The Muslim Brotherhood and the Colombia and Panama Trade Deals: Today’s Qs for O’s W.H. – 2/9/11

Feb 9, 2011 3:53pm

TAPPER:  Has anybody in the Obama administration reached out for consultations or discussions at all with anybody in the leading  opposition group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood?

GIBBS:  I — not that I'm aware of.

TAPPER:  In terms of your readout of the president's meeting with the House Republican leaders, you said — you made a reference to “intensifying our engagement” in the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements.  The Republicans say:  Those free trade agreements are good to go; send them up; we'll vote for them.  What do you mean when you say “intensifying our engagement”?

GIBBS:  Well, I think there are some — and as Ambassador Kirk said today, there are some outstanding issues.  Look, these free trade agreements have been — haven't gone anywhere in Congress because there continue to be some outstanding issues, particularly around internationally recognized labor rights, that I think many believe must be addressed.

I think the model that we used for South Korea is one that the — Ambassador Kirk and the president believe can result in an agreement that will capture broad bipartisan support, hopefully as soon as we can get some of this worked out.

 But I don't — there shouldn't be — once the agreement gets through on South Korea, I don't expect that there would be a lot of delay in getting that done, as we had, again, outstanding issues as it related to South Korea, particularly on autos and beef.  We worked that out, and stakeholders from both sides of the political spectrum — business and labor — are now endorsing that free-trade agreement.

TAPPER:  But do they need to be renegotiated, Colombia and Panama? 

GIBBS:  Well, they — we need to address some outstanding issues, like we did with South Korea.

TAPPER:  Wait a minute.  But with South Korea, you renegotiated the deal, right?

GIBBS:  No, we addressed outstanding issues.

TAPPER:  Can you explain what that means?

GIBBS:  There are issues that need to be addressed.  And that's what we're going to do to address them.

TAPPER:  I don't know what that means when you say "issues that need to be addressed."  Does a trade agreement — you –

GIBBS:  Jake, I –

TAPPER:  You renegotiated with the South Korean government is what you did.

GIBBS:  No, we — there were — there were shortcomings in what needed to be addressed on issues relating to autos and beef, which had prevented an agreement from being voted on.  There are, as I said in my earlier answer to you, outstanding issues relating to Colombia and Panama that also need to be addressed.

-Jake Tapper

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