CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Bush Meets with Colombian President
Aired September 25, 2002 - 11:47 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are getting a tape in from the White House. President Bush meeting today with Colombia president Uribe -- and the White House releasing this tape. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...the Oval Office.
It is my honor to welcome this good man, this friend of freedom to the Oval Office. I have been incredibly impressed by his vision for a peaceful Colombia and a prosperous Colombia. He's a man who told the people of his country that he would work to eradicate terrorism, narco-trafficking. The Colombian people believe him and so do I. And today I want to affirm our country's strong desire to help the Colombian government and the Colombian people prosper and to live in freedom.
I appreciate his leadership. I appreciate his strength of character. I appreciate his clear vision.
So, Mr. President (SPEAKING IN SPANISH) Oval Office (SPEAKING IN SPANISH).
ALVARO URIBE, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
BUSH: Thank you, sir.
Would you like that translated it in English?
Try it in English.
URIBE: Thank you, Mr. President, for this warm welcome. We need the support of your country, the support of your government, your personal support for my country to solve problems of violence, economic and social problems.
You have set up a very effective example of the way we need to go on to fight and to defeat terrorism. We are a necessity to have allies such as you and your government for Colombians to restore law and order, for Colombians to restore a way of creating employment, of improving of our standard of living.
Thank you, Mr. President.
BUSH: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you believe that Saddam Hussein is a bigger threat to the United States than al Qaeda?
BUSH: That is an interesting question. I'm trying to think of something humorous to say.
But I can't when I think about al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. They're both risks. They're both dangerous. The difference, of course, is that al Qaeda likes to hijack governments. Saddam Hussein is a dictator of a government. Al Qaeda hides, Saddam doesn't.
But the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. Both of them need to be dealt with.
The war on terror -- you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. And so, it's a comparison that is, you know, I can't make, because I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad and equally as evil and equally as destructive.
QUESTION: Mr. President, the Colombian government is here asking for support from the U.S. government, economic support, both with the Andean Trade Preference Act and also maybe from the Department of the Treasury. Is the government, the U.S. government willing to help the government, the Colombian government?
BUSH: Well, we're certainly willing to help the government and the Colombian people realize a prosperous future. I have asked my secretary of treasury to be here today to listen to the dialogue with the president. There'll be further discussions.
The Andean Trade Preference Act has been renewed and revitalized to the benefit of the Colombian economy. We had a big discussion here in America and I got a favorable vote out of our Congress that I'm confident will benefit those who seek work in Colombia. We look forward to working with international institutions to help this good man and this important country to grow and prosper.
And so the purpose of this visit is to not only talk about prosperity and economic growth and vitality, but it's also to talk about how to fight terror. And I'm looking forward to a good and active discussion.
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you politicizing the war? Do you think Americans should base their vote in November in part on where a candidate stands on the war?
BUSH: I think the American people ought to understand that life has changed here in this country, that it used to be two oceans would separate us from danger. They were quite comfortable in our shores knowing that it would take an unusual circumstance to be attacked. After September the 11th, we were attacked. And the American people understand that this country must deal with the true threats.
I am as determined today as I was on September the 11th to pursue an enemy which still wants to hurt America. I am absolutely determined to make sure that 10 years from now we don't look back and say, "What happened? Why did America go soft? Why did we ignore true threats that face our people?" And I hope the American people understand that.
I was concerned, of course, after September the 11th that as time went by some might forget, some might forget the true threats. Of course, I'm reminded of that every day when I come here to the Oval Office that we face true threats. And my job is to protect the American people. It's my most important job, most important assignment I have. And I will continue to do that regardless of the season.
KAGAN: We have been listening in to tape from the White House, President Bush greeting Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. President Uribe -- new president of Colombia, has only been in office since August, and he ran on a platform of trying to defeat paramilitary groups in his home country. So, the two presidents having in common, their fight against terrorism.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com