President Bush Arrives in England for Three Day State Visit


Tuesday  November 18, 2003

Press Briefing by a Senior Administration Official Aboard Air Force One En Route London, England

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President is obviously very much looking forward to this visit to Great Britain. He and the First Lady are delighted that the Queen asked them to come on a royal state visit. I think everybody is very excited about that.

Obviously, the President will have the opportunity while here to spend a good deal of time with Prime Minister Blair talking about their common interests. And he will deliver a major foreign policy speech in which he will talk about the three pillars for peace and security --

Q Pillars?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS: Yes, pillars, p-i-l-l-a-r-s -- going forward. First, that the United States has, since World War II, and he continues to follow in the tradition of strong support for international institutions and alliances that are effective and strong. And he will make the point that effective multilateralism, the ability to use these institutions to really meet the challenges of the day is something that's been borne out by the way the United States and its allies have carried out policy since World War II; that he continues to be committed to that, strong international institutions and alliances that are effective.

Secondly, that history has shown that there are times when countries must use force to defend the peace and to defend values. And he will say that we have to recognize that times will come when the use of force is necessary. It is never the first choice; it is, indeed, something to be pursued when diplomacy and other means have not produced results. But the use of force is sometimes necessary.

And, third, he will talk about the great advantage that the countries committed to and enjoying democracy have in the third pillar, which is the spread of democratic values throughout the world to those who are not yet fortunate enough to enjoy democratic development. And that advantage is that these values are universal, they are aspirations of people everywhere. And he will make a point, as he has in recent speeches, that the Middle East is, of course, no exception in this regard, that it is a kind of unfortunate thing that some believe the people of the Middle East are people who are adherents of Islam somehow are either not ready for or do not seek democratic development. And that's something that he simply does not believe, and he'll challenge great democracies to recognize the importance of those values for security and for prosperity. And he'll speak to some of the challenges, including, for instance, fighting disease and poverty as one of the elements of that third pillar.

And so that's the nature of the speech. The President will begin and end the speech with a recognition of how much Britain and the United States share in our common heritage, recognizing that many of the political ideals, political institutions, political values that the United States was both founded on and continues to hold dear really come from England. And he'll acknowledge that tremendous linkage of values and principles that transcends decades, transcends centuries, certainly transcends particular leaders.

Q Is he speaking exclusively of England, or will he be talking about the rest of Europe, as well?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He'll talk also about Europe more broadly. And, obviously, the European developments moving from a continent in which war was a way of life less than , far less than a century ago, to one now in which you're moving to a European unity, the European construction, as they call it -- something that, by the way, the United States supported from the very beginning.

Q Will he talk about the recent tensions between the United States and Germany and France, for instance, over Iraq?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President has acknowledged many, many times and will continue to acknowledge that we've been through a period of time in which there have been disagreements. But what we are involved in -- in Afghanistan, in Iraq, moving toward a greater Middle East in which we find partners in the Middle East who want to develop democratically -- this is a great cause around which he believes that we can all unite.

Q Will he define when it's necessary to go to war? And does he believe that promotion of democracy, in and of itself, is a reason to do so?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It will not define it. He'll just note that there are times when it is necessary, when other means have not brought results. And I think that, obviously, this isn't a tool that one uses lightly. And in the case of Iraq, where you had decades -- more than a decade of defiance of the international community, many, many U.N. Security Council resolutions that told Saddam Hussein to disarm, stop threatening his own people, stop threatening his neighbors, this is a decision in which war was, in effect, a last resort.

Q Does he believe the promotion of democracy, in itself, is a reason, a justification for --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The promotion of democracy is a complicated process. First of all, it has to have partners inside. It can't be done simply out of imposition from the outside or out of the barrel of a gun. Everybody understands that. But there are times when you have to defend its principles, when you have to recognize that there are those who are attacking because of freedom and democratic principles. The war on terrorism, for instance, I think is a war to defend not just against attacks, but to defend an openness and a set of values that are very much under attack.

Q In enunciating your first pillar. the importance of strong international institutions and alliances, is the President directly taking on the widespread perception in the U.K., in Europe and around the world that the U.S. has become unilateralist, that it's not interested in the U.N., that it will use its force when it sees fit, without regard to international opinion?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, I think that he's not trying to take anything on. But it's a matter of fact that the United States has been one of the strongest supporters -- indeed, one of the creators -- of these extremely strong international institutions. It was, after all, the President who took the Iraq issue to the United Nations in September of 2001, to challenge the United Nations to enforce its own resolutions -- not resolutions that the United States had decided upon, it was not the United States alone that voted 17 different resolutions against Saddam Hussein's regime, it was the United Nations, itself; it was the United Nations that recognized the threat of terrorism in Resolution 1373. So this President has been extremely actively engaged with international institutions.

I might just mention that there was a case in which everybody seemed to think that we ought to resolve it unilaterally or bilaterally -- that's North Korea. Instead, the President put together an extraordinary group of countries in the neighborhood who I think now are much more capable and will be much more effective in dealing with the North Korean problem.

Q Does the President believe that European leaders need to be taken to task for fostering anti-Semitism that is kind of fueling attacks against Jews and Israel in the Muslim world, as well?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President does believe that it is the responsibility of any and every leader to speak out against these horrible ideologies, horrible trends that are there. And they're there in Europe, they're there in Arab countries, they're there when you see incitement and calls that Israel must be driven into the sea. Yes, the President believes that anti-Semitism has to be denounced and denounced strongly.

Q More specifically by -- I mean, we know about its existence in the Muslim world, for sure. But do European leaders, specifically, need to be taken to task more aggressively?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's not a matter of taking anybody to task, David. But everybody, including European leaders, need to be reminded to speak out against it when you see it, and to speak out strongly.

Q Have you worked out an understanding on the British Guantanamo prisoners? And will the understanding that you hope to reach, will that apply to everyone there? Or are the British be treated as a special category of prisoner?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are still working on -- as the President and the Prime Minister agreed that their advisors would do -- to deal with the question of how British detainees will be dealt with in this regard. The system is, we believe, one that's fair, in accordance with U.S. law and in accordance with our international obligations. We're in discussions with the British.

And I should say that since no two cases are exactly alike in Guantanamo, there are discussions with other countries, as well, as to how the treatment of detainees will take place.

Q Then will the treatment of detainees be country specific, the safeguards or the procedures that are applied to them?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think you will see that it will relate in large part to the nature of the case, the specific detainee case. But, obviously, we have differing relations with different countries and that will have to be taken into consideration.

Q Could you run through a little bit more in detail the substantive agenda with Blair? And, particularly, what they're going to talk about as far as both the political and security transitions in Iraq, as well as some of the other issues on the table -- steel, Middle East, whatever else is up for discussions?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the President is still considering and looking at the issues concerning steel, and so I think that's what he will tell the Prime Minister.

Obviously, I think they will talk about trade. They're both strong proponents of trying to get the WTO round back up and running, and I think they will talk about that. They will certainly have discussions about the big proliferation agenda that's out there -- Iran, what's going on in the IAEA. The British have been helpful and interested in the North Korea problem. The British are a member of the proliferation security initiative and they will talk about ways of effectively doing that.

They happen to have back-to-back responsibility for the G8 -- we, this year, the Brits in 2005. And they're going to talk about that agenda. They're particularly interested -- both of them, of course -- in Africa, AIDS, poverty alleviation, and both had strong initiatives in that area, and so I'm sure that that will be a major area of discussion.

But the Prime Minister has made clear to the President after the speech on the Middle East that the President gave at the National Endowment for Democracy that he wanted to spend considerable time talking about this broader Middle East policy. Iraq is a part of that, the Middle East peace process is a part of that; but, really, how to think about the role of the great democracies in encouraging democratic development in the Middle East, in encouraging economic development, in dealing with the fact that we can't continue with the status quo in the Middle East.

On Iraq, specifically, they actually talk quite a bit about this, the Prime Minister and the President have had discussions about political transition before, I'm sure that they'll talk about how to support the Governing Council's decision over the next seven months, as we move toward the establishment of self-rule.

Q Secretary Powell and Kofi Annan are now calling for a new U.N. resolution on Iraq. They're saying there should be one. The other day you suggested that one is not necessary to encompass the transition to a provisional government. Where does that situation stand now? Will there be a new U.N. resolution?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, I don't think anybody believes that we have to have a new resolution because Resolution 1511 established a process by which the Governing Council would establish a timetable for the transition. And so that will be done, the deadline is December 15th. Now that some of this is worked out, they might even beat that deadline. But that's obviously there.

Look, I think we will want to discuss what more is needed, in terms of the United Nations, in terms of its functions, in terms of its ability to support the political transition that will now be underway, and then you can work back from that to say, is a Security Council resolution a good thing. I believe if there's something welcoming this political transition that that would always be a useful --

Q About trade, you mentioned trade. Will the President speak publicly to trade? Or will he have any announcements with regard to the steel tariffs?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No announcements, but he will -- no, they always have an opportunity to try to give a boost to the trade round.

I owe you one -- you asked about the Middle East peace process and I didn't answer that piece. Look, it's a difficult time, but there are some signs that the two sides -- the Israelis and the Palestinians -- are trying to move toward the renewal of dialogue, which would obviously be a good thing.

It's still necessary for the Palestinians to have security forces that are capable, unified and able to fight terrorism. It's also still necessary for Israel to create conditions in which a partner can emerge, and that means not judging the -- prejudging the outcome of a final status agreement with settlements or with the route of the fence; it means trying to do something about the kind of daily difficulties that Palestinian people experience at any given checkpoint. And so there is a lot of discussion going on with the Israelis about how they might use this period to give another push to the --

Q And will the President be able to tell the Prime Minister that the U.S. is going to take more of an intermediary role, as the British has been pushing the U.S. to do?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the United States has been a very strong and active participant in the Middle East peace process. I don't really know what it means to have an intermediary role. I mean, what you can do is you can hold the parties to a set of responsibilities and get them to perform their responsibilities. And the President has laid out very clearly in his June 24th speech what those responsibilities are. We are making a lot of progress after Aqaba. The Palestinian leadership did not hold, largely due to internal Palestinian politics and the role of the old guard. But we have a new Palestinian Prime Minister and I think everybody is prepared to give it a chance.

Q If I could follow up on the question -- you had suggested that a resolution endorsing the transition might be welcome. Do you see one enhancing the U.N. role, or do you see a need for an enhanced U.N. role in Iraq?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what we have to now sit down and do is, the Governing Council has determined what the map ahead looks like, in terms of the transition. Now everybody needs to take that plan and figure out how to support it. And, again, what we want to do is what's effective, rather than getting into, kind of, debates about this role or that role. And so I think -- Colin Powell has been having conversations with Kofi Annan, I think there will be more conversations with the United Nations about how they can support this transition. The neighboring states need to figure out how they can support the transition. There were some helpful statements out of various parts of the region -- I saw one from several Saudi clerics, for instance, welcoming these developments. And everybody now needs to get behind this political transition.

We obviously have a difficult security situation in a part of the country, and we're dealing with that security situation. You've seen some of the offensive operations that American forces and coalition forces have been engaged in. But the piece of this that now is really critical is to look at this political transition and see how we can all support it, and I think the U.N., obviously, has an important role that it can play.

Q Back on the speech, why does the President feel like it's necessary to make this sort of address in Europe now?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Because the President of the United States should always speak about his values, should speak about how -- those of these-- those countries that have been fortunate enough to live in democratic development, those countries that were fortunate enough to be spared and saved from tyranny -- really only little over a half century ago --to challenge all of us to not turn inward, but to look outward to how we can continue to promote those values and continue to promote security is important for the President of the United States always to do that.

Q He's not just promoting values. I mean, he feels like he has to make a case here, to a skeptical public, no?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: David, I think the role of the President is to speak clearly to these values. And why did Ronald Reagan go to make a case that communism was going to end up on the ash heap of history? It was to call everybody to their better beings, to their higher angels, to challenge and to motivate the great alliance of democracies to be active and to act and to not turn inward or to try and sweep problems under the rug, but to really be active. That's what American presidents have done.

And, by the way, it's what Prime Minister Blair did when he came to the United States and addressed the Congress. So there is an important role for speeches like this. The President gave one in Warsaw that talked about extending Europe and set the groundwork for the transformation of NATO and the enlargement of NATO, if you remember that speech.

This speech, in a sense, follows on to the speech that he gave for the National Endowment for Democracy, to challenge us to think about the big causes that are ahead. It's what American presidents do.

Q Is this -- you mentioned the ash heap of history speech. Reagan gave that at Westminster on the last state visit. Is that a conscious precedent in your mind?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I was just -- it's not a conscious precedent in anybody's mind but, perhaps, my own. I mean, I think that there is a sense in which American presidents have taken moments in history when there is great opportunity lying before democratic nations, the democratic alliance -- to challenge that alliance to take up that mantle and to work for great causes. They also tend to be moments of tremendous challenge, sometimes of danger. And it's extremely important in that regard to call people to this higher calling.

Okay, great, thank you.

Oh, Claire reminded me that I wanted to mention just one other thing, which is that, you know, there was an interesting piece in The Guardian. They had this poll and it turns out that most of the British people believe that the United States is a force for good. And I think that's not surprising, given all we've been through together, and given that what Britain's owe America and what America owes Britain. And so the President I think is calling on that spirit when he gives a speech like this.

Q Yes, but is the fact that they have to ask that question telling?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It has been a difficult time when the alliance has been asked to do difficult things. And what's remarkable is that, as Britains always seem to do in the face of difficulties, they're not confused about the role of the United States.


MS. BUCHAN: Let me give you a couple of scheduling updates. Next week, on Monday, the President will go to Fort Carson, and then will go to Crawford Monday night. And then on Tuesday --

Q Fort Carson?

MS. BUCHAN: Fort Carson, which is in Colorado.

Q Will he be meeting with families there?

MS. BUCHAN: We'll have more updates on the schedule, but I think you can expect remarks.

Tuesday, he will travel from Crawford to Las Vegas, Nevada, and then to Phoenix, Arizona, where in both stops he will have fundraising events and he will also have official events focused on Medicare, health care issues. So we'll keep you posted on that.

And then today -- you will miss it, but I'm sure you'll want to log on later -- Mr. McClellan will be doing "Ask the White House."

Q When does he pardon the turkey?

MS. BUCHAN: He'll pardon the turkey on Monday.

Q Before he leaves?

MS. BUCHAN: Before he leaves, the turkey will get pardoned. Does anybody have anything else?

Q Is Scott going to -- is he with us or is he --

MS. BUCHAN: He's not with us.

Q Is he going to join at some point, or is he going to stay in Washington?

MS. BUCHAN: No, he has other things to attend to this week.

Q He's getting married.

Q Oh, I forgot.

Q Can you clear up a factual thing? Do you know how many times the President has met the Queen?

MS. BUCHAN: We can get back to you. I'll come back and tell you. (*the answer is, the President has met with the Queen on two previous occasions.)

Q The announcement of this trip said it was the first formal visit at the invitation of the Queen since 1918. There's other language about the first official state visit. Do you know what the --

MS. BUCHAN: Yes. President Reagan came in the 1990s, but it was not a state visit. This is at the invitation of the Queen, and it's an official state visit.

Q Okay. Did the initial --

MS. BUCHAN: -- and I think that was 1918, was the last state visit.

Q The initial announcement of the trip was mistaken.

MS. BUCHAN: No, I don't think so. I think --

Q Well, it said it was the first visit by a U.S. President at the invitation of a Queen, since Ronald Reagan in 1982.

MS. BUCHAN: Well, I think the Queen invited President Reagan, but it was not a state visit. The last state visit was Woodrow Wilson, in 1918.

Q Were there any special protocol briefings at all for the President, with regard to this visit and meeting the Queen and being at Buckingham Palace? I mean, is there anything unusual about being in England, with the pomp and circumstance there?

MS. BUCHAN: I don't know if there was anything specific. I think the President is always well aware of the customs of the countries that he's going to and certainly respects those.

Q Does he have to bow to the Queen? (Laughter.)

MS. BUCHAN: I don't think so.

Q Is the turkey going to do "Ask the White House," before its --

MS. BUCHAN: I hope you all have submitted your suggestions for names for the turkey. (Laughter.) Yes, there's a contest to name the turkey.

END 10:18 A.M. EST


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