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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 21, 2002
Interview of the President by Giulio Borrelli, Rai
The Map Room
1:33 P.M. EDT
Q Mr. President, raising the alarm about the possibility of new terrorist attack without being specific is a way of crying "wolf," which can frighten people. Can Americans stop the suicide bombers?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it's a very interesting question. Well, first of all, the Vice President and the Director of the FBI was expressing a general threat -- they're basically saying -- with which I agree -- that the al Qaeda still exists, they still hate America and any other country which loves freedom and they want to hurt us. They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers.
And if we had a specific threat to ourselves, or to Italy for that matter, we would deal with it in a way that you probably wouldn't know about. In other words, we'd be on the phone to the Italian authorities, sharing information to protect our -- just so that they would help our friends protect themselves.
Had we had a specific threat here in America, we would have used our assets to harden the threat. But, no, it's a real problem.
The best way to secure our homeland, the best way for Italy to be secure, and other countries, is to find these killers; is to hunt for them; is to chase them down. And that's what we're going to do. And the good news is for those of us who love freedom, and the bad news is for the enemy -- this country is very patient and very united and going to be very deliberate in our pursuit of freedom.
Q The U.S. and Europe are divided on important issues, as the next step in the war on terrorism and steel trade. Do you think you have to change something in your leadership to be more convincing with European countries? Or do they have to modify their policy?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't think either of us have to change because we share great values. See, we love freedom. We hate those who want to kill. That's the common ground, and that's very important. And that's the high ground.
And you bring up interesting issues, you know. You bring up the issue of steel. We trade -- first of all, we have trade disputes because there is so much trade. If we had no trade there would be no disputes. And we've got $2 trillion worth of trade, which is a significant amount of trade. Obviously, I was concerned about what imports were doing to our industry. And under the rules of the WTO, under the guidelines that we've all agreed to, I acted. I am confident and hope that our European trading partners will also respond within the guidelines of the WTO. And that's the way you settle disputes.
A trade dispute is hardly a breach of an important relationship. It is a way to work through a difficult situations.
And as far as the axis of evil, you know, I understand there are some that would hope that the threat would go away, just on its own. But we're going to have to act. I will, of course, consult with our friends. I'm deliberate in my thinking. I have no set plans right now. But I am serious about making it clear to countries around the world that we need to work together to rid the world of the threat. And the threat is a nontransparent dictator -- dictatorship having a weapons of mass destruction to be used countries such as yours and mine. And that's a threat that we must deal with if we want to do our duty to history.
Q How can America and Europe improve their efforts to make peace in the Middle East?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's a great question. We are working together well, I believe. I was very pleased with -- and the Secretary of State is the one who keeps me abreast of the levels of cooperation. During the recent issues in the Middle East, the EU and our country worked very closely to try to lay out the foundations and a pathway to peace.
I gave a speech right here in the Rose Garden on April the 4th that said parties have responsibilities; Israelis have got responsibilities if they're interested in peace; the Arab world has responsibilities; as do the Palestinians. I've talked about a vision of two states living side by side, at peace, with respect to each other.
The Europeans agree with that position, so we're on the same -- we share the same vision. And I believe that the Europeans also agree that there will never be peace so long as terrorists continue to kill; and that we've all got to use our collective efforts to stop the terrorist attacks.
We definitely agree that we've got to provide hope for the Palestinian people. There's a lot of people who've been suffering for a long period of time. We need an economic development package that will help the Palestinians realize a hopeful future. But we cannot do so until there is the institutions of a credible state in place. In other words, we're not going to give money if it ends up going into somebody's pockets and not to help the people we're trying to help.
So we've got the framework. We've got the vision for peace and the framework for getting there and now we've just got to continue working together to achieve it. It is a difficult subject. People have been killing each other there for a long period of time. But once there is the collective vision for peace -- and I think we're building that collective vision -- and once people understand their responsibilities, and we're now laying out the responsibilities, we have an opportunity to move toward that vision of peace, and that's exactly what we're doing.
Q Last time I came here I asked you if you received an invitation to have dinner with Mr. Chirac or Mr. Berlusconi, which one would you accept? You answered, you like Italian food. Do you still enjoy Italian cuisine made by Berlusconi?
THE PRESIDENT: I love Italian cuisine. And I'm very close to the Prime Minister. He is a -- he is a good man; he's easy to be around because he is a good listener and a good talker. And I like his judgment and I like his friendship.
Q When you go to Rome, you meet the Pope.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q One of his desires is to visit Ground Zero in New York. Will he be visiting soon?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope so, but that's up for the Pope to make that decision. He is a -- I had the honor of visiting the Holy Father the last time I was -- the visit in beautiful Rome. And, actually, it was outside of Rome, we went to the summer -- the Summer Palace overlooking the spectacular lake.
And, you know, he's getting older and whether or not he's able to travel to Ground Zero will be up to -- up for the Holy Father to decide. But I just want you to know I'm looking forward to that visit; it is a great honor to be in his presence. He's a great man.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
END 1:40 P.M. EDT