Photo Op with Jordanian King Abdullah
The White House
May 8, 2002
6:00 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's an honor for me to welcome back His Majesty, the King of
Jordan. I always enjoy a visit with His Majesty. He's a man who cares deeply
about people of the region, a person who always emphasizes the humanitarian
aspects of people of his country. And he cares deeply about peace.
It's a series of ongoing discussions I'm having with leaders from the Middle
East as to how we can seize the moment, to bring peace to the region. Your Majesty,
welcome back to the Oval Office. I'm thrilled to have you here.
KING ABDULLAH: Thank you, Mr. President. Always a delight to see you again,
and to be here at this difficult time. And I hope that with our discussions
today, we can somehow try and articulate a way to bring Palestinians and Israelis
to peace and security. And I look forward to fruitful discussions with you this
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. We -- the Majesty has agreed to take a couple of
questions, as have I. We'll start with Terry.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you said, "seize the moment." In many ways,
this is a difficult moment. At this juncture, as you're trying to put in place
a structure for progress towards peace, do you believe that Prime Minister Sharon
should act with restraint in responding to yesterday's suicide bombing?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first I want to remind everybody, it seems like every
week is a difficult week in the Middle East. And it's been difficult months
in the Middle East, and it's been difficult years in the Middle East. There's
been a lot of -- there's been a lot of hard feelings and hatreds. And our jobs
are to convince people, first and foremost, that they've got to believe in peace.
And Israel is a nation that is a sovereign nation.
But whatever response Israel decides to take, my hope, of course, is that the
Prime Minister keeps his vision of peace in mind. We've got to want peace in
order to achieve peace. And that's what the United States is working toward.
QUESTION: Your Majesty, what is the Jordanian vision that you're willing to
present to the U.S. administration regarding the U.S. proposed peace conference?
KING ABDULLAH: Well, we're actually here at the moment to see if we can identify
some logical steps over the next few weeks to articulate the vision that brings
the Israelis and the Palestinians out of the impasse that we're facing at the
moment. And we'll discuss the views this evening, and maybe see if we can find
a road map to have America's support to bring Israelis and Palestinians the
peace that they deserve.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you see any role at all for Arafat in any king of
peace conference at this point, or does that have to wait until there's been
a reform in the Palestinian Authority?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, I was pleased to read the transcripts of
his call against terror, in Arabic. I didn't read the transcripts in Arabic,
I read the English translation. But I was most pleased that he did that. I thought
that was a incredibly positive sign.
As you know, I've been one who he has disappointed in the past, and therefore,
I hope that his actions now match his words. It's very important for us, and
I'm going to explain this to His Majesty why I think us -- all of us involved
-- must work hard to put a -- the infrastructure in place, or the structures
in place for a Palestinian Authority that respects rule of law, that has its
own constitution, that is able to fight corruption, that's able to spend money
properly when it gets it from foreign sources, so that there is hope, there
is hope for the Palestinian people.
One of the things I'm deeply concerned about, and I know His Majesty is, as
well, is that there is a lot of people -- Palestinians who don't believe there
is any hope, there's no future. And we've got to make sure they have a better
future, by putting an economic plan in place. But that can't happen unless there
is a Palestinian Authority that's backed by a true government, I mean a true
sense of the ability to run itself. And that -- and in turn, will help Israel
be more comfortable with her neighbor.
And so we're going to talk about the way forward. And the way forward is to
-- and step one is to make sure there's a unified Palestinian security force
-- a force that is responsible, a force that reports to a certain authority
figure, a force that we can hold accountable, a force that's not fractured and
fights each other. And to that end, as you know, the other day I announced that
George Tenet is going to go to the region, to help this reform.
QUESTION: Your Majesty, you are the fourth leader now that's met with President
Bush in the last two or three weeks. Where do you see the Arab nations right
now? One of the things that the President called for was that the Arab nations
need to take responsibility, need to take a leadership role. What do you see
the Arab nations as doing, and what is the message that you're bringing now
from the Arab leaders that you have met before coming here?
KING ABDULLAH: Well, one of the things that we will discuss with the President
this evening is that after this meeting our foreign minister goes to Cairo to
be there at the summit that is going to be convened by President Mubarak and
Crown Prince Abdullah, with a group of Arab countries, that will articulate
the vision of Beirut -- in other words, the olive branch towards Israel in practical
terms -- and at the same time, having to deal with the issues of security and
And I hope that there is a lot of success in that meeting, that allows the Arab
countries to really step up to the plate, and move forward with the responsibility
that we need from them.