Revelant excerpts from the press briefing by Ari Fleischer at the James S. Brady Briefing room, June 12, 2002.
Question: Ari, is the White House satisfied that the tension between India and Pakistan seems to be lessening?
Ari Fleischer: The White House -- the President is pleased with recent developments in South Asia. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage has returned from a successful visit to the region. Secretary Rumsfeld is there now. And the President welcomes indications that the tensions are being reduced between India and Pakistan. But make no mistake, there still is tension between India and Pakistan. So there has been positive developments. The President is fully engaged in making certain that the trend continues in the right direction, because, unfortunately, the history of the region is sometimes these trends get interrupted and return again to a wrong direction. Hence, Secretary Rumsfeld's presence in the region as we speak.
Question: Going back to Indian subcontinent. The President also said yesterday that the risk of war is still there, maybe tensions defused. So what I'm asking is how he's going to control that there is no war in the future and like Kargil, three years ago, 1999, same situation, comes back every year or two years. And, number two, when he meets with the Israeli Prime Minister here, does he talk about Indian and Pakistan conflict because both are similarity in many ways because same bombing, same type of people are bombing in Israel and India.
Ari Fleischer: On number two, no, the topic of India and Pakistan did not come up in the President's meetings with the Prime Minister.
On the first point about the ongoing or continued volatility in the region, that is exactly why the President has dispatched the Secretary of Defense to the region. It's going to require continual effort, continual work. But I think that many nations can take pride in the fact that their diplomacy has led to a trend that is moving in the right direction, and not the wrong direction. And the world needs to keep its wheel -- its shoulder to the wheel to make certain that it keeps turning in the right direction.
Question: You said a while back that many nations could take pride in the diplomatic efforts that walked India and Pakistan apparently back from this brink. Perhaps you've addressed this in other briefings and I just missed it, but could you fit into that diplomatic mosaic where China would fit in and -- did China play any kind of a role? Was Beijing asked to --
Ari Fleischer: Let me ask that specific question, because I have not been briefed on any information particular to China. I was referring specifically to Britain and the efforts through Jack Straw. The European Union has been involved. And President Putin, of course, and Russia played an important role.
Question: Given China's historic role in the region, and its long-standing alliance with India, it would be interesting to know what our strategic thinking might be on the kind of role that China could play.
Ari Fleischer: We'll follow up. We'll get that. I'll see.
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