For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2001
Remarks by President Bush
And President Megawati of Indonesia
in a Photo Opportunity
the Oval Office
11:22 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: President
Megawati was just telling me she had visited Washington during
President Kennedy's time. It is my honor to welcome you back
to Washington and to the Oval Office as President of your great
I look forward to having a very good
discussion about our relations, as well as what we're going to do as
people who love freedom about terrorism. And I want to thank
you very much for your strong statements of support for the American
people, and your strong statement against terrorist
activities. It meant a lot to us. You represent
the nation with the most Muslim people in the world. I've
made it clear, Madam President, that the war against terrorism is not a
war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It's a
war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.
And so, welcome to Washington,
D.C. I look forward to a long discussion. I
appreciate so very much your vision for your very important
PRESIDENT MEGAWATI: Thank you,
Mr. President. I will speak in Indonesian. I'm
very honored to be your guest here today, even though we are in a
moment of grief. I would like to express on behalf of the
people and government of Indonesia our deep condolences to the American
people. And we share this moment of grief with you.
I also want to say thank you, because even
though you're having a different time, you're still able to meet me in
this place which I'm quite familiar with. Thank you very
much, Mr. President.
Q Mr. President, do
you have any reason to believe Iraq is connected with the terrorist
attack? And if so, what would your response be?
And could I ask your guest if she could
respond to her Vice President saying that the tragedy would cleanse the
sins of the United States?
PRESIDENT BUSH: First, let me
-- anybody who harbors terrorists needs to fear the United States and
the rest of the free world. Anybody who houses a terrorist,
encourages terrorism will be held accountable. And we are
gathering all evidence on this particular crime and other crimes
against freedom-loving people.
And I would strongly urge any nation in
the world to reject terrorism, expel terrorists. I would
strongly urge the Taliban to turn over the al Qaeda organizers who hide
in their country. We're -- we're on the case. We're
gathering as much evidence as we possibly can to be able to make our
case to the world about all countries and their willingness to harbor
or not harbor terrorists.
Q A specific
message to Iraq?
PRESIDENT BUSH: The message to
every country is, there will be a campaign against terrorist activity,
a worldwide campaign. And there is an outpouring of support
for such a campaign. Freedom-loving people understand that
terrorism knows no borders, that terrorists will strike in order to
bring fear, to try to change the behavior of countries that love
liberty. And we will not let them do that.
Now, this is a campaign in which nations
will contribute in a variety of ways. Some nations will be
willing to join in a very overt way. Other nations will be
willing to join by sharing information -- and information in a campaign
such as this is going to be incredibly important. It's very
important for us to be able to find where these people are.
There's going to need to be a campaign --
there needs to be a financial component of the campaign, where we need
to cooperate to make sure we cut off funds, find these organizations
that serve as front groups for funding these terrorist cells.
And so my message to all nations is we
look forward to full cooperation.
Did you have a question for the
Q Yes. Could you respond, please, to
the Vice President of your country who said that the tragedy will
PRESIDENT MEGAWATI: After I
heard and witnessed and saw what happened, the tragic events in New
York and Washington, I immediately issued a statement which strongly
condemned these attacks, which were very inhumane. And
afterwards I sent a letter to President Bush, expressing my
condolences. So this is the position of my government on
this issue. So it's very clear.
Q Mr. President,
since you've declared war against terrorism, there are a number of
countries who seem to be saying, not so fast. China, in
particular, said that any strike must be preceded by irrefutable
evidence. Others have raised concerns about civilian
casualties. So the first question is, are you now prepared
to provide such irrefutable evidence to countries, and what in your
mind is the biggest challenge that you face in trying to construct this
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of
all, we'll do what we need to do to achieve the first objective of a
long campaign. And the first objective is to bring people to
justice who we feel like committed this particular set of atrocities,
and to hold the organization accountable and to hold those who harbor
them accountable. That's the first objective of a very long
David, I think that the real challenge for
America and our allies in this effort is to do a couple of
things: One, condition the world, starting with our own
country, that this will be a different kind of battle, series of
battles; that they will be fought visibly sometimes, and sometimes
we'll never see what may be taking place; that the -- and that we fully
understand that some nations will be comfortable supporting overt
activities, some nations will be comfortable supporting covert
activities, some nations will only be comfortable in providing
information, others will be helpful and only feel comfortable helping
on financial matters. I understand that. Thirdly,
as these various -- as the campaign evolves, some nations may take a
more active role than others.
The mind-set of war must
change. It is a different type of battle. It's a different
type of battlefield. It's a different type of
war. And that, in itself, is going to be a real challenge
for America and those other nations who understand that, because
sometimes -- look, the mission is to root out terrorist
activities. And there's a variety of ways in which that can
Clearly, one of our focuses is to get
people out of their caves, smoke them out, get them moving and get them
-- is about as plainly as I can put it. And we're focused on
that. But we're also focused, and we recognize that the al
Qaeda organization exists in some 60-plus countries, and we're
beginning to work with other nations that are receptive to the notion
of fighting terrorism, and say, help us round up these people; you can
play a constructive role.
We fully understand that certain NGOs,
nongovernmental organizations, serve as fronts, as a funding mechanism
for terrorist organizations. We expect there to be activity
on those fronts, as well.
So the challenge is to redefine the terms
of the conflict, the campaign, in a way that the leaders understand,
and in a way that the people of the world
understand. There's a certain impatience with war of the
past. People demand a certain clarity of a specific
battlefield. But this is the first -- this is a new type of
struggle. It's really the first series of battles in the
Again I repeat, terrorism knows no
borders, it has no capital, but it does have a common ideology, and
that is they hate freedom, and they hate freedom-loving
people. And they particularly hate America at this moment.
But many leaders understand that what happened in New York City and
Washington, D.C. could have easily have happened in their capital, as
It's a long answer to a short question.
Q Can I follow on
one point? Do you to your mind have irrefutable evidence
that links al Qaeda, and specifically Osama bin Laden to these
PRESIDENT BUSH: When we take
action, we will take action because we believe -- because we know we'll
be on the right. And I want to remind people that there have
been terrorist activities on America in the past, as
well. And there has been -- indictments have been handed
This is a war not against a specific
individual, nor will it be a war against solely one
organization. It is a war against terrorist activities. Our
nation must do everything we can to protect the homeland, and we are.
The Attorney General briefs on a daily basis, as the Director of the
FBI, talking about what we're doing to do the best we can to protect
the American people from any further activity.
But the best way to make sure that America
is safe, the people of Indonesia are safe, is to find terrorism at its
roots and to root it out, to get them out of their caves and get them
moving, cut off their finances, and hold them accountable.
Q Mr. President,
now that Chairman Arafat has said he was willing to fight terrorism and
he wants to join your coalition, are you willing to talk to him?
And, President Megawati, a quick question
is, are you able to offer your government and your people's support for
this coalition, or do you have that support in your country?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me first --
I would hope that Chairman Arafat backs up his strong statement with
action. We take his words very seriously that he is
interested in doing everything he can to reduce terrorism and violence
in the Middle East. That was a very positive statement he
made. And I hope he stays focused on achieving the goal he
stated. And so to that end, our administration and our
government is continuing to talk to Chairman Arafat to encourage him to
live up to his words, and at the same time, working with the Israelis
to encourage them to seize the moment.
Progress is being made. Madam
President, I said at the time, through my tears I see
opportunity. One of the opportunities I saw was the ability
not to put -- not only for freedom-loving nations to come together to
say resolutely we will fight terrorism, but I felt like there would be
-- this event may shake up the attitudes of the Middle East where
people would end up resolving to show the world that there could be
peace there as well.
And progress is being made. And
I want to tell the American people, the Secretary of State -- even
though we're focused on what happened in New York and Washington, D.C.,
we're also very much involved in the Middle East. And
Secretary Powell was on the phone yesterday with leaders in the Middle
East, urging them to seize this moment. And so we have a
sense of -- we now have a sense of optimism that something positive may
take place in the Middle East.
Your question to President.
Q Are you able to
offer the support of your country to this coalition against terrorism?
PRESIDENT MEGAWATI: Indonesia
has always been against violence. Anything that relates to violence,
including acts of terrorism, we will definitely be against it.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you.