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Bush, Blair Address Reporters

Aired September 7, 2002 - 16:23   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Just moments ago, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed reporters talking about their goal and their discussions as they are meeting in Camp David this afternoon talking about their plans for Iraq and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

President Bush said that there is ample evidence, apparently, that Iraq's Saddam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction. President Bush cited satellite photos released by a U.N. agency that show unexplained construction at Iraqi sites that weapons inspectors once visited to search for evidence Saddam was trying to develop nuclear weapons. Let's listen in now on what they had to say a bit ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Spending a good three hours talking to our friend about how to keep the peace. This world faces some serious threat and threats, and we're going to talk about it. We're going to talk about how to promote freedom around the world. We're going to talk about our shared values of -- recognizes the worth of every individual.

And I'm looking forward to this time. It was awfully thoughtful of Tony to come over here. It's an important meeting, because he's an important ally, an important friend.

Welcome.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thanks.

I'm looking very much forward, obviously, to discussing the issues that are preoccupying us at the moment with the president. And I thank him for his kind invitation to come here, and his welcome.

The point that I would emphasize to you, is that the threat from Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological, potentially nuclear weapons capability -- that threat is real. We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this morning, showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapon sites to realize that.

And the policy of inaction is not a policy we can responsibly subscribe to. So the purpose of our discussion today is to work out the right strategy for dealing with this. Because deal with it we must.

BUSH: AP lady?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: We just heard the prime minister talk about the new report. I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied -- finally denied access, a report came out of the Atomic -- the IAEA, that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don't know what more evidence we need.

BLAIR: Absolutely right. And what we know from what has been going on there for a long period of time is not just the chemical, biological weapons capability. But we know that they were trying to develop nuclear weapons capability. And the importance of this morning's report, is that it yet again shows that there is a real issue that has to be tackled here.

And I mean, I was just reading coming over here the catalog of attempts by Iraq to conceal its weapons of mass destruction, not to tell the truth about it over -- not just over a period of months, but over a period of years.

Now, that's why the issue is important. And, of course, it's an issue not just for America, not just for Britain, it's an issue for the whole of the international community. But it is an issue we have to deal with. And that's why I say to you that the policy of inaction, doing nothing about it, is not something we can responsibly adhere to.

BUSH: Want to call on somebody?

You don't have to if you don't want to.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister -- will you Mr. President, seek a U.N. resolution prior to any action against Iraq?

And for the prime minister, would you sanction any action against Iraq before -- without a U.N. resolution?

BUSH: Well, first, I'm going to give a speech next Thursday. And I'd like you to tune in.

BLAIR: As I said to you I think at the press conference we gave earlier in the week, this is an issue for the whole of the international community. But the U.N.'s got to be the way of dealing with this issue, not the way of avoiding dealing with it.

Now, of course, as we showed before in relation to Afghanistan, we want the broadest possible international support. But it's got to be on the basis of actually making sure that the threat that we've outlined is properly adhered to.

Because the point that I would emphasize to you is, it's not us, it's not Britain nor America that's in breach of United Nations resolutions. It's Saddam Hussein and Iraq. And therefore, this issue is there for the international community to deal with. And we've got to make sure that it is a way of dealing with it.

BUSH: Patsy (ph)?

QUESTION: Mr. President?

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: What is your actual target in Iraq? Is it weapons of mass destruction or Saddam Hussein?

And if the prime minister could answer too.

BUSH: Well, as you know, our government in 1998 -- action that my administration has embraced -- decided that this regime was not going to honor its commitments to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton administration supported regime change. Many members of the current United States Senate supported regime change. My administration still supports regime change.

There's all kinds of ways to change regimes. This man is a man who said he was going to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, and for 11 long years he has not fulfilled his promise. And we're going to talk about what to do about it.

We owe it to future generations to deal with this problem. And that's what this discussions are all about.

Final question. Call on somebody.

BLAIR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

BUSH: Yes?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: Pardon me?

QUESTION: Do you have any support from any other countries in the world apart from Britain?

BUSH: Yes. A lot of people understand that this man has defied every U.N. resolution -- sixteen U.S. (sic) resolutions he's ignored. A lot of people understand he holds weapons of mass destruction. A lot of people understand he has invaded two countries. A lot of people understand he's gassed his own people. A lot of people understand he is unstable.

So we've got a lot of support. A lot of people understand the danger. BLAIR: And I can tell you from the discussions I've had with people, of course, there are people asking perfectly reasonable questions about this. But the one thing that no one can deny is that Saddam Hussein is in breach of the United Nations resolutions on weapons of mass destruction -- that is chemical, biological, nuclear weapons -- that that poses a threat, not just to the region, because there is no way, if those weapons were used, that the threat would simply stay in the region. People understand that.

And we've got to make sure that we work out a way forward, that, of course, mobilizes the maximum support, but does so on the basis of removing a threat that the United Nations itself has determined is a threat to the whole of the world.

BUSH: Thank you all for coming. I appreciate you. Thanks.

Pardon me?

QUESTION: Can you take one on 9/11?

BUSH: Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Let me ask you, sir, when you asked the American people for support...

BUSH: The only reason why: He's a fine fellow.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: When you asked the American people for support two years ago, there was no way, sir, anyone could imagined the grim nature of the job you would take on. Had you known then what the job would entail, would you still have asked for it, sir, and would you have had any compunction...

BUSH: There's no way that I could have possibly known what we're going to have to deal with. I'm a citizen of a country that has had these two vast oceans protecting us for all of these years. You know, we were safe. People couldn't come and attack us, so we thought. Of course, Hawaii got attacked, but that's not a part of our mainland.

We felt secure here in the country. There is no way we could have possibly envisioned that the battlefield would change.

And it has, and that's why we've got to deal with all of the threats. That's why Americans must understand that when a tyrant like Saddam Hussein posses weapons of mass destruction, it not only threatens the neighborhood in which he lives, it not only threatens the region, it can threaten the United States of America or Great Britain for that matter.

The battlefield has changed. We are in a new kind of war. And we've got to recognize that. There's no way I could have possibly predicted that future.

I'm honored to be the president. And so long as I am the president, I'm going to work hard to make America safe and the world more peaceful.

Thank you all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair meeting together in Camp David. The subject: Iraq, and how to handle Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair making it very clear that this is an issue that the whole international community has to deal with. He said this threat is real, and quote, "a policy of inaction is not one we can subscribe to."

But Bush was asked very pointedly, are you getting the support from anyone else in the international community, and Bush said in a word, yes, but wouldn't elaborate. We know that it was in the past 24 hours that Russia, China and France have all said that they are not behind the U.S. in any sort of toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Our CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House. You too have been listening in there. President Bush very pointedly would not elaborate on who -- what other countries might be supporting the U.S.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, you're absolutely right, Fredricka. Both leaders actually made calls to the head of Russia as well as France within the last 24 hours to try to seek their support. But as you mentioned before, they do not have support when it comes to military action and ousting Saddam Hussein from really key allies.

They are really looking to win a permit -- at least those countries that are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to come onboard. They all have veto power for any type of resolution that they might decide to put forth. We do know White House aides are saying the Bush administration is really focusing on crafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would really put a deadline, saying that Saddam Hussein must actually allow these weapons inspectors inside, that he must comply with those weapons inspections, or face some sort of punitive action.

We are told that this type of resolution really is going to have very broad language, and they hope the language is broad enough to allow some of these other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to sign onto this.

But that is yet to be seen. You know, we really don't know whether or not that is going to happen. President Bush, of course, making his case to the international community as well as to Americans. He is going to be meeting one-on-one, having personal sessions here in Washington as well as New York and Detroit with at least half a dozen world leaders this week. Leaders from Portugal, Canada, Japan, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and also he is going to be approaching the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday. That is when he is going to be making a speech and he is going to outline in detail why he believes that Saddam Hussein must be removed from power. WHITFIELD: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much. Of course, President Bush said he's working also on his speech while he's at Camp David, once he completes talks with Tony Blair. Good to see you, thank you.

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