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Bush and Chirac Hold Media Availability

Aired May 26, 2002 - 11:04   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take our audience now to Paris where French President Jacque Chirac and U.S. President George Bush are now having their speech. We are bringing that to you live.


JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome here.

Welcome to all of you here this afternoon.

Of course to extend a special welcome to the members of the press who have come with President Bush.

Can I first of all say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to welcome on his first trip to France the president of the United State and his wife? It's, of course, a great pleasure for me to welcome them, and I think it's also a great pleasure for all the people of France to welcome them.

And that is something that I wanted to say in no uncertain terms.

We had this afternoon a working session. We'll meet again over dinner. And then tomorrow, as all of you know, President Bush will be in Normandy, and I think it's very moving for me and for the people of France to know that, for the first time ever, if I'm not mistaken, a president of the United States will not be in the United States on Memorial Day, and that, on this occasion, the president will come and pay a solemn tribute to the great number of young American servicemen who gave up their lives to fight for France, for Europe, for freedom.

This fight for freedom, for liberty is a constant fight, a fight that we all engage in, a fight that is a bond between the peoples of both sides of the Atlantic, a fight that is pursued still today, under very specific guise, the fight against terrorism.

We exchanged views. We had an intense, candid, friendly exchange of views. And I think this echoes and epitomizes the nature of the dialogue that we have had ever since President Bush's elections in the number of contacts we have had, either in Europe or when I have been to the United States. I think the last time we met was when we both were in Monterrey, in Mexico, and also over the phone. We mentioned a number of issues, the fight against terrorism, and in this respect we have a similar understanding of what is being done and what should be done, to fight and eradicate terrorism. We both know that terrorism still exists, that it can be active anywhere, at any time, and that, therefore, all the leaders across the world must pay great attention to this issue and be determined to eradicate terrorism.

We also mentioned strategic issues. In this respect, we paid special attention to the change and the developments in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia, and we welcome this change. Russia is a major nation, a great nation, and I think that the relationship between Russia and the U.S. are crucial in the world today.

On Tuesday, in Rome, we will have an opportunity to set in stone this change in the relationship, to act upon also the new treaty that has been signed between both presidents in Moscow yesterday.

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We have an opportunity to make more concrete the relationship between NATO and Russia, and as you know, for a long time, the French position has been that the relationship between Russia and NATO should be strengthened, and you might even remember that the founding act was signed here in 1997, even though it didn't have quite the consequences that we could have expected.

This being said nowadays, Russia -- from now on, Russia will be closer involved and this will be the results of the NATO council two days time in Rome.

We also mentioned, of course, in the list of strategic issues, the fight against proliferation, proliferation in a number of regions across the world.

We also mentioned the relationship between France and the U.S. and, of course, the relationship between the EU and the U.S.

These relationships are very good at a political level. They're instrumental for the equilibrium and the balance of our world.

At an economic level, they're essential, instrumental in the good health of global economy.

There can be indeed no balance in our world if there is no strong relationship between the U.S. and the EU.

We also spoke about issues where we have diverging views, trade issues, for instance, the farming bill, for instance. And in this respect, the president said that there might be -- there could have been a misunderstanding of what the goals of the farming bill was, a misunderstanding here in France and in other places, maybe.

But I think that this means that we have to have more consultation, more consultation between the U.S. and the EU. We also, of course, mentioned steel. These, of course, are very real issues and real answers have to be given to these problems after consultation and intense dialogue.

But can I just remind you that these differences, these diverging views only account for five percent of the trade between the EU and the U.S.?

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course, that's important, but we have to have a look at the greater picture and have a sense of perspective.

We also mentioned a number of other issues in which we have slight diverging -- divergence of views, environment, for instance, the ratification of the Kyoto protocol.

And I personally stressed the fact that there was a very real danger, a very real risk in going on consuming more of our planet than the Earth can actually produce. And I think that all of us know that these are very real issues and that we have to go on talking, discussing and working together on these issues.

And I am sure -- I am convinced that we will find the right ways to produce, consume new ways to do so. And I think all the new technologies that are being developed nowadays will enable us to do so, while at the same time, consuming less of our natural resources and better control pollution.

Of course, these issues are being discussed in other fora.

We also discussed globalization. And I said that, yes, of course, globalization is unavoidable and is positive because it increases trade and thus production and thus wealth and thus the number of jobs that there are across the world.

This being said, that there is a necessity that we have to bear in mind, and that is controlling globalization so that the development of the people and of their countries is protected. So what I am saying is that globalization in trade has to go hand in hand with globalization of solidarity.

We will be this evening, mentioning a number of other issues. International Crisis, for example, the Middle East, the topical issues, the difference -- the tension between India and Pakistan. We are talking about Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Balkans and Africa. We'll be talking about Africa in the context of the new relationship that is currently being developed in the relationship between rich and poor countries.

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We've already, in a way, touched upon these issues, and I wanted to -- I did stress, when we were talking with President Bush, that, as a long-time advocate of aid to poor countries, and relationship between poor and rich countries, what I stressed is that for a very long time, these issues hadn't been considered proper. And that, in Genoa, we had for the first time a very real discussion about Africa, and that will be what we should remember of Genoa, although people will remember other things of the Genoa summit. And I think that this was partly due to the initiative taken by President Bush, that gave us a real opportunity to talk about development, development at large, and development of Africa, more specifically. And this also enabled us to move from a situation where we give assistance to Africa to a situation where we have a partnership with Africa, and that also is one of the goals of our -- next meeting in the G-7 format in (inaudible) -- in Canada, where we will talk about the (inaudible)

We also spoke of some local situations about -- in Africa. So all that is what we have done today. We've spoken in a very understanding and friendly atmosphere.



I am honored to be here in France. This is my first trip as the president to this beautiful country, and to this beautiful capital. I always find it a great joy to talk with Jacques Chirac. He's a -- it's not hard to figure out where he stands on issues, and he's a good friend.

He's a friend to me personally. He's a friend of my country, and for that I'm grateful.

I'm also looking forward to going to Normandy tomorrow. We do believe this is the first time a president has been out of the country for Memorial Day. I'm looking forward to giving a speech.

Memorial Day in my country is a day to honor those who have sacrificed for freedom, given their lives. Many died in France and -- looking forward to the moment to share our country's appreciation.

And we -- in the talk, I'm going to talk about -- there's been current, modern-day sacrifices.

We still fight people who hate civilization. It was -- or at least the civilization that we love, that can't stand freedom.

It was President Chirac who was the first head of state to visit me in the White House right after September the 11th. I was very grateful for that visit.

As he himself said, that we were in a fight to defend civilization, and I couldn't agree more with him.

And I want to thank the French people, for not only the sympathy shown for my country after September the 11th, but the strong support in the war against terror.

Jacques and I spent a lot of time talking about how to better fight this fight, and that's not just military terms. I speak in terms of doing a better job of cutting off money to terrorists, denying them safe haven, and, as we fight for a safer world, how to make the world a better world, And one of the things that I really admire about -- I guess I should call you "President Chirac" -- President Chirac is that you've had this great compassion for the developing world, and I appreciate your compassion, and I appreciate your heart. It's important that we continue to work together to make sure that there is a strategy in place to help people develop and grow and prosper.

I'm looking forward to the dinner. He's always saying that the food here is fantastic, and I'm going to give him a chance to show me tonight.

And I also look forward to continuing our discussions on important issues, like how to make sure NATO works better, how best to continue to work with our friends in Russia, how we can work together to, in the Middle East, to bring peace to that part of the world.

I appreciate this good man's advice. I listen carefully to it when he gives it. And I'm proud to call him friend.

Thank you for your hospitality.

CHIRAC: Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you mentioned this morning that you have expressed strong reservations to President Musharraf about the missile tests in Pakistan.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: I'm wondering, sir, whether your administration actually asked President Musharraf not to conduct those tests.

And second, whether you regard the escalating conflict there as a threat to U.S. forces in the region.

And finally, as tomorrow is the first Memorial Day since 9/11, can you say to the American people how this Memorial Day will be somehow different from those past?

QUESTION: And President Chirac, you mentioned in your opening comments that the response to the president's strategic initiative from a year ago had not been what you had anticipated. Do you think that perhaps the Europeans overreacted a year ago to what President Bush was proposing to do with Russia? And were you suggesting, sir, that perhaps you underestimated this president?

Thank you.

BUSH: Like everybody else.


Pakistan, yes, we expressed deep concern and will continue to express concern about testing and are more concerned about making sure that -- insisting, along with other world leaders, including the president of France, that President Musharraf show results in terms of stopping people from crossing the Line of Control, stopping terrorism. That's what's more important than the missile testing is that he perform.

I'm jet-lagged. What's the first couple of questions?


BUSH: I would certainly hope not.

Third? Is that it? Oh, Memorial Day, thanks.

That's what happens when you're over 55.


You know what I mean?

Let me say one quick thing on Memorial Day. All Memorial Days are solemn days, particularly for those who mourn the loss of a loved one. All Memorial Days are days in which Americans ought to give thanks for freedom and the fact that somebody sacrificed for their freedom.

This Memorial Day is the first Memorial Day in a long time in which younger Americans know firsthand the price that was paid for their freedom.

CHIRAC (Through Translator): On that very last point, can I maybe just say that it really is very moving for all the people of France and Europeans at large, to see that President Bush -- that the president of the United States will be for the first time outside the United States on Memorial Day and that he came to Normandy to pay tribute to all those, mainly American, who gave their lives for freedom.

This, I think, is a very strong gesture that we will not forgot. That we will not forget.

Maybe a question for a French journalist?


QUESTION: Mr. President, Mr. Bush. After your trip to Russia, what would be for you the more (OFF-MIKE) in your war against terrorist, would it be Russia or this little corner of this continent which is called Western Europe, and please, Mr. President, don't say both. This wouldn't be the beginning of an answer.

BUSH: Both.


What was that -- I didn't get the full question. I got Russia and I got this little corner of Europe, but what was the question? Who do I rely on more?

QUESTION: What is for you the most -- the more (OFF-MIKE) ally in your war against terrorists?

BUSH: Decisive ally?

Of course, Jacques Chirac?

I -- listen, thank you for the trick question. Let me talk about this ally. The phone rang the day after the attack, or the day of the attack, I can't remember exactly when but it was immediately, and he said, "I'm your friend."

On this continent, France takes the lead in helping to hunt down people who want to harm America and/or the French or anybody else.

We shared intelligence in a way that is really important for one of the important things you fight in the war on terror is to understand how the enemy thinks and when the enemy might strike.

And make no mistake about it, they'd like to strike again.

You know, some people would wish that their thoughts go away.

These are coldblooded killers and requires the strong cooperation to protect our citizens. My most important job, and I suspect Jacques feels the same way, is to protect our citizens from further attack.

And we've got no stronger ally in that task. He's willing to take steps necessary. Obviously within -- the laws and constitution of this country, just like I'm within the constitution of mine to protect our people.

And for that I'm very grateful, Mr. President. I'll call on the Americans.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) that in Russia, that President Putin had offered some assurances about Russian sales of nuclear energy technology to Iran that we would find comforting.

QUESTION: Aside from his statement that Russia doesn't want Iran to have nuclear weapons, what did you find comforting? And secondly, President Putin also argued that the plant he's building there is quite similar to the one the U.S. and others have offered to build in North Korea. Is that accurate, sir? And President Chirac, you mentioned that the two of you were talking about proliferation matters. Do you also have concerns about Russia's relations with Iran?

BUSH: Well, first I think it's important to understand that President Putin understands that an Iran that's got the capacity to launch a missile is dangerous for him and his country. He understands that.

Secondly, he -- and we had a very frank discussion about the potential -- or the development of a nuclear power plant that he is convinced is -- will not lead to the spread of technologies that will enable Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction, and is willing to allow for international inspection teams to make -- to determine whether that's true or not. And we're thinking about what he told us.


As I said, we're thinking about what he told us.

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I share, unreservedly, the position outlined by President Bush, by George.

QUESTION: France would like to see the Middle East peace conference convened as quick possible and the U.S. to do -- to act for it. May we know what are your forecasts for this Middle East conference, and when do you think it will happen, and if President Arafat will be participating in such a conference?

Also, I would like to know, if possible, what are your plans for the Iraqi regime. Are you really willing to change the Iraqi regime, and how?

BUSH: Phew, lot of questions here. Let me start with the Iraqi regime. The stated policy of my government is that we have a regime change, and as I told President Chirac, I have no war plans on my desk and I will continue to consult closely with him.

We do view Saddam Hussein as a serious threat to the stability and peace.

In terms of the Middle East, this week, we will be sending American officials back into the region, to work with the parties to have a political dialogue, start a political dialogue, as well as develop a security force within the Palestinian Authority that would function like a security force, so they can do what they're supposed to do.

And, in terms of meetings and conferences, our view is, is that we need to develop a strategy, continue to work with our Arab friends on that strategy, and then the secretary will be convening a ministerial conference some time this summer, obviously, depending upon the progress being made, and the progress which we are making toward the establishment of the institutions necessary for a Palestinian state to evolve, that progress will determine how many conferences are necessary till we eventually get to hopefully the end of the process.

My government and I personally strongly believe that it's in everybody's interests that there be two states living side by side in peace. And that's the vision we work toward.

The good news is, is that many in the Arab world are now working with us to help create an environment so we can get to those two states, and to that end, I view the crown prince of Saudi Arabia's declaration that Israel should live in peace with its neighbors as an incredibly important breakthrough. And we're seizing that initiative, we're seizing that opportunity to work together.


QUESTION: You said in reaction to the demonstrations against you and your administration during this trip in Europe, that it's simply a healthy democracy exercising its will, and that disputes are positive.

But I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration, why particularly there's a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America's will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East and where the war on terrorism goes next?

(Through Translator): And, Mr. President, would you maybe comment on that?


BUSH: ... memorizes four words and he plays like he's intercontinental.


I'm impressed. Que bueno.

Now, I'm literate in two languages.

So you go to a protest and I drive through the streets of Berlin, seeing hundreds of people lining the road waving, and, you know, the only thing I know to do is speak my mind, to talk about my values, talk about our mutual love for freedom and the willingness to defend freedom.

And David, I think a lot of people on the continent of Europe appreciate that, appreciate the fact that we're friends, appreciate the fact that we've got -- we work together, that there's a heck of a lot more that unites us than divides us. We share the same values.

We trade $2 trillion a year. I mean, there's -- so I don't view hostility here. I view the fact we've got a lot of friends here. And I'm grateful for the friendship.

And the fact that protesters show up, that's good. It means I'm in a democracy. I'm travelling through a country that respects other people's point of view. But I feel very comfortable coming to Europe. I feel very comfortable coming to France. I've got a lot of friends here.

That's -- thank you.

CHIRAC (Through Translator): The demonstrations you've been referring to, sir, indeed, as the president has just said, healthy and normal in democracies. That is one of the means of expression that people have. And it's only normal and important that people should respect that.

Of course, there are limits. There are constraints that have to be enforced. And that is what is being done. But I think that it is only normal that, in the face of a very important political event, those who have a different understanding of things should express their diverging view.

The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right intertwined with democracy, and there's no need to tell Americans about that, they know it.

But what I just wanted to say is that these demonstrations are really marginal demonstrations, that you shouldn't give too much credit to these demonstrations. They do not reflect a so-called natural aversion of such and such people in Europe to the president of the United States or to the U.S. people as a whole.

Yes, we do have diverging views on this or that issue. It's only normal. And that is the result of interests of our national interests, and they're not always converging, and I think it's only healthy that these demonstrations should occur, that we should express diverging points of views and that we should find democratic answers to these questions.

As for the relationship between Europe and the United States, it is a very old relationship, as you know. It is a fundamental relationship for the balance, for the equilibrium of our world, but I would also add that it's an increasingly important relationship and it would be the sign of very -- of short-sightedness to refuse to acknowledge that.

The United States and Europe are the two major -- your economic powers in our world, and in our world, the economy drives social progress.

Economic power helps express political power, so I think that there is a very real, a very deep-rooted link between Europe and the United States, and that the bedrock of that link, the roots of that link, is the shared values that we have together.

And that must be used to guarantee the balance of our world, the stability of our world, and that's precisely why we welcome the trip of an American president in Europe. President Bush in this case, but generally a statement of generalities would be to say that we welcome a visit by the president of the United States because it shows the solidarity between the two -- the two sides of the pond, the two sides of the Atlantic, something that is fundamental for the stability of our world.

Well, thank you ladies and gentlemen.

WHITFIELD: You've been listening to President Jacques Chirac of France and President Bush of the U.S. during their talks in Paris earlier today. They talked about everything in terms of what they agree upon and what they don't agree upon from the war on terrorism to trade.

I want to bring in now, Richard Wolffe, who's very familiar with the relations of the U.S. and Western Europe. He's of the Financial Times. Thanks for joining us.


WHITFIELD: Well both seemed to be in agreement that at least they had a meeting of understanding and they saw eye-to-eye on an awful lot of things. But President Jacques Chirac made it very clear there are still some diverging issues, that being trade and even the farming bills. Give us a little bit more about where they don't see eye-to-eye on those issues.

WOLFFE: Well, it goes well beyond those issues, but you're right. He talked at length about trade and economic issues. They do represent just a fraction of trade between the two sides. That's a very emotional dispute about farming subsidies and also about steel tariffs that the administration is imposing on imports of steel into the U.S.

So at least speech looked like there's no solution to them at the moment. They're going to proceed through international resolution panels at the World Trade Organization, but that's just a fraction of it.

You also heard about differences on the Middle East, on the "axis of evil" countries, Iran and Iraq in particular, on the environment and on American military power in general, though I really have serious differences of opinion there.

WHITFIELD: What do you suppose French President Chirac needed to hear from President Bush in terms of coming to terms, you know, finding a middle ground in which to finally resolve some of those very heated issues, such as trade in particular?

WOLFFE: Well, there really isn't too much ground for compromise here. The Farm Bill that has just been signed really runs counter to what Europe was seeking in almost every respect.

On the other hand, the domestic political pressures, both in farming and on steel are two great for President Bush to ignore. So how they handle the compromise here, I think, it's hard to see the two individuals coming up voluntarily. It really has to be imposed by some outside panel like the WTO in terms of steel.

WHITFIELD: Russia was also a topic that they discussed. President Chirac said for a long time, relations between NATO and Russia just have needed to be strengthened, that President Bush has signed this treaty, this arms reduction treaty. Is that a way in which to bring about some strengthening of the relationship between NATO and Russia?

WOLFFE: No question the relationship between NATO and Russia has been strengthened by this. It will be strengthened by the President's next stop on this tour in Italy where all of this is going to be formalized.

But there are some other big security issues that have not been addressed on this trip. The president has really come away empty- handed on the most important issue for this White House right now and that's a proliferation and the relationship between Russia and Iran.

You heard a question in the press conference about this. Really President Putin of Russia gave no assurances that he was willing to back down on this construction of a nuclear plant in Iran. That's a very important thing for this administration, as it tries to stop Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction.

WHITFIELD: All right, Richard Wolffe of the Financial Times, thank you very much for that debriefing of the meetings between Presidents Chirac and Bush.

WOLFFE: My pleasure.




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