Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a White House press briefing conducted by Tony Snow: The White House James S. Brady Briefing Room 12:32 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: Good afternoon all...


Q Would he do the same thing?

MR. SNOW: I'm not -- I'm sorry, but that is hypothetical, and I'm not going to play. What I will tell you is that at all times the first position of this government is to pursue diplomacy. And we have pursued it actively and continue to do so with regard to the government of Iran . We had said that there are a number of areas in which they need to take a very careful look at their behavior, including the import of arms and fighters into Iraq , also the development of a nuclear program. We've also said that if they were to suspend movement toward a nuclear program and do other things, they, in fact, would be welcomed with open arms with the kinds of relations -- economic, cultural, political and so on -- that they desire. This was done in coordination with our allies, with the United Nations and the -- so the fact is --

Q Every day you have a drumbeat on Iran ; in one way or another the President mentions Iran . Is there some sort of --

MR. SNOW: It's not a drumbeat, but it is clearly true and I think -- this is not hypothetical -- that Iran has been playing a deeply non-constructive role when it comes to moving EFPs and resources into Iraq to destabilize the government.

Q I know you don't want to preview the President's address, but can we expect to know more at the time of the address about such things as whether he's going to be requesting more money for Iraq and details like that?

MR. SNOW: Again, I'll just -- I know it's maddening, you're just going to have to wait for the President's address.

Q Tony, what is the administration's view of the overall goal of the U.S. military forces in Iraq at this point? Obviously, political reconciliation is what we had heard about early on when the President announced the surge. But now you have Senator Hagel saying, "Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate we are doing now, for what?" You have Senator Lugar saying, "We need to see a strategy for how our troops and other resources in Iraq might be employed to fundamentally change the equation."

MR. SNOW: Well, I think one of the things that again was being argued by Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus today is that there have been fundamental changes in the equation. And in point of fact you've seen Iraqis now standing up and putting their own lives on the line, going after people -- for instance, al Qaeda: al Qaeda in Iraq was beheading children to intimidate their parents in Anbar province. There was an extraordinarily high rate of attacks on locals. And finally, what happened is the tribal sheiks said, we're not going to do this anymore. And they came to the United States and they came to the coalition and said: we want to work with you. These are people that they had been fighting against previously.

Furthermore, they have now said -- they've made it clear that they view this not merely as a marriage of military convenience, but one of real conviction. And, therefore, you have seen a dramatic change in events on the ground in Anbar, not merely in terms of going after al Qaeda, which has been thrashed in Anbar, but also in terms of the commitment of the people there to a democratic system of government.

You've also seen some signs that there's progress in places like Diyala. And as I pointed out, this is not simply a Sunni reaction to al Qaeda, you've also seen Shia reactions to recent things such as the bombing in Karbala, the assassination of two governors, all of which was done by Jaish al-Mahdi, the Mahdi Army. You've seen the reduction in sort of power and esteem for Muqtada al Sadr, who six months ago was preaching sermons in Najaf and is now hiding out in Iran .