White House Report, May 24: Iran, Indonesia/Bird Flu, Japan, Personnel
JAPAN’S KOIZUMI TO VISIT WASHINGTON JUNE 29
The president and first lady will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the White House for an official visit June 29, according to a May 24 statement by press secretary Snow.
Bush “looks forward to continuing his close consultations with Prime Minister Koizumi on the war on terror, defending freedom and democracy, promoting regional security and prosperity in Asia, and enhancing closer cooperation on global economic issues,” the statement said.
The United States and Japan enjoy an alliance that is based on “common values and a common agenda,” the statement said.
U.S. WORKING WITH WHO TO INVESTIGATE BIRD FLU DEATHS IN INDONESIA
Officials from the U.S. Center for Disease Controls are in Indonesia working with the World Health Organization to investigate the latest outbreak of avian flu, which has killed at least six members of the same family in that country. (See related article.)
Snow said health officials have not ruled out the possibility that the victims were infected by the virus through human-to-human contact.
However, “it does not appear, at least in the opinion of those who have been studying it, to be either efficient or sustained, in terms of transmission,” he said, and genetic analysis so far has shown “no obvious significant mutations” in the flu virus.
“There is no evidence of transmission outside of that cluster … people who had lived in close proximity had been coughing and sneezing,” Snow said.
He also said Indonesian authorities have been “collaborating very openly” in the investigation. “They've been very helpful on this,” he said.
IRAN MUST HALT URANIUM ENRICHMENT AND REPROCESSING BEFORE U.S. WOULD CONSIDER TALKS
Iran must suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities as a precondition to any opportunities for direct talks with the United States over that nation’s nuclear activities.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said May 24 that the Bush administration has been working with its allies, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as other members of the U.N. Security Council, to “make sure that Iran does nothing in terms of advancing its ability to build nuclear weapons.”
News reports say Iran wants direct talks with the United States without preconditions. Snow said the Iranian stance is a result of international pressure, and reflects efforts to “negotiate through the press.”
“They want to change the subject and we’re not going to let them,” he said. Also, the Bush administration is “not going to divide the coalition by engaging in side conversations with Iran.”
Iran needs to “take that fundamental step” and stop its enrichment and reprocessing of uranium “in a verifiable and credible manner, in a permanent manner,” he said. “When that happens, all right. Then there may be some opportunities.
BUSH TO NOMINATE BLAKE AS AMBASSADOR TO SRI LANKA AND THE MALDIVES
President Bush intends to nominate career Senior Foreign Service member Robert Blake to be the next U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka and to serve concurrently as ambassador to the Maldives, according to a May 24 White House statement.
Blake is currently the deputy chief of the U.S. mission in New Delhi and was previously the executive assistant to the State Department's under secretary for political affairs. He has also served at U.S. missions in Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia.