Middle East, Iraq and the Dollar in Cabinet Meeting
The Cabinet Room
The White House
June 9, 2003
10:45 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I just met with my Cabinet, had the opportunity to brief them
about my trip overseas. I talked about the visit to Poland and to Russia,
where we've got good friends in both those countries -- at least in terms
of their leaders.
And then I went to the G8 in Evian, France. The message there was is that
America and Europe can do a lot together. We can make the world more peaceful,
we can make the world more free, we can work together to help fight the pandemic
of AIDS in Africa. There's a lot we can do together. We need to put our differences
in the past and combine our efforts. We can do -- trade together so our people
can find work. And I left feeling very good about our relations in Europe.
Then I went to the Middle East and started the -- started the march to peace.
And I'm optimistic about our chances to bring a peaceful, free Palestinian
state in existence, to live by side-by-side with a secure Israel. We've got
a lot of work to do, but I was pleased with the response of Prime Minister
Sharon. He's a courageous leader, dedicated to the security of the Israeli
people, as are we -- but also recognizing that life can be better for the
And I appreciate the leadership of Prime Minister Abbas, the new Prime Minister
of the Palestinian Authority, who spoke eloquently and clearly about the
need for the free world to fight off terror in order for a Palestinian state
And then I went over to Qatar. Had a very good visit with Ambassador Bremer
and General Tommy Franks, and we talked about the need for our coalition
to continue to make steadfast progress in Iraq so that the people of Iraq
will be able to eventually run themselves. And we are making steadfast progress.
Finally, we talked about domestic matters. Secretary Snow briefed us on
the economy. And we're optimistic about our economy, but we won't rest until
we're certain that people who are looking for work and who want to work can
find a job. The jobs and growth package passed by the Congress can be very
beneficial to those who look for work.
We also talked about the possibilities of Congress getting a good Medicare
bill out. I will spend time this week discussing Medicare with the American
people. Secretary Thompson briefed us on the progress being made by the Congress,
and I want to thank the congressional leadership for showing the determination
that's going to be necessary to get a good Medicare package out for America's
I'm proud of my Cabinet. I want to thank them for their good work and really
proud of the team we have put together here.
I'll answer a few questions. Tom, and then Patsy.
QUESTION: Mr. President, since you left the Middle East there's been a new outbreak
of violence, three main Palestinian militant groups have claimed responsibility
for it. Prime Minister Abbas says he will not use force to control these
groups and Prime Minister Sharon has been criticized by right-wing members
of his own party. Why are you so optimistic?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm optimistic because I was able to listen to the Prime
Ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority talk about the need for
peace and for a state.
Listen, I recognize there's going to be extremes, particularly in the Palestinian
territories, that want to blow up peace. But I think people are sick of it.
The average Palestinian must understand that their lives will improve with
the vision of Prime Minister Abbas. And the Arab neighborhood understands
that violence will lead to nothing except misery and the lack of hope. And
so I'm optimistic that responsible leaders have now got the message that
we must combine to work to fight off the terror attacks so that a peaceful
Palestinian state can emerge.
And, listen, I understand there's going to be a lot of work to do, but I'm
prepared to lead. And we're sending a team in place. Ambassador Wolf will
be on the ground soon, holding people to account and working to strengthen
Prime Minister Abbas so that he can deliver on his promise -- a promise he
made not only to me personally, but a promise he made to the Israeli officials.
And the promise was is that he will work as hard as he can to fight off those
elements within the territories that want to use violence to destroy any
hope for peace, and, therefore, use violence to destroy the hopes of the
QUESTION: Sir, is U.S. credibility on the line over weapons of mass destruction
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not exactly sure what that means. I mean, Iraq had a
weapons program. Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons
program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out that they did
have a weapons program. The credibility of this country is based upon our
strong desire to make the world more peaceful and the world is now more peaceful
after our decision; the strong desire to make sure free nations are more
secure -- our free nations are now more secure; and the strong desire to
spread freedom. And the Iraqi people are now free and are learning the habits
of freedom and the responsibilities that come with freedom.
I read a report that somehow, you know, that there is no al Qaeda presence
in Baghdad. I guess the people who wrote that article forgot about Al Zarqawi's
network inside of Baghdad that ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen named
Foley. And history will show, history -- time will prove that the United
States made the absolute right decision in freeing the people of Iraq from
the clutches of Saddam Hussein.
Kyle, last question.
QUESTION: Sir, do you have anything for us on the dollar? It continues to slide.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
QUESTION: The rhetoric continues to be that we favor a strong dollar policy, but
there doesn't seem to be much of anything helping to prop it up.
THE PRESIDENT: The policy of this government is a strong dollar policy.
I spent time talking about the -- our dollar policy at the G8. And I reminded
our G8 partners that there is a difference in interest rates, particularly
between Europe and the United States, and that interest rate differential
has caused people to sell dollars to buy euros to get a higher return on
investment. And that's why you're seeing pressure on the dollar.
And, of course, the European Union is, like the United States, has got an
independent organization that sets monetary policy. But you'll see a -- you'll
see different behavior as interest rate spreads begin to narrow between Europe
and the United States.
But I'll repeat as clearly as I can, the policy of the United States government
is a strong dollar policy.