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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 21, 2005
President and French President Chirac Discuss Common Values, Vision
United States Embassy
7:13 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to be joining Jacques Chirac for dinner. I thank you for coming, sir. I've really been looking forward to this moment.
Every time I meet with Jacques he's got good advice. And I'm looking forward to listening to you. We've got a lot of issues to talk about: Middle Eastern peace, Lebanon, Iran, helping to feed the hungry, working together to help spread medicines necessary to cure illness.
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: (As translated.) Thank you. It's, of course, a great pleasure, it always is great pleasure to meet with President Bush. And let me take this opportunity to thank him for his very warm welcome to me today, as always.
Now, President Bush and I have always shared very -- always had very warm relations, which, in fact, translate, to a certain extent, of relations -- of warm relations that have always been characterized -- the links between our countries and the relations, be they bilateral or transatlantic ones, which have always been excellent between France and the United States.
Indeed, we have struggled for some two centuries, 200 years now, to uphold and keep alive these values which we share, and which our people share and hold very dear to their hearts, and which we are very attached to.
We are present together, that is to say France and the United States, in some of the world's hot spots. I'm thinking of Afghanistan, I'm thinking of the Balkans, of course. But I'm thinking also of what we're doing in Haiti and in Africa. I'm thinking also of our excellent cooperation over the tragedy in Asia, from the tsunami here. And let me take this opportunity to thank the President for all the help that was extended to our military by the American military. For instance, the making available to our military of American helicopters, which made our work that much easier.
So we do share many, many ideals and values. We have many things in common. For instance, we, together, are struggling against the scourge of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. And we adopted -- we have the same approach to the situation which is prevailing in Lebanon, especially following the murder of former Prime Minister Hariri, who, of course, was a man who enshrined the ideals of democracy, independence and liberty of that country.
Therefore, I am looking forward to a very constructive discussion, and I welcome this new opportunity to meet with the President, and in a broader context, which is that of the continuing dialogue, ongoing dialogue between the United States and the rest of Europe.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Tom.
Q For both Presidents: You talked about Russia, Mr. President, in your speech. What practical things can you do to pressure Russia to go back to a path towards democracy? And should you, for instance, make membership in the WTO contingent on Russia renewing its commitment to democracy? For both Presidents, please.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Part of the WTO requirements are that there be an open market, that there be a liberal economy. And open markets and liberal economies tend to attract countries that are open to the voices of their people.
I look forward to seeing Vladimir Putin in two days. I've got a good relationship with Vladimir; I intend to keep it that way. But as well, I intend to remind him that if his interests lie West, that we share values, and that we -- and those values are important. They're not only important for people that live within Russia, they're important to have good relations with the West.
Q The first question to President Chirac. You have said, sir, yourself, that relations have always been excellent between France and the United States. We get the sense that in recent weeks they have become even better. They have become warmer and that there's a veritable new honeymoon, as it were, taking place.
And to you, President Bush, may I ask the following question: If, indeed, relations have improved, if certainly they are better between France and the United States, are they good enough as yet for that to warrant an invitation to President Chirac to go to the United States, or even to your ranch? (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm looking for a good cowboy. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: (As translated.) Let me say, repeat what I already said, namely, that our relations are, indeed, excellent. But they have been excellent for over 200 years now, because -- why do I say that? Because they are based upon common values, common values that we share. And these things don't change overnight, with the wave of a wand.
Now, of course, that doesn't mean that because we share common values we don't -- we necessarily agree on everything all the time. Of course, we can have our differences, our divergence of opinion. Recently, this was the case; we didn't share the same view over Iraq. But this in no way affects or in no way undermines the bedrock of our relations, namely, our common values and our common vision. And I repeat what I said earlier on, namely, that I feel it's so important that within the broader context of U.S.-EU relations, this relationship should continue to be cemented, broadened and strengthened.
PRESIDENT BUSH: This is my first dinner since I've been re-elected on European soil, and it's with Jacques Chirac -- and that ought to say something. It ought to say how important this relationship is for me, personally, and how important this relationship is for my country.