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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following Discussions With President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt

November 23, 1990

President Mubarak. We welcome President Bush in Egypt as an outstanding leader of a great nation. We welcome him as a true friend, as a man of principles and determination, a statesman endowed with vision and compassion. We value the contribution he has made to strengthen Egyptian-American friendship, bringing it to a higher level of cooperation based on principles and mutual respect.

We are proud of this partnership which has helped us to advance the cause of peace and the fraternity among all nations, to stand for eradication of injustice and the elimination of war and violence, and to contribute to the construction of a new world order -- a world in which all nations, big or small, have a right to live in peace and dignity.

In our talks today we pursued our discussion of several issues of common concern. We came out of these talks with a better understanding of how to deal with the challenge of our time. In the difficult weeks ahead we will leave no stone unturned in our search for a peaceful solution to the Gulf crisis. But let no one be in doubt that the status quo of occupation and repression is totally unacceptable to us and in the entire world. It is a threat to peace and security everywhere and a grave violation of the rule of law. It undermines the very foundation of our modern civilization. Hence, the Iraqi invasion must be reversed and Kuwait must be liberated. No tactics will divert us from our objective. No act of defiance will weaken our resolve or shake our determination. To both of us it's a matter of principle and moral commitment. If we fail to meet that challenge, the consequences will be grave for all nations. We cannot compromise on principle and moral values. Nor can we bargain on the fundamental right of peoples to live in freedom and dignity.

As you work together with the family of nations in order to bring the tragedy of the Gulf to an end, we shall address other problems with the same zeal and commitment. In the right context, the plight of the Palestinian people must be brought under focus. Their inherent right to self-determination should be exercised. The holy shrines of Jerusalem must be respected and protected.

Mr. President, you came to us in peace, and we greet you in peace. We stand here together at a crucial moment in the history of our region and the whole world. That moment has its great risks, but it equally holds great promises and offers tremendous opportunities. We stand united in order to realize these promises for the good of all peoples of the Middle East and the whole world. We shall continue -- we shall continue to build on what we achieved today for the benefit of our nations and that of humanity.

Thank you.

President Bush. Thank you, Mr. President. And let me just add that I had a very useful set of talks with my close and trusted friend of longstanding, President Hosni Mubarak. Let me just say at the outset how pleased Barbara and I are to be back here in Cairo and how pleased I am to have had such a long, productive meeting.

We reviewed the situation in the Gulf. And we agreed that while a peaceful solution brought about by sanctions is clearly preferable, steps must be taken now by all members of the international coalition so as to ensure that credible alternatives are available before much more time passes. There is complete identity of views between us on the need for Saddam Hussein [President of Iraq] to withdraw right away and withdraw without condition. So-called partial solutions are out of the question.

We also discussed the challenges to regional security that will continue to exist even should Saddam withdraw. Clearly, safeguards are required to ensure that such aggression does not recur and that Saddam does not turn to weapons of mass destruction to further his goals.

Let me just end these brief introductory remarks by reiterating our common commitment to continue working closely together to ensure that we succeed. The U.S.-Egyptian relationship is extremely close and is a true force for peace in the region. And I believe that much of the credit belongs to President Mubarak's leadership. I'm thus extremely happy to be here and to have had this opportunity to exchange views and to benefit once again from his counsel and insight.

Thank you, sir, for your hospitality.

Persian Gulf Crisis

Q. President Mubarak -- I have a question for both Presidents, please. You both used very strong language in recent days talking about removing Iraq from Kuwait and calling for the need for unity, and yet there are divisions on both sides. The Arab world is not united. Even yesterday Yemen suggested an Arab solution was needed. And, Mr. President, in Congress there's a lot of support for your present policy, but there seems to be a lot of skepticism over moving one step further. How have you both reached accommodation with -- you, sir, with Congress and you, sir, with other Arab nations -- in getting the unity that you're looking for?

President Mubarak. Your question is not a difficult question to answer, but I would like to tell you, in Yemen they said they are not going to vote for using force. They are looking for an Arab solution. Any kind of solution, whether it is an Arab solution, French solution, British, American, Moslem, Christian solution, it depends on two points: complete withdrawal without any precondition; then, the return of legitimate government to Kuwait.

If they are asking for no use of force, all of us don't want to use force. All of us want a peaceful solution, a complete withdrawal and the return back of the legitimate government of Kuwait to Kuwait. So, if anybody could solve this problem or could reach these goals peacefully, all of us will be very pleased, and we'll clap hands for them. So, there is no other solution except withdrawal and legitimate government to return back without any precondition.

President Bush. And I would simply add to that, the way to have Congress on board is to continue to explain what our principles are, to continue to explain that we must be successful, to demonstrate to the American people and to the people of the world that what President Mubarak has said is true: We all want a peaceful solution. We have been extraordinarily patient. The United Nations has passed 10 resolutions. And I will simply go home and talk -- continue the consultations, that most Congressmen believe have been extensive -- to make clear that they understand how we must remain determined and we must keep all options open.

And you mentioned Yemen. Yemen has supported some resolutions in the United Nations, and they have not supported others. We are not suggesting that every country in every part of the world feels as strongly about this as we do. But I can assure you, coming out of Paris, that the world still has violent disapproval of what Saddam Hussein has done. And I believe they will be supportive of any action that this superb coalition takes.

Q. President Mubarak, you have made clear that you, as President Bush and others, would much prefer a peaceful solution. If, however, that is impossible and if you have to resort to war to solve the current crisis, it is not clear from press accounts what the role of the Egyptian army would be. Would it be an army that would come in afterwards to help peacefully occupy Kuwait, or would it be in the forefront of the forces trying to retake Kuwait?

President Mubarak. Look, we have discussed all these points from the beginning with the President and the other friends. We send the forces there, and all of us know what will be the mission of the force. And I'm not in a position to tell you the details -- where the forces are going to stay or going to move -- but we have our plan coordinated with all the forces there. Whenever the use of force is needed and this option is going to be implemented, we have to act there.

Q. -- -- the word "patience" seems to have been forgotten in coalition lexicon in recent days. Why the urgency? I know you explained the potentiality of nuclear power and so forth. Is it Ramadan? Are you just running out -- I mean, what is forcing you to move so fast -- which is obviously the military option because President Mubarak sounded so pessimistic today?

President Bush. We haven't given up on the peaceful solution at all. We have been patient. I thought just before I spoke here that I used the word patience. If not, I'm glad you reminded me. We have been very, very patient. This man should have gotten out of Kuwait with no concession, no condition, long ago. We've gone to the United Nations for 10 different resolutions, and indeed there will be another resolution. We have shown patience. We have explored all diplomatic options. We have had many people making inquiries of peace on behalf of Arabs and on behalf of others to this man. And I'm simply saying we're going to hold this coalition together, we're going to keep all options open, and we're going to see what happens.

But there's no timeframe, nothing -- no holiday, as you mentioned -- that's driving any decisions that I'll make, I can guarantee you that. President Mubarak can speak for himself. But we're getting tired of the status quo, and so is the rest of the world. And I think you'll see that in the discussions that are going to be held in the United Nations. I think the world will see the horror of what has been wrought on Kuwait by Saddam Hussein when the Kuwaitis are permitted to present the tales of brutality that just abound there in Kuwait. It's been awful what's happened. And I'm not sure the world fully understands that, so we do need a little more time to present that.

Q. Well, he has been stopped from any further aggression against -- --

President Bush. That's not the point, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]. The point is he is still in Kuwait. And as long as he is there, this coalition will hold together, and we will not rest until he is out of there. And that is the point. And all options remain open. And I am convinced after my visit yesterday, all options are credible.

Q. I have a question -- --

President Bush. For me or for the President? Who is it for?

Q. For President Bush -- for you, sir.

President Bush. Yes, ma'am.

Q. Can we draw some lessons from the CSCE conference and -- applying similar mechanisms in the Middle East? Have you discussed such futuristic plans with President Mubarak and King Fahd [of Saudi Arabia] -- this is number one. Number two, what is your reaction to Mr. Shamir's [Prime Minister of Israel] statements concerning the occupied territories and the settling of Jews?

President Bush. First, on the CSCE. This isn't directly responsive to your question, but I'll say this to our friends here in Cairo -- and I did not mention this to my friend President Mubarak: Those countries, the newest members around the CSCE corridors, the Eastern European countries, were perhaps the strongest in their conviction that Saddam Hussein's aggression not be rewarded.

Vaclav Havel [President of Czechoslovakia] was eloquent -- indeed, he spoke at a press conference on it -- [Prime Minister] Antall of Hungary, and [Prime Minister] Mazowiecki of Poland. And the reason is because they had been aggressed against by a different Soviet Union in the past. They know what it is to be oppressed and to have aggression succeed. So, this was one of the reasons, I think, there was strong support for what we are doing in terms of a future world order.

You heard President Mubarak refer to that. This, the integration of Arab countries into a CSCE process, wasn't discussed but implicit in our optimistic assessment that once Iraq is out of the way -- once the Iraq-Kuwait struggle is out of the way -- we can have a new world order. And that new world order certainly offers a much better chance for peace for the Middle East.

In terms of the Palestine question and in terms of what Mr. Shamir has said, I've learned something: not to comment until I actually see the quote. But the United States remains determined to be helpful, to be a catalyst in bringing peace to the West Bank question. And we are supportive -- we have always been -- of Security Council Resolution 242. We tried very hard before this aggression by Iraq -- which is unrelated in my view -- but we tried very hard to be a catalyst for peace talks to get going. And let me just say here we are still determined to play a very useful role in a peaceful resolution of this question.

And it is not something that we have forgotten. What I am equally determined to do is keep these two questions separate. There should not be any linkage. Saddam Hussein should not be able to hide behind the difficulty in one area so he can continue his aggression and brutality and torture in another.

And so, there has been a separation, but let me reassure you, the United States remains extraordinarily interested and hope we can be helpful in a lasting solution -- peaceful solution -- to the whole question of the entire Middle East.

Q. President Mubarak, could I ask you, please, about the role of President Assad of Syria? We understand that you were instrumental in urging Mr. Bush to meet with President Assad. I'd like to know why, sir. And I'd also like to ask President Bush why it is that not all that long ago it was Saddam Hussein that the U.S. was dealing with in the Middle East and Assad who was on the outs, and now things have reversed themselves.

President Bush. Well, you want me to go first? I'd ask you to repeat the question, because I didn't hear the first part of it. But if the question is why our outrage against Saddam Hussein today, when we had tried to improve relations -- he hadn't invaded Kuwait. He hadn't raped, pillaged, and plundered the people in Kuwait and the city of Kuwait itself. He hadn't violated this fundamental norm of international behavior. And indeed, other countries have tried to improve relations with him. And ours was one of them. I've said to you before, given what he's done now, maybe that is something we shouldn't have undertaken.

Now, what was your -- --

Q. Well, the question was really the role reversal and the fact that Mr. Assad is the one who has been on the list of those responsible -- --

President Bush. Mr. Assad is lined up with us with a commitment to force. Having seen those American kids in the desert yesterday, I will work with those that have stood forward and said, We are not going to permit Saddam Hussein's aggression to succeed. That doesn't mean we have no differences with Syria; we've got big differences on certain categories, and I'll be glad to discuss them with President Hafiz Assad when I meet with him.

But they are on the front line, or will be, standing up against this aggression. Out of this, I would only say I will work with those countries whose very presence enhances our chance of success in reversing this aggression. As long as I have one American troop -- one man, one woman left there in the armed forces in this Gulf, I will continue to work closely with all those who stand up against this aggression. Then I reserve the right bilaterally to point out any differences I have with a country, just as that country will probably, frankly, point out the differences they have with me.

President Mubarak. I think the President has answered the question completely. I would like to add one more point: that Syria is considered in this area one of the key countries and a good supporter to the goals which we are supporting. So, we shouldn't neglect her.

Q. Could I follow that up, sir?

Q. Mr. President -- --

President Bush. I've got three at once, I can't hear. I'm confused. There's three questions -- --

Q. President Mubarak, could I follow that up by simply asking you, sir, why you recommended the meeting? It seems that, based on what President Bush said the other day, that the concern was that President Assad was feeling left out, that it wasn't profitable for President Bush to meet with him, and you wanted to change that. You wanted to bring Assad in, out of the closet, so to speak.

President Mubarak. I said that President Assad is a key leader in this area. Secondly, President Assad is against the occupation of Kuwait. Third, President Assad has his forces now beside our forces and beside other Arab forces in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of liberating Kuwait. So, we shouldn't neglect him. He is a very important partner there.

Q. Was he feeling left out, sir? Was he feeling left out because President Bush wasn't meeting him?

President Mubarak. I think President Bush could answer you this question. But he is participating in the whole thing now in Saudi Arabia.

President Bush. I don't know whether he's feeling left out or not, but as I say, he is an important coalition partner, and I think it is appropriate that we discuss many questions that relate to the brutal aggression by Saddam Hussein against Kuwait. We do have a common goal here, a common purpose here. And so, I'm looking forward to it.

I can't tell you -- I had no signals on a personal level that he was feeling left out, but I think the people that I've talked to on this trip, including President Mubarak and including those I talked to in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, feel that it is good -- and talked to some in Europe about this behind the scenes -- feel that it is good this meeting is taking place. Because there's a lot of countries -- different views on a lot of different questions -- that are together on this one question, the reversal of the aggression. And I think there was some feeling in all these places that it was important to include him in. They did not say whether he was feeling left -- yes, sir.

Q. Concerning Mr. Baker's [Secretary of State] visit to Yemen and the statement that followed, Mr. Bush, how far away are you now from achieving a U.N. resolution on the use of force? And if you fail to get one, is the United States willing to go with its allies in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf, to go to war without U.N. backing?

President Bush. Well, I was asked that question earlier on, and I do feel we have the authority to do what we have to do. But we have tried very hard to work within the U.N. confines, within the Security Council. And I am confident that we will be successful in the Security Council.

The world is getting tired of this. And the Security Council is tired of the fact that resolutions have been passed calling for immediate withdrawal, and they haven't been implemented; calling for recognition of the safety and the right to resupply an embassy, and that has not been complied with. And I can tell you, sir, I am getting increasingly frustrated about the treatment of the U.S. Embassy and the treatment of innocent hostages.

So, I saw the report from our Secretary of State. We would like to get Yemen on board, and we'll keep working on that. I think it's in the best interest of Yemen to stand up against aggression in whatever way is required. But the fact that one country, which has approved some resolutions and has not approved others, might have reservations about this one -- that's the way it is. But we're going to keep working on it, and I think we're very, very close now.

Q. President Bush, you are seeking a U.N. mandate to force Iraq out of Kuwait. Would you prefer it setting a time limit, or rather not? And, with your permission, how would our mutual cooperation be more defined to cope with Egypt's political and economic responsibilities in our region? Thank you.

President Bush. Well, I think on the U.N. debate, we'll be discussing not only the need to consider further action but perhaps a timeframe. I'm not clear on that, and as I say, I want to work within the United Nations Security Council. In terms of Egypt, that's a bilateral question. And I think we have good bilateral relations.

I'm very pleased that the debt forgiveness program is of benefit to the man on the street in Egypt. I know -- I don't want to put words in his mouth, but President Mubarak expressed to me, asked me to express to the American people, his thanks for this. And this is a highly significant move that gives a certain flexibility to Egypt.

But, look, let me just say we will continue to explore every way to work cooperatively with Egypt, whether it's in the private sector, whether it's through the various programs that we have in effect. Because we have this international problem that draws us together now in the Gulf, the Gulf crisis, but we also have a longstanding relationship of working together on the bilateral problems. And I think that that recent action by the Congress -- and actively supported by the President, indeed, requested by the President -- on debt forgiveness is just one more manifestation of that.

Q. What is after Kuwait? What is after Kuwait, whether it is solved peacefully or by force, what is after Kuwait?

President Bush. Are you asking President Mubarak or me?

Q. President Mubarak.

President Bush. That's great. [Laughter]

President Mubarak. Of course, you know, after Kuwait, after solving the problem of Kuwait or exactly after liberating Kuwait, either withdrawal or using any other options, there should be some kind of measures to keep this area stable and to avoid any more tension and any more war.

Q. And the borders? Something about the borders?

President Mubarak. Remarking the borders, if it is needed for Arab forces to stay there, this will start from the people of the Gulf themselves. Let them study it; let they propose what they need; let we find out what kind of decision could we reach.

Q. Mr. President, I'd like to ask about Israel. You're probably aware that many have reacted in Israel with a sense of insult that could you go meet Assad and not stop in Israel. I wonder if -- given what you said today about the separation, I believe you put it, with policy there -- that you in any way intended that message?

President Bush. No, certainly not. I think the Prime Minister of Israel's comments show a certain understanding about what I'm trying to do. We will continue to have meetings with Israel. So, I haven't picked up anything like that at all. I've seen some press reports that express a difference. But, look, I'm focusing now on these meetings, on this trip, on this Gulf coalition. Syria is a part of it. Nobody should read more into it or less into it than that they are an important part of this coalition. So, I think that's manageable. I'm hoping to see Prime Minister Shamir when he comes to the United States, and indeed, we're in very close contact all up and down our bureaucratic level. So, I'm glad you asked it because I hope there's no misunderstanding. If there is, I'd like to lay it to rest.

This relates to the reversal of aggression, and I happen to feel that not only is that in the interest of the United States, I think it's in the interest of all countries, and that would include every country in the Middle East, which obviously includes the State of Israel. It is in their interest that we prevail, and it is in the interest of Syria, and it is in the interest of Egypt, and it is in the interest of the United States that we prevail against Saddam Hussein. That's what this is about. And we are going to prevail, and I never felt more sure of that than I do today.

Q. If I may follow. The question, as I'm sure you know with your expertise in foreign affairs, is that you can do much of what you want to do diplomatically with a phone call, without a meeting that rewards terrorism.

President Bush. That what?

Q. If you wanted to meet, or if you wanted to speak to President Assad about the Gulf situation, you could do that, as you often do, with a telephone call. But the allegation is that if you meet him personally -- --

President Bush. I've already had a telephone call with him. Now we're going to have a meeting. That should no way indicate that there are no differences between the United States and Syria on a wide array of questions. There are; everybody knows that. But we are together on this question, and now I want to be sure that we are solidly together in every way. And that is in the interest of every country.

President Mubarak. Could I add some words?

President Bush. Yes, please.

President Mubarak. I think no problem -- it's not a big problem just to -- that President Bush could meet with President Assad. As far as their meeting for peace questions, we should encourage that. The whole world needs peace. Whenever there is peace, there is stability. And a telephone call -- there is great difference between solving the problem, some problems, with telephone calls and sitting with each other and have direct talks. This may be, in some issues, very effective. Thank you.

President Bush. This, I'm told by our leader over here on the right, not on the left this time, is the last question.

New World Order

Q. You said, President Bush, that a new world order would emerge once the Gulf crisis has been solved. How do you envisage this new world order?

President Bush. Well, I envisage it, one, where the whole -- once we're -- let me start over. Once we set back this aggression, and once it is clear that the security and the stability of the Gulf are enhanced by whatever arrangements are set into place -- once that this invading dictator gets out of Kuwait -- then I think that it's clear we're going to have an opportunity, given the diversity of this coalition, to work more closely together. And part of that -- I want to see a solution to the question of the West Bank, for example. But I think if we work cooperatively as are -- with our common sights set -- this aggressor will not succeed -- it opens up all kinds of possibilities for a new world order.

We're already seeing that world order means world. And we're beginning to see that with what happened out of the -- well, just as a result of the actions that led up to this successful CSCE meeting. I'm going down to South America, and the evolving democracies there are strengthening their economies, and we've got a program that I think will be very helpful there.

But as it relates to the Middle East, I think we've got all kinds of potentials for peace, given the fact that we've come together almost unanimously, standing up against this brutal dictator. And out of that and out of the contexts that go with that, I hope we can be catalytic in solving other problems, and I think that will lead to a new world order that has much better chance for peace for our children and our grandchildren.

So, that is the optimistic part of all of this. Right now we're facing a brutal dictator, and we've got to do something about it -- a man that's holding hostages and all of this. It's just unconscionable what the man is doing. But as we unite and as we prove to be successful -- and we will be successful -- I think we can then see all around this concept that aggression will not pay, that we have a better shot for world peace. And I will work my hardest to be sure that the United States plays an active role in that, whether it be in the Middle East or whether it be in the rest of the world.

That is the exciting part. The more troubling aspect is how do we get this brutal dictator out of Kuwait now? And that one we've been talking about.

President Mubarak. Thank you.

President Bush. Thank you all.

Note: President Mubarak spoke at 12:35 p.m. in the main hall of Itihahdia Palace. Prior to their remarks, the two Presidents met privately and with U.S. and Egyptian officials at Qubba Palace.

George Bush, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following Discussions With President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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