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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 18, 2001

Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with EP-3 Crew
The Oval Office

8:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the Oval Office. The Vice President and I are thrilled to be able to look you in the eye and say, thanks for your service to the country. I remember in my phone call saying, gosh, I hope I can welcome you to the Oval Office, and here you are.

You handled yourselves with such class and dignity, it was important for our nation to realize the fine caliber of people that serve our country. And we're really proud of you. We appreciate your mission; but most of all we appreciate your character. And so it's my honor to welcome you here. I look forward to giving you a tour around this majestic office, a shrine to the greatness of America.

I want to say one other thing before we visit informally. Today, the violence in the Middle East took on a new level of intensity. Our country is deeply concerned, first and foremost, for those who lost their life and for the families affected. It is essential that the leaders in the Middle East speak out clearly against violence.

We must break the cycle of violence in order to begin meaningful discussions about any kind of political settlement. My administration will continue to work with the parties involved, reminding folks that violence will not lead to peace, obviously. Violence will make it so difficult for there to be any political settlement.

I'm concerned any time anybody loses life. I'm especially concerned about suicide bombers that have disregard for themselves and, obviously, for innocent folks. We will continue to work hard to bring peace to that important part of the region.

Thank you all for coming.

Q What is the latest on the spy plane?

THE PRESIDENT: We're working to get the plane home. We're making progress about getting the plane home. But today we get to celebrate the fact that the crew is home. And that's the most important thing.

8:45 A.M. EDT

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