with Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
The Oval Office
The White House
July 18, 2002
4:22 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I have a short statement here, and then I'd be glad to answer
two questions; I'll call on the people. Then we need to get to our meeting.
I want to thank the Ministers for coming today. Secretary of State Powell has
been working hard to work on an initiative that we believe will bring peace
to the Middle East. Our vision of peace says that there ought to be two states
living side by side in peace.
Our vision for peace recognizes that there must be security in the region. Our
vision for peace understands that too many Palestinians suffer, they suffer
from lack of food and basic services. Our vision for peace understands that
all parties have got responsibilities. The United States has a responsibility;
the neighborhood has responsibilities; the Israelis have a responsibility; the
Palestinians have a responsibility. And we will continue to work with all parties
to achieve the pathway to peace.
And I want to thank the Ministers for coming. They represent governments that
are anxious to work with us, anxious to work toward achieving the vision that
we all hope will happen soon. It's in the best interests of the world that we
do achieve peace in the Middle East, and I'm looking forward to continuing our
I'll answer a couple of questions. Dick Keil.
QUESTION: Mr. President, would you be willing to consider a permanent Palestinian state
that included Chairman Arafat in some sort of ceremonial role, or as President?
THE PRESIDENT: As I mentioned -- I think it was yesterday, I think, I had a
press conference. My, time flies -- the issue is bigger than any single person.
And our discussions will center on how to have institutionals -- institutions
in place that will truly represent the will of the Palestinian people; that
will give confidence to the world that we can spend money in a way that helps
the Palestinians; that when we talk about security, there are security forces
there aimed at protecting people from terrorist attack, as opposed to enabling
people to stay in office.
You know, it's very interesting that these leaders came to our country to discuss
peace, and the terrorists attacked. It's clear that a few want to damage the
hopes of many. And by working to put institutions in place that will help on
security and finances and government, institutions which will outlast any single
leader -- and so that's what we're going to discuss today.
QUESTION: Mr. President, what do you think of the idea of having troops and others from
the Egyptian and Saudi and Jordanian sides help train security forces for the
Palestinians? And sir, yesterday there was another double suicide bombing just
after you used the word "progress." Do you think that's a coincidence?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I'm beginning to think that every time we have a high
level meeting, something happens -- it's not coincidental. I think the enemies
of peace try to send signals, try to derail peace, and try to discourage us.
And one of the things I'm going to tell the leaders today is we refuse to be
discouraged. We're going to continue to work for peace, continue to push hard
for peace, because we think it's a -- we know it's in our vital interests.
In terms of who trains whom for security, that's part of the ongoing discussions,
and that's what we want to discuss. George Tenet has laid out a plan, and part
of the plan is to work with the nations present here, as to how to effect a
security arrangement that will be effective and will work. That's what we want
to do, and that's what we want to discuss.