with United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair in Prague
Prague Congress Center
Prague, Czech Republic
November 21, 2002
9:07 A.M. Local Time
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm really looking forward to visiting with the Prime Minister
of Great Britain, Tony Blair. He's a friend; he's a strong leader. He and I
are bound by the strong conviction that freedom belongs to everybody, and we're
going to work together to make the world a more peaceful place.
I'm greatly disturbed by the news from the Middle East today. There's been yet
another suicide bombing. It is clear that those who want to use terror to stop
any process for peace are still active. In order to achieve peace, all countries
in that region must be responsible for -- take responsibility, do their best
to fight off terror.
And I know the Prime Minister joins me as we mourn the loss of life. But we
are going to continue to work toward peace in the Middle East. Two states living
side by side in peace is the vision. And we will continue to work with those
who share that vision -- for the sake of the Israeli people, for the sake of
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Mr. President, first of all, we're pleased to see you
again and exchange views on a range of issues that confront us at the moment.
And I agree with what you said a moment ago -- our thoughts are obviously with
the victims of the latest terrorist outrage in Israel.
And the two things that are so clear is that, first of all, we need the action
on security and action against terrorism; and secondly, to make progress in
building a lasting peace in that region, based, as you say, on the two-state
solution. It's an issue that I think, what is interesting is that the whole
world wants to see us now, having -- take this very firm stand against terrorism,
against issues of weapons of mass destruction, but also try and make sure that
we provide the secure future with lasting peace in the Middle East. And I think
those issues are all very much linked together.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll take a question apiece. Greg.
QUESTION: Mr. President, can you tell us if you've had a chance this week to speak with
German Chancellor Schroeder yet?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I did. I had a cordial meeting at that meeting last night. We
greeted each other, cordially.
QUESTION: Can you give us an assessment of the state of U.S.-German relations in light
of the recent election?
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's a -- Germany is an important friend of the United States.
And we've got a relationship to maintain, and we will maintain it.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you put a formal request to Britain and other countries to
supply troops for a possible conflict in Iraq.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Is that a question, have we, or an asserted statement?
QUESTION: I understood you had --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, I see.
QUESTION: -- and I wonder what your expectation was for what Britain might do.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, my expectation is, is that we can do this peacefully,
if Saddam Hussein disarms. That's my expectation. This is -- Saddam Hussein
has got a decision to make: Will he uphold the agreement that he has made. And
if he chooses to do so by disarming peacefully, the world will be better off
for it. If he chooses not to disarm, we will work with our close friends, the
closest of which is Great Britain, and we will disarm him. But our first choice
is not to use the military option. Our first choice is for Mr. Saddam Hussein
to disarm. And that's where we'll be devoting a lot of our energies.
QUESTION: And, Prime Minister, you have this request now. You also seem to have a prospect
of another fire strike, as well. Do you believe that many British troops and
reserves are going to have to prepare for a Christmas away from their family
celebrations in either fighting fires, or fighting Saddam Hussein?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: We will do what's necessary, both to secure ourselves
at home, and to make sure that the will of the United Nations is enforced abroad.
And I think what you will find here at this NATO summit is a totally united
determination on behalf of the international community, reflected in the unanimous
United Nations resolution, that Saddam Hussein has to disarm himself of all
weapons of mass destruction. And how that happens is a choice for him.
We hope, and want it to happen, through the United Nations inspectors, mandated
by the whole of the international community. But if he fails to cooperate with
them, if he fails to do all he can -- and it is within his power -- to help
that process of disarmament through the United Nations, then he will be disarmed
by force. And that is the clear will of the international community.
And I think you will find now that there is a consensus for that position virtually
right across the civilized world.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure. I'm glad to answer your every request. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: How about our every question?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't want you to get used to asking too many questions. I've
been answering them all the whole time I've been here, question after question
after question. If you were to ask a question, Stretch, what would it have been,
so I can think about it for tomorrow? I won't answer it now.
QUESTION: What's your reaction to the confirmation of bin Laden being alive on the tape?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. I've got a formulated answer -- (laughter.)