PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm really looking forward to visiting with the
Prime Minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. He's a friend; he's a
strong leader. He and I are bound by the strong conviction that
freedom belongs to everybody, and we're going to work together to make
the world a more peaceful place.
I'm greatly disturbed by the news from the Middle East today.
There's been yet another suicide bombing. It is clear that those who
want to use terror to stop any process for peace are still active. In
order to achieve peace, all countries in that region must be
responsible for -- take responsibility, do their best to fight off
And I know the Prime Minister joins me as we mourn the loss of
life. But we are going to continue to work toward peace in the Middle
East. Two states living side by side in peace is the vision. And we
will continue to work with those who share that vision -- for the sake
of the Israeli people, for the sake of the Palestinians.
Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: Mr. President, first of all, we're pleased
to see you again and exchange views on a range of issues that confront
us at the moment. And I agree with what you said a moment ago -- our
thoughts are obviously with the victims of the latest terrorist outrage
And the two things that are so clear is that, first of all, we need
the action on security and action against terrorism; and secondly, to
make progress in building a lasting peace in that region, based, as you
say, on the two-state solution. It's an issue that I think, what is
interesting is that the whole world wants to see us now, having -- take
this very firm stand against terrorism, against issues of weapons of
mass destruction, but also try and make sure that we provide the secure
future with lasting peace in the Middle East. And I think those issues
are all very much linked together.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll take a question apiece. Greg.
Q Mr. President, can you tell us if you've had a chance this
week to speak with German Chancellor Schroeder yet?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I did. I had a cordial meeting at that meeting
last night. We greeted each other, cordially.
Q Can you give us an assessment of the state of U.S.-German
relations in light of the recent election?
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's a -- Germany is an important friend of the
United States. And we've got a relationship to maintain, and we will
Q Mr. President, you put a formal request to Britain and other
countries to supply troops for a possible conflict in Iraq.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Is that a question, have we, or an asserted
Q I understood you had --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, I see.
Q -- and I wonder what your expectation was for what Britain
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, my expectation is, is that we can do this
peacefully, if Saddam Hussein disarms. That's my expectation. This is
-- Saddam Hussein has got a decision to make: Will he uphold the
agreement that he has made. And if he chooses to do so by disarming
peacefully, the world will be better off for it. If he chooses not to
disarm, we will work with our close friends, the closest of which is
Great Britain, and we will disarm him. But our first choice is not to
use the military option. Our first choice is for Mr. Saddam Hussein to
disarm. And that's where we'll be devoting a lot of our energies.
Q And, Prime Minister, you have this request now. You also
seem to have a prospect of another fire strike, as well. Do you
believe that many British troops and reserves are going to have to
prepare for a Christmas away from their family celebrations in either
fighting fires, or fighting Saddam Hussein?
PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: We will do what's necessary, both to secure
ourselves at home, and to make sure that the will of the United Nations
is enforced abroad. And I think what you will find here at this NATO
summit is a totally united determination on behalf of the international
community, reflected in the unanimous United Nations resolution, that
Saddam Hussein has to disarm himself of all weapons of mass
destruction. And how that happens is a choice for him.
We hope, and want it to happen, through the United Nations
inspectors, mandated by the whole of the international community. But
if he fails to cooperate with them, if he fails to do all he can -- and
it is within his power -- to help that process of disarmament through
the United Nations, then he will be disarmed by force. And that is the
clear will of the international community.
And I think you will find now that there is a consensus for that
position virtually right across the civilized world.
Q Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure. I'm glad to answer your every request.
Q How about our every question?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I don't want you to get used to asking too many
questions. I've been answering them all the whole time I've been here,
question after question after question. If you were to ask a question,
Stretch, what would it have been, so I can think about it for
tomorrow? I won't answer it now.
Q What's your reaction to the confirmation of bin Laden being
alive on the tape?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. I've got a formulated answer --