenses. We've thought about perhaps having a working group at some point to talk about how we might have defense cooperation. I don't want to put words in the Russians mouths, you know, that they agree that we ought to have missile defenses. Putin, himself has said, yes he recognizes that there is a threat in the changed environment.

But they have said that they have interest in some of the defense cooperation aspects of this and, in fact, they made a proposal, themselves, to NATO about defense cooperation -- cooperation and strategic defenses.

Q: Are you willing to let Russia verify these U.S. reductions somehow?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We've always said that we were more than happy to work out some arrangements for both transparency and for verification of -- we'll have to see what kinds of verifications measures make sense in the new regime. We may not need the elaborate verification measures that you had in arms control treaties. But by all means, we've said that we'd be willing to have verifiability built in.

Q: And when the President said he would be willing to sign a piece of paper if that would satisfy the Russian President, is he also willing to go through the negotiations to establish some kind of legal foundation for these arms reductions?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We'll we've always said that we were open to form as to what the new strategic framework would look like. But remember that the new strategic framework has a number of elements. It has, the President believes, more offensive numbers. He demonstrated today that he does not believe that you have to go through a long arms control negotiation to get to lower offensive numbers -- he just did it. He got together with Secretary Rumsfeld, the Joint Chiefs did the work and he just did it. That's part of it.

A second part of it is how to incorporate defenses in the modern age, nonproliferation efforts. The form that the strategic framework takes -- whether it's a legal document or how to think about that, I think we're open to discussing that with the Russians.

Q: But doesn't that mean then that everything is left on the table? You say that there's a great deal of progress, but didn't you say that what President Bush announced today was essentially unilateral, required no cooperation from the Russians, he just did it; and the means is what's important -- the fact that he did it without paperwork and negotiations -- but the Russians haven't done anything.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The Russians have said that they are going to come back to us. I think again, quoting President Putin he said, I'll respond in kind -- or something like that, I don't remember his exact words.

But think about the transformation in the relationship that this means, all right? The good thing about this is that we are not going to wait for 10 years of negotiations to get to a level that is commensurate with the needs of the modern era. That says something about where the United States and Russia are -- you go to a level that is consistent with your defense needs.

We don't have extensive treaties with the British or the French about every warhead. And I suspect that this is ultimately an approach that will be very attractive to the Russians. In fact, I think you got a very positive signal from President Putin today about this approach.

Q: What, specifically, on the economic side is left on the table for Crawford? Do you expect any agreements on any of those issues? And what else -- Iraq sanctions -- what else is left to be talked about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, they did have a brief discussion of Iraq sanctions. There's a lot of work still to be done on that at the ministerial level. And so they essentially asked the ministers to continue to work that problem

On the economic side, I think that President Bush wants to hear more from President Putin about what kinds of American programs would be most helpful in stimulating investment; about how the WTO accession process is going. Remember that Russian laws have to start to conform to certain WTO principles. So I'm sure they'll talk more about that.

I think it was a major step for the President today when he said that he's going to work with Congress to repeal Jackson-Vanik. This had been something that was extremely important to the Russians. I can tell you that all the way from our first conversations with the Russians, Jackson-Vanik to them represented Cold War thinking.

And so the President felt it important, given the changes in Russian immigration policies and, indeed, in the attitudes of President Putin and his government toward the rights of religious minorities to take this off the table. And so that was a major step.

President Putin for his part has been doing similar things. In some ways what you're seeing is that these men are finding ways to dismantle aspects of the Cold War without lots of long negotiation to do it. President Putin just took Lourdes down, you know, he just decided and he did it.

President Bush said, all right, I agree it's time to do Jackson-Vanik, I'll just do it. President Bush said, it's time to bring my nuclear weapons down, I'll do it. I think you'll see President Putin do similar things. So they are in a dynamic where the relationship is normal enough that you don't have to have years and years to get rid of Cold War artifacts.

Q: Is that it, then, WTO and the investment?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The investment -- there were some investment credits and supports announced in the joint statement. I'm sure they'll talk about what further could be done for the Russian economy.

Q: -- all that's left on the substantive agenda? No more on Iraq?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They haven't talked about a lot of -- several regional issues. I think they probably will spend a lot more time on Europe. And President Putin, in the small meeting, talked a lot about his desire for strong connections with the West, for strong connections with NATO. I think they probably will spend a lot more time on what that means.

Q: Is there any discussion of Russia-Iran relationship, the sale of weapons to Iran?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They probably will spend more time on the proliferation issues. There was some discussion of it in the expanded meeting; but I think they will spend some more time on that.

Q: What did the President say on that issue to President Putin?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, this is an issue that we are continuing to raise, it's one of the hardest issues that we have with the Russians. It's not, frankly, going to be easy, I think, to come to a resolution on it. But it is an issue that -- at Shanghai, at least -- they made a pledge to try and get their experts together to work the issue somewhat differently than we've been working it, to really look at what the dangers are in certain kinds of Russian weapons and technology sales to Iran. And I think that will be the process that will now start. But that's going to take a while to unfold.

Q: President Putin tried out some of his English on Barbara Walters last week. Is he able to hold a conversation -- do they get any one-on-one, no translators, no one time to talk?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They always use translators, but President Putin's English is clearly getting pretty good, pretty fast. And I think his understanding of it is improving really quickly..

Q: Will the U.S. arms reductions proceed regardless of the Russian response?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President has said that this is what his military planners tell him that we need for new deterrent requirements. And, obviously, there could be changes in the world in that 10 year period that might necessitate a change in our thinking. But on the glide path that the President sees right now, he's going to do it, he's going to go there.

Q: Even in Crawford on the ranch, do you expect that they'll still be shadowed everywhere by translators -- working on the chain saws and touring canyons?


Q: Why?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I don't know how confident President Putin is in his English, I don't know. They obviously have a warmth between them that really kind of transcends language, it's quite remarkable. And President Putin has a remarkable sense of humor -- I mean, he really does.

Q: A dry sense of humor, a slapstick sense of humor, what are we talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's, I would say, a dry sense of humor.

Q: Can you think of some example from today that -- to give some sense.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, I told you I was terrible at color.


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He's better at color than I am.

Q: Have you gotten what you expected out of this summit so far?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Absolutely. The remarkable thing about this relationship is if you think of where it was nine months ago, and you think of where it is today, you realize how much has transpired in this very short period of time.

You have a Russian and American President who, as I said, are taking unilateral steps -- I could say, I guess, unilateral reciprocal steps to dismantle the edifices of the Cold War and to change to a different kind of relationship.

You have a Russian President stand there and give the strongest endorsement of the President and the coalition's policy in Afghanistan, of U.S. efforts to build relationships with countries, independent countries that were once part of the Soviet Union, no fear in his voice about an American role in Central Asia.

You have the President of the United States talking about the importance of NATO reaching a new kind of accommodation with Russia that demonstrates the kind of alliances that we really are actually now experiencing with Russia.

There is simply no -- it's remarkable when you think of February 1, 2001 and November 13, 2001; this is a very changed relationship.

Q: Is that largely because Putin is somebody different than you thought he was coming in?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it's largely because they've worked at it, both the Russians and the President. President Putin and President Bush have worked at it. I do think their personal relationship has helped push things along. But I think that what President Bush said, all the way back at that first meeting at Ljubljana, which was that we really do have more in common than we have in disagreement. We still have areas of disagreement. A relationship that's getting to be as strong as this one is will be able to work through those elements of disagreement.

It's kind of the mirror image of the relationship with the Soviet Union. With the Soviet Union you had a relationship in which the only thing that we agreed on was that we didn't want to annihilate each other and almost everything else was zero sum.

This is now a relationship in which most of what we are dealing with we find that we have common interest, and we're dealing with getting rid of some of the vestiges of the Cold War.

Q: Is President Bush surprised by that? I'm sure coming in as a conservative President, if somebody would have told him that Vladimir Putin might end up being a world leader he was so close to, he might have been surprised. Is he surprised?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATI0N OFFICIAL: When he first met him in Ljubljana he saw the possibilities. And he spoke about the possibilities at Ljubljana. I will tell you that most of us are surprised at how quickly the relationship has changed. And, you know, there are people who said, well, is it all just going to be hortatory and we should get along.

But the kind of support that we're getting from the Russians on the war on terrorism, Afghanistan, is evidence that there is something very real here.

Q: Back in February, Russia and China were moving closer together, now you hear very little about a Russia-China relationship. What's happening there? How does China fit into this new global structure of relationships?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President does not believe that this is in any sense a zero sum game, that a good relationship with Russia has to mean a lesser relationship with China or vice versa. We'd like to have, and believe that we're building good relationships with both.

Circumstances have led to a situation in which the Russia relationship has moved ahead quite a bit faster. Russia's European identity has come to the fore. But we also are building a good and productive relationship with China, and we hope Russia will have a good and productive relationship with China.

Q: Any plans for the trip to Russia, the reciprocal trip? Or is that still so far off?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let's get through Crawford first. But I'm looking forward to it, I think it will be great.

Q: No talks so far on putting that together?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not yet. Not yet. I'm sure we'll get to that very soon, though. You don't go to Moscow in the winter. (Laughter.)

Q: Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I just want to walk you through some of the color and other background stuff of the day, get into a couple other things.

President Putin came into the Oval Office from the Roosevelt Room, where he signed the guest visitor book, as all visitors to the White House do, entered into the Oval Office.,

It was his first time to Washington, of course. And it was interesting, he shook the President's hand, shook the Chief of Staff's hands, Secretary of State's hand, Condi's hand. And he kind of looked around the Oval Office, as well, took in the sight, took in the Oval Office.

Before the President sat down in the chair -- and this is something I have not previously seen the President do -- the President stopped to explain the different art that he had on the wall. I'm in most of the meetings with the President, foreign leaders in the office, and I just have not seen the President do before.

He pointed out several of the paintings, all that he, himself put into the Oval, all of which were from Texas, different scenes of Texas. And he went through and he said, this is a painting of Central Texas, this is East Texas, this is West Texas. And President Putin said to him, in English, "Where are the Texas people?" And the President said to him, "I'm a Texas person."

And that was the -- they sat down then and began their private, one on one meeting -- which, one on one in diplomacy means the National Security Advisors are there and the Secretary of State was there. So that was who was there for the first meeting in the Oval Office. That meeting lasted about an hour.

Q: On the paintings, just quickly, did he mean where are the Texas people, because they were all landscapes, there were no people?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, precisely right, because the paintings are all landscapes. And Putin had a big smile, he goes, "Where are the Texas people?"

Q: You said just Condi and Powell in the one on one?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And then, in an unplanned, spontaneous event, everybody was waiting for the expanded bilat in the Cabinet Room, and President Bush and President Putin left the Oval Office and just took a walk around the grounds.

So they went out through the side door of the Oval Office, and the President took him down to see a tree that was planted by he and Mrs. Bush -- which is tradition, for Presidents to plant trees on the White House grounds.

Then they walked down past the children's hand garden; then back up past the swing. Then the President took President Putin to the pool -- there's a private terrace that the President has. Then through the private dining room, through the little corridor and back into the Oval Office and into the expanded bilateral meeting.

One thing that just caught my attention in the expanded bilateral meeting -- the other senior administration official went into the substance on it -- but during the course of their discussions about Afghanistan, President Putin was stressing how important it was to complete the mission, to destroy al Qaeda, to destroy the Taliban's ability to harbor terrorists, to put an end to the Taliban regime; and the importance now, even since Kabul has fallen, of completing the mission.

Q: -- not Bush?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Stressing the importance of finishing the war against terrorism. And the President said to him -- and he was banging his forefinger on the table -- the President said -

Q: Bush?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- President Bush. He said, "Until the al Qaeda is brought to justice, we're not leaving."

Q: The expanded bilat? In what room?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The expanded bilat, in the Cabinet Room.

Q: Until the al Qaeda -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: "Until the al Qaeda is brought to justice, we're not leaving." And then the President added, he said to him, "As great nations, we're the most vulnerable targets" -- meaning Russia and the United States. He cited previous terrorist attacks in Moscow.

And then the President said to President Putin, "You're the kind of guy I like to have in a fox hole with me."

Q: "I like to" -- in present tense?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: "You're the kind of guy I like" -- present tense -- "to have in a fox hole with me."

Q: That's Bush to Putin?


Q: Who said, "As great nations, we're the most vulnerable targets"?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Bush said that to Putin, "As great nations, we're the most vulnerable targets."

Q: So all this is Bush.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- banging his finger on the table. The preface was Putin talking about the importance of completing the war against the terrorists, the al Qaeda and the Taliban, especially now that Kabul has fallen.

Q: By saying, we're not leaving -- he means, we're not leaving Afghanistan or not ending the -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We're completing the mission -- which is the destruction of the al Qaeda and the elimination of the Taliban.

Then they completed the expanded bilat, it lasted about an hour. Then you saw the walk to the Residence.

And then again this was not planned, the President was supposed to come right into the luncheon in the Blue -- the luncheon was in the Blue Room. But, instead, President took President Putin up to the third floor, up to the Residence and took him on a tour of the Residence -- which is his home here in Washington.

They went into the Yellow Oval; took him out onto the Truman Balcony for a view of the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Memorial. And then they walked in and surprised the First Ladies, who were having a lunch in the Residence. There were about a dozen women gathered for the lunch; Alma Powell was there. And the two just surprised them and walked in as the President was taking him on a tour.

He took President Putin to the Lincoln Bedroom. And then he took him down the Grand Staircase and into the luncheon. And then the luncheon -- there were three different tables at the luncheon, President Putin and President Bush at one. Condi Rice was at that table. And then at the luncheon talked a little more business.

Q: Can I ask a question on SPR, the petroleum reserves?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let's go to that in just a second. That's what I've got for you basically on background.

Q: On the stroll around the grounds, they had translators, presumably?


Q: Did the First Ladies have translators as well, I'm assuming?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know. Anything else on any of that?

Q: I know that this decision on the reserves has been in the works for a long time, but was the timing of that linked to the OPEC meeting?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The timing was driven by the fact that as a result of the energy review, the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of the Interior had a chance to look carefully at the issue of how to increase the amount of oil in the reserve. That's what drove the timing. Of course, there is an upcoming OPEC meeting, but that's what drove the timing.

Q: And, also, who was notified before you made the announcement this morning? Did you notify the industry? Did you notify -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That would have been handled out of Energy or Interior.

Q: Can you tell us what the President has in store for Putin in Crawford?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: On that, too, what I'll do, either Gordon or I will call you later for your overnight stories, to get you the menu for tomorrow night, guest list, things like that. I don't want to put that out to today's cycle.

What he's going to do tomorrow is, he's got his briefings in the morning, finishes his briefings. Putin doesn't arrive until 3:15 p.m. So the President told me what he's going to do is probably go for a long run, go for a long run probably right away, first thing in the morning. Have his intelligence briefings and video conferencing.

Then probably work the phones, monitor additional events in Afghanistan. But then I think he's going to enjoy a little time on the ranch, work the ranch a little bit. He hasn't been there for a while. If I know him, he'll probably walk around, maybe check out the waterfall, check out some of the improvements he made previously, see how they're doing; take a walk with Mrs. Bush, most likely; take a look at all the arrangements.

The President and Mrs. Putin will be staying at the Governor's House##, [corrected, it will be the Guest House] which as those of you who from the campaign, that's where the President used to live, before his house was completed. It's a smaller, separate residence on the ranch.

And then, of course, Mr. Putin, President Putin arrives at 3:00 p.m. They'll have some meetings, and then the dinner tomorrow -- which is basically going to be, as Mrs. Bush called it, a chuck wagon. It's going to be -

Q: What the heck is a chuck wagon?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll put out the menu later. But it's going to be standard American meat and potatoes fare; good Texas -- Texas finger-licking good food.

And then Thursday, breakfast with President and Mrs. Putin, and then a little more visit on the ranch. And then you know they're going to Crawford High School -- the President and President Putin will speak.

Q: Can we expect any big announcement on Thursday, just even for guidance?


Q: Is that a press conference, or just statements?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They're just going to speak. We'll see if the kids get to ask questions.

Q: Not us?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Like I said, we'll see if the kids get to ask questions. (Laughter.) You can plant them among the kids -- there could be some budding -- journalists.

Q: -- may sound ridiculous, but what to bring to the ranch? I mean, are they planning to chop -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- meals for the tour, so -

Q: So they were probably told, bring hiking boots and jeans?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know what his advance team told him to do, but casual is the word.

Q: Is Laura planning anything special for Mrs. Putin? I doubt they'll sort of be with the men the entire time.

SENIOR ADMINISRATION OFFICIAL: Meals; I know she'll be joining them when they go to the high school. They're going to have a lot of their friends over -- not a lot, but it will be a small number of friends over for the dinner. So I think for the Bushes, they're looking forward to going home,looking forward to going to Texas, looking forward to seeing old friends. The President, of course, has not been at the ranch since September 11th.


Q: Anything tonight, nothing in particular that he needs to tend to, either on the ranch or in the summit?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think he's going to call Secretary Rumsfeld when he gets there. He's in a regular pattern now, at the end of every day he calls Secretary Rumsfeld. He has a regular, late afternoon call.

I think the President -- spent some nice time there.

Q: Will he have people like Dr. Rice in these conversations with Putin? And will there be some structure or some formal effort to push forward the strategic relationship and other issues, or will it be entirely -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You've gotten the paper you're going to get.

Q: This was all senior administration official. Can the strategic petroleum reserve comment be on the record?


Q: You said that, you know, it's been in the works for a long time and it wasn't connected to OPEC? That can be on the record?


Q: And then the stuff you said after that, about the menu and -

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: All on background, everything else on background. Just to keep it simple. Okay.

END 4:47 P.M. EST

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