Good morning. I want to begin by expressing my profound shock and abhorrence at the death of Corporal Nahshon Waxman as a result of his kidnaping by Hamas terrorists.
On behalf of the American people, Hillary and I want to convey our deepest sympathy to the Waxman family and to the people of Israel at this dark moment. Nahshon Waxman was a son of Israel, but he was also a son of America.
Terrorists must know that these acts will not defeat the process that is bringing peace to Israel and her Arab neighbors. In the face of such cowardly and evil actions, I know it's hard to go forward. But we owe it to all those who have paid such a heavy price to persist and finally to prevail in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East.
Our efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East are part of an overall strategy to enhance American security and broaden American opportunities in the post-cold-war world by promoting democracy, increasing trade, and reducing the threat of terror, chaos, and weapons of mass destruction.
We're making progress on all fronts. The United States and Russian missiles are no longer targeted at each other. We're expanding trade through NAFTA, the GATT world trade agreement, a new agreement with Japan. This means more jobs for Americans and less tensions with other countries. And we have to be encouraged by the recent successes of democracy or peace efforts in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland, and of course in South Africa.
Today I want to talk with you about Haiti and Iraq. In Haiti this week, we've helped to restore the democratic government of President Aristide after 3 years of brutal military rule. In the Persian Gulf, our resolve in the face of Iraq's provocative actions is preserving security in that vital region.
Even as I speak with you this morning, Haiti's first democratically elected President is flying home to resume his rightful place at the helm of his country. President Aristide's return marks the end of one leg of a long and difficult journey and the start of a new era of hope for the Haitian people.
They've come a long way since a military coup toppled the democratic government in 1991. For 3 years, the international community, led by the United States, tried diplomacy and economic sanctions to force the brutal military regime from power. They were unwilling to yield. Four weeks ago, faced with an imminent United States-led invasion authorized by the United Nations, the military regime finally agreed to peacefully give up power. Since then our troops, together with those of our coalition partners, have done a remarkable job in moving Haiti from fear to freedom.
President Aristide returns today to a more stable, less violent nation. The Parliament is once again open for business. And in the best sign that democracy is taking hold, thousands of refugees are returning from Guantanamo. But let me say, dangers still remain. We know that. Still, thanks to the men and women of our Armed Forces and the brilliant work they have done in Haiti, democracy is back on track.
Now the difficult job of rebuilding Haiti must begin. Countries from around the world have pledged to do their part, starting with a $550 million recovery and reconstruction program. In the end, though, only the Haitian people can do the job of rebuilding their country. It will be a clearly difficult task. But the people of Haiti have survived decades of violence and terror and poverty with dignity, pride, and hope. And now they have an opportunity to make democracy work for themselves and to reach their God-given potential.
Our troops have helped to give them the chance to do so, just as they are also giving the people of Kuwait the confidence that they can live in peace. It was less than 4 years ago that the men and women of Operation Desert Storm drove Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait. This time we are determined not to let Iraq violate its neighbors' borders or to create new instability in the Gulf region. That is why in the face of Iraq's threatening troop movements on the Kuwaiti border last week, I ordered our troops, ships, and attack aircraft to the Gulf. Our policy is clear: We will not allow Iraq to threaten its neighbors or to intimidate the United Nations as it ensures that Iraq never again possesses weapons of mass destruction.
Much of the force that Iraq sent to the border has retreated. But significant elements still remain within striking distance of Kuwait. We're watching this situation very carefully and continuing with the deployment of our own forces. They will remain in the area and on alert until we are absolutely satisfied that Iraq no longer poses threats to Kuwait.
At the same time, we're working to ensure that Iraq does not threaten its neighbors or the United Nations weapons inspectors in the future. We're seeking support in the U.N. Security Council for a strong resolution that would prevent renewed provocations by Iraq.
I share the pride of every American in the men and women of our Armed Forces. In both the Western Hemisphere and on the edge of the Persian Gulf, they have answered the call of duty. They have performed difficult tasks with great skill and devotion. They have shown again that the American military remains the finest in the world. And thanks to their effort, the world now knows again that the United States will honor its commitments, just as we expect others to honor the commitments they make to us.
Thanks for listening.