Bush, Chirac Discuss Upcoming G-8 Summit
President Bush spoke by phone aboard Air Force One with French President Jacques Chirac on May 22 to discuss the upcoming Group of Eight (G-8) major industrialized nations summit in France June 1-3.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters en route to the president's Texas ranch that "it was a productive phone call" that lasted about ten minutes, and Bush "is looking forward to attending" the summit. Chirac called Bush, he said, after the resolution to lift sanctions on Iraq was approved by the U.N. Security Council.
"They did not discuss Iraq. They discussed the G-8," Fleischer said. "They talked about the agenda for the G-8, how the president hoped that they could focus on alleviating poverty and suffering. The president particularly looks forward to talking about the AIDS initiative that he will have signed, that will help people around the world."
Bush and Chirac said they "look forward to having additional conversations when they see each other in person," Fleischer said.
BUSH, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER HAVE BUSY WEEKEND AGENDA
Bush was to welcome Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to his ranch in Crawford, Texas May 22, where the two leaders will discuss the situation in North Korea, which White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says "presents serious issues to the Japanese people.
"I think the Japanese people have been very disappointed in North Korea's action, particularly regarding the kidnapping of Japanese officials," the spokesman added.
"North Korea miscalculated," Fleischer said. "They thought that by acting belligerently and threatening the development of nuclear weapons, they could scare their neighbors, scare the United States and receive a reward. In the course of the president's discussions with regional leaders, including the Japanese, it's clear that there is a united front that does not intend to reward blackmail; that will work together to tell the North Koreans that they only hurt themselves and further isolate their people and set back their cause of being integrated into a growing economy in the region. That's been the tenor of his conversations with all those nations, notably China, and including Japan and all our allies in the neighborhood."
"They have a busy agenda," Fleischer told reporters prior to Koizumi's arrival. In addition to North Korea, "they will discuss economic matters between our nations. They'll discuss reconstruction in Afghanistan, reconstruction in Iraq."
Fleischer pointed out that Japan is helping to build the road in Afghanistan linking three major cities in the country . "They are the leading world partner in developing that, building, actually building a road, in addition to financing it," he said.
BUSH GRATEFUL TO U. N. FOR LIFTING IRAQ SANCTIONS
The president is "very grateful," Fleischer told reporters May 22, "that the world has come together to lift the sanctions on the long-suffering Iraqi people. He is pleased that an agreement was reached. He thinks this will help the Iraqis recover from the huge damage that Saddam Hussein did to their country. The president wants to thank Secretary Powell for his hard work in bringing together the world behind the lifting of sanctions."
President Bush also spoke to members of Congress on Capitol Hill the morning of May 22 and told them "we are more secure than we were one year ago; and one year ago, we were more secure than we were two years ago."
He talked about the changing nature of war and thanked the members for their funding of defense. He also noted the importance of the emergency $15 billion HIV/AIDS initiative for 14 African and Caribbean nations that Congress passed this week, and thanked the members for passing it.
"The support showed not only our muscle, but
our heart," said Bush.