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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, September 13, 2002 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Ari, on the U.N., on the Iraq statements, yesterday the people were -- people have seen a change now, saying yesterday Bush was conciliatory, now he's insisting on deadlines. He's sort of laying out his case for the U.N. You know, is he hardening his tone, hardening his expectations of the U.N.?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think the U.N. understands how important it is for them to show their determination to enforce their own resolutions. The world is watching, and it's important for the U.N. to fulfill its mission so that Saddam Hussein's unilateralist rejections of the U.N.'s multilateral approach will not prevail.

Secretary Powell will have his meetings today with the Perm Five, has already begun the discussions, and the President wants to send the U.N. a helpful message that he wants them to be relevant, he wants them to come out with something that is strong and concrete and around which the world can rally.

QUESTION: Apparently Aziz has rejected unconditional weapons inspections resuming in Iraq. Do you guys have any reaction?

MR. FLEISCHER: Obviously, they have something to hide.

QUESTION: For next week, does the President have any events or will there be any opportunities for him to continue to make his case about Iraq, meetings with congressional leaders? What next on this front?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I mean, I think the President will continue to meet and consult with Congress. And, of course, the hearings begin next week. So the hearings, I think, will be important and the American people and the Congress will be able to hear from the Administration secretaries directly. And they will be able to ask them many of the questions they have at these hearings; that's why they're important.

Break in Press Briefing

QUESTION: Ari, the President was asked today what are the chances that -- I forget how Ron put it -- that basically Saddam would comply with the U.N. resolution. He said, highly doubtful.


QUESTION: And doesn't this really confirm what many people suspect all along, which is that Mr. Bush is not interested in a U.N. resolution that would resume inspections of any kind, that what he's really interested in is getting international support for the military action, the regime change that he feels is necessary?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, Wendell, I think what it shows is that the President is interested in exactly that, and that's why he's pursuing this path --

QUESTION: And international support for the regime change that is necessary?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President is asking for the U.N. to express itself in the forms of resolutions that will put teeth behind the resolutions they passed in the past. But what it shows is that the President is interested in getting this done, but he's a realist. And your background briefer yesterday gave you the same answer. It's important that the world do this for the sake of the world, the sake of peace. But it's important for the world to do this and the U.N. to do it with its eyes wide open. Nobody should underestimate Saddam Hussein's determination to acquire these weapons and use them.

QUESTION: The message today seemed to be that war is inevitable. Is that a fair assumption?

MR. FLEISCHER: -- not his message today; his message today was he's a realist.

QUESTION: Let me understand what you're saying now. You're saying the President's interested in international support for regime change?

MR. FLEISCHER: No, the President -- well, the policy -- let me say this -- remains regime change, of course. And we'll let Secretary Powell work his work at the United Nations. Okay.