For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 18, 2003
Remarks by the President and King Abdullah of Jordan in Press Availability
10:00 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks for coming. His Majesty and I will answer
some questions after a couple of statements.
First, I'm so pleased to welcome my friend, King Abdullah and Queen
Rania to Camp David. I want to thank them so very much for rearranging
their schedules to get up here ahead of Hurricane Isabel. Laura and I
look forward to spending some quality time with two really fine
We're going to have some serious discussions today, then we'll have
a nice lunch and then we'll batten down the hatches and spend a good
evening with our friend. The King is a good friend, and I say with
certainty he is a fine man. He's a reformer who's working to build a
country that is tolerant and modern and prosperous. He cares deeply
for the people of Jordan -- I know firsthand, I have seen his passion
for the people in that important country. He suffers when people
suffer. He exalts when people succeed. He's a leader who takes risks
for peace. He's a peaceful man.
King Abdullah and I last met more than three months ago in Aqaba,
Jordan, he hosted a very important meeting. It was a moment of great
hope for the people of the Middle East. At that meeting, Prime
Minister Abbas -- former Prime Minister Abbas strongly condemned
terror. Prime Minister Sharon committed Israel to supporting the
emergence of a viable Palestinian state. The King affirmed the
commitment of his country to help forge a lasting peace.
In the weeks that followed, there was good progress. Israel
withdrew from Gaza City and Bethlehem and turned responsibility for
security in -- there over to the Palestinian Authority. Hundreds of
prisoners were released, checkpoints were removed, some unauthorized
outposts were taken down.
And on the Palestinian side, Prime Minister Abbas made a good-faith
effort to meet the commitments made at Aqaba. Yet, at every turn, he
was undercut by the old order. I remain committed, solidly committed
to the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.
Yet, that would only happen with new Palestinian leadership committed
to fighting terror, not compromised by terror.
I look forward to discussing with His Majesty how we can encourage
Palestinian reform, how we can work together to fight off the
terrorists who want to destroy the hopes of many, and how we can move
forward to peace, peace in a region that needs peace.
I appreciate the King's cooperation in the critical efforts to
build a stable Iraq. The hearts of the American people go out to the
people of Jordan for the ruthless attack on the embassy in Baghdad.
That attack once again shows the nature of the terror, indiscriminate
killing of innocent people, all trying to intimidate and create fear.
I look forward to hearing His Majesty discuss his efforts to
continue to work for long lasting jobs for the Jordanian people, how we
can work together to expand trade, what we can do together to enhance
our friendship that has endured across the generations. Today, as the
United States works to bring -- helps to work to bring peace and hope
to the Middle East, we can rely on Jordan as a vital partner. And
that's why Laura and I are so honored to welcome you, sir, to Camp
David, and thank you for coming.
KING ABDULLAH: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for those very
kind words of welcome. And I'm particularly delighted, myself, and my
wife, Rania, and our delegation to really be able to visit with you
again and discuss many of the issues that are facing both our
I'm also particularly honored by the strong, genuine dedication
that you have shown in trying to make our part of the world a better
place. It took a lot of courage to come to the Middle East, to meet in
Sharm el-Sheikh with Arab leaders, and then again to come to Aqaba and
give hopes to the Israelis and Palestinians to move forward. And as
you rightly said, we did see progress.
Unfortunately, there is a lot at the moment. But, again, your
dedication to really reach out to the overwhelming majority of Israelis
and Palestinians that have been suffering for so many years and put
your heart behind making their future far more hopeful. And this is
what I believe this weekend is all about. The President has always
been committed to solving the problems of the Middle East. And I've
seen, from personal experience, his outward dedication to make a hope
for Israelis and Palestinians -- equally so, your dedication and your
desire for Iraqis to have a new dawn. And we're extremely appreciative
of the time that you are spending with us over the weekend to see what
we can do together to face the challenges ahead of us.
So a warm thanks from myself and my delegation for your dedication,
your continued friendship and, really, your genuine desire to make life
for all of us in the Middle East a much better place. Thank you very
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir. Thanks. Terry.
Q Mr. President, you have refused to talk with Yasser Arafat.
And Israel says that it's going to remove him. Yet, he is picking
ministers for the new prime minister and is in virtual control of the
government. How are you going to deal with the Arafat situation in
terms of Middle East peace? And is it possible to continue to go
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Arafat has failed as a leader. And as I
mentioned, Prime Minister Abbas was undermined at all turns by the old
order -- that meant Mr. Arafat. And the people of the Palestinian
territory must understand if they want peace, they must have leadership
who is absolutely 100 percent committed to fighting off terror. I
believed Prime Minister Abbas when he told me at Sharm el-Sheikh, then
at Aqaba, then in the Oval Office, he would do everything in his power
to fight terror, that he would work to consolidate the security forces
so that he could fight terror.
And his efforts were undermined, and that's why we're now stalled.
I'm still committed to peace, because I believe the vast majority of
people want peace; I'm committed to the road map.
But I'll remind those who focus on the road map that the first
thing the road map said was that there must be security in order for
peace to advance, that there must be a collective effort to fight off
terror. Mr. Arafat has failed in that effort. And, hopefully, at
some point in time, a leadership of the Palestinian Authority will
emerge which will then commit itself 100 percent to fighting off
terror. And then we'll be able to consolidate the power necessary to
fight off terror.
And when that happens, the world will come together to provide the
conditions for hope. The world will come together to help an economy
grow so that the Palestinian people can have a hopeful future. The
first thing that must happen is an absolute condemnation and defeat of
those forces who will kill innocent people in order to stop a peace
process from going forward.
Your Majesty, do you want to call on somebody?
Q Your Majesty, the road map provides a monitoring system to
ensure that Israelis and Palestinians are fulfilling their obligations
and the U.S. has its own envoy in the region to monitor the process.
What about enforcing stricter monitoring mechanism involving the
Quartet and the international community?
KING ABDULLAH: Well, I think these are some of the issues that we
can discuss. I think it's more important now to see how we can move
the process back on track. I'm sure monitoring and other issues out
there can be discussed at a later date. We're talking now about the
principle of getting the movement forward again, and Israelis and
Palestinians engaging positively in the right direction.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me remind -- I gave a speech on June 24, 2002,
which laid out a vision for how to achieve peace. And I said,
everybody has got responsibilities. His Majesty has assumed his
responsibility. He's a leader. He has stood up and said, look, we
will work for a peaceful solution. Other leaders in the region must do
the same. We must cut off money to terrorist organizations. We must
work together. Israel has got responsibilities.
But let me remind you that it is very difficult to stay on a road
to peace when there are terrorists bombing and killing people. And
that's what must be stopped. In order for there to be a peace, we must
stop terror. And it requires a collective effort. All people are
And the speech I gave on June 24th still stands as, at least the
U.S. view, of how to achieve what we want, which is peace, and a
Palestinian state. I think a Palestinian state is one of the most
hopeful things for a -- for the Palestinian people, and for the
Israelis, for that matter.
But first things first, defeat those who want to stop this from
happening. And make no mistake about it, the terrorists who are
bombing and killing aren't interested in a peaceful Palestinian state.
They don't share our mutual vision, a peaceful vision and a hopeful
Q Thank you. Do you think you can count on Europeans to
provide financial contributions for Iraq? And what happens if they
PRESIDENT BUSH: Do I think we can count on the Europeans to
provide? Yes, I think we're getting help, and I would remind you that
there is two multinational divisions led by -- one led by Britain, one
led by Poland -- full of other European countries. And I -- that's
help. In terms of reconstruction, A, we're getting help, and --
because Colin Powell will continue to ask for help.
One of the things I must do and will continue to do is make the
case that a peaceful and secure Iraq is not only in the interests of
the neighborhood -- certainly in Jordan's interest, that there be a
nation that is peaceful and prosperous -- but it's in Europe's
interest, as well, and the American's interest. You see, freedom in
Iraq will change the nature of the neighborhood in a positive way. A
free Iraq will mean this good man will have a partner in peace,
somebody with whom he can work -- to not only establish good trade, but
to work for additional peace. And it's in Europe's interest that that
And so we will continue to make the case that reconstruction aid is
necessary. And we'll also remind our European friends that we're
making good progress there, that businesses are beginning to flourish;
hospitals are open; pregnant women are receiving medicines; young
children are getting vaccinated. I mean, there's case after case after
case where life is improving for the average Iraqi citizen. And we
would hope that they would participate in this momentum that is taking
place on a daily basis.
It is -- and I can't -- we'll see, I will have a much better feel
for attitude after next week. As you know, I'll be at the United
Nations General Assembly. We'll be giving an address there Tuesday
morning and then we'll be meeting with a variety of world leaders. His
Majesty and I, he will be giving me a report on what he knows. He's
got pretty good antennae. He's well plugged-in, and he knows what's
going on in the world, and he also is -- he has got good friends in
Europe and he will -- part of our discussions will center on how best
to broaden the coalition of participants.
Q Do you expect you'll have a U.N. resolution by the time you
get to New York?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Probably not. We're still working it. The
question was, will we have a U.N. resolution by the time I get to New
York. No, I don't think so, but it could be. We'll continue to work
it, though. And the whole purpose, of course, is to make sure that the
nations feel -- if they need a U.N. resolution, they'll have one, in
order to justify participation.
The other thing, of course, is that the U.N. resolution must
promote an orderly transfer of sovereignty to what will be a freely
elected government, based upon a constitution. So in other words, we
must have -- the constitution must be written, and there will be free
elections, and then sovereignty will occur once the Iraqi people are
able to express their opinions. And so we'll be working on that, as
Listen, thank you all for coming. We appreciate you all, as well,
adjusting your schedules. I know this was supposed to take place at a
different time, but we wanted to get this over with, so that you didn't
have to float down the hill, if you know what I mean.
And by the way, we're very well prepared for Hurricane Isabel. I
met this morning by SVTS -- that's video conferencing -- with Tom Ridge
and John Gordon of the NSC staff, fully briefed on the path of the
storm. I'm assured that the Homeland Security Department is in close
contact with the states' emergency preparedness offices. We've got
pre-positioned equipment in place. Proper warnings have gone out. And
the communications systems are up and running, so that when the storm
hits, the response, for the citizens, will be an effective response.
Of course I'll be monitoring the situation. I'll be in close contact
with the emergency management people.
All right, get going before it starts raining. Thank you all very
END 10:16 A.M. EDT