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Target: Terrorism: U.S., French Presidents Give Press Conference

Aired November 6, 2001 - 11:43   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Jacques Chirac and President Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my honor to welcome our close friend and my personal friend back to Washington, D.C., President Chirac. Thank you for being here, sir. We've had a good discussion about our common efforts to fight terror.

I thank the French people, the French government for their strong support. And I appreciate your help on the military front, Mr. President.

We recognize that our war against terror is more than just military action in Afghanistan, that we have an obligation to help feed the innocent people in Afghanistan and that we've got to make sure that there is a post-Taliban government that reflects the values of both our countries.

And so we had a good discussion and I value the advice of the president. I value his friendship, and I'm so glad he came back to the country. Mr. President, welcome. I appreciate you being here.

JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, thank you, Mr. President. I must say, it's always a pleasure and a delight to be here and to be at your side. And I must say that I admire you, I admire your calm and your determination in the difficult circumstances that we have to face together.

The ultimate responsibility of any political official, be he head of state or head of government, is to ensure the safety of his people.

And that is exactly what President Bush is doing, what I am doing, what all our colleagues are doing. And to ensure the safety of the people, we have to use all the tools at our disposal, the domestic tools and also the international tools. And by international tool, of course, I refer to the eradication of the current terrorism.

In the spirit, we talked about the military operations, about French support, about the political actions that we must take to establish in Afghanistan all the trappings of a modern state, also the urgent need for humanitarian aid, both for refugees and all the people of Afghanistan. And also we mentioned the crises across the world, crises that can fuel terrorism and, of course, by that I mean that we mentioned amongst other things, the Middle East and the need for the peace process to be restored there.

And on all these issues, I wanted to contribute a few thoughts in the general debate, and that is what I did.

And I'd like to thank him for welcoming me here.

BUSH: Thank you.

We'll take a couple of questions. I'll take two, the president's agreed to take two.

QUESTION: Sir, this morning you said that Al Qaeda terrorists are seeing to obtain weapons of mass destruction. Can you tell us how close they are to getting a nuclear bomb or even a bomb that would distribute deadly nuclear waste across the country?

QUESTION: And to President Chirac, your government says about 2,000 of your troops will be involved in the U.S.-led effort. How many of those will be on the ground in Afghanistan?

BUSH: This morning, I did say that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were seeking to develop weaponry that -- weapons of mass destruction. And the reason I said that is because I was using his own words. He announced that this was his intention, and I believe we need to take him seriously.

We will do everything we can to make sure he does not acquire the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. If he does have them, we will work hard to make sure he doesn't; if he does, we'll make sure he doesn't deploy them. And that's why it is so important that we continue our search for Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, to hunt them down, to get them on the run and to bring them to justice.

But this is an evil man that we're dealing with, and I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it. And that's our coalition is -- that's why we work hard to keep our coalition bound together, and that's why we're going to keep relentless military pressure on him in Afghanistan. And that's why we must prevail, and that's why we must win.

And I told my friend, the president, there's no doubt in my mind we will win.

The question for President Chirac.

CHIRAC: (THROUGH TRANSLATOR) I didn't say that France was ready to put 2,000 men at the disposal of the military operation. On the contrary. I said that we already had 2,000 men of all three forces involved in the operation.

QUESTION: Question from the French Press.


BUSH: ... only one question, Mr. Fournier (ph).

This is the old two-question trick. You say you got one question, and then he asks two questions.

Would you call on somebody from your press?


QUESTION: The question is directed at both presidents. We are already involved in the military phase, have we already, have you already started speaking about the political phase, and the possible increased involvement of the U.N. for the future in that phase?

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Of course, we have mentioned all this. And I must say that the military aspect is necessary, yes. But there are other aspects, and the U.S. and its allies are currently making efforts to speed up the political process in the quest for a political settlement in Afghanistan.

And in this respect, we do support Mr. Brahimi and what he is doing. We are also involved in increasing and stepping up the humanitarian aid, and we mentioned that this morning. We spoke about all these issues because they are all closely intertwined as are other issues that haven't yet been mentioned in front of your ladies and gentlemen, for instance, the financing of the fight against terrorism or financial measures to fight against terrorism and also the havens that are offered to terrorists in some countries, because of national legislation, and also the fight against the opportunities that our democratic societies give these terrorists.

BUSH: I have nothing more to add to that. I'm in agreement with what the president said.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you said this morning that you wanted more than sympathy or words from other countries. What nations were you specifically talking about and what do you want from them?

BUSH: I am going to the United Nations to give a speech on Saturday. And I'm going to praise those nations who've joined our coalition. But a coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy. A coalition partner must perform. And our coalition partner here has performed. We work together. And that means different things for different nations.

Some nations don't want to contribute troops, and we understand that. Other nations can contribute intelligence-sharing, and for that, we're grateful. But all nations, if they want to fight terrorism, must do something. It is time for action (inaudible) the message of my speech at the United Nations.

I have no specific nation in mind, at least as I stand here now. Everybody ought to be given the benefit of the doubt. But over time, it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You're either with us or you're against us in the fight against terror. And that's going to be part of my speech at the United Nations. Mr. President?

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Just one comment. I'd just like to remind you ladies and gentlemen that, through resolution 1373, the Security Council of the United Nations acknowledged the legitimacy of U.S. action and also outlined the obligation for all countries to join the fight against terrorism. So of course, all nations and countries contribute according to their capabilities, but there is no way they can get out of this commitment. It is the legitimacy and the legitimate reaction of the U.S. that was endorsed.

BUSH: The soup's getting cold. You want one more question from the French press?

CHIRAC: You're the boss.

BUSH: I'm the boss? Well, let's go eat then.


BUSH: Thank you, Mr. President.

HEMMER: Funny moment of levity there at the end, saying the soup's getting cold, an indication the French president and the U.S. president, George Bush, will be off to lunch at this point.

Some of the more fascinating comments there had to do with weapons of mass destruction. It was earlier today when the president, addressing a group of European leaders, in Warsaw, Poland, referred to the possibility of al Qaeda trying to seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, the president, in his words, saying, "I would not put it past him," "him" referring to Osama bin Laden in this case.




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