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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Talks to Press

Aired April 13, 2003 - 13:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today is a great day for the families, comrades, loved ones of the seven missing in action. I'm really pleased. For all of those who have been praying for their safety, that they are safe.
We still have missing in action in Iraq. We will continue to look for them. We pray that they too will be safe and free one of these days.

But it's just a good way to start off the morning, to have been notified that seven of our fellow Americans are going to be home here pretty soon in the arms of their loved ones.

I'll answer a few questions.

Scott?

QUESTION: Mr. President, Secretary Rumsfeld said today he thinks Syria is harboring some Iraqi leadership. Could Syria face military action if they harbor...

BUSH: Syria just needs to cooperate with us. I made that clear on Friday. I will, if need be, reiterate it today. The Syrian government needs to cooperate with the United States and our coalition partners and not harbor any Ba'athists, any military officials, any people who need to be held to account for their tenure during what we are learning more and more about. It was one of the horrendous government's ever.

QUESTION: Could they face military action...

BUSH: They just need to cooperate.

QUESTION: You've been talking about how prayer and (OFF-MIKE). So what role do you think faith and prayer had in this rescue?

BUSH: I think it played -- first of all, I know it helps sustain and comfort those who mourn, those who are worried, those who are concerned about their loved ones.

You know, I went to the hospital on Friday and met some of our brave troops and their families. And a lot of them told me that they had been sustained by prayer, had been comforted by the Almighty during what had to have been incredibly difficult times for them.

To get the phone call that a loved one had been wounded or hurt, and then not knowing whether the person would live, and then being able to be reunited with them here in Washington. They told me that they felt like prayers had been answered.

Prayer is powerful. One of the great things about this country is a lot of people pray. And I know a lot of people are praying for the families of those who grieve and the families of those who wonder whether or not their loved ones will ever return.

QUESTION: Mr. President, some of our colleagues in Iraq are saying, while the Iraqis are grateful that the coalition, of course, has freed them from Saddam Hussein, they're frustrated and even scared about the chaos or looting going on.

BUSH: You know, it's amazing. The statue comes down on Wednesday, and the headlines start to read, "Oh, there's disorder." Well, no kidding.

It is a situation that is chaotic because Saddam Hussein created the conditions for chaos. He created conditions of fear and hatred. And it's going to take a while to stabilize the country.

But just like the military campaign was second-guessed, I'm sure the plan is being -- but we will be successful. And there will be -- let me finish, please -- there will be more stability. There will be more medicine. There will be more food delivered over time. And it's happening as I speak.

Have you got a follow-up question?

QUESTION: I just wanted to ask you what your message is for the Iraqi people who are wondering...

BUSH: You're free! And freedom is beautiful. And, you know, it will take time to restore chaos and order -- but we -- order out of chaos. But we will.

Yes, John?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Well, John, I think that people have got to know that we are serious about stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and that each situation requires a different response.

But we are making good progress in North Korea. We have made it clear that we think that the best way to deal with their proliferation is through a multinational forum. It looks like that might be coming to fruition. That's very good news for the people in the Far East who are concerned about North Korea and their willingness to develop nuclear weapons.

We're making progress on all fronts.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: I think that we believe there are chemical weapons in Syria, for example. And we will -- each situation will require a different response. And of course, we're -- first things first. We're here in Iraq now. And the second thing about Syria is, is that we expect cooperation. And I'm hopeful we'll receive cooperation.

All right. Have a beautiful day.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: That's going to be -- yes, Friday. Did you watch my press conference on Friday?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Do I need to say it again, then? Surely you watched it.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: No, listen. We set clear objectives here in Washington. We gave our military what they needed to achieve the objectives. When those objectives are met, we will hear from our commanders on the ground that they have been met. And that's -- that's when the so- called victory declaration will come forth.

QUESTION: Mr. President, will you go on national television when...

BUSH: I'm on national television right this second, and it's an honor to be here on national television. And it's a great day to be on national television. Seven Americans are alive. Seven people who were missing are now alive. And I am so pleased for their families and loved ones. It is -- Patsy, you got anything?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Well, we will deal with each situation as it arises. We are making progress on the Korean peninsula. Everybody knows our position, which is that we expect there to be a nuclear-weapons-free peninsula.

The good news is it's a position shared by the Chinese, it's a position shared by the South Koreans, and it's a position shared by the Japanese. So we've got common interests. And working together, I am very hopeful we'd be able to achieve those interests diplomatically.

Have a great day. Thank you. Thank you, all.

(APPLAUSE)

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