Aboard Air Force One
En Route Da Nang, Vietnam
12:05 P.M. ICT
MS. SANDERS: I’m going to give a couple of quick updates and then I’m going to get out of the way and turn it over to [senior administration officials] and they’ll give you a preview of the speech and cover any trip stuff.
We’re going to be right on time so I’ll make this quick. I’m going to read a statement on the Roy Moore stuff. I know you guys have had lots of questions.
“Like most Americans, the President believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case, one from many years ago — to destroy a person’s life. However, the President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside. Regardless, the President must and will remain focused on representing our country on his historic trip to Asia where he has been treated with great respect and made unprecedented progress in further strengthening alliances and promoting America’s interests above all else.”
Also, to totally do a 180 and change gears, regarding the Putin meeting: There was never a meeting confirmed and there will not be one that takes place due to scheduling conflicts on both sides. We’re not going to be able to make anything work.
Q So not even a pull-aside, like in the hallway, possibly?
MS. SANDERS: There’s no formal meeting or anything scheduled for them. Now, they’re going to be in the same place, so are they going to bump into each other and say hello? Certainly possible and likely. But in terms of a scheduled, formal meeting, there’s not one on the calendar and we don’t anticipate that there will be one.
Q (Inaudible) in the Philippines or —
MS. SANDERS: Not as of right now.
Q What happened, Sarah? Why not?
MS. SANDERS: For scheduling concerns on both sides, there just wasn’t a way to make it work.
Q Today? Or through the whole rest of the trip?
MS. SANDERS: As of right now, there’s nothing planned for the trip for them to sit down.
Q Does he have a bilateral? There’s one on the schedule that we saw, at four o’clock.
MS. SANDERS: No, nothing at this time. So I know that there were some potential conversations about, and there was a hold for one, but I don’t think there’s anything that will take place in that space.
And now I’m going to turn it over to these guys and let them walk through speech preview, and if you guys have any other further questions on the trips, they’re certainly capable of handling that.
Q Ground rules from here on out are?
MS. SANDERS: These guys are on background.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hey, everyone. How are you? So we’re rolling into Da Nang shortly, and the President is — first order of business is to go to the CEO Summit, where he’s going to deliver the second major address of this whole trip — the first, of course, being the speech on North Korea in South Korea, at the National Assembly in Seoul. This one will be before an audience of, I think, 700 CEOs and business leaders from throughout the region.
He’s going to be talking about America’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Indo-Pacific is a term that, in a sense, widens the aperture for the region. It talks about a region that encompasses everything from India to the West Coast of the United States; all of the Asian countries in Northeast Asia; down in Oceania with Australia; the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand in the south; India to the west; the United States to the east; and, of course, Southeast Asia as the crossroads to all of that, and really the vibrant area that’s 620 million people, a young demographically — we should be envious of the demographics, actually.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m just talking about Southeast Asia, the ASEAN states, yeah. We’re talking about half the world’s population in the entire Indo-Pacific region, and somewhere between one-third and one-half of the world’s economy.
So the President is going to — in his speech, he’s going to talk about America’s history as a Pacific power in this region. It’s not something that was an accident of World War II that we are a — that we have enormous interests at stake here in terms of our security, in terms of our prosperity. It’s actually something that goes back to the earliest days of our Republic, and you’ll hear that in the speech.
You’ll hear his vision of a region where a country’s sovereignty is protected; where countries have the independence to follow their own dreams; where there is an architecture in place that was built at great cost, particularly in the period following World War II — during World War II and following World War II; and that that architecture of rules, freedom of navigation, rule of law, respect for individual rights — all of these things have served to advance prosperity for every country in the region.
And I know my colleague has been working on the economic side of the visit as well and can you some comments about APEC generally and what the President is going to be doing on this trip.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. I think one of the areas the President will be discussing is the importance of having a market-driven, rules-based trade system, and how the failure of some governments to adhere to the rules-based system and in subsidized industries and state intervention in their economies has an effect not only on America’s prosperity, but the prosperity of the region as a whole, in addition to putting a stress on the international trading system.
So I think there will be a contrast between our interests in pursuing free and fair trade in the region, and those who are seeking to take advantage of the region through market-driven intervention.
As far as the APEC Summit itself, it’s a great opportunity for the President to engage with a number of economies in his interest in pursuing deeper dialogue on economic issues, including infrastructure, energy, and trade. So I think those will be some of the highlights of the visit at this stop
Q On the speech?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The speech is similar to his message that in order for the international trading system to grow and prosper, people need to adhere to market-driven principles and open their economies to each other’s products, and that a system that is unbalanced between those who have an open market and those who close their markets, and is not based reciprocity, is not sustainable.
Q Is China the main target of the speech?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, obviously, some of the practices that China has undertaken can have significant effects — steel overcapacities, semiconductors — many of these could have a significant effect on the U.S. worker as well as workers around the region. So I think this is one of the examples of how that type of intervention can be very negative to the prosperity of the region, as well as U.S. citizens.
Q It sounds like there’s going to be an announcement about TPP-11. Is the United States being left behind in this region, in your mind?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. I think the fact that — the President is here visiting and is part of the dialogue, and has already spent a significant portion of time talking to his allies and likeminded partners in Japan and South Korea. We’ll continue that conversation with many parties here.
So we absolutely are engaged on the economic side, and we’ll continue to be so.
Q Could you talk about India’s role in the Indo-Pacific framework?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. India is a major economy that’s rising. It has fast growth. Prime Minister Modi has been doing a lot in the way of pressing reforms to allow India to pull even more people out of poverty.
India is increasingly a partner of the United States in security terms as well, and it also happens to share many values in common with the United States. India and the United States are the world’s first and second largest democracies, and both of us have an abiding interest in the maritime commons remaining open and trade continuing to flow freely.
So it’s no accident that we’re viewing the region with a wider aperture to include India as one of the “bookends”, as Secretary Tillerson calls it, of the region — the United States being the other bookend.
Q One more thing. We’re landing in Southeast Asia. The President has not actually, publicly, to my knowledge, mentioned what’s going on in Burma, even though the rest of the administration has focused on it. Will he do that? Is he not doing it because it was such a focus of President Obama? Is that why he’s ignoring it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no, no. The President has been quite concerned about what’s going on in Burma. It’s come up in a number of his conversations with Southeast Asian leaders, and certainly he’ll be discussing it, and publicly as well.
I don’t know if it will be in this —
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I expect that he will. Perhaps not in this speech, but while —
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION: No, no, no.
Q During this trip.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In this trip. Yeah. Thank you.
END 12:14 P.M. ICT