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Rumsfeld Heading to Pakistan Next Week

Aired May 30, 2002 - 11:34   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.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to live coverage now of President Bush, and let's hear what he has to say.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... all of those who participated in the clean up of that deadly site. And I want our nation to continue to offer our prayer to those families and friends and citizens who still hurt as a result of the attacks of September the 11th.

As well, I talked about our trip, as did the secretary. We had a very successful trip to Europe, successful bilaterals with France and Germany and Italy. And of course, the highlight of the trip was signing the treaty with Russia that really signifies to the world that the Cold War is over, Russia is our friend and we need to work together.

And then we went, sign an agreement with NATO and Russia that basically said the same thing. This is a good -- this is the dawn of a new era of a relationship with Russia that will be very positive for our country and for world peace. And after all, that's what we work to achieve, which is world peace.

I'd be glad to answer a couple questions.

QUESTION: Mr. President (OFF-MIKE) Is there a risk of going too far in the battle (ph) of terrorism and actually losing the freedom...

BUSH: Of course, the attorney general will be briefing the nation today about what we intend to do. And here's what we intend to do: We intend to honor our constitution and respect the freedoms that we hold so dear.

And secondly, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to prevent a further attack, to protect America. The FBI needed to change. It was an organization full of fine people that loved America. But the organization didn't meet the times.

And so I appreciate Director Mueller's reform measures. This is a man who came on to the FBI not many days before the September 11th attack. And he's now reforming this important agency -- all aimed at preventing a further attack. Our most important job is to protect America. And the initiative that the attorney general will be outlining today will guarantee our constitution. And that's important for the citizens to know.

QUESTION: Mr. President, are you preparing to activate plans for evacuating American civilians and troops from Pakistan and India? And how much concern do you have of a standoff over Kashmir as allowing Al Qaeda to regroup...

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: First of all, the secretary -- both secretaries are analyzing what it would take to protect American lives if need be.

Secondly, we are making it very clear to both Pakistan and India that war will not serve their interests. And we're a part of an international coalition applying pressure to both parties, particularly to President Musharraf. He must stop the incursions across the Line of Control. He must do so. He said he would do so. We and others are making it clear to him that he must live up to his word.

Al Qaeda is a -- they'll find weakness, and we are doing everything we can to continue to shore up our efforts in -- on the Pakistani-Afghan border. And they shouldn't think they're going to gain any advantage as a result of any conflict that may be -- or talk of conflict between India and Pakistan because we're still going to hunt them down.

This is a long war. You know, I was just reflecting the other day, we've only been at this -- you know, we haven't even been fighting this war for a year yet, and we've got a lot of work to do.

And there'll be moments where the Al Qaeda thinks that, you know, maybe America is not after them. And they'll feel safe and secure. And you know, they'll think they're kind of settled into some cave somewhere.

But they don't understand the intention of this administration, which is to patiently hunt these people down. And that's exactly what we're going to do.

QUESTION: Are you sending Secretary Rumsfeld this week to the region?

BUSH: Yes, he's going there. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage is going this week. And then Secretary Rumsfeld will be going...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: This week or next week?

BUSH: Next week. Yes, early next week.

QUESTION: Two part. One, the India (OFF-MIKE) I'm trying to get your sense of whether you have seen any tangible proof on the parties that they are willing to take the steps necessary to move beyond the standoff.

You had a roundtable today, also your domestic policy team. I wondering if you've come back from the trip, if you've discussed a frustration, if you way, that Congress went home for Memorial Day without acting on any of the things...

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: Well, let me address the second first. We have been pleased with how many of our initiatives have moved to the House of Representatives. We've been frustrated by the fact they haven't move to the Senate.

Having said that, I was pleased that the Senate moved the trade promotion authority bill and hope, when they get back, that they call a conference quickly and get this bill to my desk. It's important for people who are looking for work here in America.

But there's still a lot of work to be done in the Senate. They've got to get this supplemental done quickly. It's important that we get a supplemental out and, frankly, a supplemental that doesn't bust the budget. And we'll be looking forward to working with the senators to explain to them that the supplemental ought to focus on emergency measures, measures that are needed to fight the war, button up the homeland.

But the supplemental shouldn't be viewed as an opportunity to load it up with special projects.

In terms of the Middle East, we are sending. We sent Ambassador Burns there yesterday. Director Tenet is going -- all aimed at providing the steps necessary to provide the institutions that will create stability in a potential Palestinian state, and that's very important, because it begins to say that people are responsible. It's tangible evidence that what I said in the Rose Garden is what I mean, that people need to be responsible for their actions.

Mr. Arafat needs to be responsible. And part of that responsibility is to reform a security force so that it will actually keep security in the region.

The secretary was telling me that there was some talk of a new finance minister being promoted in the Palestinian Authority, a person that has got international standing.

That is a positive development because one of the things that worries us is spending international aid on an authority that might not keep good books, that the money might not actually go to help the Palestinian people, but might end up in somebody's pocket and that concerns us.

So to answer your question, we are making progress on a strategy that will put the underpinnings of a Palestinian state in place, and it's going to take a while. We recognize that. But we're going to continue to work the issue very hard.

QUESTION: Have you seen enough from the parties to schedule the conference the secretary wants to hold?

BUSH: Well, the scheduling of a conference is a matter of making sure that we find the right place and the right time to do so, and the secretary's working on that.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you all.

WHITFIELD: President Bush speaking on several international fronts that U.S. is closely monitoring. He says it is a patient hunt for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda operatives that is ongoing.

And he says as the tensions between India and Pakistan only seem to escalate, now, his administration in making plans to make its move toward Pakistan involving Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both making plans to head to Pakistan next week. Particularly important because the U.S. is watching as Pakistan now moves its troops from the Western border along Afghanistan now, moving over to the East toward India to protect its border, all fighting over the Kashmir region. He says it is important for the U.S. to be particularly involved in that.

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