Remarks with United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair
Crawford High School
April 6, 2002
11:00 A.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Laura and I are very honored to have our friends,
Tony and Cherie Blair and their family, visit us here in Crawford. We appreciate
the rain that the Prime Minister brought with him. (Laughter.) And so do the
other farmers and ranchers in the area. Mr. Prime Minister, thanks for bringing
THE PRIME MINISTER: My pleasure, George. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: It is always a pleasure for any American President to welcome
the Prime Minister of Great Britain, because ours is a special and unique relationship.
And our relationship is strong because of my respect for the Prime Minister.
I appreciate his advice, I appreciate his counsel and I appreciate his friendship.
This morning I conveyed to the Prime Minister the condolences of the American
people for the recent passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
This remarkable woman is warmly remembered on both sides of the Atlantic for
her grace and her strength; and particularly for her inspiration she provided
during the darkest days of World War II.
Today, the bond between our peoples that she symbolized is stronger than ever.
Our nations share more than just a common language and a common history. We
also share common interests and a common perspective on the important challenges
of our times.
No nation has been stronger in fighting global terrorism than Great Britain.
I'm extremely grateful for the Prime Minister's courageous leadership since
September the 11th. And the world is grateful for all that Great Britain has
contributed in the war against terror -- everything from special forces to ground
forces to naval forces to peacekeepers.
The Prime Minister and I both understand that defeating global terror requires
a broad based, long-term strategy. We understand the importance of denying terrorists
weapons of mass destruction. And we understand the importance of adapting NATO
to meet new threats, even as NATO prepares to take on new members and forges
a new relationship with Russia.
The Prime Minister and I also agree that, even as we work to make the world
safer, we must also work to make the world better. Our countries will continue
to work closely to bring greater hope and opportunity to developing nations.
We also had extensive conversations about the situation in the Middle East.
Both our nations are strongly committed to finding a just settlement. Both of
us agree on the fundamental elements that a just settlement must include. We
share a vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace
and in security.
We agree that this vision will never be realized through terrorism, and that
it can only be realized through a political process. We agree that the Palestinian
leadership must order an immediate and effective cease-fire and crackdown on
terrorist networks. And we agree that Israel should halt incursions in the Palestinian
controlled areas and begin to withdraw without delay from those cities it has
The Prime Minister and I agree to work closely in the weeks and months ahead
on these difficult issues. We have a common reading of history. We understand
that each of our nations stands taller when we stand together. And that's why
our nations will continue to stand together against freedom's enemies. And that's
why we'll continue to work together, for not only the good of our own people,
but for good of peace in the world.
Mr. Prime Minister.
THE PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Mr. President. First of all, if I could begin
by thanking you and the First Lady for their very kind and gracious welcome
that you have given to myself and my family, and also thank the people of Crawford
and McClellan, County, for their kind welcome, too. And it's a real pleasure
to be with you here.
And as you might expect, we've had very detailed discussions covering all the
issues from the topics of the moment through to issues like trade and bilateral
issues between us. Of course, much of our discussion has focused on the situation
in the Middle East. And I agree entirely with what the President said just a
moment or two ago, not just in relation to what must happen in the immediate
term, but also as to the only basis upon which there will be and can be a viable
and lasting peace there: that is a state of Israel, secure in its own borders,
recognized by the entirety of the Arab world, and also a viable Palestinian
state where people can live side by side with each other.
We discussed, of course, the issues of international terrorism and weapons of
mass destruction. I would like to pay a particular tribute to the President
for his courage and for his leadership in the aftermath of the 11th of September.
And I think that it is worth reflecting that over these past few months, although
very much still remains to be done, we have accomplished, nonetheless, a very
great deal in Afghanistan and in the pursuit of those responsible for that terrible
event on the 11th of September. And we will continue to work in any way we can
in order to make sure that this scourge of international terrorism is defeated.
We also agreed and made it very clear, as well, that the issue of weapons of
mass destruction cannot be ducked, it is a threat, it is a danger to our world
and we must heed that threat and act to prevent it being realized.
In addition, I was grateful for the President's kind words about the contribution
Britain has made in Afghanistan. We made that willingly, because we believe
it is important not just that we root out the last remnants of the al Qaeda
terrorist network in Afghanistan, but also that we help that country to go from
being a failed state, failing its region and its people, to a state that offers
some hope of stability and prosperity for the future.
And, finally, I would like to say a special thank you to the President for his
words on Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, that will be deeply appreciated
by people of Britain. And as you may know, there have been many Americans, as
well as British people paying their respects to the Queen Mother as she lies
in state. Ours is, indeed, a very special and unique relationship between Britain
and the United States of America. And I have no doubt at all that under the
leadership of President Bush, that relationship will strengthen still further.
And, for that, Britain is glad -- I know that the United States is -- but I
believe it is good for the wider world, too.
THE PRESIDENT: We have now agreed to take three questions apiece. We'll start
with Ron Fournier, a fine man who works for AP -- got a couple of kids, cares
deeply about the future. (Laughter.)
THE PRIME MINISTER: I'm just thinking of how I introduce mine, now. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Flattery will get you nowhere, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I've noticed. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Israel is moving deeper into Palestinian territories, and there are reports
today that she has launched attacks on southern Lebanon. Have you failed, Mr.
President, to convince Prime Minister Sharon to pull back his troops? And why
did you wait so long to demand the withdrawal and only today adding the caveat,
THE PRESIDENT: My administration's -- my words to Israel are the same today
as they were a couple of days ago: withdraw without delay. I made the decision
to give the speech when I did because I was concerned about the ability for
those of us who were interested in a long-term solution to take hold. I was
worried about the balance being tipped to the point where we weren't able to
achieve a long-lasting peace.
I gave the speech at the right time. And I expect Israel to heed my advice,
and I expect for the Palestinians to reject terror in the Arab world. As Israel
steps back, we expect the Arab world to step up and lead -- to lead against
terror, to get into an immediate cease-fire, begin the implementation of U.N.
QUESTION: Can I follow up, please?
THE PRESIDENT: No, nice try.
THE PRIME MINISTER: Andy Meyer, who works for the BBC, and really nothing else
need be said. (Laughter.) He's got three children.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up from that, and ask the President and the Prime Minister,
what happens now if the Israelis continue to ignore what you've been asking
them to do?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't expect them to ignore. I expect them to heed the call:
heed the call from their friends, the United States, and heed the call from
their friends, the Great -- the people of Great Britain, and the leadership
of Great Britain.
QUESTION: But if they don't?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's -- as I told you, I think they will heed the call.
THE PRIME MINISTER: I think that most people in Israel will realize that they
don't have two greater friends in the world than the United States of America
or Britain. And we both understand, as well, the appalling nature of the acts
of terrorism that they have been subject to. We understand that. But we are
also trying to help secure a way out of the present impasse, so that we can
get into a political process where some of these underlying issues can be resolved
satisfactory for the long-term, because the bloodshed and the carnage and innocent
people dying, in the end, is not a solution to this issue. So I believe that
Israel will heed the words of President Bush, and will do so knowing that he
speaks as a friend to Israel.
QUESTION: Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know you well enough, Adam, to be able to sing your praises.
QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. President, you have yet to build an international coalition
for military action against Iraq. Has the violence in the Middle East thwarted
your efforts? And Prime Minister Blair, has Bush convinced you on the need for
a military action against Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Adam, the Prime Minister and I, of course, talked about Iraq.
We both recognize the danger of a man who's willing to kill his own people harboring
and developing weapons of mass destruction. This guy, Saddam Hussein, is a leader
who gasses his own people, goes after people in his own neighborhood with weapons
of -- chemical weapons. He's a man who obviously has something to hide.
He told the world that he would show us that he would not develop weapons of
mass destruction and yet, over the past decade, he has refused to do so. And
the Prime Minister and I both agree that he needs to prove that he isn't developing
weapons of mass destruction.
I explained to the Prime Minister that the policy of my government is the removal
of Saddam and that all options are on the table.
THE PRIME MINISTER: I can say that any sensible person looking at the position
of Saddam Hussein and asking the question, would the region, the world, and
not least the ordinary Iraqi people be better off without the regime of Saddam
Hussein, the only answer anyone could give to that question would be, yes.
Now, how we approach this, this is a matter for discussion. This is a matter
for considering all the options. But a situation where he continues to be in
breach of all the United Nations resolutions, refusing to allow us to assess,
as the international community have demanded, whether and how he is developing
these weapons of mass destruction. Doing nothing in those circumstances is not
an option, so we consider all the options available.
But the President is right to draw attention to the threat of weapons of mass
destruction. That threat is real. How we deal with it, that's a matter we discuss.
But that the threat exists and we have to deal with it, that seems to me a matter
of plain common sense.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, we've heard the President say what his policy is directly
about Saddam Hussein, which is to remove him. That is the policy of the American
administration. Can I ask you whether that is now the policy of the British
government? And can I ask you both if it is now your policy to target Saddam
Hussein, what has happened to the doctrine of not targeting heads of states
and leaving countries to decide who their leaders should be, which is one of
the principles which applied during the Gulf War?
THE PRIME MINISTER: Well, John, you know it has always been our policy that
Iraq would be a better place without Saddam Hussein. I don't think anyone can
be in any doubt about that, for all the reasons I gave earlier. And you know
reasons to do with weapons of mass destruction also deal with the appalling
brutality and repression of his own people. But how we now proceed in this situation,
how we make sure that this threat that is posed by weapons of mass destruction
is dealt with, that is a matter that is open. And when the time comes for taking
those decisions, we will tell people about those decisions.
But you cannot have a situation in which he carries on being in breach of the
U.N. resolutions, and refusing to allow us the capability of assessing how that
weapons of mass destruction capability is being advanced, even though the international
community has made it absolutely clear that he should do so.
Now, as I say, how we then proceed from there, that is a matter that is open
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced,
and say we support regime change.
QUESTION: That's a change though, isn't it, a change in policy?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it's really not. Regime change was the policy of my predecessor,
QUESTION: And your father?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I can't remember that far back. (Laughter.) It's certainly
the policy of my administration. I think regime change sounds a lot more civil,
doesn't it? The world would be better off without him. Let me put it that way,
though. And so will the future.
See, the worst thing that can happen is to allow this man to abrogate his promise,
and hook up with a terrorist network. And then all of a sudden you've got one
of these shadowy terrorist networks that have got an arsenal at their disposal,
which could create a situation in which nations down the road get blackmailed.
We can't let it happen, we just can't let it happen. And, obviously, the Prime
Minister is somebody who understands this clearly. And that's why I appreciate
dealing with him on the issue. And we've got close consultations going on, and
we talk about it all the time. And he's got very good advice on the subject,
and I appreciate that.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You say that in the war against terrorism people
are either with us or against us. Whose side is Chairman Arafat on, and do you
think the world would be a better place without him?
THE PRESIDENT: I think Chairman Arafat -- I was asked on British TV the other
day, have I lost trust in Chairman Arafat? And I said, well, he never earned
my trust, because he hasn't preformed.
Somebody told me there's a story floating around that somehow I am blaming the
Clinton administration for what's going on in the Middle East right now. Let's
make this very clear, that in my speech I said that Mr. Arafat has not lived
up to the promises he made at Oslo and elsewhere to fight off terror. He hasn't
preformed. I appreciate what President Clinton tried to do. He tried to bring
peace to the Middle East. I am going to try to bring peace to the Middle East.
But in order to earn my trust, somebody must keep their word. And Chairman Arafat
has not kept his word. He said he would fight off terror. He hasn't. He needs
to speak clearly, in Arabic, to the people of that region and condemn terrorist
activities. At the very minimum, he ought to at least say something.
And, you know, there's all kinds of excuses. But in order to achieve lasting
peace, both sides must make constructive steps, and we're prepared to help and
will help. That's why the Secretary of State is going to the region. But Chairman
Arafat has failed in his leadership and he has let the people down. He had opportunity
after opportunity to be a leader and he hasn't led. And I'm disappointed.
QUESTION: Present company doubtless excepted, one could think of quite a lot of world
leaders the world might be better off without.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for the exception.
QUESTION: And I'm not sure necessarily whether the Prime Minister would agree with you
on Yasser Arafat. But can I ask you, I think what Europeans have a problem with
about expanding any war on terror to Iraq is linkage. They can see a linkage
between al Qaeda and Afghanistan. They can't see a direct linkage to Saddam
Would you accept that there isn't a direct linkage and how, therefore --
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, I wouldn't accept that. But can't they see linkage
between somebody who's willing to murder his own people and the danger of him
possessing weapons of mass destruction, which he said he would not develop?
I see the linkage between somebody who is willing to go into his own neighborhood
and use chemical weapons in order to keep himself in power, and at the same
time develop a weapon that could be aimed at Europe, aimed at Israel, aimed
anywhere, in order to affect foreign policy through his -- you know, I can't
imagine people not seeing the threat and not holding Saddam Hussein accountable
for what he said he would do, and we're going to do that.
History has called us into action. The thing I admire about this Prime Minister
is he doesn't need a poll or a focus group to convince him the difference between
right and wrong. And it's refreshing to see leaders speak with moral clarity
when it comes to the defense of freedom.
I intend to speak with clarity when it comes to freedom, and I know Prime Minister
Tony Blair does, as well. And we will hold Saddam Hussein accountable for broken
promises. And that's what a lot of our discussion over there on Prairie Chapel
Ranch has been about. And, other than eating lunch, which we're fixing to go
do, we're going to continue our discussions.
THE PRIME MINISTER: You talked about no linkage there. There is a reason why
United Nations resolutions were passed, nine of them, calling upon him to stop
developing weapons of mass destruction. I mean, there is a reason why weapons
inspectors went in there, and that is because we know he has been developing
We know that those weapons constitute a threat. Three days after the 11th of
September when I made my first statement to the House of Commons in Britain,
I specifically said then this issue of weapons of mass destruction has got to
be dealt with. And the reason for that is that what happened on the 11th of
September was a call to us to make sure that we didn't repeat the mistake of
allowing groups to develop destructive capability and hope that, at some point
in time, they weren't going to use it. They develop that destructive capability
for a reason.
Now, we've made it very clear to you how we then proceed and how we deal with
this. All the options are open. And I think after the 11th of September, this
President showed that he proceeds in a calm and a measured and a sensible, but
in a firm way. Now, that is precisely what we need in this situation, too.
And, as I say to you, never forget he knows perfectly well what the international
community has demanded of him over these past years, and he's never done it.