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International Response to Bush's U.N. Speech

Aired September 23, 2003 - 11:40   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As we await President Chirac's address to General Assembly we thought we'd give you an idea of what some of the international reaction is to the president's speech so far. Christiane Amanpour will join us from London, Jim Bitterman from Paris, Walt Rodgers on watch from Baghdad.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And Jill Dougherty's in Moscow this morning.

ZAHN: We're going to get started with Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, I know you gave us an idea of how some of the papers reacted to what they thought they might hear from the president. What is the instant reaction?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, too early for instant reaction but certainly people will wonder whether they should have had more of a sort of a -- details as to what the president was going to give or expect in terms of help for Iraq. As you guys have been mentioning, no specific details of what he wanted from the international community, just that nations of goodwill should step forward to help the people Iraq.

Certainly he mentioned weapons of mass destruction. Didn't give an inch as former Secretary Eagleburger said. However he did not say they would come up and find weapons of mass destruction. I found that interesting. He mentioned them but did not say anymore that they would find them.

He did, as one would imagine, paint a very positive light on what's going on in Iraq, which is somewhat at odds with some of the realities there, and indeed many of the reports out of there. Significantly in terms of what the British press was reporting today, the president mentioned that not just in Iraq but across the Middle East the situation is safer because Iraq has been liberated.

Now, British papers were basically saying that contrary to what President Bush had hoped, that the Arab/Israeli, the Israeli/Palestinian situation would be resolved. You remember, he was saying that would come through the route to Baghdad. Well, he himself has said that that process is stalled right now. That's not really working. There has been increased violence.

In terms of the other so-called "Axis of Evil" states, Iran, hard liners have consolidated their power there since the war in Iraq and are causing quite some trouble with the whole nuclear issue. In terms of Syria, also complaints about the way Syria is, according to the U.S., not cooperating. So there's quite a lot of problems with those countries despite what the president had hoped would be the fallout from the Iraq war.

In terms of preemptive action, we talked about how Kofi Annan had spoke against that. President Bush again saying in his speech that if the need was there they should be able to cut off terror at its sources, and particularly proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, we'll leave it there and continue our whip around now.

BROWN: Jim Bitterman is in Paris. Jim, without stealing the French president's speech before he delivers it, I can tell you that he gives no ground either. I don't know that anyone expected him to, but he gives no ground either.

He'll talk about the effect of the war -- war being waged without Security Council approval on the United Nations. And he'll acknowledge that the Americans can run the military operation, if they want. But the French don't want to run the military operation any way, do they?

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all. In fact, Chirac over the weekend just left the door open a very tiny crack to the possibility that French troops might be involved. But basically he said he didn't conceive of any possible that French troops will be involved in Iraq.

You know a couple things about the speech struck me as interesting. One of the things is that at the very beginning the president started off saying some things that I think probably would not have come down well among the French. This kind black and white view, this high-testosterone view of the world in which things are painted in black and white. That does not go down well here.

On the other hand, during his speech he spoke about things that I think probably did strike an accord with the French. One of the things is that he said that everyone believes in a multilateral approach to the world's problems and human rights and insecurity. Those two things I think would be very much in French minds.

Also he said, sort of indicated, there might be leeway in this U.S. resolution when it comes down that perhaps the U.N. would get a bigger role. So those kinds of things would go in accordance with what President Chirac thinks.

On the other hand there's a number of other things in the speech that probably would not. We'll have to wait to see what President Chirac has to say, but I think he's going to pretty much hold his ground -- Aaron.

BROWN: Jim, thank you very much. Jim Bitterman who is in Paris.

ZAHN: And we travel back to Baghdad where Walt Rogers is standing by. Walt, I wanted to reread a sentence or two from the president's speech as it related directly to potential sovereignty for the Iraqis. He said, "The primary goal of coalition in Iraq is self government for the people of Iraq reached by orderly and democratic needs." No reference to a timetable at all.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: that's true, Paula. And that, in my mind, was the key sentence in the president's entire speech. But remember, what he was saying was that he was not going to be hurried or delayed by other parties. And that was a clear statement directed at the French.

That statement was very important for the Iraqi people because for 25 years, it's difficult to say that they had any self government. So when the president promised them that, I believe he clearly meant it. And, remember, despite much of the negative reporting you hear out of here, the U.S. forces have performed some rather admiral services.

The president talked about the improvement in schools and I've seen this. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne rebuilding schools, refurbishing schools, particularly in minority tribes who were badly discriminated against by Saddam, the Kurds, the Azeris, the Shamoras (ph). Things are much better for those people here.

Also medical clinics improving here. The president also made reference the work of the United Nations. Vaccinations, water purifications. So there were many, good positive things in the president's speech which many people may have heard for the first time -- Aaron.

BROWN: Walt, thank you very much.

ZAHN: That would be both of us now.

BROWN: I guess that would. That happens in television, live television, particularly.

Jill Dougherty is -- we'll see who comes up on the screen. Jill Dougherty's in Moscow. We know that part. It always strikes me this relationship, the relationship between the Americans and Russians, is among the most intriguing because there clearly is a personal relationship between leaders of the two countries that does not exist between the president and -- President Bush and President Chirac. Will that influence how the Russians view the president's speech today?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: You know, Aaron, I think you have a good point. I mean It's more nuanced relationship. And remember that just this weekend, this coming weekend, the two leaders, Mr. Putin and Mr. Bush will meet at Camp David, a special treat to the Russian president from the American president.

And Mr. Putin seems to carve out his own position here. You know I couldn't help not be struck by the word on -- the words about sovereignty. Mr. Bush saying neither "hurried nor delayed." And that is really similar to what President Putin told us on Saturday. He said in contrast to what the French are saying, "I don't think it should go too, too fast, but it can't go too slowly either. It has to be measured and have to have the support of the Iraqi people."

Also on troops, President Putin has said that, theoretically, if there were an international peacekeeping force, that Russia might contribute peacekeepers. Albeit, probably not very many, but the possibility is there. He said, It's not on the table, however. But he added, I don't care who leads that coalition. It could even be the United States.

So you can see here that he's going further, certainly, than the French.

BROWN: Jill, thank you very much. Jill Dougherty in Moscow.


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