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Bush, Abdullah Press Conference

Aired December 4, 2003 - 10:21   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Want to show you now some videotape coming -- that was shot in the White House. This is President Bush Meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah. Let's listen in,

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I view His Majesty as one of our really close friends in the world.

You know, I went to London recently and gave a speech about reform and reform in the Middle East and the possibilities of governments that adhere to rule of law and transparency and women's rights and economic freedom.

And, Your Majesty, you're doing just that. I'm proud of your leadership. You're a modern leader with a big heart and a vision for what is best for your people.

I also want to thank you for your very strong support in our mutual desire to bring peace to the Middle East. We made a tough decision when it came to Iraq and, Your Majesty, you stood with us. And we made the right decision when it came to Iraq, because Iraq will be free and will be peaceful. And that's in your interest and it's in our interest and it's in the world's interests that we succeed.

I look forward to discussing with you a wide range of issues of our mutual concern and I look forward to your wise counsel and advice.

ABDULLAH: Thank you, Sir.

Well, Mr. President, again, it's always a pleasure to see you and to be back here in Washington. I'm very grateful for your support for the region, what you're trying to do to bring peace and stability for all of us in the Middle East, Iraq, the Israelis, the Palestinians. And so, I'm looking forward to our discussions today and to see how we can best bring hope to all of the people of our part of the world.

And the president has always been very courageous in trying to do the right thing and to push forth dialogue and hope for all of us in the Middle East. And I am very appreciative.

BUSH: Thanks for coming.

I'll answer you a couple of questions, starting with this fellow right there.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Are you going to repeal all the steel tariffs today?

BUSH: I'm making a decision. The decision I make will be based upon my strong belief that America's consumers, the American economy is better off with a world that trades freely and a world that trades fairly.

And I listened to an International Trade Commission report about the effects that steel imports were having upon our important industry; I acted. I acted to give the steel industry time to adjust. I acted in time for us to say to the world that we will trade, but we want to trade in a fair way. And the decision will be announced here shortly.

QUESTION: Did you talk to Mr. Blair about it today?

BUSH: No, it didn't come up today with Prime Minister Blair. I did talk to the prime minister today.

See, you're not the only guy asking questions about this thing. It's good that you recognize that.

I did talk to the prime minister. We talked about Iraq. We talked about NATO. And we had a good discussion. I talk to him about once a week; maybe once every two weeks.

His Majesty just was with the prime minister.

ABDULLAH: Yes, day before yesterday.

BUSH: Steady friend of ours and a steady friend of Jordan's as well.

Is anybody here from the Jordanian press that you'd like to call on?

QUESTION: Your Majesty, given some of the recent events, such as the Palestinian factions are meeting in Cairo, Geneva accords, the Palestinians (UNINTELLIGIBLE) proposals, do you feel that there's hope to revive the negotiations? What is your next step to revive the road map?

ABDULLAH: Well, the president has always been out front in trying to move the process forward.

ABDULLAH: There is a lot of difficulties on the ground at the moment, as we know. But we're all have been working very hard behind the scenes to encourage the Palestinian prime minister to be able to have the dialogue with the Israelis. We believe that there will be, I hope, some small steps on the ground that move the process forward.

We haven't given up on the peace process. The president has been very dedicated from day one, and we appreciate his support. But it's going to be a tough road ahead for all of us.

QUESTION: The Geneva accord, do you think some of these proposals should be included in an overall peace agreement? And why is Secretary Powell meeting with these people?

BUSH: You know, everybody knows where I stand. I gave a speech right here in the Rose Garden in June of 2002. I laid out what I believe is necessary to achieve peace in the Middle East. It starts with having a Palestinian state that is at peace with Israel, a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles, a Palestinian state which recognizes the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people and a Palestinian state with leadership which is committed to defeating and dismantling the terrorist organizations who are trying to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging.

I also talked about the need for the Israelis to keep in mind that if they support a Palestinian state -- which they have told me they do -- that the conditions on the ground must be such for a Palestinian state to be able to emerge. And that's why we're continuing to talk to them about the illegal settlements and outposts, illegal outposts and settlements, as well as the fence.

As well, nations in the neighborhood must take responsibility. The king and I have spent a lot of time talking about this subject. He understands fully what I'm talking about.

I want to remind you that it was in Jordan where His Majesty hosted us.

BUSH: I stood up with His Majesty, as well as Prime Minister Sharon and then Prime Minister Abu Mazen, and made a public declaration that we were prepared to work together for the creation of a Palestinian state. Abu Mazen has since been shoved aside and the process stalled.

What the Palestinians need is leadership willing to remain committed to the aspirations of their people and bold enough to stand up and fight off the terrorist organizations. And His Majesty and I will be glad to work with such leaders as they emerge.


BUSH: Well, I think it's productive so long as they adhere to the principles I've just outlined, and that is we must fight off terror, that there must be security and there must be the emergence of a Palestinian state that is democratic and free. And position of this government is clear and it's firm. We appreciate people discussing peace. Just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear.

Thank you all for coming.


KAGAN: We have been listening to videotape shot not that long ago in the White House in the oval office. President Bush meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, talking about a number of topics. Mentioning Iraq, the Middle East. There has been a push for Middle East leaders for the Bush administration to get back on the road map to peace between the Palestinians and Israel. And also talking about steel tariffs. We expect an announcement later this morning about President Bush making decisions about steel tariffs that he had imposed trying to protect the U.S. steel industry. It is expected he will lift those but impose some other rules and regulations that could help -- could help protect the U.S. steel industry against unfair competition.


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