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Continued: Transcript of Obama news conference

  • Article by: , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 9, 2009 - 8:48 PM

Michael Fletcher from the Washington Post?

QUESTION: Yes, thank you, sir. What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?

OBAMA: You know, I think it's depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you're a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it — it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree. And it's unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight.

And, you know, the thing I'm probably most concerned about is the message it sends to our kids. What I'm pleased about is Major League Baseball seems to finally be taking this seriously, to recognize how big a problem this is for the sport, and that our kids hopefully are watching and saying, You know what? There are no short cuts, that when you try to take short cuts, you may end up tarnishing your entire career, and that your integrity's not worth it. That's the message I hope is communicated.

All right. Helen? This is my inaugural moment here.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm really excited.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan and — are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And, also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?

OBAMA: Well, I think that Pakistan — there is no doubt that, in the FATA region of Pakistan, in the mountainous regions along the border of Afghanistan, that there are safe havens where terrorists are operating.

And one of the goals of Ambassador Holbrooke, as he is traveling throughout the region, is to deliver a message to Pakistan that they are endangered as much as we are by the continuation of those operations and that we've got to work in a regional fashion to root out those safe havens.

OBAMA: It's not acceptable for Pakistan or for us to have folks who, with impunity, will kill innocent men, women and children. And, you know, I — I believe that the new government of Pakistan and — and Mr. Zardari cares deeply about getting control of the situation. We want to be effective partners with them on that issue.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: Well, Mr. Holbrooke is there, and that's exactly why he's being sent there, because I think that we have to make sure that Pakistan is a stalwart ally with us in battling this terrorist threat.

With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don't want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everybody will be in danger.

And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally. I think that it's important for the United States, in concert with Russia, to lead the way on this.

And, you know, I've mentioned this in conversations with the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev, to let him know that it is important for us to restart the — the conversations about how we can start reducing our nuclear arsenals in an effective way so that...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: ... so that we then have the standing to go to other countries and start stitching back together the nonproliferation treaties that, frankly, have been weakened over the last several years. OK.

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