Iraq with Reporters
The Waldorf Astoria
New York, New York
September 13, 2002
8:15 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. First, I'm honored to be able to meet
with my colleagues from Central Africa. The Secretary of State and I look forward
to a very frank and constructive dialogue about how to continue our common pursuit
against terror, and how we will work together to promote prosperity. I look
forward to constructive dialogue. So thank you all for coming.
Before we begin our discussion, let me answer a few questions. Are the interpreters
working right now? They are? Yours isn't working, okay. Before we begin our
dialogue, I'll take three questions from the American press corps, starting
with Mr. Fournier, who writes for the Associated Press.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Knowing what you know about Saddam, what are the odds that
he's going to meet all your demands and avoid confrontation?
THE PRESIDENT: I am highly doubtful that he'll meet our demands. I hope he does,
but I'm highly doubtful. The reason I'm doubtful is he's had 11 years to meet
the demands. For 11 long years he has basically told the United Nations and
the world he doesn't care. And so, therefore, I am doubtful, but nevertheless,
made the decision to move forward to work with the world community. And I hope
the world community knows that we're extremely serious about what I said yesterday,
and we expect quick resolution to the issue. And that's starting with quick
action on a resolution.
QUESTION: Yes, sir, how soon are you expecting the resolution from the United Nations?
In a week, month, days?
THE PRESIDENT: As soon as possible.
QUESTION: And how -- what kind of deadline would you perceive within that resolution?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there will be deadlines within the resolution. Our chief
negotiator for the United States, our Secretary of State, understands that we
must have deadlines. And we're talking days and weeks, not months and years.
And that's essential for the security of the world. This man has had 11 years
to comply. For 11 long years, he's ignored world opinion. And he's put the credibility
of the United Nations on line.
As I said yesterday, we'll determine -- how we deal with this problem will help
determine the fate of multilateral body, which has been unilaterally ignored
by Saddam Hussein. Will this body be able to keep the peace and deal with the
true threats, including threats to security in Central African and other parts
of the world, or will it be irrelevant?
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you. Are you concerned that Democrats in Congress don't
want a vote there until after U.N. action? And secondly, have you spoken with
President Putin since your speech yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT: I have not spoken to President Putin since my speech. I did speak
to his Foreign Minister, as did Colin Powell. I'll speak to President Putin,
I'm confident, soon. I'll have -- I think we've got a scheduled phone call,
And the first part of the question was, Democrats waiting for the U.N. to act?
I can't imagine an elected United States -- elected member of the United States
Senate or House of Representatives saying, I think I'm going to wait for the
United Nations to make a decision. It seems like to me that if you're representing
the United States, you ought to be making a decision on what's best for the
United States. If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to
the American people -- say, vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of
national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.
And so I -- we'll see. My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this
issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as quickly as possible. It's
in our national interests that we do so. I don't imagine Saddam Hussein sitting
around, saying, gosh, I think I'm going to wait for some resolution. He's a
threat that we must deal with as quickly as possible.