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Bush Meets With African Leaders

Aired December 5, 2002 - 10:36   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting some tape in from the White House right now. We want to listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... each leader will make a statement. We'll then have one question from an American and one question from a Kenyan and one question from an Ethiopian. The president and the prime minister will decide who gets the question, as will I.

First, it's an honor to welcome President Moi and Prime Minister Meles to the -- this is where we do our work, the Cabinet Room.

We welcome two strong friends of America here. Two leaders of countries which have joined us to fight the global war on terror; two steadfast allies; two people that the American people can count on when it comes to winning the first war of the 21st century. And I'm so pleased that the president and the prime minister agreed to come and have a substantive visit. I thank their delegations for coming with them. And I look forward to a good and open discussion about how we can advance our respective interests.

So, Mr. President, welcome.

President Moi is a strong leader of Kenya. He is leading the country to a transition period through open elections.

Mr. President, you have distinguished yourself by your service to your country, and I appreciate that. We welcome you.

DANIEL T. ARAP MOI, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: Thank you very much. Indeed, I'm delighted to have my last visit to United States as president of the Republic of Kenya.

I'm here to discuss a wide range of issues. The most important issue is the security within the Horn of Africa and, together (ph), my own country, Kenya. These are important issues which would enable us to handle and manage terrorism in that part of the world. And so, I'm delighted to be in Washington today.

Mr. President, thank you.

And of course, I want to reiterate what I've said before, and that is, our country mourns the loss of life in Kenya. The tragedy that befell your country as a result of killers trying to terrorize freedom-loving people. And I appreciate your leadership on that issue.

Mr. Prime Minister, I'm so honored you're here. Welcome, sir.


We are all here. Very glad that we can welcome to Washington.

A moment ago, you said that we are engaged in the first war of the 21st century. We believe that the war against terrorism is a war against people who have not caught up with the 21st century, who have values and ideas that are contrary to the values of the 21st century. And in that context, it's a fight not between the United States and some groups, it's a fight between those who want to catch up with the 21st century and those who want to remain where they are.

So I want to assure you that we are all with you against forces of terror in those countries. And I appreciate your support and leadership.

Thank you very much for (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

We'll have one question from each side here.

Jackson (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. President, I've been out in the country on vacation and a lot of people have asked me, what are the chances that we're actually going to war with Iraq?

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: I mean, how likely is war and what would trigger it?

BUSH: That's a question that you should ask Saddam Hussein.


It's his choice to make. And Saddam Hussein must disarm. The international community has come together to the United Nations Security Council and voted 15 to nothing for Saddam Hussein to disarm. We recently got back from NATO, where our NATO allies voted overwhelmingly to send the same message.

So, David (ph), to answer your question; the question is whether or not he chooses to disarm. And we hope he does. For the sake of peace, he must disarm.

There's inspectors inside the country now. And the inspectors are there not to play a game of hide and seek, but they're there to verify whether or not Mr. Saddam Hussein is going to disarm. And we hope he does.

QUESTION: But at what point would you make that decision? BUSH: We hope he does. You'll see.

Mr. President, would you care to call for somebody from the Kenyan press? You don't have to if you don't want to.


Thought it would be hospitable.


BUSH: Well, we'll get you next, sir.

Is the Kenyan reporter here?

QUESTION: I would like to know since Kenya has been a victim of terrorism, what (OFF-MIKE) put into place, what measures (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Yes. Well, that's what we're going to talk about, of course. And part of the reason the president has come is to discuss ways that we can continue our aid program and continue our work together.

The other thing we must remember is that the war on terror is global in nature. And that if the terrorist could strike in Kenya, they could strike in Ethiopia, they could strike in Europe. And that we must continue this war to hunt these killers down one at a time to bring them to justice, which means information-sharing.

We're pleased with the information-sharing we're getting from our allies here. It means cutting off the money. And it means bringing to justice, like the Kenyan authorities will be doing to those who kill and take innocent life.

Would you care to call for somebody from your press corps?


BUSH: Yes. Well, information-sharing, for example. We've got a good intelligence-gathering network, made stronger by the fact that we share information between countries. But if we get wind that somebody is thinking about doing something to Ethiopia, we're prepared to work with the Ethiopian government to disrupt any plans.

The best thing we can do to help secure your countries to chase the killers down, and we're making good progress. Slowly, but surely we're dismantling an al Qaeda network. And that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to the benefit of all the countries of the world.

We, of course, will be talking to -- about issues such as drought, as well. And we'll be talking about other issues -- economic vitality. I'll be thanking these leaders for their work in bringing stability and peace to their part of the continent of Africa. These are leaders. These are men who've stepped forward and have shown vision and leadership, and we're grateful for that.

Thank you all for coming.

HARRIS: This exchange with reporters actually occurred a little while ago. This is a tape replay of it.

But very much live right now as our Suzanne Malveaux outside a little chilly outside the White House, just a few yards from that briefing room.

Good morning -- Suzanne


Very interesting what the president said. First of all, reiterating it's up to Saddam Hussein whether or not we end up going to war. It's in his hands, really, whether or not he decides to voluntarily disarm or whether or not the United States leading a global coalition will force him to disarm.

What is interesting about this, what we have heard from the White House, particularly over this past week, is really kind of a strategy, really setting the stage for a very likely confrontation between the United States and Iraq when Iraq actually issues its declaration of its weapons program, expected on Saturday. On the one hand, the White House is saying that very confidently we believe that Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction. Just this morning, the White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer saying that, in his words, there's a solid basis for that conclusion, that the president as well as the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, would not make those claims unless they had something to back it up with.

What are they backing it up with? He says it's based on U.S. intelligence. It is intelligence that this administration at this time is not willing to share with us, but the president has made his case before the American people saying look at Saddam Hussein's record.

The second part to this really is the great deal of skepticism that the White House is placing on whether or not Saddam Hussein will really come up with any kind of truthful declaration, saying over the last 11 years that he has defied the United Nations, that he has deceived them and hidden these weapons, that he is not to be trusted, that they do not expect that they will actually be truthful, that the administration has said before that it does not have weapons of mass destruction.

When you put these two things together, it sets the stage for Sunday, when they take a look at this declaration and see if it squares with U.S. intelligence. The administration believes that it will not square with U.S. intelligence. They say it'll take four to five days to really figure out what they have in their hands, and at that time, that's when they will go back to the United Nations, that's when they will respond to this declaration and decide what kind of steps they are going to take next, whether or not they are going to go back in and to look at specific sites, or whether or not they're going to decide to pull out and say we are going to go this, perhaps lead a coalition -- and we're going to go this on our own. HARRIS: Of course, the clock is sticking and that deadline is coming up this weekend. We'll have to wait till then to see how things take off from there.

Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Thanks, Suzanne.


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