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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 20, 2002
President Welcomes Quartet Principals to White House
Remarks by President Bush, Secretary General Kofi Annan, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Photo Opportunity with the Quartet Principals
The Oval Office
2:31 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: The Vice President and I are honored to welcome the Quartet Principals to the Oval Office. I want to thank you all for coming. I appreciate so very much your working with us to move the Israeli-Palestinian issue forward to a peaceful resolution of what has been a longstanding conflict.
I am strongly committed to the vision that I outlined on June the 24th. I believe it is in everybody's best interests that there be two states living side by side in peace. And this government will work hard to achieve that. And I want thank you all for joining us in working toward that important vision.
There are some keys to moving forward. All of us must work hard to fight against terror so that a few cannot deny the dreams of the many; that we must encourage the development of Palestinian institutions which are transparent, which promote freedom and democracy; that we must work together to ease the humanitarian situation. There's -- too many Palestinian moms and dads grieve over the future for their children because of hunger and poverty, lack of health care.
I appreciate the fact that the Quartet is working on what we call a road map. I view the road map as a part of the vision that I described. It is a way forward. It sets conditions. It's a results-oriented document. It is a way to bring people together so that they share their responsibilities.
We're assuming our responsibilities. The people in the neighborhood must assume their responsibilities. All nations must be committed to peace in order for us to achieve peace; must be committed to the vision of two states side by side in order to achieve the vision of living side by side.
The road map is not complete yet, but the United States is committed to its completion. We are committed to its implementation in the name of peace.
I want to thank you, all, for coming. We're on our holiday season. It is the season of peace on Earth. We confirmed that today in this meeting.
SECRETARY GENERAL ANNAN: Thank you, very much, Mr. President. We've had a very good meeting this morning, and we are very close to finalizing the road map. And we believe that this is a road map that can help bring about the vision of two states, Israel and Palestinian, living side by side. It will require sacrifices from both sides. And it will demand parallel steps by both states for us to be able to move forward.
The Quartet has indicated that this road map and the approach of the parties has to be performance-driven, they have to perform. But it also has to be hope-driven. And I believe that this vision of two states, living in peace and security, will be the dream that will keep that hope alive. And all of us, working with our friends in the region, will work hard to ensure that we achieve this day within the three-year period that we have set ourselves.
And, Mr. President, we want to thank you for your support. And I think working together we can all be able to achieve this objective. Our intention is to release the road map and give it to the parties as soon as possible. And I think the communique we'll be putting out will say clearly what we intend to do next. So I will pause here. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Good to see you, sir.
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, please. Some of our guests will be speaking.
FOREIGN MINISTER MOELLER: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I'm very glad that you're so dedicated to the peace process in the Middle East. Your vision of the two states is very important. It's very important for European Union that the people in the area know they will get two states which have to live quietly, peacefully, side by side.
What we are trying to do is to pave the way to the two states. And that's why we have endorsed this road map and worked with this road map, because it's good thing with a vision, but you must know how to go there. And that is what we have in working it. And it has been a very good cooperation -- the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union.
And I think it's very important that Israel knows it will live there forever in security. But they can only have that security if they give a political solution to the Palestinians, that the Palestinians know that their day will come where they get the state, which make them sure of their future. They both have a future, and we have to help them with a future.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Igor. In Ingles? (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: Thank you for receiving us, first thing.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: The second thing, before we had a lot of interest, good documents, but we couldn't implement. Now we have good document, and the most important thing is to implement. This is our main objective now.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir. Very good.
Sandra, quick question.
Q Mr. President, your administration concluded yesterday that Saddam Hussein pretty much blew his last chance to come clean on his weapons of mass destruction. Are we now on a path to war?
THE PRESIDENT: One thing is for certain; we will fulfill the terms and conditions of 1441.
The world spoke clearly that we expect Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm. Yesterday's document was not encouraging. We expected him to show that he would disarm. And as the Secretary of State said, it's -- it's a long way from there. And we're serious about keeping the peace. We're serious about working with our friends in the United Nations so that this body, ably led by Kofi Annan, has got relevance as we go into the 21st century. And yesterday was a disappointing day for those who have longed for peace.
Listen I want to thank you all for coming.
Q Trent Lott question?
THE PRESIDENT: I would have -- but we ran out of time. (Laughter.) We ran out of time. They eat up your time. We had only so much time available. They ate up your time. I'm sorry. (Laughter.)
Q You can drop by later.
THE PRESIDENT: We could do that, you're right. But we're due at Christmas parties.
END 2:39 P.M. EST