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Remarks Following Discussions With Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and an Exchange With Reporters

June 27, 2005

President Bush. Opening statements and we'll answer two questions a side.

It's my honor to welcome the Chancellor of an ally and a friend back to the Oval Office. We have had and will continue to have a frank and open discussion about very important issues. Germany is a very important country in Europe, and Germany is a friend of the United States. We talked about the EU. We talked about the United Nations. We talked about Iraq. We've talked about how to spread freedom and peace. We talked about Iran. I told the Chancellor how much I appreciated the German Government working with France and Great Britain to send a very strong, unified message to the Iranians.

Our agenda is wide-ranging because we—both countries assume responsibility to help the poor and feed the hungry and help spread freedom and peace. And I want to thank the Chancellor for his willingness to come over, and I want to thank him for such a good discussion.

Chancellor Schroeder. It is, indeed, true that we have covered all those topics that the President has just mentioned and had intense conversations on all of those. I've gone in to say that it is now important in Europe that we go in and adopt our budget for the period from '06 to 2013. And I've obviously also emphasized how important it is for us to continue with the constitutional process in Europe.

I was also very pleased to hear—and that was why I said that to the President as well—that it was so helpful that he said he very much would hope to see a strong, united Europe.

Well, as you can see, we have covered a range of international topics here together. I have very much pointed out to the President what Germany does do around the world, what Germany does do in Afghanistan, for example, what Germany does contribute towards the stabilization of the situation in Iraq. I have mentioned our training schemes in the Emirates, et cetera, et cetera. I've talked about the work, the stabilizing work that Germany is doing in the Balkans, for example. And I have mentioned that since we're doing all these things internationally, we would very much hope that at some point in time, we could also have a right to representation on the Security Council if there were the space. So I said very much we're doing lots of things, so hopefully, we'll be involved with deciding things as well.

President Bush. We'll answer some questions here. First, starting with the American side. Excuse me for a minute. Nedra [Nedra Pickler, Associated Press], there you are, hiding in there. Nedra, excuse me, I mispronounced pronounced her name.

U.N. Security Council Seat for Germany/U.N. Reform

Q. Hi. Thank you, Mr. President. Do you oppose Germany's bid for a Security Council seat?

President Bush. We oppose no country's bid for the Security Council. We agree that there needs to be U.N. Security Council reform. The U.N. also needs broader reform than just the Security Council. There needs to be management reform; there needs to be reform of the Human Rights Commission; there needs to be broad reform. And part of that reform is the U.N. Security Council, and I want to thank Gerhard's frank discussion about Security Council reform. But we oppose no country.

Do you want to call on somebody?

Chancellor Schroeder. We are very much in agreement that this reform is duly and urgently needed, and it's always been clear that it is first the reform and then the candidacies to potential seats. And, obviously, then the process will have to continue.

And if you ask me about whether I see differences, then I'd possibly say there are differences in the timing. We were pushing to have things happening very quickly. But I was very pleased, indeed, to hear that there was no opposition vis-a-vis Germany, as such, from the President.

German Elections

Q. Mr. President, Chancellor Schroeder is seeking for early elections in Germany. And what is your position? Have you wished him luck for this election? [Laughter]

President Bush. He's lucky he's got short elections. [Laughter] I still remember my election—month after month after month of campaigning.

We haven't talked about the elections yet. The Chancellor is—you know, he's a seasoned political campaigner, and if there's elections, I'm confident he knows what he's going to do out there. But we have not talked about the elections yet. As we say in Texas, this won't be his first rodeo. [Laughter]

Steve [Steve Holland, Reuters].

Chancellor Schroeder. We just have to add at this point, it is important that our national German President hasn't even yet decided whether we are going to have these elections. So by that very rule, we shouldn't be discussing them here as a topic.

But when it comes to elections, I think there's this wonderful saying from back home in Lower Saxony where I come from, which says, "Ducks are fat at the bottom end." [Laughter]

President Bush. Steve.


Q. Iran has a new leader. Do you think this will alter the climate of the nuclear talks? And what's your message to the new leader?

Interpreter. I'm sorry; I couldn't hear you.

President Bush. Iran has a new leader— my message is—to the Chancellor is that we continue working with Great Britain, France, and Germany to send a focused, concerted, unified message that says, the development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. And I want to again appreciate the EU-3's strong unification and message. The message hasn't changed.

Q. Was the election free and fair?

President Bush. It's never free and fair when a group of people, unelected people, get to decide who's on the ballot.

Chancellor Schroeder. Well, firstly, I couldn't agree more with this message. We are going to continue being tough and firm on all of that. The message must stay very crystal clear, and it is.

And secondly, the new President has emphasized that he wants the talks to continue, so here we are.

President Bush. Final question.

Germany's Role in Iraq

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—sometimes you praise what Germany is doing in Afghanistan to help that country. How would you qualify what it is doing in Iraq to help the reconstruction? Maybe you even could be so free to label it as a part of a reconstruction coalition of the willing?

President Bush. I think that Germany's contribution in Iraq——

Chancellor Schroeder. I understand. It's okay.

President Bush. Oh, sorry, do you want——

Chancellor Schroeder. No, it's okay.

President Bush. You understand? Okay.

Very good English, by the way. [Laughter]

Germany's contribution in Iraq is important. The key to success in Iraq is a— is for the Iraqis to be able and capable of defending their democracy against terrorists. And the training mission that the Chancellor referred to is an important part of helping the Iraqis defend themselves.

Parallel with the security track is a political track. Obviously, the political track has made progress this year when 8 million people went to the polls and voted. And now they must write a constitution and have the constitution approved, then have elections later on this year for a Government elected under the new constitution.

And part of the political process is not only the elections and the constitution, but part of the political process is the reconstruction programs, of which Germany is an important part. And I want to thank the Chancellor and his Government.

A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will help the United States and help Germany, because we have been—we will have laid a foundation of peace for generations to come. And I appreciate the—appreciate your focus.

Chancellor Schroeder. There can be no question a stable and democratic Iraq is in the vested interest of not just Germany but also Europe. And that is why we have committed ourselves to that topic right from the start, actually very much from the beginning. We were the ones that jumped at the idea of having a debt relief initiative right at the start, and we are also the ones who have gone in with practical hands-on help. We've gone in and started training of homegrown Iraqi security forces and admin people right away. By now, we've trained a good 1,200 people, about 50 percent of them security staff, and the other 50 percent admin advisers that help with the reconstruction of institutions from within. And this training happens in the Emirates.

President Bush. Well, thank you all for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President-elect Mahmud Ahmadi-nejad of Iran. Chancellor Schroeder spoke in German, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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