Latest News

Verbatim | From Tuesday's White House news conference

From Tuesday's White House news briefing with press secretary Robert Gibbs:

QUESTION: Thank you, Robert. Two brief questions. First, to follow up on Jake's question regarding former President Duvalier's return to Haiti, you said that any former leader coming back should concentrate on human rights and rebuilding Haiti, correct?

GIBBS: Uh-huh.

QUESTION: Does that policy also apply to former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide?

GIBBS: Again, I think we're in a period of, obviously, some uncertainty in Haiti; that current or former political actors and their supporters should be focused on not what is best for them but what is best for the people of Haiti. And that goes for -- that goes for anybody, either, as I said, in power or -- or -- or formerly in power: that, first and foremost, we should be thinking about peace, we should be thinking about prosperity, and we should be thinking about what's in the best interest of the people of Haiti as they continue to deal with, more than a year later, the impacts of a devastating earthquake.

QUESTION: So you have no problem -- the administration has no problem with Duvalier or Aristide returning, if they meet that criteria?

GIBBS: Again -- again, I -- it's not for me to divine who travels where on a Haitian passport.

GIBBS: Again, it is -- it is our strong belief that the test is not -- not a focus on themselves, but a focus on the Haitian people, particularly in a time of uncertainty as we point toward an election.

QUESTION: Robert, can you clear up the Haitian thing one more time? I'm confused. Do you support the government's decision to bring him into custody or not? GIBBS: I -- I have not...

QUESTION: OK, because that's where I was confused. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.

GIBBS: Mine was an -- look, I -- we're -- obviously for somebody to come into the country of Haiti requires a passport for the country of Haiti and I'm not going to get into that. And I'm not going to get into particularly diplomatic developments that have happened while I'm standing up here. Mine was a broader answer to, whether it is Duvalier or anybody else, again, whether in power or out, coming into the country in a time of uncertainty, it is important that we focus on peace and we focus on the people of Haiti.

QUESTION: Does the American government's position stand behind the Haitian government on what it -- on how it conducts its business...

GIBBS: I am sure that the...

QUESTION: I mean, if that's what they ask.

GIBBS: I'm sure that the Haitian government has not asked us or is -- we're not on a checklist on what they decide to do in terms of -- in terms of arresting people. And I'm, again, this happened while I was out here. I have not had a long discussion since I've been out here, as you can understand, with the National Security Council about developments have happened while I'm out here. So...

QUESTION: Could you...

GIBBS: I will -- I will see if there's anything to add.

  Comments