President Bush Meets with Prime Minister Blair
Remarks by the President and British Prime Minister
Tony Blair The Cross Hall
4:12 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome Tony Blair back to the
White House. We just had a wide-ranging discussion on a lot of
issues. I appreciate my friend's commitment to peace and security. I
appreciate his vision. I appreciate his willingness to lead. Most
importantly, I appreciate his understanding that after September the
11th, 2001, the world changed; that we face a common enemy --
terrorists willing to kill innocent lives; that we now recognize
that threats which gather in remote regions of the world must be
dealt with before others lose their lives.
Tony Blair is a friend. He's a friend of the American people,
he's a friend of mine. I trust his judgment and I appreciate his
THE PRIME MINISTER: First of all, can I say how delighted I am to
be back in the White House and to see President Bush. And as he's
just described to you, we had an excellent discussion, covering all
the key issues of the day. And I would like to praise his leadership
in the world since September the 11th, particularly, on what I think
are the two key issues that face our world today -- which are issues
of international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. And I
think both of those issues come together because they threaten the
peace and the order and the stability of the world.
And what is essential is that in every respect, in every way that
we can we mobilize international support and the international
community, in order to make sure that these twin threats that the
world faces are dealt with. And I have no doubt at all that we can
deal with them. But we should realize those two threats --
terrorism, weapons of mass destruction -- are not different, they're
linked. And dealing with both of them is essential for the future
peace and security and prosperity of the world.
THE PRESIDENT: Fournier. Here's what we're going to do. I will
call upon a reporter. The Prime Minister will call upon a reporter.
And we'll do this three different times. Start with you.
Q Thank you, sir. First, quickly to the
Prime Minister, did you ask President Bush to secure a second U.N.
resolution and to give the inspectors more time? And, President
Bush, the U.N. says -- the U.N. inspectors say Saddam is not
complying, you say Saddam is not complying, why wait a matter of
weeks? What's -- why hold up on the decision?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, you violated the two-question rule
-- as usual. He's had a bad habit of this. I'll start.
Saddam Hussein is not disarming. He is a danger to the world. He
must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said and the Prime
Minister has constantly said this issue will come to a head in a
matter of weeks, not months.
THE PRIME MINISTER: The whole point about the present situation
is that when President Bush made his speech to the United Nations,
when we went down the United Nations route, we passed Resolution
1441. And I think it really repays reading that, because we said
very clearly that Saddam had what we said was a final opportunity to
disarm, and that he had to cooperate fully in every respect with the
U.N. weapons inspectors.
As Dr. Blix said in his report to the Security Council earlier
this week, he's not doing that. And therefore, what is important is
that the international community comes together again and makes it
absolutely clear that this is unacceptable. And the reason why I
believe that it will do that is precisely because in the original
Resolution 1441, we made it clear that failure to disarm would lead
to serious consequences.
So this is a test for the international community. It's not just
a test for the United States or for Britain. It's a test for the
international community, too. And the judgment has to be, at the
present time, that Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with the
inspectors, and therefore is in breach of the U.N. resolution. And
that's why time is running out.
Q A question for the President, if I may. What is the status, in
your view, of any second resolution? Is it something that you think
it's worth spending time and energy trying to assemble and, if so,
THE PRESIDENT: First, let me reiterate what I just said. This is
a matter of weeks, not months. Any attempt to drag the process on
for months will be resisted by the United States. And as I
understand the Prime Minister -- I'm loath to put words in his mouth
-- but he's also said weeks, not months.
Secondly, I want to remind you, I was the guy that went to the
United Nations in the first place. I said, why don't we come
together as a world to resolve this issue, once and for all. Why
doesn't the United Nations stand up as a body and show the world
that it has got the capacity to keep the peace.
So, first of all, in answer to one part of your question, this
just needs to be resolved quickly. Should the United Nations decide
to pass a second resolution, it would be welcomed if it is yet
another signal that we're intent upon disarming Saddam Hussein. But
1441 gives us the authority to move without any second resolution.
And Saddam Hussein must understand that if he does not disarm, for
the sake of peace, we, along with others, will go disarm Saddam
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to
provide the undeniable proof of Iraq's guilt that so many critics
are calling for?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty
good job myself of making it clear that he's not disarming and why
he should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the
danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam
Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will
make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own
neighborhood. He will also talk about al Qaeda links, links that
really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain,
anybody else who loves freedom.
As the Prime Minister says, the war on terror is not confined to
just a shadowy terrorist network. The war on terror includes people
who are willing to train and to equip organizations such as al
See, the strategic view of America changed after September the
11th. We must deal with threats before they hurt the American people
again. And as I have said repeatedly, Saddam Hussein would like
nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill
and leave no fingerprints behind. Colin Powell will continue making
that case to the American people and the world at the United
THE PRIME MINISTER: Adam.
Q One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link
between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on
September the 11th?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.
THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question. The one thing I
would say, however, is I've absolutely no doubt at all that unless
we deal with both of these threats, they will come together in a
deadly form. Because, you know, what do we know after September the
11th? We know that these terrorists networks would use any means
they can to cause maximum death and destruction. And we know also
that they will do whatever they can to acquire the most deadly
weaponry they can. And that's why it's important to deal with these
Q Mr. President and Prime Minister, if I could, sir, the arms
inspectors made their report on Monday this week. You've both made
clear that it's a question of weeks, not months. And here we are at
the end of the week and the Iraqis are suddenly inviting the arms
inspectors back to Baghdad for further consultations. Could I ask
both of you what you make of that?
THE PRESIDENT: Let's see if I can be polite. Saddam Hussein has
had 12 years to learn how to deceive, and I would view this as more
deception on his part. He expects to be able to convince 108
inspectors that he is open-minded. The only way that he can show
that he is truly a peaceful man is to not negotiate with inspectors,
is not to string the inspectors along, but to disarm in front of
inspectors. We know what a disarmed regime looks like. We know what
it means to disarm. There's no negotiations. The idea of calling
inspectors in to negotiate is a charade. If he is going to disarm,
he must start disarming. That's the only thing he needs to talk to
the inspectors about, is, here, I'm disarming.
THE PRIME MINISTER: That's absolutely right. If you look back at
the history of this, for 12 years, he's played these games. And
that's why it's so important to realize what the U.N. inspectors
were put back in to do. The U.N. inspectors -- and this is the
crucial point, because it's on this basis that the whole issue of
the U.N. authority rests -- the U.N. inspectors did not go back into
Iraq to play a game of hide-and-seek with Saddam. They didn't go
back in as a detective agency. They went back in under an authority
that said that they had to cooperate fully, in every respect: the
interview of witnesses, not just access to sites; honest,
transparent declarations in the material they had. They're not doing
Now, why are they calling back the inspectors? I think it's
fairly obvious. It's because as the pressure grows, they want to
play the same games as they've been playing all the way through.
That's why it's important we hold to the path that we've set out.
They have to disarm. They have to cooperate with the inspectors.
They're not doing it. If they don't do it through the U.N. route,
then they will have to be disarmed by force.
Q Mr. President, an account of the White House after 9/11 says
that you ordered invasion plans for Iraq six days after September
the 11th -- Bob Woodward's account. Isn't it the case that you have
always intended war on Iraq, and that international diplomacy is a
charade in this case?
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, prior to September the 11th, we were
discussing smart sanctions. We were trying to fashion a sanction
regime that would make it more likely to be able to contain somebody
like Saddam Hussein. After September the 11th, the doctrine of
containment just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned.
I've told you the strategic vision of our country shifted
dramatically, and it shifted dramatically because we now recognize
that oceans no longer protect us, that we're vulnerable to attack.
And the worst form of attack could come from somebody acquiring
weapons of mass destruction and using them on the American people,
or the worst attack could come when somebody uses weapons of mass
destruction on our friends in Great Britain.
Recently, Tony Blair's government routed out a poison plot. It
should say to the people of Great Britain, there is a present
danger, that weapons of mass destruction are a danger to people who
love freedom. I want to congratulate you on your fabulous job of
using your intelligence and your law enforcement to protect the
people of Great Britain.
Today, Italy rounded up yet another cell of people who are
willing to use weapons of mass destruction on those of us who love
And so, no, quite the contrary. My vision shifted dramatically
after September the 11th, because I now realize the stakes. I
realize the world has changed. My most important obligation is to
protect the American people from further harm. And I will do that.