Contact: White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 202-456-2580
6:35 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam Chancellor, thank you. Welcome back to
This new year marks the beginning of
We spent time talking about
We talked about
We talked about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And Madam Chancellor had a good idea to convene the Quartet, which I agreed to. I think the Quartet ought to meet at an appropriate time. Condoleezza Rice will be going to the
We talked about
We talked about
We talked about trade. We're committed to the
We talked about climate change. And I assured the Chancellor that I've been committed to promoting new technologies that will promote energy efficiency, and at the same time do a better job of protecting the world's environment. And I believe there's a chance now to put behind us the old, stale debates of the past and focus on technological developments that will enable us to be good stewards of the environment, and at the same time enable us to become less dependent on oil and hydrocarbons from parts of the world that may not like us.
Here in the
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As translated) -- and the G8 presidency and the fact that this trip here to Washington happens today are certainly not a matter of coincidence, but it is clearly an expression of the fact that we share values, that there are a lot of common interests between our two countries, and that there is also a lot of need for enhanced cooperation between the European Union and the United States of America. We clearly are in need of that cooperation in order to make further progress in solving the problems besetting the world of today.
There are a lot of issues that we debated here today that have clearly a connection to our presence in the European Union. The Doha Round is one issue that comes to mind. We would like to cooperate very closely on that. We are all aware of the fact that this window of opportunity that we have is closing fast. We need to act swiftly. And it was with great pleasure that this is, indeed, an issue that is very important, not only to the European Union, but also to the
We will have to further exchange also our views with the G20 in order to achieve an objective that is in our interest and is in their interest, that helps them to get access to our markets and that also helps us.
There will be a G8 meeting later on in the year, and there will be issues related to that that will deal with the climate change, is one. I was delighted to hear that there is a readiness here and we shall continue to work on this -- our experts, indeed, work on this.
On the one hand, we obviously need economic growth. But on the other hand, a reduction, also, of greenhouse gases. We were at one on this. And energy efficiency is the primary goal that we need to attain. There are a lot of areas where we are confident we can cooperate, starting from biofuels to new technologies that we are going to develop. Between the European Union and the
We also talked about this project of a future common market, joint efforts to make our economic forces so efficient that these economies, our two economies that, after all, rest on the same values, can be rendered more efficient. There will be close contacts; we will set up a working group that will further explore those issues and that will then prepare for the EU-U.S. summit.
It's certainly an uphill battle. I always describe it as a sort of thick board that needs to be chalked at. And what we're dealing here with is, for example, patent laws, international financial markets, protection of intellectual property rights, and so on.
We also talked about the international situation, the situation particularly here in the
We would like the European Union to speak with one and the same voice, saying we want a two-state solution, we want the recognition of the state of
We cooperate very well in
Obviously, we also talked about the situation in
Well, my impression is that over the next six months during our presidency there is a lot on the agenda. There are a lot of common interests, as a I said, and a lot of areas where I feel we can tackle problems together. And I think this dialogue is just the beginning of a very intensive dialogue we shall continue to have during our presidency -- this is, after all, a sixth meeting already. So I think we may safely speak of a continuous exchange of views. Thank you yet again for the invitation, Mr. President.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You spoke for nearly two hours today with
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, Ben, my thinking is taking shape. I'll be ready to outline a strategy that will help the Iraqis achieve the objective of a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself sometime next week; I've still got consultations to go through. Whatever decision I make, though, will be all aimed at achieving our objective.
I did have a good discussion with Prime Minister Maliki. It did nearly last for two hours. I talked about a lot of topics with him. One thing I was looking for was will -- to determine whether or not he has the will necessary to do the hard work to protect his people. And I told him, I said that, you show the will, we will help you. And that's -- I'm in the process of making up my final decision as to what to recommend -- what recommendations to accept. One thing is for certain, I will want to make sure that the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished.
Q Madam Chancellor, Mr. President, concerning the
PRESIDENT BUSH: Your first part of your question? I didn't hear the first part of your question.
Q I was just referring --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Broaden the Quartet, is that what you said?
Q That broaden -- mandate of the Quartet, that you take care of more than the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
PRESIDENT BUSH: My view is the Quartet ought to stay focused on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, because when we solve that problem, a lot of other problems will be easier to solve.
So my attitude on
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I think that the Quartet actually has its work cut out for it, looking at the
But I think the main task, really, is to push matters along, to give a support to Prime Minister Siniora to develop a truly sovereign
Q Mr. President, you mentioned that you see national reconciliation as a crucial goal there for your policy. Why then haven't you condemned the taunting that Saddam Hussein faced on the gallows from Shiite officials? And on a related subject, can you be more specific as to which day next week you'll be unveiling your
THE PRESIDENT: The second part of your question, no. (Laughter.) First part of your question, I want you to anticipate the speech -- I want you to be thinking about it. I want you to be internalizing it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I talked to Prime Minister Maliki about the videotape that was released during the execution of Saddam Hussein. He said he's going to fully investigate what happened. I appreciate that very much. One thing is for certain: A horrific chapter in Iraqi history has been closed, and now we're talking about a more hopeful chapter for the Iraqi people. And that's what I spent most of my time talking to him about.
We expect there to be a full investigation of what took place. The Iraqi people want to move forward, they want to forget that terrible part of their past and they want to live in peace. And it's in our nation's interest to help them do so.
So I spent a lot of time talking about the strategy to help achieve that objective, and that objective is a country that is an ally in this war on terror, a country that sends a strong example to reformers and women throughout the Middle East that it's possible to live in a free society that can work for the common good. I believe Prime Minister Maliki has the will necessary to make the tough decisions. That's one of the things I learned today. And in the meantime, he said he's going to fully investigate what took place.
Q Sir, do you have a personal reaction, though --
PRESIDENT BUSH: My personal reaction is, is that Saddam Hussein was given a trial that he was unwilling to give the thousands of people he killed. He was given a fair trial -- something he was unwilling to give thousands of Iraqi citizens, who he brutalized. I wish, obviously, that the proceedings had been done in a more dignified way. But, nevertheless, he was given justice; the thousands of people he killed were not.
Q I have a question to the President, and then a question to the Chancellor. Mr. President, now
And, Mrs. Merkel, there are actually few successes of the Quartet over the past time. Were the efforts so weak, or are the problems so great that they simply have not been able to achieve progress? And what does this mean, what does this spell out for renewal of efforts?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I have come to realize that -- I don't know if I'd call this "change of mind," but one thing that my European friends have taught me is that the United Nations is an important body in order to be able to convince parliaments of hard work that needs to be done. For example, getting resolutions on
As you probably are aware, I've really never felt like the
I listen to Angela Merkel a lot. She has got a lot of wisdom. I don't know if this helps her or hurts her for me to say this, but nevertheless, my consultations with Angela are very productive and very important.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I simply think that we ought to try time and again to achieve some sort of results in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Looking at another field, for example, the adoption of the resolution on
But by including
And I think it's very important that that goes for the Quartet, for example, too, because that's where I think that we will be able to make -- it's an ideal forum where we can actually be able to make a difference and in a coherent fashion.
If that Quartet were to be more active, therefore, in the future, the presidency and also the Commission would obviously also have to meet a very specific task in fulfilling that -- its part of the mandate. We need to make it clear, particularly to the not so constructive parts of Hamas, that they cannot play us off each other -- us, that is the EU and the
And I must say I am a strong believer in this multilateral effort in these international fora, because it shows clearly where the red line is to those who do not wish for democracy. And this is what we need to do, time and again make it clear to them where the limits are, where the red lines are.
PRESIDENT BUSH: No back rubs. (Laughter.)
END 6:57 P.M. EST