For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 3, 2003
8:15 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. First, I'm honored to be
able to meet with my colleagues from Central Africa. The Secretary of
State and I look forward to a very frank and constructive dialogue
about how to continue our common pursuit against terror, and how we
will work together to promote prosperity. I look forward to
constructive dialogue. So thank you all for coming.
Before we begin our discussion, let me answer a few questions. Are
the interpreters working right now? They are? Yours isn't working,
okay. Before we begin our dialogue, I'll take three questions from the
American press corps, starting with Mr. Fournier, who writes for the
Q Thank you, sir. Knowing what you know about Saddam, what are
the odds that he's going to meet all your demands and avoid
THE PRESIDENT: I am highly doubtful that he'll meet our demands.
I hope he does, but I'm highly doubtful. The reason I'm doubtful is
he's had 11 years to meet the demands. For 11 long years he has
basically told the United Nations and the world he doesn't care. And
so, therefore, I am doubtful, but nevertheless, made the decision to
move forward to work with the world community. And I hope the world
community knows that we're extremely serious about what I said
yesterday, and we expect quick resolution to the issue. And that's
starting with quick action on a resolution.
Q Yes, sir, how soon are you expecting the resolution from the
United Nations? In a week, month, days?
THE PRESIDENT: As soon as possible.
Q And how -- what kind of deadline would you perceive within
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there will be deadlines within the
resolution. Our chief negotiator for the United States, our Secretary
of State, understands that we must have deadlines. And we're talking
days and weeks, not months and years. And that's essential for the
security of the world. This man has had 11 years to comply. For 11
long years, he's ignored world opinion. And he's put the credibility
of the United Nations on line.
As I said yesterday, we'll determine -- how we deal with this
problem will help determine the fate of multilateral body, which has
been unilaterally ignored by Saddam Hussein. Will this body be able to
keep the peace and deal with the true threats, including threats to
security in Central African and other parts of the world, or will it be
Q Mr. President, thank you. Are you concerned that Democrats in
Congress don't want a vote there until after U.N. action? And
secondly, have you spoken with President Putin since your speech
THE PRESIDENT: I have not spoken to President Putin since my
speech. I did speak to his Foreign Minister, as did Colin Powell.
I'll speak to President Putin, I'm confident, soon. I'll have -- I
think we've got a scheduled phone call, actually.
And the first part of the question was, Democrats waiting for the
U.N. to act? I can't imagine an elected United States -- elected
member of the United States Senate or House of Representatives saying,
I think I'm going to wait for the United Nations to make a decision.
It seems like to me that if you're representing the United States, you
ought to be making a decision on what's best for the United States. If
I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American
people -- say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of
national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.
And so I -- we'll see. My answer to the Congress is, they need to
debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as
quickly as possible. It's in our national interests that we do so. I
don't imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, gosh, I think I'm
going to wait for some resolution. He's a threat that we must deal
with as quickly as possible.
Thank you all.
END 8:20 A.M. EDT