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Highlights of Bush news conference

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- From his nuclear policies to Mideast peace efforts, to what he thinks of Osama bin Laden, President Bush covered a wide range of topics Wednesday during his first news conference this year.

Below are highlights of what he discussed.

Nuclear weapons:

Bush said he was keeping "all our options on the table, because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies or friends."

"My interest is to reduce the threat of a nuclear war, is to reduce the number of nuclear warheads. I think we've got plenty of warheads to keep the peace."


Bush said he is "deeply concerned about Iraq, and so should the American people be."

"We are going to deal with him," Bush said of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whom he accused of "gassing his own people."

Bush added that the United States would consult with its allies before taking any actions.

Osama bin Laden:

Bush said he knows bin Laden is on the run, and "I truly am not that concerned about him."

"His host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match."

Bush added that U.S. forces are "performing brilliantly" in rooting out bin Laden's al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

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War on terror:

Bush warned the war on terror would be "a long struggle."

"I can assure you I am not going to blink, and I'm not going to get tired, because I know what is at stake. And history has called us to action, and I am going to seize this moment for the good of the world, for peace in the world and for freedom."


The president said both Palestinians and Israelis would have to work to create the conditions so the security plan known as the Tenent Plan could lead the way to implementation of the Mitchell process that could mean a political settlement.

"Frankly, it's not helpful what the Israelis have recently done in order to create conditions for peace. I understand someone trying to defend themselves and to fight terror, but the recent actions aren't helpful."

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U.N. resolution on a Palestinian state:

When asked about the U.N. Security Council's resolution that "affirms a vision" of a Palestinian state, Bush said he not only approved of it, but also "helped engineer it."

"If it was a message that tried to isolate or condemn our friend, I'd have vetoed it. In this case, it was a universal message that could lead to a more peaceful world, and so we supported it."

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"We do not recognize the outcome of the election, because we think it's flawed. And we are dealing with our friends to figure out how to deal with this flawed election."

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INS approval of terrorists' visas:

Bush said he was stunned and "plenty hot" when he read that six months after terrorists had flown U.S. jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Immigration and Naturalization Services had mailed out visa approvals to the flight school two of the terrorists attended.

"The INS needs to be reformed, and it's one of the reasons why I called for the separation of the paperwork side of the INS from the enforcement side. And obviously, the paperwork side needs a lot of work. It's inexcusable."

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Judicial nominations:

Bush lashed out at a "handful of senators" who have vowed to block confirmation of his nominee, Charles Pickering, for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

"We are seeing a disturbing pattern, where too often judicial confirmations are being turned into ideological battles that delay justice and hurt our democracy."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday on Pickering. If the committee recommends against confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, has said he will not allow a vote by the full Senate.




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