Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-546-0054
11:45 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back to
I appreciate the Prime Minister's strategic thoughts. He cares deeply about his country, and he cares deeply about securing the peace. We talked about our commitment to a two-state solution. We talked about the need for a Palestinian government to embrace the principles of the Quartet and the road map, which both our governments strongly support.
We spent a great deal of time on
But the whole central thrust of our discussions was based upon our understanding that we're involved in an ideological struggle between extremists and radicals versus people who just simply want to live in peace, and that as democracies we have an obligation, obviously, to listen to the will of our people, but at the same time, work together to help those who want to live in a peaceful society achieve their ambitions.
Mr. Prime Minister, it has been a delight to be with you again. Welcome back.
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: Thank you very much. President -- this is nothing to take an edge to the very accurate analysis that you made with regard to these big issues. We in the Middle East have followed the American policy in
We shared thoughts about the Iranian threat. There is no question that the Iranian threat is not just a threat for
Finally, I say time and again, on different occasions, that we want to open a serious dialogue with the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. And I will make every possible effort to help Abu Mazen to get into such a dialogue with us. Indeed, we hope that the new government will be established soon on the basis of the Quartet and the road map, and that will allow an immediate contact between him and me that I'm sure will lead to extend this negotiation process.
Again, Mr. President, it's always a great joy to be with Your Excellency. And I always thank you for your friendship -- your personal friendship, and even more important, your friendship for the state of
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir. We'll answer two questions a side. Tom.
Q Mr. President, the Senate -- the incoming Senate Democratic leaders have called for a phased withdrawal of troops from
PRESIDENT BUSH: Tom, I'm not going to prejudge the Baker commission's report. I was pleased to meet with them. I was impressed by the quality of the -- of their membership. I was impressed by the questions they asked. They are -- they want us to succeed in
And so we had a really good discussion. I'm not sure what the report is going to say. I'm looking forward to seeing it. I believe this: I believe that it's important for us to succeed in
I believe it is very important, though, for people making suggestions to recognize that the best military options depend upon the conditions on the ground.
And so it's an interesting period here in Washington, Mr. Prime Minister. You might realize the opposition party won, won the Senate and the House. And what's interesting is, is that they're beginning to understand that with victory comes responsibilities. And I'm looking forward to working with the Democrats to achieve common objectives.
Q Mr. President, do you see any change in the administration's position regarding
PRESIDENT BUSH: My answer to your question is, Prime Minister Olmert knows how to run his own foreign policy. And he can figure out his -- he can figure out his policy towards them. My policy towards Syria is this: that we expect the Syrians to be, one, out of Lebanon so that the Lebanese democracy can exist; two, not harboring extremists that create -- that empower these radicals to stop the advance of democracies; three, to help this young democracy in Iraq succeed. And the Syrian President knows my position. We have told that to him through my administration. We do have an embassy there in
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: I share the same opinion with President Bush. We are not against negotiations with
PRESIDENT BUSH: Matt.
Q Yes, Mr. President, Tony Blair today is going to be calling for a reaching out to both
PRESIDENT BUSH: I haven't seen his comments, but you just heard my response on
Our focus of this administration is to convince the Iranians to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. And that focus is based upon our strong desire for there to be peace in the
Q Mr. President, do you think that it's better to impose sanctions on
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think it's very important for the world to unite with one common voice to say to the Iranians that, if you choose to continue forward, you'll be isolated. And one source of isolation would be economic isolation. In other words, there has to be a consequence for their intransigence. They have -- we went to the United Nations, we made it very clear -- we, being a lot of the world -- have made it clear that the Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions are not in the world's interest. And therefore, if they continue to move forward with a program, there has to be a consequence. And a good place to start is working together to isolate the country.
And my hope is, is that there are rational people inside the government that recognize isolation is not in their country's interest. And I also, when I speak about
And so my attitude is let's work in concert to convince the government that it's not just the Israeli voices speaking, or the
MR. DECKARD: Thank you all.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Wait a minute. That seems a little unfair. He's got a strong answer coming, I can feel it. (Laughter.)
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: She said it in Hebrew, and you can blame him, he didn't understand the Hebrew part of the question. I'll answer in Hebrew for the Israeli voters.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Sure.
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: (Speaking Hebrew.)
And again, I want to thank you, President Bush, for being so gracious to me and to the state of
PRESIDENT BUSH: Proud to have you here.
Thank you all.
END11:58 A.M. EST