Op with French President Jacques Chirac
The White House
November 6, 2001
11:44 A.M. EST
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. It's my honor to welcome our close friend and
my personal friend back to Washington, D.C. President Chirac, thank you for
being here, sir. We've had a good discussion about our common efforts to fight
terror. I thank the French people, the French government, for their strong support,
and I appreciate your help on the military front, Mr. President.
We recognize that our war against terror is more than just military action in
Afghanistan; that we have an obligation to help feed the innocent people in
Afghanistan, and that we've got to make sure that there is a post-Taliban government
that reflects the values of both our countries. And so we had a good discussion
and it's -- I value the advice of the President. I value his friendship. And
I'm so glad he came back to the country.
Mr. President, welcome.
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, thank you, Mr. President. I must say, it's always a
pleasure and a delight to be here and to be at your side. And I must say that
I admire you. I admire your calm and your determination in the difficult circumstances
that we have to face together.
The ultimate responsibility of any political official, be he head of state or
head of government, is to ensure the safety of his people. And that is exactly
what President Bush is doing, what I am doing, what all our colleagues are doing.
And to ensure the safety of the people, we have to use all the tools at our
disposal, the domestic tools and also the international tools. And by international
tool, of course, I refer to the eradication of the current terrorism.
In this spirit, we talked about the military operations, about French support,
about the political actions that we must take to establish in Afghanistan all
the trappings of a modern state; and also the urgent need for humanitarian aid,
both for refugees and all the people of Afghanistan. And also, we mentioned
the crises across the world, crises that can fuel terrorism. And of course,
by that I mean that we mentioned, amongst other things, the Middle East and
the need for the peace process to be restored there.
And on all these issues, I wanted to contribute a few thoughts in the general
debate, and that is what I did. And I'd like to thank him for welcoming me.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll take a couple of questions. I'll take two. The President's
agreed to take two, starting with Mr. Fournier.
QUESTION: Sir, this morning you said that the terrorists -- al Qaeda terrorists are
seeking to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Can you tell us how close they
are to getting a nuclear bomb, or even a bomb that would distribute deadly nuclear
waste across the country?
And to President Chirac, your government says about 2,000 of your troops will
be involved in the U.S.-led effort. How many of those will be on the ground
PRESIDENT BUSH: This morning I did say that Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, were
seeking to develop weaponry that -- weapons of mass destruction. And the reason
I said that is because I was using his own words. He announced that this was
his intention. And I believe we need to take him seriously. We will do everything
we can to make sure he does not acquire the means to deliver weapons of mass
destruction. If he doesn't have them, we will work hard to make sure he doesn't;
if he does, we'll make sure he doesn't deploy them. And that's why it is so
important that we continue our search for al Qaeda in Afghanistan to hunt them
down, to get them on the run, and to bring them to justice.
But this is an evil man that we're dealing with. And I wouldn't put it past
him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it. And that's
why our coalition is -- that's why I work hard to keep our coalition bound together.
And that's why we're going to keep relentless military pressure on him in Afghanistan.
And that's why we must prevail. That's why we must win.
And I told my friend, the President, there's no doubt in my mind we will win.
The question to Mr. Chirac.
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I didn't say that France was ready to put 2,000 men at the
disposal of the military operation; on the contrary, I said that we already
had 2,000 men of all three forces involved in the operation.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Question from the French press. No, only one question, Mr. Fournier.
This is the old two-question trick; you say you've got one question and he has
Would you call on somebody from your press?
QUESTION: We are -- I'll ask the question in French, a question that is directed to
both Presidents. And we are already involved in the military phase. Have we
already -- have you already started thinking about the political phase and the
possible increased involvement of the U.N. for the future in that phase?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Of course we have mentioned all this. And I must say that
the military aspect is necessary, yes, but there are other aspects. And the
U.S. and its allies are currently making efforts to speed up the political process
and the quest for a political settlement in Afghanistan. And in this respect,
we support Mr. Brahimi and what he is doing. We are all also involved in increasing
and stepping up the humanitarian aid, and we mentioned that this morning.
We spoke about all these issues, because they are all closely intertwined, as
are other issues that haven't yet been mentioned in front of you ladies and
gentlemen: for instance, the financing of the fight against terrorism, or financial
measures to fight against terrorism; and also the havens that are offered to
terrorists in some countries because of national legislation, and also the fight
against the opportunities that our democratic societies give these terrorists.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, I have nothing more to add to that. I'm in agreement with
what the President said.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you said this morning that you wanted more than sympathy or
words from other countries. What nations were you specifically talking about,
and what do you want from them?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I am going to the United Nations to give a speech on Saturday.
And I am going to praise those nations who have joined our coalition. But a
coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy; a coalition partner
must perform. And our coalition partner here has performed; we work together.
And that means different things for different nations. Some nations don't want
to contribute troops, and we understand that. Other nations can contribute intelligence-sharing,
and for that we're grateful. But all nations, if they want to fight terror,
must do something. It is time for action. And that's going to be the message
of my speech at the United Nations.
I have no specific nation in mind, at least as I stand here now. Everybody ought
to be given the benefit of the doubt. But over time, it's going to be important
for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You are either
with us or you are against us in the fight against terror. And that's going
to be part of my speech at the United Nations.
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Just one comment. I would just like to remind you, ladies
and gentlemen, that through Resolution 1373, the Security Council of the United
Nations acknowledged the legitimacy of U.S. action, and also outlined the obligation
for all countries to join the fight against terrorism. So, of course, all nations
and countries contribute according to their capabilities. But there is no way
they can get out of this commitment. It is the legitimacy and the legitimate
reaction of the U.S. that was endorsed.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The soup is getting cold. Do you want one more question from
the French press?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: You are the -- you're the boss.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm the boss? Well, let's go eat, then. (Laughter.)