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President Bush Delivers Remarks on Middle East ViolenceAired February 14, 2001 - 8:50 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to a little traveling ourselves, up to Washington, D.C, the south lawn of the White house, where President Bush has some remarks about the violence in the Middle East.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly condemn the terrible act of violence in Israel this morning. I have called Prime Minister Barak to express my condolences to the families of the people killed, and to all the Israeli people.
As I told the prime minister, the tragic cycle of violent action and reaction between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly the escalation this week, needs to stop. I'm urging all parties to do their utmost to end the violence. We will continue to work with all parties to try to restore calm to the region.
QUESTION: Are you going to take any more active role, Mr. President.
LIN: All right, President Bush departing for a meeting with the National Guard in West Virginia today.
But John King standing by with a little analysis of President Bush's remarks.
John, do you have any more on what the Bush administration plans to do to ease the violence in the Middle East?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, we understand there will be additional diplomatic contacts with the parties in the region today. A very brief statement there from the president, simply condemning the violence and saying he has been in touch with Prime Minister Barak, expressing condolence of the American people and the U.S. government, but also urging all parties involved not to do anything to escalate the violence.
This the first time this president has been forced to react to the daily developments, the troubling developments in the Middle East region. And it is a reminder -- remember, he noted he called Prime Minister Barak. Of course there is an incoming government in Israel as well. Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon still trying to put his government together, trying to build a coalition. This a very difficult time in the region.
And this an administration that had hoped for a little bit of a break, had hoped the Israeli election transition would bring relative calm to the region, give the administration a chance to assess the situation. But, of course, like the last administration, this administration now drawn immediately into the problems in the Middle East. Colin Powell, the secretary of state, scheduled to travel to the region at the end of the month.
But, again, this the first time President Bush himself feeling compelled to come out and make a direct public appeal, first condemning violence, but then also urging all the parties to do anything they can to try to calm the situation down after that deadly bus attack this morning.
LIN: Well, John, is there any discussion, though, of trying to get both parties back to the negotiating table, something as specific as that?
KING: The United States has urged both parties to get back to the negotiating table, but no grand gestures like we saw during the Clinton administration of the president inviting them to come to Washington together. There is an Israeli delegation that has been in Washington the past few days meeting with mid-level State Department officials.
But, again, this administration a very different take as it takes office, saying that Mr. Clinton, Bill Clinton, the former president, tried for eight years in a hands-on way, brought the parties close to an agreement, then it collapsed. It is the view of the Bush administration that at this moment it is the Israelis and the Palestinians that need to make some very difficult choices about whether they are willing to take the steps necessary for comprehensive peace.
And if the administration gets into cases that they are willing to take those steps, then I think you would see a much more aggressive effort. But right now, the new administration saying the burden is on the parties in the region, not on the U.S. administration.
LIN: All right, monitoring developments at the White House. Thank you very much, John King.
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