with Leaders of Kenya and Ethiopia
The Cabinet Room
The White House
December 5, 2002
10:20 A.M. EST
PRESIDENT BUSH: Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to welcome our friends
to the Cabinet Room in the White House. Each leader will make a statement. We'll
then have one question from an American, one question from a Kenyan, and one
question from an Ethiopian. The President and the Prime Minister will decide
who gets the question, as will I.
First, it's an honor to welcome President Moi and Prime Minister Meles to the
-- this is where we do our work, the Cabinet Room. We welcome two strong friends
of America here; two leaders of countries which have joined us in the -- to
fight the global war on terror; two steadfast allies, two people that the American
people can count on when it comes to winning the first war of the 21st century.
And I'm so pleased that the President and the Prime Minister have agreed to
come and have a substantive visit. I thank their delegations for coming with
them, and I look forward to a good and open discussion about how we can advance
our respective interests.
Mr. President, welcome. President Moi is a strong leader of Kenya. He is leading
the country through a transition period through open elections and, Mr. President,
you have distinguished yourself by your service to your country and I appreciate
that. We welcome you.
PRESIDENT MOI: Thank you very much indeed. I'm delighted to have my last visit
to the United States as the President of the Republic of Kenya. We are -- I
am here to discuss a wide range of issues. The most important issue is the security
within the Horn of Africa and particularly my own country, Kenya.
These are important issues which will enable us to help to eliminate terrorism
in that part of the world. And so I am delighted to be in Washington today.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you. And, of course, I want to reiterate
what I said before, and that is our country mourns the loss of life in Kenya,
the tragedy that befell your country as a result of killers trying to terrorize
freedom-loving people, and I appreciate your leadership on that issue.
Mr. Prime Minister, I'm so honored that you're here in Washington.
PRIME MINISTER MELES: Thank you, Mr. President, we are all here, very glad that
we've been welcomed to Washington. A moment ago you said that we are engaged
in the first war of the 21st century. We believe that the war against terrorism
is a war against people who have not caught up with the 21st century, who have
values and ideals that are contrary to the values of the 21st century. And in
that context, it's a fight not between the United States and some groups, it's
a fight between those who want to catch up with the 21st century and those who
want to remain where they are.
So I want to assure you that we are all with you against forces of terror in
this -- and I appreciate your support and leadership. Thank you very much for
welcoming us --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. We'll have one question from
each side here. Jackson.
QUESTION: Mr. President, I've been out in the country on vacation and a lot
of people have asked me, what are the chances that we're actually going to war
with Iraq? I mean, how likely is war and what would trigger it?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right. That's the question that you should ask to Saddam Hussein.
(Laughter.) It's his choice to make. And Saddam Hussein must disarm. The international
community has come together through the United Nations Security Council and
voted 15 to nothing for Saddam Hussein to disarm. We recently got back from
NATO where our NATO allies voted overwhelmingly to send this same message.
So, David, to answer your question, the question is whether or not he chooses
to disarm. And we hope he does. For the sake of peace, he must disarm.
There are inspectors inside the country now, and the inspectors are there not
to play a game of hide-and-seek; but they're there to verify whether or not
Mr. Saddam Hussein is going to disarm. And we hope he does.
QUESTION: But at what point would you make that decision?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We hope he does. You'll see.
Mr. President, would you care to call from somebody from the Kenyan press? You
don't have to if you don't want to -- (laughter) -- I thought it would be hospitable.
QUESTION: I'm here from Ethiopia.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, we'll get you next, sir. (Laughter.) Is the Kenyan reporter
here? Oh, there.
QUESTION: I would like to know, since Kenya has been a victim of terrorism,
what does the U.S. government --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Well, that's what we're going to talk about, of course.
And part of the reason the President has come is to discuss ways that we can
continue our aid program and continue our work together.
The other thing we must remember is that the war on terror is global in nature
and that if the terrorists could strike in Kenya, they could strike in Ethiopia,
they could strike in Europe. And that we must continue this war, to hunt these
killers down one at a time, to bring them to justice, which means information
sharing. We're pleased with the information sharing we're getting from our allies
here. It means cutting off the money, and it means bringing to justice -- like
the Kenyan authorities will be doing to those who kill and take innocent life.
Do you care to call on somebody from your press corps?
QUESTION: I would like to repeat the same question the Kenyan reporter asked
of you. What could be exactly the role of the United States in assisting those
African countries, particularly who are the victims of terrorism?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. Well, information sharing, for example. We've got a good
intelligence-gathering network, made stronger by the fact that we share information
between countries. But if we get wind that somebody is thinking about doing
something to Ethiopia, we're prepared to work with the Ethiopian government
to disrupt any plans.
The best thing we can do to help secure your countries is to chase the killers
down, and we're making good progress. Slowly but surely, we're dismantling an
al Qaeda network. And that inures to the benefit of all the countries of the
We, of course, will be talking to -- about issues such as drought as well. We'll
be talking about other issues, economic vitality. I'll be thanking these leaders
for their work in bringing stability and peace to their part of the continent
of Africa. These are leaders, these are men who have stepped forward and have
shown vision and leadership, and we're grateful for that.