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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following Discussions With Allies on the Persian Gulf Crisis

December 17, 1990

The President. May I first thank the Ambassadors who are standing here at my side for being with us today. And I have a brief statement.

What you see here is living proof that the international coalition arrayed against Saddam's aggression remains deep and wide. We're talking now about some 28 countries that have committed their forces of one kind or another to this extraordinarily historic effort. Every country represented agrees that the 12 Security Council resolutions that are now on the books make clear what is required: Iraq's complete, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait. These same countries -- and there are more than two dozen represented here today, I think maybe all 28 of us -- are contributing over 200,000 individuals to the military effort against Iraq. Tens of thousands more are on their way. As has been the case from August 2d on, it is not simply the United States against Iraq; it is really Iraq against the world.

And again, none of us wants war, but none of us is prepared to accept a partial solution. It is for this reason that we all welcome Security Council Resolution 678 and its authorization that all necessary means be used after January 15th to bring about Iraq's full compliance with all that the United Nations has demanded.

Let me just add that I also used this occasion inside to brief our coalition partners on our efforts to meet directly with Iraqi officials. And thus far, Iraq's behavior underscores what I think is its lack of interest in a peaceful settlement of this crisis. For our part, we remain open to having these meetings if mutually acceptable dates can be agreed upon. And if meetings are held, I want to reiterate publicly what I said inside: namely, that what we want to do is impress upon Iraq the consequences of its aggression and the need for all Iraqi forces to leave every square inch of Kuwait. There can and will be no negotiations for concessions and no rewards for aggression.

So, thank you all very much for joining me here today. And I am glad to have had this opportunity not only to ask you to convey my respects to the leaders of state and government represented here but to tell them, please, that the United States remains steadfast and will remain steadfast in its determination to see every single United Nations resolution on this subject fulfilled without concession, without yielding 1 single inch.

Thank you all very much for coming.

Q. Mr. President, are you now open to a date beyond January 3d, sir?

The President. I've made my position very clear on that. We've given them 15 dates. He can meet on 15 minutes' notice with various people from around the world, so the matter stands right when I last talked to you about it.

Q. Mr. President, I know it's off the topic, but do you want the Education Department to rescind the -- --

Q. Mr. President, would you agree to the United Nations becoming involved in trying to break the impasse on the -- would you agree to the United Nations getting involved, perhaps Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar?

The President. He has tried very hard, and he's working -- --

Q. He's already trying?

The President. Yes, he has. And he tried within the mandates of the United Nations. That is his mandate, those resolutions. And he is not about to vary from that. I talked to him about that in Paris. I think we all owe him a vote of thanks for having tried very, very hard to convince Saddam Hussein that he ought to withdraw.

Q. I know it's off the topic, Mr. President, but would you like to see the Education Department rescind its ruling on minority scholarship?

The President. That is off the topic. I won't take the question.

Q. If Hussein does not understand, as you say -- Hussein does not understand the threat against him, why are you avoiding making a specific military threat against him to make it clear that that is the choice -- --

The President. I just simply refer him to the United Nations Security Council resolution. And he should be interpreting that, and he ought to look at the movement of force, and he ought to draw the conclusion that he ought to get out without concession.

Q. Why shouldn't he see it as ambiguous if you won't threaten to use the military force you have arrayed?

The President. Because I'm not in a threatening mode. I don't think any of us are. We are in a determined mode, a mode that he should get out without concession. And this is the will of the world body; this is the will of the entire world, if you will, against this man. And he's got to understand it, so we're going to keep on repeating it: No concession. No negotiation for 1 inch of territory. And, Mr. Saddam Hussein, simply do what the world is calling upon you to do: Get out. We have to keep repeating it. Some people are a little slow to get the word. And we're going to just keep saying it over and over again.

Q. Well, what happens on the 15th if there have been no negotiations and if he's still there?

The President. The United Nations says use -- I forget the exact wording -- but whatever it takes to fulfill our resolutions.

Q. Mr. President, what do the Ambassadors in the countries who are so close to Iraq -- two of them are standing right beside you, and they know a lot about that country -- what do they tell you it's going to take to make him understand what you're saying?

The President. I think they are totally in accord with what I've said here. They are totally in accord with the United Nations resolutions, and they are as determined as we are to see these United Nations resolutions fulfilled to the tee.

Q. But you have been saying this over and over and over. And it's as if he's deaf or as if he doesn't see CNN [Cable News Network]. He doesn't seem to -- --

The President. I agree with your assessment.

Q. But what I want to know is what do you think it will take to move it from here?

The President. I don't know. I don't know.

Q. Shooting?

The President. I would just continue down this path. I think at some point he will realize that this force, which is overwhelming, that is now being arrayed against him would be devastating; and let's hope that that brings the message home to him. That's what the United Nations stated should happen -- that he ought to get out or all available means should be used. And one person cannot be rewarded for brutal aggression.

And I read this Amnesty International report -- it's not released yet, it will be in a couple of days -- and I hope that everybody standing out there and everybody standing here and everybody that maybe has less than the passionate interest in this satisfactory resolution to this question than I do will read that report. Because right this very minute, we're seeing a brutality in Kuwait that is unacceptable, unconscionable; and I am concerned about it. And I want to see the United Nations resolutions fulfilled right on schedule.

Q. Mr. President, how about having Baker and `Aziz meet in a third country to break the stalemate of these talks? Is that a possibility?

The President. I hadn't thought about that; but if it would do any good, if that would help get the message to him that he has got to leave without condition, I certainly wouldn't oppose that. But what I'm not going to do is shove these meetings right up against the United Nations deadline and, thus, have the adverse effect of undermining the total fulfillment of the resolutions.

Q. The Iraqi Information Minister seemed to suggest Saturday that if you set another date for `Aziz to come here, that Saddam would respond with a date more acceptable to you for Baker to go to Baghdad.

The President. I think the guy's a little out of touch. We had the date set for `Aziz. I don't know what he's talking about. I can't respond to each one of these kind of counterploys coming out of Baghdad.

Yes? This is the last one.

Q. Have the Ambassadors been able to consult with you? Did they each have a chance to speak their mind?

The President. I kind of dominated today, I'm afraid -- [laughter] -- and was a little intolerant -- not of contrary opinion, because I think we're all together, but it was a time question. But let me say this: As I look around this staircase here and standing next to me at this level, I have talked to so many of their Presidents or monarchs or whatever that I feel in very close touch. And I did say that if anybody wanted to speak up in difference, why, I certainly would welcome that. But because of the time, the Ambassador from Kuwait, who also happens to be the dean of this group in terms of service, did speak. But clearly, if somebody wants to take exception to something I've said, why, they wouldn't be alone in this country; and they'd be welcome to have their say. But I am satisfied that the coalition has never been more determined and never been firmer in what it is that we must do.

And it is so clear that -- see, the optimistic side is when we prevail we have the promise of a new world order. You have a vitalized United Nations, the peacekeeping function of which, up until now, has been rather dismal, as you look over the years; and now there's a real chance. But the chance doesn't exist if we fail. So, we've got to prevail, and we will. And I think I can confidently speak for all the countries represented here. If they felt differently, I don't expect they'd be here.

Thank you all very much.

Note: President Bush spoke at 2:38 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Saddam Hussein, Foreign Minister Tariq 'Aziz, and Information Minister Latif Nusayyif Jasim of Iraq; Secretary of State James A. Baker III; and Ambassador Saud Nasir Al-Sabah of Kuwait.

George Bush, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following Discussions With Allies on the Persian Gulf Crisis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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