George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Strelna

July 16, 2006

President Bush. I want to thank Jacques Chirac for coming over. It's always a pleasure to visit with Jacques. He is a man who is able to crystalize his thoughts, who is able to discuss issues in a very clear way.

Obviously, we're going to spend time talking about the Middle East. The United States is proud to work with France on Resolution 1559 of the United Nations, which is a clear statement of principle and concern about Lebanese democracy. I'm confident that other leaders will look at the spirit of 1559 and recognize that one way to help heal in the Middle East is to address the root causes of the problems there, and the root cause of the problem is Hizballah and Syria and the Iranian connection.

The President has taken a strong lead on this issue in the past. We are in discussions with his administration, and I'm confident that we'll be able to come up with a clear position between France and the United States on this vital issue.

I look forward to discussing other issues with my friend Jacques Chirac. It's good to be with you, sir. Thank you for coming by.

President Chirac. First of all, I just like to say how delighted I am to have this opportunity to meet with the American President. And I note, albeit it, that this has been difficult circumstances, as we have been witnessing the sad events that have been unfolding in the Middle East. But I'm especially struck and delighted by the fact that we share the same views of the issues at stake here. We witness the tremendous sadness, the hardship of the civilian population in this region. You know what longstanding ties France has always had with Lebanon. And when I say "this region," I refer not only to Lebanon but, of course, to what's happening to the Palestinians. So we would call—[inaudible]— for a show of moderation on the part of all parties involved, so that we can establish the conditions of a long-lasting, lasting cease-fire in the region.

Now, I entirely agree with the American President in what he said about supporting the U.N. mission, which is designed, among other things, to ensure the release of the Israeli soldiers being detained right now both by Hizballah and by Hamas and put an end to the firing of Kassam rockets.

Now, with respect to Gaza, which is a separate issue from that of Lebanon, we feel that it is essential—it is of the essence—that we renew dialog with Mahmoud Abbas.

Now, as regards Lebanon, I couldn't agree more with President Bush in saying that what is at the heart of this is the to-the-letter implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559. That is what must be done forthwith. And we must stop all those who are at present engaging in jeopardizing the security, the stability, and authority of Lebanon.

President Bush. Thank you all. Thank you, sir.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:14 a.m. in Cottage Nine at the Konstantinovsky Palace Complex. President Chirac referred to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Israeli soldiers captured and held captive by militants in Lebanon since July 12; President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. President Chirac spoke in French, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France in Strelna Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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