March 13, 2002
The Vice President Participates in a Media Availability with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
|Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak listens to a question from the media during a joint press conference with Vice President Dick Cheney in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, March 13.|
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, thank you, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to be back in Egypt once again and to have the opportunity to again be hosted by President Mubarak. I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit Egypt a great many times over the years and count President Mubarak a long-time friend. He and I have worked closely together on many occasions over the years, most recently saw each other in Washington just a short time ago. And President Bush and I place great store by his wisdom and his experience.
I've come to the Middle East on behalf of President Bush to confer with regional leaders on issues of great importance, especially our continuing cooperative efforts to fight terrorism and our determination to promote Arab and Israeli peace and reconciliation.
We are conferring as well about challenges to regional security and the threat that weapons of mass destruction pose to all of us. Here in Sharm el-Sheikh I also reaffirm America's strong commitment and our enduring bilateral relationship with Egypt.
There is a close friendship between our two countries. Egypt is a vital strategic partner for the United States. We have a common interest in assuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of the region. Americans are grateful for the assistance our coalition has received from Egypt. The Egyptian people have themselves been the victims of terror in the past, and our governments share a deep commitment to defeating this threat to the civilized world.
We also appreciate Egypt's leadership on behalf of peace in the Middle East. President Mubarak has been unfaltering in his dedication to trying to get all the parties back to the negotiating table and back on the path toward peace. As President Bush made clear again last week, the United States will do all it can to end the tragic violence between Palestinians and Israelis and to resume a serious negotiating process. The United States also supports Egypt's efforts to ensure continued economic growth and the creation of new jobs and opportunities for the people of Egypt. To that end, the U.S. has accelerated economic assistance to Egypt, and we look forward to working with President Mubarak to expand trade and investment opportunities between our two countries.
Here and throughout this trip to the Middle East I am seeking open, frank discussion on a wide range of issues and the wise counsel of experienced leaders such as President Mubarak. Mr. President, I wanted to thank you again for your hospitality today, and may I offer once again to you and to all of the citizens of this nation the respect and good wishes of the American people and of President Bush.
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: I think we'll have two questions from both sides, two questions from the American side and the other two questions from the Egyptian side. We'll start with the American side.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Randy Milliken (sp) -- Mikelsen (sp). Excuse me.
Q Mr. Vice President --
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Randy. (Light laughter.)
Q That's good. The United States has been saying for months that Yasser Arafat must do more to end violence in the Middle East.
Has the burden now been shifted to the Israelis? And how has the new U.N. resolution discussing a Palestinian state affected the goal of Middle East peace negotiations?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think the burden is on both parties to bring an end to the violence. It's not going to be possible to make progress until both parties can agree to a cease-fire and to get into Tenet and the Mitchell plans. So I think, obviously, the burden resides on both parties.
With respect to the U.N. resolution that the United States supported last night, it once again reaffirms a commitment the president made earlier this year that our vision for the Israelis and Palestinians is in two sovereign states able to reside in peace with one another. And the president's made clear that the U.S. vision for that part of the world includes that of a Palestinian homeland, as well.
The resolution that was adopted last night and widely supported, obviously unanimously by the council, with one exception, I believe, of an abstention, was in fact, we felt, a positive statement of the hopes that all of us have that we can, in fact, begin to make progress.
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: Egyptian side, Mervet (ph).
Q But Mr. Vice President, in spite of regional and international efforts, Sharon is continuing an outrageous, all-out war against Palestinians. Hundreds of casualties have fallen in the past few days alone. How and when will your promises of a Palestinian state be turned into a fact on the ground?
And President Mubarak, you have often warned that Israeli terror will backfire. How can you help?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think --
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: Asking --
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I guess I'll yield --
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: -- one question, two questions. (Laughter.) Only one question, for the vice president.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: You want me to answer first or -- I was hoping you'd go first. (Laughter.)
I -- I'm during the course of my travels reiterating the commitment the United States has made and the president's made to trying to end the violence and bring about a resolution of the conflict. Our -- decision the president made earlier to send General Zinni back to the region -- he'll arrive there this weekend. I will myself, after I conclude my swing through this part of the world, be in Egypt early -- excuse me, in Israel early next week, after I've completed my visit here in Egypt. And we plan to do everything we can to persuade both parties that it's the time for violence to end, and I'll reiterate that position at every single stop along the way.
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: This side.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Jeanne Cummings, Wall Street Journal.
Q Mr. Vice President, Mr. President, I'd like to put this to you, President Mubarak, first. Saddam Hussein has said that he will not accept U.N. inspectors. I'm wondering if you believe that the best and perhaps only way for the United States to ensure that it and its allies would be safe from an Iraqi-sponsored terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction is to topple Saddam Hussein and his regime. And if so, do you think there has been enough or any serious consideration about what would replace that government and bring stability to the region?
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: We'll try hard with Saddam Hussein to accept the U.N. inspectors to go there, and we are going to meet with some of his special envoys and tell them that this is a must.
And the I think the secretary-general of the Arab League has discussed this issue when he was visiting Iraq a couple of weeks ago. And I think he had the approval from Saddam Hussein that he could start negotiations with the U.N. secretary-general, and I think, as far as I -- my knowledge is that he's going to accept the inspectors. We will try this direction as far as we can. Then after that, if there is nothing happened, would find out what would be done in that direction.
Q Yes, question for both. I'm going back -- President Mubarak, I'm going back to the resolution issued by the Security Council this morning, and how do you envision the success of implementing this resolution, especially -- or bearing in mind that there were unfortunately so many resolutions issued by the Security Council before, and they were not fulfilled?
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: You mean the resolution which --
Q Concerning --
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: -- took place yesterday?
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: We have so many resolutions in that direction. The president of the United States have already mentioned that even before this resolution. There should be a Palestinian state beside the Israeli state, and they should live in security with each other and work as neighbors.
The Security Council resolution didn't differ with what the president of the United States have already mentioned before.
Q Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Thank you, sir.
PRESIDENT MUBARAK: Thank you.