Remarks Following Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France and an Exchange With Reporters in New York City
President Bush. It's been a pleasure to have a meaningful, strategic dialog with Jacques Chirac. We talked about a lot of subjects. It's important that France and the United States work closely to keep the peace. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria; we talked about the Palestinian-Israeli issue; we talked about Darfur; we talked about common problems and how to solve those problems. It was a very constructive and important dialog.
Mr. President, welcome back to America, and thank you for your time.
President Chirac. We're always welcome in the United States. Relations between the United States and France are longstanding and deeply rooted.
Well, indeed, today we have discussed and evidenced the fact that we have common approaches and a common sense of the main issues that we discussed, relating as they do to peace and to development throughout the world. In fact, this coincides with the 61st U.N. General Assembly, which is going to meet today.
So we discussed peace and development. And particularly on the subject of peace-related issues, we addressed the issue of Iran, of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; we addressed Lebanon and, of course, Africa, in particular—in Africa. And with respect to Africa, we addressed the issue of what's going on in Darfur.
And we, as a result of this, have once again confirmed that we are entirely on the same wavelength. We have the same approach to the different issues, which are of deep and grave concern to us, as they challenge and jeopardize peace in different parts of the world.
I repeat what I've already said, namely that we concur, our views concur on these matters, particularly on the issue of a possible agreement with the Iranians. And therefore, France—I'm convinced the United States, the American administration and the French Government see eye to eye on these matters and on how to address them.
President Bush. One question a side. Nedra [Nedra Pickler, Associated Press].
Iran/Nuclear Weapons Development
Q. Yes, thank you, Mr. President. President Chirac has proposed suspending the threat of sanctions against Iran as an incentive to get them to the negotiating table. What do you think of that idea?
President Bush. First of all, France and the United States share the same goal, and that is for the Iranians not to have a nuclear weapon.
Secondly, we share the same goal. We'd like to solve this problem diplomatically, and we understand working together is important. And the Iranians have got to understand, we share the same objective, and we're going to continue to strategize together.
The EU-3 will continue to dialog with the Iranians to get them to the table so that they will suspend, verifiably suspend, their enrichment activities, in which case, the United States will come to the table. And we believe time is of the essence. Should they continue to stall, we will then discuss the consequences of their stalling. And one of those consequences, of course, would be some kind of sanction program.
But now is the time for the Iranians to come to the table. And that's what we discussed.
President Chirac. For the past 2 days, I've had the opportunity to speak very clearly on the subject—at least I hope I've been very clear—and let me take this opportunity once again to say that the present views of the United States and I again see eye to eye on this one. I totally agree with President Bush. We are both determined to push forward on this one, to move ahead in a constructive manner. And the first thing we need to do is to find a solution so that, indeed—and end be put to the uranium enrichment activity being engaged in, and then we can move on to finding solutions to the other problems that arise and stem from this issue.
President Bush. Final question. Do you want to call on somebody?
[At this point, a question was asked in French, and no translation was provided.]
President Chirac. There never has been any ambiguity as to the positions adopted respectively by the Europeans, by the six, by the United States, and in particular, by France. We have always said very clearly that any negotiations—and let's face it, this is the normal course of events; this negotiation is the normal way in which one expects to address and, indeed, settle, solve such a thorny issue as this one—that negotiations are the way we are heading.
Nonetheless, we have equally said that we cannot have negotiations if we do not have prior suspension, on the one hand, of uranium enrichment activity on the part of Iran, and on the other, on the part of the six, the agreement not to approach the Security Council on this matter—in particular, this will include the possibility of examining a sanction program.
I think this has been said abundantly clearly time and again, and I do not really understand what kind of controversy has arisen or misunderstanding could have crept in, insofar as this, as I said, has been repeatedly said. Maybe it's due to a lack of understanding of the situation, but there's no ambiguity on our side.
President Bush. Thank you, Jacques.
NOTE: The President spoke at 10:10 a.m. at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. President Chirac spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.
George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France and an Exchange With Reporters in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/268719