on Plane Crash in New York
Photo Op with Nelson Mandela
The Rose Garden
The White House
November 12, 2001
4:10 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's been my honor to welcome a man whose name symbolizes freedom
and courage, to the Oval Office. President Mandela is going to say a few words,
and I will say some after he finishes.
PRESIDENT MANDELA: Well, firstly, I would like to express my deepest sympathies
for the crash that took place today. It's unfortunate that that would happen
at this time, when the United States lost so many people on the 11th of September.
But I know that you have quite a strong leader, and the people of the United
States of America can face disaster, and I'm sure that they will overcome this
I also want to say that one of the reasons for coming here is to be able to
express my support for the President for his action in Afghanistan. The United
States of America lost 5,000 people, innocent people, and it is quite correct
for the President to ensure that the terrorists, those masterminds, as well
as those who have executed the action and survived, are to be punished heavily.
And it would be disastrous if the President gave in to the call that the army
must now withdraw, before he has actually flushed out the terrorists. That would
be disaster. They will claim that they have defeated the United States of America,
and they will continue doing the same thing. So I support him to continue until
those terrorists have been tracked down.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, you don't have to worry about me. We are going
to bring them to justice. And I want to thank you for your support. I also want
to thank you for your wisdom and your leadership in Burundi. You made a huge
The President said, why would I welcome a pensioner to the Oval Office, and
the reason why is because he is such a strong man. And it's been my honor to
greet you and welcome you. And thank you for your words of condolences.
I, too, want to express my heartfelt sympathies for the citizens of New York,
those on the airplane, those whose houses were damaged, those who were hurt
on the ground, for the recent incident that took place. It is heartbreaking
to have picked up the phone and called my friend, Rudy Giuliani and Governor
George Pataki and once again expressed our condolences, and at the same time,
assured the people of New York our federal government will respond as quickly
We sent our FEMA teams over; the FBI is over there. And this investigation is
being led by the National Transportation Safety Board, to make sure that the
facts are fully known to the American people.
The New York people have suffered mightily; they suffer again. But there's no
doubt in my mind that the New Yorkers are resilient and strong and courageous
people, and will help their neighbors overcome this recent incident that took
May God bless the victims and their families.
Mr. President, welcome to Washington, and thank you for coming.