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Bush Meets With Family of American Detainee

Aired April 11, 2001 - 12:47   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: As you know, the president has been in North Carolina today touring some classrooms. He's at Concord Middle School less than half-hour ago where he met with the family of one of the 24 crewman aboard the EP-3 being held now in Hainan Island, the family of Steven Blocher. And we are getting some press coverage tape now of the meeting that Bush had and some comments he made subsequent to that meeting. Here is the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm so honored the Blocher family came to say hello. Obviously, when we were going to visit, we were going to visit in a quiet way, private way. Now that their son Steven will be coming home soon, I thought it would be appropriate for us to visit and visit with some of the press.

These good folks are patriots, as is their son. It's a patriotic family. They had other family members serve in the armed forces. And Steven is one of the 24. I know they're thrilled he's coming home.

And I'm so appreciative of how this family and other families were steadfast in their patriotism and loyalty. They raised a boy who is -- loves his country. And we owe debt of gratitude not only the service men and women, but to their parents as well. That's what I wanted to say.

Thank you very much. You want to say something?

BOB BLOCHER, FATHER OF STEVEN BLOCHER: This morning worked out even better than we had hoped. It is an honor to meet the president. But to meet the president under such happy circumstances was more than we could ask the Lord for in any way.

BUSH: It is my honor to have you all. Thanks.

We are watching very carefully. Progress is being made. And that's very good news for these good folks. Thank you all.

WATERS: Yellow ribbons, broad smiles on the face of the parents of Steven Blocher, one of the 24 aircrew men and women being held on Hainan Island. They met with the president at Concord Middle School, where the president this morning has been touring classrooms touting his education proposal.

The president will remain in North Carolina. He's headed for Greeneville, North Carolina, where he shifts his message once again to budget and tax priorities, and then will be back at the White House this evening.

The plane that has been dispatched to pick up the 24 aircrew men and women left about 20 minutes ago from Guam. It's a chartered Continental 737 jet. The flight to the Chinese island of Hainan is expected to take 5 1/2 hours. You do the math on that, the plane took off roughly at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, as I mentioned, about 20 minutes ago.

China announced today it would release the 24-member crew as humanitarian gesture. What we do not know is just when that plane will be allowed to take off from Hainan with crew on board headed back home. But we should know that information as we continue following that story throughout the day.

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