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Bush: U.S. France "in Agreement" on Iraq's Future


Bush Says U.S., France "in Agreement" on Iraq's Future

(Courtesy call with President Jacques Chirac at G-8 Summit)

The United States and France are "in agreement and we will move together to ensure that the Iraqi people have now got the capacity to run their own country," President Bush told reporters during a courtesy call June 2 on French President Jacques Chirac. Bush made the call shortly before his departure from the G-8 Summit in Evian, France.

"It's a difficult situation in Iraq, but we are committed to a free Iraq and together we can make that happen more quickly than if we were still at odds on the issue," Bush said, referring to the disagreement between the United States and France over the campaign against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Asked about the next stop on his itinerary, a summit with Arab leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Bush said he intended "to call all the respective parties to their responsibility to achieve peace." He added that the United States "will put in as much time as necessary to achieve the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace."

"I will dedicate the time and energy to move the process forward," Bush said. "And I think we'll make some progress - I know we're making progress."

Following is the White House transcript:

(begin transcript)

The White House Office of the Press Secretary June 2, 2003

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN COURTESY CALL WITH PRESIDENT CHIRAC

Hôtel Royal Evian, France

11:42 A.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I want to thank Jacques for his warm hospitality. We've had a really good meeting. This morning we talked about our common desires to grow our economies. I thought it was a very interesting and fantastic meeting, I really did.

Today I'm going to meet with Jacques here in a little bit and ask his advice on the Middle East. He's a man who knows a lot about the Middle East, he has got good judgment about the Middle East, and we will spend some time discussing that.

I know there's a lot of - a lot of people in both our countries wondering whether or not we could actually sit down and have a comfortable conversation. And the answer is absolutely. We can have disagreements, but that doesn't mean we have to be disagreeable to each other. And so I'm very glad I came and would say absolutely that this has been a very helpful and a positive meeting. Thank you, sir, for your hospitality.

(President Chirac spoke in French, untranslated.)

THE PRESIDENT: We've agreed to take one question apiece. Terry, do you want to ask a question?

QUESTION: Mr. President, can you tell us your expectations for the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh? And what are you hearing from the region?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first let me talk about my expectations for the G8. They have been met. I was hoping to come to Europe and to say that a united Europe working with America can do a lot of good - it can do a lot of good on issues such as fighting terror, or working on matters such as proliferation. We can do a lot of good to help those who suffer in the world. And so the expectations - at least as far as I'm concerned -- have been met here.

My expectations in the Middle East are to call all the respective parties to their responsibility to achieve peace. And to make it very clear that my country, and I, will put in as much time as necessary to achieve the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace.

I fully understand this is going to be a difficult process. I fully understand we need to work with our friends, such as France, to achieve the process. I know we won't make progress unless people assume their responsibilities. The first message is I will dedicate the time and energy to move the process forward. And I think we'll make some progress - I know we're making progress.

(President Chirac spoke in French, untranslated.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and I want to thank President Chirac's support in the latest resolution in the United Nations. Listen, we must be frank, we went through a difficult period. I understand his position, he made it very clear to me in the very beginning. There was no question where Jacques Chirac stood. And I made it - I made it clear where I stood. And that's why I can say we've got good relations, because we're able to be very honest with each other.

But when it came time to focus on a free Iraq, a healthy Iraq, a prosperous Iraq, we're in agreement and we will move together to ensure that the Iraqi people have now got the capacity to run their own country. It's going to take them time to get there. It's a difficult situation in Iraq, but we are committed to a free Iraq and together we can make that happen more quickly than if we were still at odds on the issue.

Thank you, Jacques, appreciate it.


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