For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 18, 2001
Remarks by President Bush
And President Chirac of France
in Photo Opportunity
the Oval Office
6:30 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: It is my honor
to welcome a good friend, a good personal friend and a good friend of
America to the Oval Office. It's the first formal visit I've
had with any world leader since the terrible day a week ago.
After the incident, after that day, I got
a lot of phone calls, and one of the most meaningful phone calls of all
was from Jacques Chirac, who expressed his concern for the American
citizens. He expressed his desire to stand solidly with
America during this terrible, terrible day.
President Chirac understands that we have
entered a new type of war. It's a war against people who hate
freedom. And I am honored to welcome our friend here to the
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Thank
you. I've come here to tell you of the emotion -- the
emotion of France, the French people, an emotion which has no precedent
in history before this tragedy, which does not have a
parallel. Indeed, it is a tragic event, something which is
beyond crime; there are no words to qualify it.
I want to tell President Bush, who is my
friend, that we stand in total solidarity -- we bring you the total
solidarity of France and the French people. It is solidarity
of the heart.
I also wanted to say that we are
completely determined to fight by your side this new type of evil, of
absolute evil, which is terrorism. And I also wanted to say
that France is prepared and available to discuss all means to fight and
eradicate this evil.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you,
Q Mr. President,
sir, do you expect French and British soldiers to fight side-by-side
And, President Chirac, do you agree that
we are in a war, and is France in it? Will you fight
side-by-side with U.S. troops?
PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a new
kind of war. This war will require determination and
patience. People who love freedom, such as Jacques Chirac
and the people of France, will join us. I'm confident of
that, in finding those who feel like they can terrorize nations because
they hate freedom.
We will -- it's a policy of my government
not to discuss any plans we may have as to how we intend to deal with
the terrorists and the terrorist networks that believe they can disrupt
lives, anyplace, anytime in the world. I look forward to
talking with one of our strongest allies in private about what's on my
But make no mistake about
it: This administration has got a firm goal and a
determination to achieve the goal, and that is to rally the world
toward a campaign to find terrorists, to smoke them out of their holes,
and to get them, and to bring them to justice.
And there's no doubt in my mind France
joins with us in this most important campaign. Jacques
Chirac has -- this is my fourth meeting with this
leader. He's a man of vision. He's a man who
understands what I understand, that we've entered into a new
era. And I feel confident that we're going to work in a
collaborative way to achieve a common objective.
If you love freedom, you must join with us
-- must join with America and France. That's the message of
this meeting. And we will discuss ways that we can work in a
way that will achieve the goal. And there's no doubt in my
mind that we'll find solidarity with the French and the French
Q Will your
citizens fight shoulder-to-shoulder with ours?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I don't know
whether we should use the word "war," but what I can say is that now we
are faced with a conflict of a completely new nature. It is
a conflict which is attempting to destroy human rights, freedom, the
dignity of man. And I believe that everything must be done
to protect and safeguard these values of civilization.
Therefore -- and we are, naturally,
prepared to work in complete solidarity with the United States and do
everything which is necessary, in consultation with them, to reach this
target which is the elimination of terrorism. And I would
also like to add that practically all the leaders of the world are
following the same line.
Q Mr. President,
don't you think it's high time for the occidental world to review in a
very tougher way its relationship with a certain number of, let's say,
Arabic countries which have been helping or harboring the terrorists?
PRESIDENT BUSH: In my statement
to our nation, I told the people of the United States that we would not
only hold those who committed these horrible acts accountable, that we
would also hold those accountable who harbored them, who fed them, who
hide them. That's our policy.
Many, many Arab -- first of all, it is
important to know that this is not a campaign against Islam; this is
not a campaign against Arab people. This is a campaign against
terrorists. This is a campaign against evil-doers who hate
I have had, and I'm sure Jacques, as well,
have had strong statements of solidarity from governments in the Middle
East. I've talked to many world leaders, Arab leaders, all
of whom are outraged by the acts of terrorism against America; all of
whom understand it could be them, as well. Terrorism knows
And so I've been very pleased with the
outpouring of support. And we will take the governments for
their word and will work with them to disrupt the finances, the travel,
the communications. We will find them in their hiding
places, and we'll get them moving, and we'll bring them to justice.
Make no mistake about it.
Q Mr. President --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, Patsy.
Q Do you think the
Middle East cease-fire will hold? And what do you think the
next step should be for both the Israelis and the Palestinians?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We've had very
positive developments in the Middle East today, and it's one of the
subjects that my friend and I will discuss. I was very pleased by the
statements by Chairman Arafat, followed by the strong statements by the
Israelis that they would stand down troops.
And I hope in my heart of hearts that out
of this evil comes good. I think it will -- I'm a very
optimistic person. And one of the goods that can come is
that people involved with the Middle East conflict, that both leaders
here want to resolve, realize that a terrorist way of life is not going
to lead to a peaceful resolution for people.
The next step, of course, is to stay
involved in the region; is to work with both the Palestinians and the
Israelis to encourage them to seize the moment; to hold Mr. Arafat to
his word that he will fight violence; and to encourage the Israelis to
sit down and have meaningful dialogue, with the attempt to get into the
Mitchell process. And it's a glimmer of hope that all of us
hope that the parties involved will seize.
Q Mr. President,
how will this new war be fought? This new war against
PRESIDENT BUSH: It is new, and
it's important for the world to understand that there are no beaches to
storm, there are no islands to conquer, there are no battle lines to be
drawn. It's a war that is going to take an international
effort. It's going to take all of us to gather the necessary
intelligence, the necessary information, to be able to find the
location of terrorists; to work with governments to smoke them out of
their safe houses, to get them moving, and then have the courage to
bring them to justice.
My government will commit whatever
resources is necessary to be effective in this all-important
cause. I repeat: We're fighting for liberty and
freedom, a way of life that is so essential for humankind, mankind to
be able to realize their full potential. And we are focused
on achieving the goal.
There's going to be a time when free
nations settle in to what is viewed as an ordinary life -- and I hope
that happens soon; I hope that happens soon. But make no
mistake about it: My goal, my intentions will not diminish
with time. I am absolutely -- I know that we are called to
respond to terror now. This is the time. And the
world is ready for leadership. And Jacques Chirac is ready
to provide that leadership, as am I.
I want to thank you all for being here.
END 6:45 P.M. EDT