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Obama in Afghanistan, press briefing. Transcript.

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release March 29, 2010

PRESS GAGGLE
BY A SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL

Dragon Mess Hall
Bagram Airfield

12:46 A.M. (Local)

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL: So obviously the President just came from a stop at the hospital. Before that he had a pretty quick meeting, about 15 minutes, maybe 20; check in with Ambassador Eikenberry and General McChrystal. After the speech to the troops -- General Jones was in there, as was General Lute; and Colonel Tien, John Tien, who is senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the NSC; and Rahm Emanuel.

And just an update on reading out where they all thought they were after the series of meetings they had today, particularly the meeting at the palace, which I think they agreed was a productive and useful meeting. And then obviously trying to set the stage for what comes next here, including their plans for continuing to stay in close touch.

So as Doug alluded earlier this afternoon, the President gets paper updates from each of those guys every Tuesday afternoon, from General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry. So he's able to ask them a series of questions off those papers from just last week. And they just agreed to continue to work together.

It was at the end of that meeting that the President said that he wanted to come by and see if he could see some more of our guys here at the mess.

Q It's pretty busy.

Q The wounded folks he met with, were those recently wounded, those troops?

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL: I think we've got a policy on that, Hans, to not read out any of the particulars.

Q Even of how many wounded were there?

SENIOR ADMINSTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd have to check -- I'd have to check on that, both to get the exact but also to find out -- just to reconfirm our policy on whether we read that stuff out.

Q Was the meeting with Karzai shorter than expected? I thought you guys had told us earlier the whole thing with the lunch was going to last a good hour, and then it ended up only being 25 minutes. Is that --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, no, not at all. In fact, what we had planned was a 15-minute one-on-one, or one -- a 15-minute smaller delegation, followed by the full delegation meeting, followed by a lunch. So I think we anticipated being there for almost two hours, and I think that's just about what we were there for. In fact, though, the smaller portion went longer than we expected.

Q It went to 25.

Q The two Afghans that were next to Karzai -- I think it was Vice President Fahim, and the other Vice President, do you know, who were also in the meeting, that small group meeting?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In the first meeting?

Q Yes.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it was Vice President Fahim and I think it was the National Security Advisor, whose name escapes me, but I'll confirm it for you.

Q Those were the two that we saw at the spray where --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What happened is we had met in a smaller room. They walked over into that larger room where you guys saw them. They sat down, kept conversing for a little bit, then you guys came in. Then they made their statements, kept conversing a little bit longer, then walked over to lunch.

Q And that's where the big -- the Cabinet came in and the rest of the delegation?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, yes.

Q Okay.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And I think there was some interesting stuff. I don't know if anybody has read out the lunch for you. I was not there because I was obviously with you guys for part of it, but it sounds like there was some really interesting back-and-forth in there that we'll make sure you get on the plane or something. Tom Donilon or Doug Lute might be the people to get it to you.

Q Any chance of some presidential time in the plane back? I know there is some talk of that. This doesn't have to be on the record. Or can.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's not my call, Hans.

Q Are you on background on this?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What's that?

Q Are you on background here?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I am.

Anything else? All right, I'm going to get one of these cookies.

END 12:49 A.M. (Local)

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 28, 2010 5:49 PM.

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