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CNN Live Today
President Bush Meets With Canadian Prime Minister Harper; North Korea Nuclear Threat
Aired July 06, 2006 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some things we're looking to happen in very few minutes. President Bush and the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, meeting at the White House at this hour. In about 15 minutes, they will be coming out to a news conference. You'll see that live here on CNN.
And then we're just learning from the associated press, President Bush plans to go to Chicago tomorrow, and will hold a news conference from Chicago about mid morning.
We'll get more detail on that just ahead.
And then there's this news out of Florida. The state supreme court there has thrown out a huge tobacco ruling. It was $145 billion verdict, a class-action suit that was filed against Big Tobacco back in 2000. The Florida Supreme Court saying should not have been a class-action suit, estimated to affect 300,000 to 700,000 ill Floridians that resulted in that huge, huge jury award.
KAGAN: The Pentagon has been drilling for war on the Korean peninsula ever since the last one ended.
Our Brian Todd examines the military options for "THE SITUATION ROOM."
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a peninsula that's been heavily militarized and preparing for confrontation for more than 50 years, scenarios for war are detailed and frightening.
We discussed them with a former senior U.S. Army intelligence officer assigned to Korea, a former Delta Force commander who also has a CIA background, and a former strategic planner at the National War College who developed a war game on Korea.
They all make clear war is a very remote possibility. So is the prospect of a U.S. preemptive strike.
MAJOR JEFFREY BEATTY, FORMER DELTA FORCE COMMANDER: If you're going to do a preemptive strike, you have got to make sure you get everything, because, if you don't, they're going to launch what they have left, and they're going to probably launch a full-scale attack against the South.
TODD: Our experts say, if America struck first, the best-case scenario is casualties in the tens of thousands on both sides. If North Korea attacked first, they say, thousands of its special operations commandos would likely swarm into the south from the air and sea, linking up with sleeper agents who've already infiltrated through tunnels.
BRIGADIER GENERAL JAMES MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Step two would be they have to secure the demilitarized zone that separates north from south. And they would do that with light infantry, simply to hold the shoulders of the penetration, not go very deep, but to hold the door open, if you will.
TODD: Holding the door for North Korea's heavily armored million-man army to push toward Seoul and points south. At the same time, the North Koreans would launch missiles...
MARKS: They would be conventionally tipped. We have to assume they would be chemically tipped.
TODD: ... prompting U.S. forces to launch airstrikes on North Korean artillery positions, many of which can be hidden in deep underground bunkers. And, inevitably, experts say, U.S. and North Korean ground forces would engage, likely on very difficult terrain.
(on camera): Terrain in what has turned into a very urbanized region over the past 50 years. That means possibly hundreds of thousands of casualties, military and civilian. And that leaves out North Korea's nuclear capability, which our experts say is too crude to be used effectively, for the moment.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: Brian is part of the team covering the world for "THE SITUATION ROOM." Join Wolf Blitzer weekday afternoons at 4:00 Eastern, and in primetime at 7:00.
Do you have something you've been dying to ask the president, or maybe you just want to wish him a happy birthday? Now is your chance. Our Larry King will be talking with the president and first lay the this afternoon. You can e-mail your questions and comments to CNN.com/larryking. But only have about 20 more minutes to do so. And you can watch the interview tonight on LARRY KING LIVE tonight 9:00 Eastern.
President Bush, before he heads to talk to Larry, will be holding a news conference in less than 10 minutes from now. He'll be with the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harpers. You'll see that live right here on CNN.
You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KAGAN: Here in Atlanta, Coca-Cola corporate headquarters is in shock today after the arrest of an executive assistant. Joya Williams is accused in a scheme to sell some of Coke's most well-guarded secrets to archrival Pepsi. Pepsi alerted Coke, and Coke called the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID E. NAHMIAS, U.S. ATTORNEY: To their great credit as a corporate citizen, immediately alerted their main competitor that something was going on. And I think they did that because trade secrets are important to everybody in the business community. They all realize that if their trade secrets aren't protected, they all suffer. And the market suffers and the population suffers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Two alleged accomplices are also charged. All three suspects are expected in federal court today.
No dice. Six days into the New Jersey budget crisis, government agencies continue to shut down and the governor and legislature are still at odds on how to make up a $4.5 billion deficit.
Outside the capital building, idle casino workers are demanding action. Inside, the assembly budget committee is focused on a plan to extend casino taxes and create new corporate taxes. But Governor Jon Corzine remains committed to raising the sales tax to 7 percent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: No one wants to hear another speech. No one wants to hear more excuses, most certainly not the citizens of New Jersey. They want a budget, and they want a government that works for them. Let us resolve to pass a budget that can be agreed upon today. We can do this today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: Corzine put a compromise on the table this morning. It calls for temporary relief on some property taxes. So far, though, no deal.
You watched it here live on CNN just about 40 minutes ago. The Shuttle Discovery linking up with the International Space Station. The two will stay locked together for at least the next 12 days. Prior to docking, Discovery turned its belly toward the space station. The crew got pictures of the shuttle's heatshield to make sure there are no problems.
KAGAN: Standing by. Any minute, we expect a news conference to begin at the White House. President Bush and the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, coming to the microphones. You'll see it live here on CNN.
Right now we fit in a quick break. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name the in news.
KAGAN: And we're looking at live pictures of the White House. So who came to your birthday party? Well, for President Bush, this is his 60th birthday. He's going to spend part of it holding a news conference, which we expect to begin at any minute. Along with him is the prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. This is the two leaders' first one-on-one meeting. They've met at some international summits, but this is the first time they've had to chat one-on-one.
A lot of topics to get to. Most noteworthy, of course, you have what's happening with North Korea and the missile tests this week. Also, the U.S. plans for tighter border identification. Canada trying to map out its own plans there, as well. And, also, well, you have Mr. Bush's birthday. Now, Canadian officials aren't letting up what Mr. Harper brought along for a birthday gift. They're just saying that the prime minister brought something personal for Mr. Bush on his 60th birthday.
After this, Larry King will be hosting the president and Mrs. Bush. They're going to sit down and have an interview. "LARRY KING LIVE," taping that this afternoon. And for the next ten minutes, if you have a question, you're just dying to ask President Bush, you can go ahead and e-mail it to Larry. Go to CNN.com/larryking and write your question and Larry will try to get it in, and then you can go ahead and watch that interview tonight.
So, standing by, we expect any minute the president and the Canadian prime minister to come out. A couple things about this basically new Canadian prime minister. He is of a conservative ideology, so expected to get along better with President Bush than previous Canadian leaders. His worldview closer than what we've seen from other Canadian leaders in some time. Other things that might come up, Afghanistan and Iraq, and especially North Korea. There's Vice President Dick Cheney. A number of dignitaries awaiting this news conference as well.
Once again, this is President Bush's 60th birthday, did some celebrating earlier this week on the Fourth of July, came back after going to Fort Bragg on the holiday, came back and basically celebrated with family and friends. And now having a day of meetings.
No word, also -- I guess President Bush presenting a gift to the prime minister, but no word on that what that is.
When this begins we will go back live to the White House and see the questions as they take them.
Meanwhile, let's get some other news in right now, including a car bombing targeting Iranian worshipers in Iraq. They come to pray at a mosque in the southern town of Kufa. The bomber drove in between the two buses and set himself off as the pilgrims were getting off. At least 11 people were killed, mostly Iranians. Dozens were wounded. Tehran is criticizing the U.S. for failing to provide security.
Former Army Private Steven Green is being moved to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky today. That's where he'll face charges that he killed four Iraqis in Iraq. New questions surfaced about crime and punishment and what really happened in a house in Mahmoudiya.
CNN's Arwa Damon has more.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This plain concrete house may have been the scene of a gruesome crime, a crime the U.S. government says was committed by U.S. soldiers. Almost four months later, despite the house being cleaned out, bloodstains and evidence of burning can still be seen in these Associated Press pictures. The crime, the alleged rape of a young woman, identified as Adir Kasum Kassam (ph), believed to be barely in her 20s. She, her little sister and her parents murdered. Their bodies burned in what authorities say was an attempted cover-up.
"We found them dead in the house," the girl's brother, Ahmed Kessam (ph) says. "We also found the house blackened and smoke erupting from it."
Her uncle, Amed Taha (ph), says, "The Americans are behind this incident. People in the area saw the Americans, but they are afraid."
The bodies were buried quickly back in mid-March, but the story of what happened here is only now being told. Following the arrest in the United States of Steven D. Green, a former Army private first class, accused by the U.S. government of being one of those responsible for the rape and killings.
And now the Iraqi government is investigating. And the Iraqi prime minister expressing outrage, blaming a system in which U.S. forces in Iraq are immune to Iraqi prosecution, accountable only to the U.S. government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We believe the immunity given to international forces is what emboldened them to commit such crimes in cold blood. This requires that such immunity should be reconsidered. We affirm we must participate in investigating crimes committed against the Iraqi people.
DAMON: The U.S. military says it will engage with the prime minister on the issue of immunity.
(on camera): But with emotions already running high in Iraq, what is alleged to have happened in this house will likely make the job of U.S. troops here even more difficult.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
KAGAN: And now we're within seconds of this news conference beginning at the White House. President Bush and the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A number of on the topics we expect them to get to, including trade issues, also border security and the U.S. plan to require travelers going back and forth between the Canadian and U.S. border to carry passports. That was supposed to be begin in January. We expect the prime minister to ask for an extension on that plan.
The prime minister arrived in town Wednesday night, dined with the Canadian embassy, met with Vice President Dick Cheney.
Today topics the president and prime minister are getting to as well, North Korea and what's happened with the missiles that were test fired, as they did at least seven times. Japan earlier today circulating a resolution at the United Nations Security Council, calling for sanctions against the communist dictatorship.
I see the two leaders as they walk down the hallway. On your right, President Bush. On your left, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
We'll listen as the two leaders step to the microphone.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Welcome.
It's been my honor to visit with Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, in the Oval Office. After this exercise in democracy, I'll be buying him lunch...
... where we'll continue our discussions.
I'm impressed by his leadership style. I appreciate the fact that he doesn't mince words, he tells me what's on his mind. He does so in a real clear fashion.
We talked about a lot of subjects.
We talked about Iran and our joint desire to convince the Iranian regime to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Talked about North Korea. And I shared with him our strategy to work with five other -- four other nations to convince the North Koreans to adhere to agreements they'd already reached with the world.
We talked about the war on terror. And I told the prime minister how pleased Americans were that the Canadian government did the hard work necessary to disrupt terrorist plots.
It just goes to show how safe Canada is. When you've got a government that's active and a police force that's capable, people ought to be -- rest assured that Canada is on top of any plots.
I thanked the prime minister and the Canadian people for their involvement in Afghanistan. This is a serious foreign policy decision by the government. And it's a necessary decision, in my judgment, to help make this world a more peaceful place.
It just goes to show the important role Canada can play in foreign policy. Canada has got a set of values that are extremely important for the world to see.
And I do want to thank the families of those soldiers who are in Afghanistan for supporting their loved ones. The soldiers are doing fantastic work.
I asked, prior to your visit here, from our military folks how they were doing. They said, "Great." And they're making the country proud.
And I appreciate very much our discussion about Darfur. I believe that Canada and the United States can make a difference in Darfur, and should.
As you know, our nation declared the situation in Darfur a genocide.
We will work with the international community to bolster the A.U. forces that are there now. I believe they ought to be blue-helmeted and I believe there ought to be NATO involvement with a blue-helmeted A.U.-augmented force on the ground.
The message has got to be clear to the government of Sudan: We're not going to tolerate this kind of activity.
I speak frequently with my secretary of state on this issue, Mr. Prime Minister, to make sure that we expedite the arrival of augmented troops to save lives.
I talked to Kofi Annan the other night, by the way, about this very subject.
And so I appreciate your understanding, I really appreciate your working on this.
You know, we cooperate closely in our neighborhood. We just renewed the NORAD accord.
And I want to thank you for that.
I remember going out -- one of the hurricanes was about to hit us here, and I can remember talking to and having dinner with a Canadian general there. Just reminded me of how close that, you know, our relations need to be.
We talked about trade. We have a lot of trade with Canada. It's in this nation's interest to trade with Canada. It's in, I think, the Canadian interest to trade with the United States. I'll let the prime minister speak to that.
But it's important when you have trade to have, you know, goods and services and people flow as smoothly as possible between our two countries. We've had some disputes in the past -- trade disputes.
That's what you expect when you have a lot of trade.
And probably the most meddlesome trade dispute was softwood lumber. And I appreciate the prime minister's leadership in helping us resolve this issue. It's a tough issue. It was a tough issue for the Canadian government; it's a tough issue for us.
Nevertheless, the fact that we were able to reach an accord just goes to show how trading partners can be active in trade and solve problems.
And I think this is a really important solution, and I want to thank you for that.
Needless to say, the prime minister expressed deep concerns about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The last time I was with him, he expressed concerns. He basically was a little impatient, if I might clarify your -- it seemed like you were impatient, at least.
And straightforward. Look, he said, "I understand there's a law on the books. Show us what's going to happen."
And I understand the concerns. If you have a relationship like we have, where there's a lot of activity and a lot of people moving across the border, it makes sense for the prime minister of Canada to say, "Look, we just want to know what the rules are, to determine whether or not it is compatible with our relationship."
And so I assured him that my view is "simple and easy to understand" is the operative words. And we will continue our discussions about this initiative, particularly since the secretary of homeland security, Chertoff -- who's sitting right over there, by the way -- will be joining us for lunch.
Unless you don't want me to invite him.
We talked about -- well, we talked about a lot of subjects. And that's what you expect friends to do.
Mr. Prime Minister, the floor is yours. I'm proud you're here. And thanks for coming.
STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President, for the invitation and for the kind words. And thank you for doing something I never thought I'd see, which is have the Canadian media stand when I enter the room. But we certainly enjoy that.
(THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would like to thank President Bush for his warm welcome. The U.S. and Canada have very close relations. We have talked about several international and bilateral issues. We share various goals that are common. And we have the greatest trade relationship in the history of the world.
The president and I, today, have talked about many subjects that are of interest to our countries and our citizens.
We talked about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The president and myself agree that the implementation of the provisions of WHTI should not block tourism and trade.
We also have talked about common roles in terms of security.
We talked about the special role that what Canada can play, especially with the oil sands, in order to help with energy security.
We will ask our assistants to prepare something for the future to talk about energy, climate change and other initiatives in that general area where we could cooperate.
We have also talked about another type of regulations cooperation, which would lead into greater productivity all together in protecting health, environment and security.
We have expressed our mutual satisfaction for the agreement on softwood lumber. We have already signed the legal texts that translate the 27 April agreement.
And we encourage all the interested parties to implement this agreement.
The president and I have also talked about several issues dealing with security and the international situation, especially our role in Afghanistan. We have men and women, Canadians, on the ground, and Canada plays an important role in terms of security and development for the country, and also in order to protect our national interests to be in Afghanistan and to guarantee that it will never be a haven of terrorists.
We also talked about the latest events in Iran.
We have spoken about our mutual concern regarding the latest provocative acts of North Korea.
We have also talked about the upcoming G-8 summit, which will take place in Russia. We talked about issues such as energy security, contagious diseases, education, innovation will be part of the agenda of that meeting.
And finally, we talked about the recent elections in Mexico and, of course, the future of NAFTA. Canada trusts entirely the institutions and the electoral process in Mexico, and I hope to be able to very soon cooperate with the new Mexican president.
HARPER: Once again, I'd like to thank the president for his warm hospitality. The United States and Canada have a strong relationship, strong and firm relationship, based on the largest commerce and social interaction in the history of any two countries of the world.
And we were able to discuss a wide range of bilateral and international matters, where we, more often than not, share common values and common objectives.
We discussed many topics of interest to our respective countries and citizens, in particular, as the president mentioned, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. The president and I agreed that the implementation of the provisions of the WHTI must not unduly hinder cross-border travel or tourism or trade.
And to that end, we've tasked our officials to agree on common standards for secure and alternate documents, and preferably as soon as possible.
We discussed the critical role Canada, in particular our oil sands, can play in providing energy security. The president and I have agreed to task our officials to provide a more forward-looking approach focused on the environment, climate change, air quality and energy issues on which our governments can cooperate.
We raised the issue of how regulatory cooperation could increase productivity while helping to protect our health, safety and environment.
We also expressed, as the president just did, our mutual satisfaction on a significant progress made on the long-standing softwood lumber dispute. Both countries have now initialed the legal text. That legal text faithfully reproduces and documents the agreements reached between our governments and various premiers on April 27th. And I now urge all relevant parties to move forward with its implementation.
The president and I also discussed a number of important international issues, in particular our role in Afghanistan.
We have 2,300 men and women on the ground as part of the Canadian forces. They're playing an important role in security and development, in order to protect our national interests, rebuild Afghanistan and ensure it never becomes again a safe haven for terrorists.
We also discussed recent developments in Iran. And we expressed our mutual concern about North Korea's latest provocative acts.
We also discussed the upcoming G-8 meeting in Russia, where issues like energy security, infectious diseases, education and innovation will be on the agenda.
And finally, we did touch briefly on the recent Mexican election. Canada has full confidence in Mexico's institutions and processes. And I look forward very much to working with the next president of Mexico.
Thank you. BUSH: Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
Do you want the United Nations to impose sanctions on North Korea?
And how would you go about persuading the Russians and the Chinese to back those moves if you (inaudible)?
In addition to that, sir, what kind of threat do you think North Korea poses to world peace right now?
BUSH: You know, nontransparent societies run by governments that aren't selected by the people are very difficult to tell what's going on. That's part of the problem.
We're dealing with a person who was asked not to fire a rocket by the Chinese, the South Koreans, the United States, the Japanese and the Russians. And he fired seven of them.
Which then caused the secretary of state and myself to get on the phone with our partners and reminded them of the importance of speaking with one voice, as to saying to Kim Jong Il, "There is a better way forward for you than isolating yourself from the rest of the world; that there's an opportunity for you to stick to some of your agreements, and that is to verifiably disarm; and that there will be a better life than being isolated -- most importantly, a better life for your people than isolation will bring."
And so I was on the phone this morning with Hu Jintao and President Putin. Last night I talked to Prime Minister Koizumi and President Roh.
And my message was that we want to solve this problem diplomatically, and the best way to solve the problem diplomatically is for all of us to be working in concert and to send one message, and that is -- to Kim Jong Il -- that, "We expect you to adhere to international norms, and we expect you to keep your word."
One way to send a message is through the United Nations. And the Japanese laid down a resolution which we support. But we're working with our partners to make sure we speak with one voice.
You know, diplomacy takes a while, particularly when you're dealing with a variety of partners. And so, we're spending time diplomatically making sure that voice is unified.
I was pleased from the responses I got from the leaders. They, like me, are concerned; concerned about a person who doesn't seem to really care about what others say.
And so, we're working it, and we're working it hard. And it's -- and by the way, an effective policy is one which is not just the United States trying to solve problems. So I spent time talking to the Canadian prime minister about it. I mean, Canada is -- should be and must be an active participant in helping deal with problems.
He brought up Haiti, for example, in the Oval Office. Canada's made a significant contribution to stability in Haiti in the past. And it's an important contribution.
My only point is is that we will continue to work with others to deal with problems that crop up.
BUSH: Well, you know, I think that -- let's put it this way: He's going to pose less of a threat the more isolated he becomes and the more we work together.
And as I mentioned to you, it's hard to tell. This is a society in which there's very little freedom, including freedom of the press. There's not a lot of light shining in there.
And so we take his statements very seriously. He's, kind of, declared himself to be a nuclear power. We obviously watched very carefully his testings.
We're trying to make sure, by the way, that the missile that he fired wasn't headed for Canada. We don't know for a fact where it was headed.
But, for example, one thing that Stephen and I talked about is he could be seemingly firing a missile at the United States, say it -- you know, I don't know, this is all speculation -- but could be headed toward the northwest of our country.
And it wouldn't take much for it to get off course and somewhere where he may not have intended.
My only point is is that we will work very closely on these matters together. It's in our interests that we send a clear message to the leader of North Korea.
QUESTION: Happy birthday, Mr. President.
BUSH: "Happy birthday," you said?
It's amazing that the first birthday greeting I got from the press came from the Canadian press.
Thank you. I am grateful.
You're not 60 years old are you?
Well, let me just say this: It's a lot younger than you think. (LAUGHTER)
QUESTION: But I have a question also.
QUESTION: My question is about the security at the border. On the passport issue, you seem very open, but there is a deadline of 2008. Is there any chance getting a deal?
And, Mr. Harper, can you comment in French and English, please?
BUSH: Thank you.
We are responding to congressional law.
Let me reinterpret you. Is your question: Is there flexibility in the law basically?
BUSH: Yes. I think that if Congress decides there needs to be flexibility, there'll be flexibility.
Interestingly enough, the Senate passed -- made its intention clear to extend deadlines. That hadn't happened in the House yet.
And so, we're operating in the executive branch under the idea that nothing will change. And therefore we need to get to the Canadian government as quickly as possible our definition of what a reasonable policy is.
If Congress decides to be flexible, we obviously will be flexible.
But the reason we're dealing with this issue is because the legislative branch put this into law -- put the need to have these kind of documents into law. And as I told Chertoff, who is responsible for implementing the law, that I would like this, to the extent the law allows, for there to be a lot of flexibility and simplicity.
As the governor of Texas, I'm used to a border situation where hundreds of thousands of people crossed every day.
See, we -- on our southern border, there are a lot of Mexican citizens who come into the United States and work on a daily basis and then go back home. It just happens a lot.
And therefore I fully understand the need for there to be simplicity in the documentation. It needs to be easy for somebody who is known and a person who makes a living on the other side of the border.
There's a lot of kids who go to college in El Paso, Texas, and they live in Mexico, so they've got to go back and forth on a regular basis.
So I'm familiar with this issue a lot. And I really do emphasize the need for us to be mindful of what an onerous program could mean to good relations as well as facilitation of trade.
I can remember Stephen's concerns about the effect this initiative might have on conventions, for example, in Canada.
He brought up today an interesting example of Little League teams playing baseball in Manitoba.
And so, there's a lot of, just, daily commerce that we've got to be mindful about -- not just trade, but the movement of people. And we are. We are.
And so, to answer your question, if the Congress provides flexibility, of course we will work with the Canadian government to extend deadlines, et cetera. If the Congress says, "No, this is what our intent is," we will work with the Canadian government to make the law work.
HARPER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I can say about the same thing. I mean, as a government, we work on two bases.
The first is that we share the security concerns of the United States, and we are ready to cooperate with it in order to implement this initiative, if that happens.
I mean, we are trying to get more and more information.
So far that's what we're doing. And we've talked with the president about the need that we have to get more information about this.
And the other way to follow would be to encourage Congress, the U.S. Congress, to change the bill. The Senate has recently indicated that it may be willing to postpone this process by as much as 18 months. And as government, we know that there are other groups that would be willing to do the same thing.
I could also repeat something that I have said several times during this visit. And as I said, we share and understand the needs of the United States in terms of security.
We are under the same security threats as have shown the recent events in Toronto.
But at the same time, I worry that this deal might create difficulties for social, political, cultural, economic relations that are typical of our very close relationship.
Because I'm convinced that if the United States closed itself to a close neighbor as Canada, the terrorists win in that case. So that would be reason enough for the Congress to think again about this bill. HARPER: We're on two tracks here. We've indicated we want to cooperate. We understand this is a congressional law the administration has to put into place. We're prepared to cooperate to make it work as smoothly and effectively as possible.
We need more information. And we've been pressing for that for some time, and we'll continue to do so.
At the same time, our other track is obviously to encourage some re-examination of the law. The Senate has recently passed an amendment that would delay this process by a year and a half.
We have some indications from some quarters of the House of Representatives, some will there to consider the same thing.
You know, as I say, and I just want to emphasize, we in Canada share the United States' security concerns and objectives. I think, as you all know, recently, with events in Toronto, it's been brought home to all of us that we face exactly the same kind of security threats and are defending exactly the same kinds of values.
And I would hate to see a law go into place that has the effect of not just limiting or endangering trade or tourism, but endangering all those thousands of social interactions that occur across our border every day and are the reason why Canada and the United States have the strongest relationship of any two countries, not just on the planet, but in the history of mankind.
And I would just urge the Congress to think carefully that, if the fight for security ends up meaning that the United States becomes more closed to its friends, then the terrorists have won. And I don't think either of us want that.
So we're prepared to cooperate and also urge the Congress to apply some flexibility in reaching their objectives of security.
BUSH: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
Kim Jong Il has been described as quirky, as odd. A member of your administration, yesterday, added, too, "an unloved child looking for attention."
I'm wondering if you agree with that assessment.
BUSH: Who was that person?
QUESTION: Does he pose -- come into the booth, sir. I'll tell you who it was.
(LAUGHTER) Does he pose any particular unique problems to deal with?
And do you feel that he's looking, for instance, at what's been offered to the Iranians by the world community, in terms of incentives, and saying, "I'd like a little of that for myself"?
BUSH: It's hard for me to tell you what's on his mind. He lives in a very closed society. It's unlike our societies, where we have press conferences and people are entitled to ask questions and there's all kinds of discussions out of administrations and people saying this, saying that and the other. This is a very closed society.
We do know there's a lot of concentration camps. We do know that people are starving. As a matter of fact, our nation has tried to help feed the hungry.
But what we don't know is his intentions.
And so I think we've got to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
And planning for the worst means to make sure that we continue to work with friends and allies as well as those who've agreed to be a part of the six-party talks, to continue to send a unified message.
We've also got a very strong Proliferation Security Initiative, because one of the threats that can emanate from a closed society, and particularly one that claims to have nuclear weapons, is proliferation.
One of the real dangers we face is, you know, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of people who would like to continue to, you know, hurt us -- hurt the United States or hurt Canada or hurt anybody who has the courage to stand up and embrace freedom, see. That's the big threat.
And so we don't know about his intentions, but we're planning. And so, one of the things we've done -- and I thank Canada's contribution is for there to be a very strong initiative to prevent proliferation through what we call the Proliferation Security Initiative.
And it's an important initiative. It's a way to say, "We're not going to allow you to threaten us. We're not going to allow you to" -- the rocket -- as I said, I'm not exactly sure what the azimuth was of the rocket, and we've got our people still analyzing that.
But, for example, we don't know what was on the rocket. We don't know where the rocket was headed.
It would have been helpful, of course, had, you know, he said, "Here's what we're going to do. Here's our intentions. Here's what -- we want to work with you. We want to explain it," you know.
Who knows? Maybe send a satellite. I mean, who knows that his intentions were. But that's not the way he decided to deal with it. He just decided to say -- just start firing. And he fired seven of them.
And we take this seriously, you know. And we take -- and we all should take threats seriously.
This is one of the lessons of September 11th, is that what's takes place in other parts of the world can come home to hurt the American people. See, a failed government in Afghanistan, you know, enabled plotters and planners to train and then come and kill 3,000 of our citizens.
And so it used to be that it's OK, if something were happening from afar, oceans could protect us. Presume that's how some in Canada used to feel.
The lesson of September the 11th is, is that we're vulnerable, and therefore we got to deal with each threat.
I've assured the American people and assured our friends and allies we want to deal with threats diplomatically. The best way to deal with threats diplomatically is to encourage others to be a part of the process, and that's what we're doing. That's why we got the six-party talks.
And one of the keys in the six-party talks is for all the nations to send clear messages to Kim Jong Il. That's why I was on the phone this morning saying as clearly as I could to our fellow partners, four other leaders, to say, "Let's send a common message that you won't be rewarded for ignoring the world and that you'll be isolated if you continue to do this, and yet there's a way forward."
See, I care deeply about the people in North Korea. I truly do.
It breaks my heart to know that young children are literally starving to death. And I wish, I just wish, at some point in time, there was an openness in that society where we could help save lives.
I'm also realistic enough to realize what weapons of mass destruction can mean in the world in which we live.
And so we're working this issue hard.
We're working the Iranian issue hard. Steve and I talked about, you know, a strategy going into the G-8 session. I talked to President Putin this morning about making sure that not only we send messages to the North Koreans but that our strategy will work with Iran.
And it's just really important for the American president to see the world the way it is, not the way we had hoped it would be, and to deal with threats and to do so in a way that will achieve results.
And it takes a while. I mean, these threats didn't arise overnight.
And these problems won't be solved overnight. But we've got strategies in place to deal with them.
And one of the reasons why it's important to have Steve here is so we can talk about how we can work together to deal with it.
And they're not just threats to our security that normal people think of. HIV/AIDS on the continent of Africa is a threat to our security in the long run. That's why I'm proud to report the United States took the lead on setting up the global fund as well as bilateral programs to help save people's lives.
I think it's in our interest. I also happen to believe in the admonition, "To whom much is given, much is required."
And so, yes, we've got a robust foreign policy on a lot of fronts. And I intend to keep it that way. And I'm confident that what we're doing is going to make this world a better place. And I'm proud to have allies like Steve who understand the stakes of the 21st century.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, before I ask you a question, I'm just curious, what do you think of that belt buckle the prime minister gave you as a birthday gift, and are you wearing it?
BUSH: I hadn't seen it yet.
You gave it away.
QUESTION: Mr. President, on a serious note, in light of the North Korea missile test and the fact that North Korea could launch another series of missiles at any minute, did you ask Canada to reconsider joining the ballistic missile defense shield?
And, Prime Minister, do you still think it's wrong and not in Canada's interests to join BMD? And when you're responding, can you do it in French and English, please?
BUSH: Anyway, thanks for the belt buckle in advance.
HARPER: No problem at all.
BUSH: Looking forward to getting it.
HARPER: I figure, if you're going to be 60, you should get something.
BUSH: That's right.
Just hope the belt fits. (LAUGHTER)
No, I didn't bring it up, because I figured if he was interested he would tell me.
I did explain to him, however, that we will continue to build a robust system. Because I think it's in -- I know it's in our interests to make sure that we're never in a position where somebody can blackmail us.
And so we'll continue to invest and spend.
And since this issue first came up, we've made a lot of progress on how to -- toward having an effective system. And it's in our interest that we continue to work along these lines.
But no, my attitude was, you know, look, this was a particularly difficult political issue inside Canada, and my relationship is such that if Stephen thought it was of importance, he would have told me what's on his mind.
Maybe he was going to bring it up over lunch, but he didn't bring it up earlier.
HARPER: Let me just begin by saying...
BUSH: It's an interesting question, though.
HARPER: Let me just begin by saying that, first of all, the question was asked earlier, I think, "Is North Korea a threat?"
I don't think the issue is whether North Korea is a threat. North Korea clearly wants to be a threat.
And I think -- I just want to repeat what the president said: Given that that's a society of the kind of nature it is, I think this should concern us immensely.
And the fact that it is prepared to arm itself and prepared to threaten to use such armaments I think is something that we should be gravely concerned about, as was said earlier.
Missiles that are fired in the direction of the United States constitute a threat to Canada. That's one of the reasons why our government renewed on a permanent basis the NORAD treaty. Through NORAD, we have a special relationship on air defense.
We share information on these kind of matters, I think as you know.
To answer your specific question, the government of Canada is not prepared to open a missile defense issue at this time. But I will say that I think it should be obvious, when we look at this kind of threat, why the United States and others would want to have a modern and flexible defense system against this kind of threat.
So I think that's something our government at least fully understands.
HARPER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To repeat: How do we say, "ballistic missile defense" in French?
So to repeat what I said, the question was, "Is North Korea a threat?"
Obviously, North Korea wants to be a threat and, as President Bush just said, if North Korea would be ready to attack the United States, that would be a risk for Canada's national security as well, not only because our common values, but because our geographical proximity.
And for that reason, this new Canadian government has renewed, on a permanent basis, the NORAD agreement. And through this agreement, we have a very special agreement on aerial defense. And in the future we have the intention to continue cooperating with our American allies, sharing information, as we've done now.
I must also remind our population that this incident reminds us why the United States and other countries want to defend themselves: because in the modern world, such risks are real.
And we are not yet ready to open this debate in Canada, but it's clear to us why some of our allies think that this missile system is essential.
QUESTION: Thank you.
BUSH: You're welcome.
Thank you for your birthday gift.
BUSH: Thank you very much.
BUSH: Today's your birthday, too?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
BUSH: It is? Come on up, who's having a birthday today. Come on, come on, come on.
Come on. Get up here.
Anybody else have their birthday today?
Your birthday? Yes, sure. It is your birthday? Come on.
Amazing, everybody's birthday today.
HARPER: I was going to say, if there starts to get any more, I'm going to start to question it.
BUSH: Another one.
(UNKNOWN): Today's your birthday? Awesome.
(REPORTERS, STAFF SING "HAPPY BIRTHDAY")
BUSH: He just told me he's 30 years old. Isn't that something?
BUSH: Happy birthday.
Thank you. Let's go.
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