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Remarks Following Discussions With President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters

November 28, 2001

President Bush. It's my honor to welcome a friend of mine and a friend of our country, the President of Spain, to the White House. Jose Maria was on the phone early, right after September the 11th. He assured me that he would cooperate in any way possible in our mutual desire to fight terror. And he has lived up to his word, and for that, I am grateful.

I asked nations to join us in bringing people to justice who are evil, who don't respect the law, and this President responded. Recently, Spain has arrested Al Qaida members and has shared information about those Al Qaida members, and it's incredibly helpful. And for that, Mr. President, the American people are very grateful. And in our meetings today I assured the President that our Nation would help Spain in any way possible to fight terror. And Mr. President, you've got that assurance.

So it's a great honor—un honor para mi para decir a mi amigo, bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos.

President Aznar. Dear President Bush, may I thank you for your invitation. It is, indeed, a great honor and tremendous satisfaction for me to visit the White House.

We have very fond memories of the visit that you made to us in Spain last June, and we recall your commitment and your words of support to Spain's fight against terrorism. And several months later, we have managed to see this solidarity; this alliance is a two-way alliance.

Spain supports, has supported, and will support all the United States' efforts to track down, to eradicate, and to eliminate terrorism wherever it may be worldwide. We intend to maintain and, if necessary, strengthen our political commitment, our cooperation in the area of intelligence and security and information-sharing, and if need be, to commit military forces to that battle.

Our battle is a battle for the same ideas, for the same freedoms, for the same society and civilizations, and we will share all those efforts as long as is necessary to combat. The only fate that awaits terrorists is defeat, and the only option for terrorists is going to be brought to justice.

Thank you.

President Bush. Tenemos hambre, y por eso, solamente cuatros preguntas. Dos de la prensa de la Estados Unidos, dos de la prensa de Espana, por favor. Four questions, two from the American press, two from Spanish press, because we're hungry; we've got a big meal. [Laughter]

Legislative Agenda

Q. Yes, sir. Do you support suspending the payroll tax as a compromise on the stimulus?

President Bush. The question is, do I support providing a credit on the payroll tax?

Q. Correct.

President Bush. The Domenici idea in the Senate? Here's what I support: I support the Senate coming together and getting a bill moving as quickly as possible, so that we can get it to conference and get the differences resolved. The Senate must pass a stimulus package. The American people expect them to do so; I expect them to do so.

I had a good conversation today with Senator Daschle and Senator Lott on this very subject and urged them to get the business done—get the appropriations bills passed, to get a stimulus package passed, and then go home and enjoy the Christmas vacation. And I hope they do so. There are differences, but the differences aren't that big. Any good package must be stimulative in effect and, at the same time, take care of displaced workers. There's agreement on that. They just now have got to work out the details, and I hope they're able to do so.

Detained Spanish Nationals

Q. Mr. President, according to The New York Times, 13 Spanish nationals are being held in the United States in relation to the attacks on the Twin Towers. Did you speak about that to President Bush?

President Aznar. No.

Airport and Airline Security

Q. Mr. President, how can you assure the American people safety in the skies, given that your Transportation Secretary now thinks it may be impossible to meet that initial deadline for screening baggage?

President Bush. David [David Gregory, NBC News], we're doing everything we can to meet the deadline. And we're doing everything we can to make sure that the American people feel safe. And one way we're doing it is to have guardsmen at the airports over the Christmas holidays. Another way to do it is to have the planes full of air marshals. And finally, obviously, we need to expedite the ability for us to inspect baggage, and we're doing everything we can to do that.

Military Tribunals/Extradition

Q. Did you discuss the military tribunals with regard to extradition——

President Bush. Military tribunals was the question.

President Aznar. I said at the beginning of this press conference that political cooperation between Spain and the United States is full on this issue. And I just reiterate that and also say that cooperation between the United States and Spain, Spain and the United States, is also full as regards Spain's own terrorism problem. And I think that is the most important point to bear in mind.

You asked about the extradition of the Al Qaida members in Spain. Can I just say that if and when the United States requests that extradition, we will study the issue. Can I also say that the United States is free to organize its own jurisdiction as it sees fit, as a free and democratic country. Any action taken on the extradition issue will be taken with full respect of Spanish and United States law.

We are also working on this issue at the European Union level, and we do hope to reach agreement on that issue in the very near future.

President Bush. Thank you all. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. President Aznar spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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