President Bush, Secretary Annan Discuss Iraq
Remarks by the President and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in Photo Opportunity
The Oval Office
2:24 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: The Secretary General and I are going to have some
opening statements, only statements. First, I do want to welcome the
Secretary General here. I'm grateful for your leadership at the United
Nations. A while ago the United Nations Security Council made a very
strong statement that we, the world, expects Saddam Hussein to disarm
for the sake of peace. And the U.N. stepped up to its
responsibilities, and I want to thank you for that, Mr. Secretary
General. I appreciate your leadership.
I'm looking forward to our discussion. Of course I'll remind the
Secretary General that our war against terror is a war against
individuals whose hearts are full of hate. We do not fight a
religion. As a matter of fact, by far, the vast majority of American
citizens respect the Islamic people and the Muslim faith. After all,
there are millions of peaceful-loving Muslim Americans.
Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not
reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most
Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a
peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country
based upon tolerance, Mr. Secretary General, and we respect the faith
and we welcome people of all faiths in America. And we're not going to
let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.
And so, Mr. Secretary General, I'm honored that you're here at the
Oval Office. I'm proud to call you friend, and welcome.
THE SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you very much, Mr. President. If I
may comment on the last point you raised. I share your view entirely
that every region and people of every faith have also been victims of
terrorists. This is a scourge that affects all of us, regardless of
region or religion. And we need to stand together to defeat
And this is where the work of the United Nations and effective
implementation of this Resolution 1373 is absolutely crucial. We need
to work to deprive terrorists of the opportunities by not giving them
haven, by not giving them financial and logistical support. And I
think the counterterrorism committee of the Security Council is doing a
good job in trying to make sure we all work together on it.
With regards to the Iraq decision, I want to thank you, Mr.
President, for working with the United Nations and the Council and
working through the Council. And I remember when you came to the U.N.
on the 12th of September, nobody knew which way you were going to go.
And in my own speech before yours, I was pleading that we go the
multilateral route. And I think we were all relieved that we did --
And I would want to say that the Council decision, which was
unanimous, sent a powerful message that the entire international
community would like to see the Security Council resolutions
Today I received a letter from the Iraqi government accepting the
resolution, saying that they would work with the resolution. And Mr.
Blix and his team will go back. We expect them to get there on the
18th and actively begin their work. This is a Chapter 7 resolution,
and it must be implemented.