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President Discusses Iraq with Congress Leaders

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 18, 2002

President Discusses Iraq, Domestic Agenda with Congressional Leaders
Remarks by the President in Meeting with Congressional Leaders
The Oval Office


CAPTION: President George W. Bush along with Vice President Dick Cheney talk with Congressional Leaders Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2002, in the Oval Office. White House photo by Eric Draper.


8:03 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I want to thank the Vice President and the leadership of the Congress for coming down for breakfast today. We had a really good discussion about our common concerns. The leadership is committed to moving important legislation forward, legislation that will help expand our job base. We talked about the energy bill; we talked about terrorism insurance; we talked about the defense appropriations; we talked about the appropriations process.

We also talked about Iraq. We talked about the fact that Saddam Hussein has stiffed the United Nations for 11 long years, and that, once again, he said -- made some kind of statement, trying to take the pressure off of himself. This statement about unconditional inspections was something he's made in the past. He deceives, he delays, he denies. And the United States, and I'm convinced, the world community, aren't going to fall for that kind of rhetoric on -- by him again.

We talked about a resolution out of Congress and how it was important for us to work with Congress to pass a strong resolution. I told the members that within the next couple of days this administration will develop language as -- that we think is necessary. And we look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats to get a resolution passed.

I want to thank the leadership for its commitment to get a resolution done before members go home for the election break. I think it's an important signal. It's an important signal for the country, but as importantly, it's an important signal for the world to see that this country is united in our resolve to deal with threats that we face.

And so, thank you all for coming. I'll take a couple of questions. Fournier, Kyle.

Q Like it or not, is it accurate to say that Saddam playing his move has made the allies go --

THE PRESIDENT: Do what now?

Q Has Saddam's latest move helped make the allies go wobbly on it?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, all they've got to do is look at the record. It's his latest ploy, his latest attempt not to be held accountable for defying the United Nations. He's not going to fool anybody. I mean, he is -- we've seen him before. And we'll remind the world that by defying the United Nations he is becoming more and more threat to world peace. And I'm convinced that the world understands the ploy. And one of the jobs the United States has is to remind people about not only the threat, but the fact that his defiance has weakened the United Nations. And the United Nations, in order for the world to be a more peaceful place, must rise up and deal with this threat and hold him to account. And that's what we expect out of the Security Council.

Dick.

Q Mr. President, a follow on Ron's question. Do you think that you'll be able to persuade France and Russia to go along with us on whatever it is you and the Congress decide to do? And frankly, sir, is that necessary? Are you prepared to go it alone?

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, we're speculating about what nations are going to do. I'm convinced that when we continue to make the case about his defiance, his deception, his -- the fact that time and time again, dozens of times, he has told the world, oh, I will comply, and he never does -- that the nations which long for peace and care about the validity of the United Nations will join us.

And so we're going to work hard to continue to make the case. I think reasonable people understand this man is unreasonable. And reasonable people understand that this is just a ploy, this is a tactic, this is a way to try to say to the world, oh, I'm a wonderful, peaceful fellow, when, in fact, he not only kills his own people, he's terrorized his neighborhood and he's developing weapons of mass destruction. We must deal with him.

END 8:08 A.M. EDT

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