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President George W. Bush Departs for Europe

President Bush Departs for Europe

6:55 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm just about to leave for Europe. I'm looking forward to my trip. I'm looking forward to meeting with our friends and allies. We've got strong relations in Europe, and this trip will help solidify those relations. And we got a lot to talk about.

First, I'm looking forward to talking about the freedom agenda with the European nations. Got a lot of work to do in Afghanistan. The countries I'm going to have committed troops to Afghanistan, and, of course, want to thank them, and remind them there's a lot of work to be done.

I talked to Laura yesterday, who, as you now know, took a trip to Afghanistan. I want to thank her for going. She gave me a good assessment about what she saw. She saw progress, but she also saw there needs to be a lot of work to be done -- there's a lot of work to be done. And so she's going to go to the Paris Conference, along with Secretary Rice, on our behalf to ask nations to contribute to the development of Afghanistan, which will mean they'll be contributing to peace.

Then, of course, we'll be talking about the economy. A lot of Americans are concerned about our economy. I can understand why. Gasoline prices are high; energy prices are high. I do remind them that we have put a stimulus package forward that is expected to help boost the economy. And of course, we'll be monitoring the situation.

We'll remind our friends and allies overseas that we're all too dependent on hydrocarbons. We must work to advance technologies to help us become less dependent on hydrocarbons. I'll also remind them, though, that the United States has an opportunity to help increase the supply of oil on the market, therefore, taking pressure off gasoline for hardworking Americans, and that I've proposed to the Congress that they open up ANWR, open up the Continental Shelf, and give this country a chance to help us through this difficult period by finding more supplies of crude oil, which will take the pressure off the price of gasoline.

These are global issues we'll be discussing. Secretary Paulson will be also discussing issues at the G8 -- the G8 ministers in Japan this week.

As well, I'll talk about our nation's commitment to a strong dollar. A strong dollar is in our nation's interests. It is in the interests of the global economy. Our economy is large and it's open and flexible. Our capital markets are some of the deepest and most liquid. And the long-term health and strong foundation of our economy will shine through and be reflected in currency values.

The U.S. economy has continued to grow in the face of unprecedented challenges. We got to keep our economies flexible; both the U.S. economy and European economies need to be flexible in order to deal with today's challenges.

I'm looking forward to my trip and I'm looking forward to seeing Laura. Thank you.

END 6:59 A.M. EDT

ENDS

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