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Bush Meets with Prime Minister of Portugal

Aired September 10, 2002 - 11:02   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who huddled with President Bush over the weekend at Camp David, well -- he didn't do this in Washington, he did this in England, came out four-square with the administration in its campaign to oust Saddam Hussein.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King joins us with more on this critical statement from a critical ally -- good morning, John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Anderson. A critical statement, and it comes just as President Bush tries to continue his own personal lobbying of world leaders, the prime minister of Portugal in the oval office at this minute as we speak, meeting with President Bush. We should hear from the president in a short time about that meeting, and White House officials telling us on the agenda, of course, trying to rally another world leader, another U.S. ally, to agree with this president and the prime minister of Great Britain's, tough posture when it comes to Saddam Hussein.

We did see the president a short time ago here on the White House campus. He left the West Wing of the White House to travel over -- you see him here with his political adviser, Karl Rove, to the Old Executive Office Building, dropping by a meeting there, we are told, of some Christian educators in town in Washington.

He is back, focusing on Iraq, and as you noted, the White House grateful for strong words of support from the British Prime Minister Tony Blair this morning in a speech in London, Prime Minister Blair said Saddam Hussein has been thumbing his nose at the United Nations for the past decade. Prime Minister Blair saying yes, perhaps the United Nations should take the lead in this debate again, and that yes, perhaps weapons inspectors should go back into Iraq again, but the prime minister also making clear that if that happens, Saddam Hussein must be told by the world community that if he turns those inspectors away, the alternative will be military force.


TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF GREAT BRITAIN: And let it also be clear that should the will of the U.N. be ignored, action will follow. Diplomacy is vital, but when dealing with dictators, and none in the world is worse than Saddam, diplomacy has to be backed by the certain knowledge in the dictator's mind that behind the diplomacy is the possibility of force being used.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The White House grateful for those words, and dispatching the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, you see her here arriving on Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress, key members of Congress on the administration's posture, including the speech the president will deliver to the United Nations on Thursday. We are told it will be quite similar to what we just heard from Prime Minister Blair, that Mr. Bush will say the burden is now on the United Nations to put its resolutions to force, to force Saddam Hussein to comply.

We are also -- are told, Don't look for a deadline from the president as to when he would use military force, don't look even for a deadline on when the president will insist that those inspectors should go back in soon. But we are told it will be quite implicit, and roughly along the language just used by Prime Minister Blair, that President Bush will tell the United Nations diplomacy might have another chance, but it must be backed up by force.

One more footnote, we want to make here this morning, among those on hand for a national security briefing this morning with the president was the was the vice president, Dick Cheney. We are told, once again, as we are reminded, and as we await the September 11 anniversary, Vice President Cheney at the last minute last night decided not to attend with the president a concert here in Washington. Instead, he stayed at a secure, undisclosed location. White House officials telling us there is no specific threat against the president or the vice president, but as part of a routine security precaution being taken because of the September 11 anniversary, on occasion, they will keep the vice president away from the president. Again, the White House saying that is routine security protocols -- Anderson.

COOPER: Well, how much of these routine protocols are going to be affecting the vice president's regular schedule?

KING: We will have a much better answer, Anderson, in the next several hours, and then in the next 24 hours, the vice president is scheduled to deliver a speech here in Washington tonight, that speech to touch on the administration's posture toward Iraq. We are told the vice president will videotape that speech, or at a portion of that speech, in case the decision is made at the last minute that he should not be out in public delivering that speech.

We also are told that it is still TBD, to be determined in the morning. The rough plans are for the vice president to be with the president at a church service in the morning, at a moment of silence here at the White House marking the moment the attacks took place, and at the ceremonies over at the Pentagon. But those decisions, we are told, will be made on a minute to minute basis, depending on the recommendation from the Secret Service and other security officials.

COOPER: And any sense of what the president is going to be doing after that, later in the day?

KING: The president himself will begin September 11 here at the White House, and a church service, moment of silence here at the White House. The president will speak at the Pentagon ceremony, then he will travel, make his first visit to the crash site of Flight 93 up in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. No remarks from the president there, but he will attend the ceremonies there, and then he will go to Ground Zero, a wreath-laying ceremony there, some remarks from the president, obviously, an address to the American people tomorrow night from New York.

COOPER: And I have just gotten word that the president is going to be meeting in just a few minutes with the representative from Portugal, anything expected to come out of that meeting?

KING: We will hear from the president at the top of that meeting, and we will bring you that videotape. As soon as we do, we do know the president, once again, is arguing to another key ally that he needs its support, as he tries to convince the United Nations to take a tougher posture against Saddam Hussein.

Other issues on the agenda as well, including the ongoing war against terrorism in Afghanistan, some economic issues, but look for the headline out of that meeting to be, once again, the president making his case that the world needs to stand up to the threat, what the president says is the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

COOPER: OK. What else is -- I am told we are about 30 seconds away from that tape. We are going to run it as soon as we do get it. What else is Bush doing today?

KING: The president is here today. He will stop by the Afghan embassy here in Washington, that viewed as a symbolic visit by the president and a reminder to the American people that Afghanistan is a very different country today than it was on September 11, when, of course, the White House says the Taliban and al Qaeda conspired in the terrorist attacks launched against the United States from Afghanistan. Mr. Bush to make the point that in his view, he has had great success so far. Let's listen in to the president.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... Prime Minister Barosso of Portugal to the Oval Office. He's one of the bright young leaders on the international stage, and it's a conversation I've been looking forward to having with Jose.

He comes at a very interesting time. It's a time where the world is discussing the present and the future. Today -- tomorrow we'll be reliving a horrible reminder of what is possible in the 21st century. That is, no country is immune from attack. We will discuss today our mutual desire to fight terror, and I appreciate the government of Portugal for its strong support in the war against terror.

BUSH: We will also discuss future threats that we face, all of us face, the dire possibilities that outlaw regimes will develop weapons of mass destruction and use them with terrorist organizations or use them on their own against countries which love freedom, countries such as Portugal. We will discuss our relationship in NATO. And, of course, we've got a very important conference coming in NATO about expansion. I look forward to hearing the prime minister's views on that important issue.

So you're here at a perfect time to discuss important issues. I value his judgment. I look forward to his advice.

Mr. Prime Minister, if you'd like to say a few things.


Let me, first of all, thank very much Mr. Bush, President Bush, for receiving me here today. I think it is very important the United States of America and President Bush listens to the opinion of close allies, and Portugal is a very close ally of the United States.

I think that it was Winston Churchill that said once that the problem with allies is that sometimes they have opinions. And I come hear to listen to President Bush, but also to give him my opinion, very frankly, opinion of a friend, opinion of a close ally of the United States, a country that shares the same basic values.

And I think at this very moment, where there are some global threats that have to have a global answer, we should act globally. And that's one of the messages I will convey to President Bush, personality I admire very much, for everything he represents for the free world, the way he has led this global coalition against terrorism.

And I'm very proud to be today here with you to convey to you the deep respect of the Portuguese people, indeed, I would say, of Europe, in all our common endeavors against global terrorism.

BUSH: Thank you, sir.

Thank you all.

COOPER: So let's bring in John King again -- John, perhaps not the overwhelming support that Bush was hoping for.

KING: No questions there, too. That is unusual in a setting like that. The president generally takes a question or two. You heard the prime minister of Portugal say that allies sometimes have opinions, that is what makes allies interesting. He also said he wanted to urge the president to act globally. That is a polite way of saying, and we have heard this from many other European leaders that if you are to rally the world against Saddam Hussein, go through the United Nations, do not threaten unilateral U.S. or U.S. and British military action. Go through the United Nations first.

And the president has heard that message, and that is what you will hear in the speech, but you will also hear from the president that he will give the United Nations one last chance to deal with Saddam Hussein, to enforce the resolutions, and as we heard from Prime Minister Blair this morning, if that one last diplomatic effort fails, both those leaders, the president of the United States and the prime minister of Great Britain saying Saddam Hussein needs to know, and needs to be told, that the alternative to diplomacy is military force.

COOPER: All right. John King at the White House, thanks very much.




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