Remarks on Arrival in Waco, Texas, and an Exchange With Reporters
[The President's remarks were joined in progress.]
The President. ——Texas. We haven't been back since the war began on September the 11th, and we're delighted to be home. I am also honored to be hosting Vladimir Putin tomorrow. He's going to start off in Houston, and then he's going to come over to Crawford, Texas. He has a—he's been a great—about how to improve our relations, about how to cooperate more—wide variety of issues, and we will continue the dialog tomorrow. I can't wait for him to get to see Texas.
I made the decision that we'd have formal things in Washington—we'd have formal meetings in Washington, but it's also very important for him to get to see the finest State of all 50, in my judgment. He'll also get a taste of rural life here in Texas. He'll get to see Houston, and he's also going to get to come to Crawford. And it's going to be such an honor for us to receive him here.
We're making great progress on the war. I have great confidence in the ability of the U.S. military, but I've even got greater confidence in the people of our country. We're united; we're strong; we're determined; and we will prevail. We're going to win this war. And we're glad to be home and looking forward to spending time here.
Humanitarian Aid Workers
Q. Mr. President, what about the two girls that are being detained in Afghanistan? What do you think about their current situation?
The President. Well, we're working. I know one of them is from this area.
Q. I think from Baylor?
The President. Yes. And we have made it clear to the Taliban that we expect them to be treated humanely. I hope they listen to our request. We're obviously very concerned about their safety. Our military is very aware that they're in that part of the world, and we are doing everything we can—gathering—to make sure they stay out of harm's way. It's up to the Taliban, however, to protect them. We expect them to do so.
Visit of Russian President
Q. Mr. President, how important is this meeting tomorrow?
The President. Well, it's a continuation of a series of meetings I've had with him. I met with him in Slovenia and then Shanghai, and of course, today we had a long series of meetings, announced some major initiatives.
One initiative I announced is something I campaigned on. I said that we would— in order to get rid of the vestiges of the past—would reduce our nuclear arsenal, our offensive weapons, of nuclear warheads to a level commensurate with keeping the peace and at the same time signaling loud and clear that we need a new relationship with Russia. And I did that. We're also going to talk about missile defense, the ABM Treaty.
He has got some concerns about getting rid of the ABM Treaty. I've listened very carefully to him, but I've made the case to him that we need to move beyond the vestiges of the past in order to address the true threats facing our nation and his nation, and that is the ability of some terrorist nation to end up with a weapon of mass destruction, which could hold each of us hostage and/or cause serious harm to our people.
Q. Mr. President——
The President. Well, we're going to be riding John Deere Gators. They're a little more compassionate than some horses. We're going to have a barbecue tomorrow night. A local resident, David Sibley, is coming and his wife, Pam. We've got a friend of ours from Buffalo Gap, Texas, who will be cooking the barbecue. Laura has ordered up a swing band.
And then Thursday morning we'll go for a—down, boy—that's Barney, by the way. [Laughter]
Mrs. Bush. And this is Spot.
The President. And Spot.
And we'll go for a couple of nice, long walks. The best diplomacy starts with getting to know each other. And I want him to know my values, and I want to know his values. I want him to see things. One of the interesting things that happened in Slovenia—I said to him as we were walking to the press conference, I said, "I understand you've got two daughters." He said, "Yes." I said, "Who did you name your daughters after?" He said, "My mother and my mother-in-law." So did I. [Laughter]
So there's a lot we can find with these world leaders that you've got in common with them, if you just spend some time listening. So we'll have a good stay.
Q. Mr. President, is this going to be a breakthrough weekend?
The President. Pardon me?
Q. Is this going to be a breakthrough weekend?
The President. I don't think there's a particular moment where things—where a relationship breaks through. Obviously, it takes a while. It takes a while to build up the trust necessary for him to know that I intend to keep my word when I say I'm going to do something and vice versa.
It is very important for both of us to convince some parties in our countries that we should no longer harbor suspicions about each other. I will continue to make the case that it is in our nations' interest that Russia and the United States enter into a wide variety of agreements—offensive weapons, talk about the ABM, work on counterproliferation, work on counterterrorism measures. He's been very helpful, by the way, in our efforts in Afghanistan. It's a new day in a relationship that when I was growing up and when we were both growing up was one based upon hostility, mistrust, and anger. And now it's the exact opposite. We're finding ways to find areas where we can work together for the benefit of both of our countries.
Listen, thank you all very much. It's great to see some familiar faces——
Q. Will you be showing Mr. Putin some Texas dance steps, Mr. President? You'll be showing him some Texas dance steps out there, I'm sure.
The President. You know from following me as the Governor, I can cut a pretty mean rug. [Laughter]
NOTE: The President spoke at 5:15 p.m. on the tarmac at the Texas State Technical College Waco airport. In his remarks, he referred to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his daughters, Katya and Masha; humanitarian aid workers Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry of the United States; and Texas State Senator David Sibley and his wife, Pam. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary did not include the President's opening remarks. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.
George W. Bush, Remarks on Arrival in Waco, Texas, and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/216485