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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush, Martin Press Briefing

Aired April 30, 2004 - 11:54   ET

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


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now live to the White House. President Bush and the prime minister of Canada, Paul Martin.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... clear vision about the world in which we live. He understands the danger of terror. He understands the opportunity of trade. And he understands that we share values that are so important, the values of freedom and human dignity. We care about the human condition.

I appreciate your concern about working together to help heal those who hurt, provide medicines for those who suffer from a disease.

We got a good friend in Canada. It's an important relationship. It's a crucial relationship. And it's one that I look forward to continuing to nurture with this prime minister.

Welcome.

PAUL MARTIN, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

We really did have a very, very good discussion. We discussed a wide range of areas. And we're going to continue over lunch.

And we're doing it within the context of our shared values and the fact that we share much more than a continent. We talked about national security and Canada's new national security policy, which makes it very clear that we're going to defend the northern half of North America, and we recognize our responsibility to those, the United States, with whom we share the continent.

MARTIN: We discussed a number of issues between us. We talked about the whole question of BSE, mad cow. And I must say that the president was very encouraging.

And we also (SPEAKING IN FRENCH) we talked about Haiti. We talked about a wide range of issues.

And I must say, Mr. President, that it's very clear that Canada and the United States, working together, we can make great progress.

BUSH: You betcha. All right.

QUESTION: Mr. President, 134 soldiers have died in Iraq this month; more than any other month. A year after you declared an end to major combat, are things getting worse in Iraq, rather than better?

BUSH: First, you know, any time you talk about somebody who died in Iraq or in Afghanistan is a moment for me to thank them and their families for their sacrifice. And their sacrifice will not go in vain, because there will be a free Iraq.

BUSH: And a free Iraq is in the interests of our two nations. A free Iraq is in the interest of world peace. Because free societies do not harbor terrorists. Free societies do not threaten people or use weapons of mass destruction. A year ago...

QUESTION: Mr. President...

BUSH: A year ago...

QUESTION: Sorry.

BUSH: A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we had accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.

And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq. As a result, a friend of terror has been removed and now sits in a jail.

I also said on that carrier that day, that there was still difficult work ahead. And we face tough times in Iraq, Mr. Prime Minister. We've had some tough times. And we've had some tough fighting because there are people who hate the idea of a free Iraq. They're trying to stop progress. Because they understand what freedom means to their terrorist ambitions.

And so we're making progress, you bet. There's a strategy toward freedom. One of it, of course, is to continue to deal with those who are trying to stop the Iraqi people from realizing their ambitions of a free society. Whether it be in Fallujah or elsewhere, we will deal with them, those few who are stopping the hopes of many.

BUSH: There's a political strategy, and the prime minister and I will talk about that over lunch, Mr. Brahimi's mission of putting together an entity to which we will transfer sovereignty.

Now, there is a strategy that will help us achieve the objective, which is a free and peaceful country in the heart of the Middle East that is desperate for freedom and democracy and peace.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you're a rancher. Is there any hope -- what hope can you offer your fellow ranchers in Canada about when the border might be open to live Canadian cattle?

BUSH: As soon as possible. My administration is committed to a policy of free trade when it comes to beef. And we had a discussion about that today with -- that subject today with our respective agricultural ministers, or secretaries, as we call them here. And I assured the prime minister I want to get this solution, this issue solved as quickly as possible. And it's in our nations' interests that live beef be moving back and forth. That's also an interest to make sure that we make decisions based upon sound science, which he fully understands.

QUESTION: What was your reaction to the photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners? How are you going to win their hearts and minds with these sort of tactics?

BUSH: Yes. I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated. Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. And so I didn't like it one bit.

But I also want to remind people that those few people who did that do not reflect the nature of the men and women we've sent overseas. That's not way the people are, it's not their character, that are serving our nation and the cause of freedom. And there'll be an investigation, I think it'll be taken care of.

QUESTION: Mr. President, could you tell us what you'd like to see Canada doing on Iraq, both diplomatically and in terms eventually of getting possibly police and troops on the ground there?

BUSH: My first answer to that is, I want Canada to do what it feels comfortable doing in Iraq. And that's what I've told the prime minister before.

Canada is an independent nation. Canada can make its decisions based upon her own judgment.

The prime minister shares my deep desire for there to be peace in the world. And to the extent that the country feels comfortable in helping that, we're grateful.

Canada's doing a lot in the Afghanistan. Canada's doing a lot in Haiti. Canada is a contributor to reconstruction in Iraq.

And I am grateful to be able to talk to a friend who shares the same goal, which is affecting behavior in a way that's based upon our values of human rights, human dignity and freedom. And we've got no better partner in understanding the power of free societies.

You know, there's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free, can self-governed.

BUSH: I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- you know, are different color than white can self-govern. And the prime minister -- I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I think he shares that great sense of optimism and possibility. And it's good to have a friend who shares that with us.

Would you like to have the first ladies come on up?

MARTIN: I've got to say that I really do like sharing a press conference with you. You answer those questions perfectly.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Thank you. Record that.

MARTIN: If you could just give me two seconds, I'm going to translate -- they want it.

BUSH: Some of these guys understand French over here.

(LAUGHTER)

Raise your hand, Gregory.

MARTIN: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BUSH: Listen, thank you all.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And so there it is, the president of United States, the prime minister of Canada, the two close allies together with their wives meeting in the Rose Garden.

Let's listen in briefly as they do this photo opportunity. Actually, they're done speaking for now. They're going to go back inside for lunch and continue their talks on several important issues as we just heard.

First and foremost, Iraq. Second, the whole issue of trade, free trade between the United States and Canada. Very sensitive subject right now. Canada being the largest trading partner of the United States.

One nugget there, the president very upset about these images that we have now seen, images being widely broadcast around the Arab world especially but also here in the United States, Europe, elsewhere. Images of American troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners in Iraq. The president saying, I didn't like it one bit.

He says there will be an investigation. Those soldiers who allegedly were engaged in this mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, the president says, were not reflective of true nature of the American people. We'll have much more on this story coming up.

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