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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush & Chirac Give Joint Address

Aired June 5, 2004 - 13:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. Want to take to you to Paris now where President Bush is meeting with French President Jacques Chirac. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...will be a time to reflect on the sacrifices that helped to defeat fascism and to restore the liberty of France and of Western Europe.

We'll also remember the timeless lessons that D-Day teaches: that sacrifices must always be born in the defense of freedom; that free nations working together can overcome danger; and that the deepest source of strength of any army is the values for which it fights.

I appreciate all the hard work, Mr. President, that went into planning this year's D-Day ceremonies, and I congratulate you and all those involved. It's going to be a spectacular event.

I also appreciate the chance to talk to the president and to hear his views on a variety of issues and the common challenges we face.

Today, we discussed the future of Iraq as a free and democratic state. Our coalition will soon hand over full sovereignty to an Iraqi government. Iraq's new prime minister, Allawi, and his Cabinet are working hard to provide security to prepare their country for national elections that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

The interim government is the first step in a political process outlined in the transitional administrative law, which will lead to the first democratic elections in Iraq's history, elections to take place no later than January 2005.

At the request of the interim government, the request of the prime minister, multinational forces will remain in Iraq to help this new government succeed in its vital work. A free Iraq deserves the full support of international community, and I appreciate our discussions.

The Iraqi people want and deserve freedom, peace and prosperity, and the nations in the world have a responsibility to help them achieve that. Members of the U.N. Security Council are working with Iraq's new leaders toward a new resolution that will express international support for Iraq's interim government, that will reaffirm the world's security commitment to the Iraqi nation and encourage other U.N. members to help in joining the Iraqi people as they establish a representative government.

The president and I discussed our common goals in the broader Middle East. We seek freedom and the peace that freedom brings. We seek political and social reform -- the true stability that results when people are free to live and think and worship as they choose.

We know that freedom cannot be imposed from abroad, but free nations can and must choose to ally ourselves with reformers, wherever they are, and with reform, wherever it occurs.

BUSH: I fully know that democratization is not the same as westernization. Nations as different as Romania and the Philippines, Nicaragua and Senegal and Turkey show that freedom takes different forms around the globe and that new liberties can find an honored place amidst ancient traditions. Democratic governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures and their own traditions.

America and France are working with many allies and friends in the region and beyond to support the increase of reform, which will serve as the antidote to terror. As the president mentioned, we'll be going to Sea Island, Georgia, where we will discuss ways to build partnerships between the world's great democracies and the nations of the broader Middle East. I look forward to those discussions. Later this month, we'll bring the same message and the same challenge to the NATO summit in Turkey.

The president and I also had discussions about the Holy Land. We seek two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. I support the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.

And I realize that security is the foundation for peace and the starting point for all progress in the Middle East. I believe that Israel needs a truly responsible partner in achieving peace. I believe the Palestinian people deserve democratic institutions and responsible leaders.

So for the sake of peace, I'm committed to helping the Palestinian people establish a democratic and viable state of their own. And I look forward to working with President Chirac to achieve that objective.

The United States and France also agree that the people of Lebanon should be free to determine their own future without foreign interference or domination.

Our two nations are working together to bring peace and security to other parts of the globe. We're in Haiti together; we're in Afghanistan together. We're working to ensure that Iran meets its commitments to the IAEA and does not develop nuclear weapons. The president talked about our mutual concerns in the continent of Africa.

We're proud countries with deep traditions rooted in freedom and equality and justice. These common values enable us to work together for the good of world peace.

And I look forward to working with you, Mr. President. Thank you for your hospitality.

Now, Jim Angle?

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. As we understand, there has been an exchange of letters between the new interim government in Iraq and the coalition. I wonder if you could tell us a little something about that, Mr. President.

And, President Chirac, if I may, sir, I assume you've been told about this. Do you now believe that the new Iraqi government will get full sovereignty? And do you have any remaining objections about a new U.N. resolution?

BUSH: One of the issues that I have been asked about quite frequently was whether or not the Iraqi government would be able to determine its security needs, and I said absolutely. That's the definition of "sovereignty."

And I also assured the American people at several news conferences that we have entered into these kind of security agreements in the past that recognize the sovereignty of the host government.

And the exchange of letters does just that. The exchange of letters between the prime minister and the coalition lays out the parameters of security, of this security operation in Iraq. And this is a positive step forward.

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): On the subject of the resolution, again I repeat what I said earlier on. I think we have progressed, we have moved forward positively, and we should be able to put the finishing touches to this text very shortly.

Now, yes, we still have to qualify the matter pertaining to security arrangements that establish relations between the Iraqi government -- a government that obviously we wish to see sovereign and full authority -- and the multinational force.

And as you rightly said, exchange of letters between the Iraqi government and the international force -- thrust has to be picked up in the language of the resolution is happening right now. And I hope all of this can take place very speedily.

In my view, in my view, what is important here are not the technicalities of all of this. What is important is to ensure that the Iraqi people, that the Iraqis truly have the sense that they have recovered their independence, their sovereignty, and that they hold their own destiny in their hands.

I think that that is the only way forward if we want to solve the considerable problems that are arising in this country and to master the very -- to be able to contain the very strong forces in situ, as it were. And I feel it's very important that we send no negative signals to the Iraqis, the sense that we might in any way be undermining their sovereignty, because that would undermine their confidence. This side, a question?

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you, sir. I would have a question for Mr. Bush.

Once President Kennedy said, "Everyone has two countries: their own and France." And why is it that your policy tends to be pushing your country and France to divorce?

Second point: Some, in public opinion, have accused you of state terrorism, and do you not believe that what has happened in Abu Ghraib has put in the same basket, as it were, as Saddam Hussein, especially in the eyes of an international tribunal and especially in light of the unfound weapons of mass destruction?

BUSH: To paraphrase President Kennedy, there's America and then there's Texas.

We have great relations with France. We work closely with the French government on a lot of issues. I just laid out a lot of the issues that we're working together on, as did the president. We're working to stop proliferation. We're working on Haiti. We're working on the continent of Africa. We're working to feed the hungry. We're working to make sure that the pandemic of AIDS gets the -- the people get the help they need to arrest the pandemic of AIDS in Africa. No, there are a lot of issues we work on.

As for the prison abuse issue, I was humiliated, as were most of my country. Those soldiers didn't reflect the character of the American people. They didn't -- they stained our honor. And the world will see a full investigation of those -- of that humiliation, which will stand in stark contrast to what takes place in states run by tyrants. And there will be a full investigation in a transparent way. And those that violated rules will be held to account.

Gregory? Monsieur Gregory?

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: President Chirac, given the fact that your government also believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the war, do you believe that there was a worldwide intelligence failure? And despite your opposition to the war, do you believe that Iraq is better or worse off today?

Mr. President, what role specifically would you like the French to play in Iraq, going forward?

BUSH: Listen, the French are going to provide great advice. President Chirac has got good judgment about the Middle East, and he understands those countries well. The French are going to work together to put out a U.N. Security Council resolution that sends a clear signal, the free world is united in helping Iraq. And those are great contributions for which I am grateful, and so is my nation.

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes, you said that the French government, if I've understood you rightly, prior to the war had stated that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that is not correct. I have always said that I had no information that would lead me to believe that there were -- or were not, for that matter -- weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That's a fact. All the information available to us at that time and on that subject did not allow us to take a stand or to reach any conclusion, which is why I said to President Bush that I personally was incapable of saying whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction.

QUESTION: Do you believe that -- despite your opposition to the war, do you believe that today Iraq is better or worse off?

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, one thing is for certain, sure, which is the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. And that is a positive thing, it's a positive step.

Less positive is that there is a degree of chaos prevailing. And our problem today is to try and contain -- or build upon what has been achieved in positive terms; in other words, open the way to what could be a form of democracy and ensure that the forces which are in a confrontational mode be pacified.

But this is something we will see further down the road. We have certainly not put the difficulties behind us; do not believe that. We are in a situation which is extremely precarious.

A question from the back. I saw a hand going up.

QUESTION: President, sir, to what extent is the comparison made by President Bush between the liberation of Europe from Nazis 60 years ago, which you're celebrating today, or tomorrow rather, and the liberation of Iraq by American forces a year ago -- to what extent do you feel that this comparison is just and justified?

CHIRAC (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I fully understand what led President Bush to establish -- or to make this comparison, if only for reasons of circumstance. I mean, what are we celebrating today and tomorrow?

And I think nonetheless that history does not repeat itself. And it is very difficult to compare historical situations that differ, because history is not repetitive.

And there is a situation, which we defined earlier on, in Iraq, prevailing in Iraq, which has to be contained and has to be mastered. There's a lot to be done. We are going to have to roll up our sleeves and put a lot of our heart and our minds into doing this. And perhaps, perhaps we will succeed.

Thank you.

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