30 June, 2005


White House Report, June 30: Iran, Personnel

White House looking into allegation against Iranian president-elect


President Bush said that although he has no information on the involvement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president-elect, in the 1979 hostage-taking of American embassy personnel in Tehran, the allegation by some of the former hostages that he was one of the captors “raises many questions."

Bush was speaking June 30 to journalists ahead of his July 5 trip to Denmark and July 6-8 trip to Scotland, where he will participate in the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Gleneagles.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan acknowledged news reports and statements made by several former American hostages about Ahmadinejad’s past.  “We take them very seriously and we are looking into them to better understand the facts,” he said.

“In terms of issues relating to Iran I think you know very well we have a number of concerns when it comes to Iran, which is run by an unelected few, the mullahs, and we’ve talked about what those concerns are,” McClellan said.  “One of our immediate priorities right now is to resolve the nuclear issue, and that’s why we’re supporting the European 3 [EU-3, the United Kingdom, Germany and France] in their efforts.”

Earlier, in a June 29 interview with The Times of London, President Bush said “[t]ime will tell” as to whether the United States and Europe can “do business” with Ahmadinejad. 

“The first interface, kind of serious interface with the West will be on the EU-3 discussions about the nuclear ambitions of Iran,” he said.


Press Secretary McClellan announced that Kristen Silverberg, deputy assistant to President Bush and adviser to the chief of staff, is the president’s choice to become the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs subject to her approval by the U.S. Senate.

Silverberg has been part of the White House policy team for the past four and a half years, McClellan said, describing her as “a foundation of our White House policy apparatus.”

According to press reports, Silverberg and fellow Bush administration official Michael Gerson recently undertook a 10-day visit to Africa to review the president’s HIV/AIDS initiative and other humanitarian efforts.

McClellan said that in her new position, “[o]ne of her immediate missions will be focusing on promoting reform at the United Nations to make it more effective as well as working on initiatives like our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and promote education for girls in parts of the world, and other issues.”

The press secretary also announced personnel changes in the National Security Council’s communications operations.  Michelle Davis has been appointed deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and global outreach, a position formerly held by Jim Wilkinson.

McClellan also said Frederick Jones, acting spokesman at the National Security Council (NSC), has become the special assistant to the president and press secretary for foreign affairs.  The position makes Jones the chief spokesman for the National Security Council.  The previous NSC spokesman, Sean McCormack, recently assumed duties as the State Department spokesman.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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