George W. Bush photo

Remarks Prior to Discussions With King Abdullah II of Jordan and an Exchange With Reporters

September 28, 2001

President Bush. Your Majesty, welcome back.

King Abdullah. Thank you.

President Bush. It's great to see you. I look forward to our discussions. Jordan is a strong, strong friend of America. And right after September 11th, one of the early messages I received was from His Majesty, expressing the condolences of the Jordanian people, as well as his own personal condolences.

I'm so pleased with our cooperative— the cooperation we have in fighting terror. I have assured His Majesty that our war is against evil, not against Islam. There are thousands of Muslims who proudly call themselves Americans, and they know what I know, that the Muslim faith is based upon peace and love and compassion—the exact opposite of the teachings of the Al Qaida organization, which is based upon evil and hate and destruction.

And finally, Your Majesty, as a welcoming gift, it is my honor to present you with a pen. This is no ordinary pen, since it's the pen I used to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Jordan this morning. At long last, we have together accomplished one of your main objectives in terms of economic cooperation, which is the Free Trade Agreement. I'm proud of the actions of our leadership in the House and the Senate, from both political parties, that recognize the importance of trade with Jordan. And so, Your Majesty, it's now officially the law, and here's the pen that signed it.

King Abdullah. Thank you very much, sir. Very grateful.

President Bush. Welcome back to the Oval Office.

King Abdullah. Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for seeing us today. Obviously, I wish our meeting was under better circumstances, but obviously we're here to give our full, unequivocal support to you and to the people of America. And we will stand by you in these very difficult times. And we're proud of our friendship. We're proud of the relations we've had with your country over many, many years, as far back as his late Majesty, King Hussein.

And it's in difficult times like this that true friends must stand with each other, and we'll be by your side, and we'll be there to support you. And I'm here to see what we can do to help.

President Bush. Thank you, sir.

We'll take a few questions.

Q. Mr. President——

President Bush. You're after the retirement lady. [Laughter]

Q. I'm now the retirement lady. I feel very old. [Laughter]

President Bush. Well, once you leave the White House, we view it as retirement. But go ahead. [Laughter]

Saudi Arabia

Q. What's your reaction to the Saudis' announcement that we can—that the U.S. can use airbases? And also, do you feel the military deployment is adequate? Do you feel comfortable with where it is?

President Bush. Well, first, we will not be discussing any of the—our military plans. It is very important for the American people to know that any public discussion of military or intelligence matters could jeopardize any mission that we may be thinking about.

Secondly, that I am most pleased with the cooperation we're getting in the Middle East. Clearly, the cooperation with our friend the Jordanians is strong and powerful, and we're united—but the Saudis as well. Not only are they helping stabilize Pakistan, which is a very important part of our diplomatic efforts; they are also cooperating with us in terms of any military planning we might be doing. And I'm really pleased.

I had very good discussions—I know the King has as well—with our Saudi Arabian friends.

Ron [Ron Fournier, Associated Press].

Russian Experience in Afghanistan

Q. Mr. President, thank you. Have you had any chance to study the long and difficult conflict that the Russians had in Afghanistan? And if so, what, if anything, did you learn that might be helpful in the conflict you have coming ahead?

President Bush. Well, one of the things we will do is enforce the doctrine, part of the doctrine that says, if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as a terrorist. And in my speech to the Nation, I laid out the conditions that we expect the current Government of Afghanistan to follow.

I am fully aware of the difficulties the Russians had in Afghanistan. Our intelligence people and our State Department people are also fully aware. It is very hard to fight a conventional war—a guerrilla war with conventional forces. And we understand that. That's why I have explained to the American people that the new war on terror is going to be a different war. It will be fought on a variety of fronts. It will be fought on a financial front. It will require the best of intelligence and the sharing of intelligence. There may or may not be a conventional component to it.

I said loud and clear, sometimes people will be able to see what we do on the television screens. Other times the American people won't be able to see what we're doing. But make no mistake about it; we're in hot pursuit. We're going to enforce the doctrine. We're going to be diligent and patient and determined to bring people to justice and to rout out terrorist activity around the world.

And so there have been lessons learned in the past, and our Government is very aware of those lessons.

Jim [Jim Angle, FOX News].

Afghanistan/Middle Eastern Response

Q. Mr. President, if I may, for Your Highness, how difficult is it for Middle Eastern nations to unite against someone who claims to be speaking and acting on behalf of Islam?

And Mr. President, what's your reaction to word today that the Taliban says it has now located Usama bin Laden and has delivered an invitation to him to leave the country?

President Bush. First of all—I'll answer first, and then Your Majesty. First, there is no negotiations with the Taliban. They heard what I said. And now they can act. And it's not just Mr. bin Laden that we expect to see and brought to justice; it's everybody associated with his organization that's in Afghanistan. And not only those directly associated with Mr. bin Laden, any terrorist that is housed and fed in Afghanistan needs to be handed over. And finally, we expect there to be complete destruction of terrorist camps. That's what I told them; that's what I mean. And we expect them— we expect them to not only hear what I say but to do something about it.

And I want to tell His Majesty what I said the other day, and then he can respond to your question. The Al Qaida people don't represent Islam, as far as America is concerned. They represent evil. They're evil people. And that's not the Muslim faith that I know and understand, nor is it the Muslim faith of millions of Americans who are proud and devout Muslims.

King Abdullah. Well, sir, as the President so well put it, what these people stand for is completely against all the principles that Arab Muslims believe in. And so, on those principles alone, I think it will be very, very easy for people to stand together. As the President said, this is a fight against evil, and the majority of Arabs and Muslims will band together with our colleagues all over the world to be able to put an end to this horrible scourge of international terrorism. And you'll see a united front.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization.

George W. Bush, Remarks Prior to Discussions With King Abdullah II of Jordan and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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