Gibbs ducks when pressed about Obama-Hayward meeting

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs ducked when pressed about President Barack Obama scheduling his first meeting with BP CEO Tony Hayward. 

Obama has not met with Hayward, who has been sharply criticized for the company's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, since it began over 50 days ago. 

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After fielding multiple questions about a sit-down between Obama and Hayward, Gibbs said "I said I wouldn't rule out a meeting with relevant BP officials."

Hayward is scheduled to be in Washington next week to testify before a congressional panel about the company's response to the oil leak, which Obama has called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. 

Despite calls for a meeting between the two, Gibbs has stressed that an encounter might not yield results because of the company's corporate structure. 

While Hayward has been the public face of BP in their ad campaigns, Gibbs said that the day-to-day actions on the spill are determined by the chairman of the board. 

But when asked if the president would meet with the chairman, Gibbs said, "I certainly wouldn't rule out that the president might see the chairman of the board at some point."

Gibbs assured reporters that administration officials speak to BP multiple times per day. 

Due to its responsibility for the spill, BP has been pressured by some in Congress to suspend its dividends to shareholders because of complaints that it has not fully paid restitution to affected Gulf Coast residents. 

Gibbs refused to call on the company to suspend its dividends, but said that BP will be held accountable for their financial obligations. 

"I am not going to get involved in their legal obligations paying dividends," he said. "If we are going to talk about paying dividends, if we are going to be seeing $50 million ad campaigns, we certainly shouldn't hear about claims not being paid."

Gibbs also said that the White House would continue to uphold its six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling despite complaints from Gulf state lawmakers that it is negatively affecting their states' economies. 

The press secretary did say that "we believe and understand that there has to be something done for those whose livelihoods who have been paused."

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