White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefed reporters on Air Force One, en route with President Obama to the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy. Immediately upon arriving at the press work location, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman filled in some more details.
HEADLINE: Chinese President Hu Jintao has gone home due to the ethnic violence that has flared between the minority Uighur population and the Han Chinese.
Some reports say 156 are dead. Gibbs told the press that there will be a delegation meeting instead and that he believes the meeting will be led on the US side by National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones.
Froman said that State Counselor Dai Binguo would replace Hu in the meetings.
Asked what Hu's departure would mean for the agenda that he and President Obama were to lay out on North Korea and other pressing topics, Froman told reporters, "We have a broad-based agenda with China and we always look forward to sitting down-- the leaders always look forward to sitting down to discuss the various issues in the bilateral relationship and globally. Since this meeting [isn't going to] happen, they'll look forward to their next meeting."
Gibbs appears to be reigning in expectations on a second stimulus, after President Obama told Major in an Fox interview yesterday that he's not ruling one out. Gibbs notes: "...at the same time he's not ruling anything in."Like his boss, Gibbs notes the time it takes to implement the recovery plan that has already passed. That is on track, he said. Gibbs: "We're focused on the implementation of the first bill and understand and acknowledge that adding jobs is going to take some time."
Watch this space later today for more on a G8 Statement on Iran.
EARTHQUAKE AFTERSHOCK DANGER?
Gibbs downplayed concerns about reports of aftershocks from April's earthquake in the town L'Aquila, the G-8 summit site. He said officials
wouldn't do anything that would put people in danger. There is planning if something were to happen, he added.
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S MEETING WITH POPE BENEDICT XVI:
Gibbs: "I think there will be a frank discussion." The Pope is aware of Obama's outreach to the muslim world and they share the same views on reducing nuclear weapons, he said.
Gibbs referred back to the Notre Dame speech where Mr.Obama said even if not everyone sees eye to eye on everything there are steps that can be taken that can show progress.
The president told Major yesterday "I think that there is a strong tradition of social justice in the Catholic Church that had a profound influence on me. You know, my early organizing work was with a lot of Catholic churches in Chicago. I've spoken in the past of my admiration for Cardinal Bernardin, who was somebody who was steeped in that tradition. I think the Holy Father has consistently spoken out on these issues. I'm sure he will again."