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Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Michel Rocard of France

March 11, 1991

Q. Mr. Rocard, are the French still pressing for a Middle East conference?

The Prime Minister. We are pressing for a solution. And we think in the Middle East, as I think the American authorities inferred -- the President, President Bush, who said that last week -- the Israelis and Palestinians have to find an issue. And if the international community can contribute to create the conditions for their direct meeting, any type of institution of conference would be useful -- the heart of the matter, the substance, more than the procedure. It was proposed once -- one. We do hope there will be a solution anyway, and I'm sure the United States and France will act in a converging way to permit a solution.

The President. That I'm certain of. You know, one of the great things about this recent effort was that we were just solidly together. And I think that sent a very strong signal to others around the world. And I hope you will convey to the President my thanks and my sentiments of deep appreciation on behalf of the American people. Because France is a key, terribly important country with special knowledge and interest in that part of the world. And we just came together at the U.N. and elsewhere, and it was a wonderful thing.

So, carry my thanks back to everybody that was involved, please, sir, including yourself.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, thank you very much for those words. We were happy to be, again, very close together, as we have been in many difficult periods of history. But there again, we are very close in acting together and having victory together.

The President. That's right. That's right. I mentioned your distinguished General, my French is terrible, but Roquejeoffre.

The Prime Minister. Roquejeoffre. Marvelous.

The President. Pretty close, pretty close. But General Schwarzkopf was very high in his praise of him and the way he conducted the French forces, led the French forces.

So, all of that worked out. You remember in the very beginning there were all these predictions with these different countries, that it would be very hard to sort out a proper structure for coordinating them. And it came fine.

The Prime Minister. Quite well.

The President. Probably better coordinated than the politicians.

The Prime Minister. And the idea to -- soldiers of both countries under the same command -- --

The President. Now, we've got some business to do, so with all appreciation for this interest and concern, thank you very much.

Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], you didn't say a word today.

Q. Thanks for not answering any questions.

The President. That's all right. You're welcome. [Laughter]

Note: The exchange began at 10 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, President Bush referred to President Francois Mitterrand of France; Gen. Michel Roquejeoffre, commander of the French forces in the Persian Gulf; and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the U.S. forces.

George Bush, Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Michel Rocard of France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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