with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Camp David, Maryland
September 14, 2002
10:52 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister
of Italy, to Camp David. I've been looking forward to having a chance to spend
some quality time in a quality place. We're going to have a good visit, meeting
about our common interests. And we'll have a good lunch with my wife. And I've
invited my brother and my sister -- I want my family members to meet a good
friend, a strong leader.
We're making progress in the war against terror. I tell the American people
all the time that we're doing everything we can to protect our homeland by hunting
down killers one person at a time. And yesterday, thanks to the efforts of our
folks and people in Pakistan, we captured one of the planners and organizers
of the September the 11th attack that murdered thousands of people, including
Italians. One by one, we're hunting the killers down. We are relentless; we
are strong; and we're not going to stop.
Secondly, I had a chance to speak to the United Nations to talk about another
threat face -- that we face -- that we face, all of us face, in the civilized
world -- and that is a threat of weapons of mass destructions in the hands
of leaders who disregard human liberty, that do not believe in freedom; a
leader, in this case, who's poisoned his own people, poisoned his neighbors,
attacked in his neighborhood, and refuses -- refuses -- to comply with United
Nations' regulations, as a matter of fact, defies the United Nations. And
we're making progress.
And so, Mr. Prime Minister, you're here at an important time. I look forward
to talking with you, and thank you for coming.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: Thank you. Well, first of all, I'm glad to be
here with President Bush, with whom I have a very deep friendship. I'm here
as the Prime Minister of a country which is a loyal and faithful ally of the
United States of America.
The United States is a country to which my people bears a deep gratitude
because it owes to the generosity of this great democracy its freedom and
its prosperity. We'll never forget the fact that about a half a century ago,
through the sacrifice of so many young Americans, Italy and Europe were saved
from totalitarianism. I'm here as a sincere ally and I know that we, as an
ally, we respect and we heard. So I'll be able to speak as a friend, speak
truthfully, in order to find, as usual, common solutions and common positions.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: I would like to add one more thing --
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: I consider the flag of the United States is not
only a flag of a country, but is a universal message of freedom and democracy.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
His English is very good. (Laughter.)
Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to call upon an American reporter,
Silvio will call upon an Italian reporter. I then will call upon an American
reporter, Silvio will call upon an Italian reporter. And that's it. Because
we've got to go have our talks.
Scott. And I will this time let the interpreter -- pardon me for not allowing
her to work.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. President Putin is borrowing your logic to argue he has
the right to attack terrorists in Georgia. Would that action be justified
in your view? Are you concerned other countries -- India, Pakistan, China
-- may use your arguments to justify actions they see fit?
THE PRESIDENT: I made it very clear to the Georgian government that we expected
them to rout out the al Qaeda type terrorists in the Pankisi Gorge. We are
working with the Georgian government and training Georgian troops. I have
told Vladimir Putin that he must give the Georgians a chance to achieve a
common objective, an objective that's important for Georgia, an objective
that's important for Russia, an objective important for the United States,
and that is to get the al Qaeda killers and bring them to justice. And so
I urge him to continue to work with us to allow the Georgians -- troops --
to do their job.
And, finally, one final point for the world to hear: Saddam Hussein has defied
the United Nations 16 times. Not once, not twice -- 16 times he has defied
the U.N. The U.N. has told him after the Gulf War what to do, what the world
expected, and 16 times he's defied it. And enough is enough. The U.N. will
either be able to function as a peacekeeping body, as we head into the 21st
century, or it will be irrelevant. And that's what we're about to find out.
But remember what I said in my speech, now is the time to deal with the problem.
QUESTION: What about the appropriation of your argument?
THE PRESIDENT: I should have clarified it by my statement. I just clarified
it by my -- not should have, I just.
QUESTION: (Asked in Italian, not translated.)
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: Well, first of all, as I said before, we want
a common position with the United States of America. And we welcome the decision
of President Bush to bring the problem to the table in the Security Council.
As it was stated clearly, the United Nations cannot continue to see its image
undermined and its resolutions flaunted.
I would hasten to add, the decision taken by President Bush found agreement
of my European colleagues and of the Russian Federation.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. President, if Saddam Hussein has defied the United Nations 16 times
and stiffed the world for a decade, why does he deserve one more chance?
THE PRESIDENT: That's a very interesting question. Why don't you interpret
the question. He stiffed the world 16 times, why does he get another chance.
(Question is translated into Italian.)
First of all, the United Nations deserves another chance to prove its relevance.
See, we're entering a new world. Wars of the future are not going to be like
wars of the past. We fight these terrorists that hide in caves and send their
youngsters to suicidal death. They strike America, but they're likely to strike
Italy. They hate freedom. They also are willing and want to work with countries
like Iraq to develop the capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
And therefore, the international community must work together to prevent this
So this is a chance for the United Nations to show some backbone and resolve,
as we confront the true challenges of the 21st century. It's a chance for
the United Nations to show its relevance, and that's why I gave the speech
I gave. But make no mistake about it, if we have to deal with the problem,
we'll deal with it.
(Question asked and answered in Italian.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Welcome to Camp David. No, you misunderstood.
Two questions a piece. Sorry. Two and two, see.
QUESTION: -- English, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, you want an English translation. Sorry. Thought you might
have been trying to defy the two-question rule. Very good. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What was the question?
INTERPRETER: The question was --
THE PRESIDENT: That doesn't matter, just write the answer.
INTERPRETER: -- is Italy able to play the mediating role --
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: The role of Italy, now.
INTERPRETER: At this moment, what's the role Italy is going to play.
And the reply was, Italy today is playing a role which it wasn't able to
play up to some time ago, because Italy finds itself at a center of a series
of relationships with the countries of the European Union, with the countries
of the Middle East, with the countries of the Mediterranean, and we have a
special friendship with the Russian Federation, with our common friend, Vladimir
Putin. So Italy is playing its part, and it's able then to play its role in