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Presidents Bush and Musharraf Hold News Conference

Aired November 10, 2001 - 18:20   ET


JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: Presidents Bush and Musharraf.


In our hour of need just after the terrorist attacks on September the 11th, President Musharraf quickly condemned the evildoers. He has shown even greater courage and vision and leadership in the weeks since. Our nations share an urgent mission, which is to stop and defeat terrorism wherever it may exist. That mission is not directed against those who practice Islam. That mission is directed against the evil people.

We discussed ways to accelerate our progress in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. We also discussed our humanitarian efforts to help Afghans through the winter. And we spent time on the need to work together for long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan once the Taliban no longer hold power.

Pakistan's efforts against terror are benefiting the entire world and linking Pakistan more closely with the world.

The United States wants to help build these linkages. I've authorized a lifting of sanctions and over $1 billion in U.S. support. I will also back debt relief for Pakistan.

I want to thank Senators Grassley and Baucus of our United States Congress for introducing legislation that will improve market access in the United States to Pakistan's products.

I'm pleased that the president is committed to restore democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan is a strong ally.

President Musharraf is a strong leader. And the world is deeply appreciative for his leadership.

Mr. President?

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

It is my pleasure to be talking to all of you.

Let me first of all say that I myself, my government and the people of Pakistan condemn in the strongest terms the wanton act of terrorism on the 11th of September against the United States. We condole with all of the grieved.

Having said that, let me right away say that Pakistan has taken the considered decision to be a part of the coalition, to be with the United States, to fight terrorism in all its forms wherever it exists.

And let me also assure the president that Pakistan will remain committed to this, to the fight against terrorism.

We also -- or I also see now the start of a dawn of a new era of a relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

Pakistan will hope for a very sustainable and longstanding futuristic relationship developing between Pakistan and the United States, a relationship which we always have had in the past.

Having said that, let me say that I had very fruitful discussions with the president on Afghanistan and on the method of fighting terrorism.

On Afghanistan, we have unanimity of views on a political dispensation or which needs to be encouraged through the people of Afghanistan to be brought into Afghanistan, and a rehabilitation and a humanitarian relief strategy that needs to be worked out. We have total unanimity of views on these.

Lastly, I did apprise the president on Pakistan's concerns and for Pakistan's difficulties from the fallout of whatever is happening in our region. And let me very gladly say that the president showed total concern for it and also assured us, assured Pakistan, to help out in the maximum possible way.

I remain extremely grateful to the president for his concern for Pakistan and for his desire to assist Pakistan through the difficulty that we are facing at the moment.

Thank you very much.

BUSH: Mr. President -- the president has agreed to take some questions and so have I. And both of us will take two questions from each side, starting with Mr. Fornier of the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. I would like to ask both of you about the same topic.

Secretary Powell suggested yesterday that the Northern Alliance shouldn't take control of Kabul. Does that mean you would discourage them from seizing the capital?

And please explain what he meant when he said that Kabul should become an open city and use post-World War II Berlin as an example.

And to you, Mr. President, why don't you think that Kabul should be taken by the Northern Alliance?

BUSH: Well, I think we share a common view that in order for there to be a country that is stable and peaceful on this good leader's western border, that any power arrangement must be shared with the different tribes within Afghanistan.

And a key signal of that will be how the city of Kabul is treated. We will encourage our friends to head south across the Shumali Plains, but not into the city of Kabul itself. And we believe we can accomplish our military missions by that strategy.

And so it's a -- the secretary, I don't want to put words into the good secretary's mouth, but we believe a strategy that makes sense for the long run is one that is all-encompassing. And a signal of that strategy will be how the city of Kabul is treated.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I agree with the president totally.

Why I have been recommending that Kabul should not be occupied by the Northern Alliance basically is because of the past experience that we've had when the various ethnic groups were ahold of Kabul after the Soviets left. There was total atrocities, killings and mayhem within the city.

And I think if the Northern Alliance enters Afghanistan -- enter Kabul, we'll see the same kind of atrocities being perpetuated against the people there, against the populace there, which should be avoided.

QUESTION: Do you agree with that...

BUSH: Only -- only -- I said one question. Now you're going with three.


QUESTION: This is for President Bush. I ask my present question at him.

President Bush, your government and the U.S. government in the past and currently has been proactively using the U.N. Security Council to solve problems in conflict areas.

QUESTION: When will you invoke the U.N. Security Council to intervene on the issue of Kashmir, which is clearly an issue which is at the basis of conflict in South Asia?

BUSH: Well, we've had a very good discussion on this subject, and I assured the president that my country will do what we can to bring parties together to have good, meaningful discussions on the subject so that we can come up with a solution.


QUESTION: ... United Nations involvement in it, Mr. President?

BUSH: I think our involvement is exactly how I described it to the president.

QUESTION: Mr. President, Osama bin Laden says he already has nuclear and chemical weapons. Do you believe him? And where do you think he would get them from? BUSH: The only thing I know for certain about him is that he is evil. And, you know, I don't know what to believe about him, except that he wants to hurt Americans. I suspect he now wants to hurt the people of Pakistan.

And we're not going to let him. We will do everything we can to stop him here at home, and we're doing everything we can to hunt him down and bring him to justice.

Those kind of statements he utters reinforces the coalition's efforts to bring him to justice. And that's exactly what's going to happen with Mr. Osama bin Laden. All the more reason for us to pursue him diligently and to get him, and that's what we're going to do.

QUESTION: It's Pakistan's turn now.


BUSH: Fine by me.


QUESTION: My question is addressed to President George Bush.

QUESTION: Mr. President, the United States have, time and again, has said that it is against -- eradicate all sort of terrorism.

My question to you, Mr. President, is, when you are going to deal with the question of state-sponsored terrorism? My question is in reference to the Kashmir situation first.

And the other part of my question is, how do you view the personal contribution and role of Pakistan due to General Pervez Musharraf in curbing terrorism, global terrorism?

Thank you.

BUSH: Well, thank you very much.

I -- my government strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on October the 1st -- strongly condemned them, as did President Musharraf. He condemned those attacks as well.

We share the same vision about terror, that it should not exist anywhere in the world.

The president is working hard to strengthen Pakistan. He has got an education vision which I find to be enlightened. After all, he's got a very brilliant woman running the education department of Pakistan.

The reason I bring that up is both of us work hard to make our countries hopeful and optimistic. And we recognize that a terrorist attack on either one of us will disrupt the lives of ordinary citizens and disrupt our plans to bring prosperity and hope and opportunity for our respective countries. Thank you all very much. Have good evening tonight in New York City.

Thank you, sir.

MUSHARRAF: Thank you.

MANN: "The only thing that I know for certain about him is that he is evil, and I don't know what to believe about him except that he wants to hurt Americans." U.S. President George W. Bush speaking with Pervez Musharraf, but speaking about Osama bin Laden and a report in which bin Laden boasted that he could respond to a U.S. chemical or nuclear attack with a similar attack of his own.

The U.S. president announced as well earlier in that news conference something that will be listened closely to in Southeast Asia, $1 billion in aid to Pakistan and an end to sanctions against its government. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was in New York, the two men meeting and speaking to reporters at the Waldorf Astoria, speaking very much at a time when Pakistan is looking for signals from Washington that the U.S. is prepared to reward its assistance and aid in the war against terrorism.

Pakistan has heard something. CNN's John King was listening along with them and joins us now with his thoughts -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jonathan, we will await the details. We have been told that aid package would be in the area of $500 million, the president saying it was twice that, about $1 billion, much of it, we are told, in direct economic assistance. We will await the details on other items, although Mr. Bush did also mention debt relief in the news conference.

Interesting to hear President Musharraf say that he and President Bush were in total unanimity on the issue of more humanitarian aid for Afghanistan and on the need ultimately for a political situation, a broad-based government, to ultimately replace the Taliban. He did not say, even though he said Pakistan was in the coalition, that there was total unanimity when it comes military strategy.

They did agree, there, as you heard them, that the Northern Alliance should not go into Kabul. They think that would be a troubling development. But Mr. Musharraf wanted the bombing paused or at least significantly curtailed during Ramadan. We are told Mr. Bush had made clear through aides in advance of their meeting today the United States simply was not going to do that -- Jonathan.

MANN: John King.




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