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

December 04, 2003

President Bush. We're going to have some opening statements, and then I'll take a couple of questions—two questions. The Jordanian press may want to ask a question.

First, Your Majesty, thanks for coming. It's great to have you back. I view His Majesty as one of our really close friends in the world. You know, I went to London recently and gave a speech about reform and reform in the Middle East and the possibilities of governments that adhere to rule of law and transparency and women's rights and economic freedom. And Your Majesty, you're doing just that. I'm proud of your leadership. It's—you're a modern leader with a big heart and a vision for what is best for your people.

I also want to thank you for your very strong support in our mutual desire to bring peace to the Middle East. We made a tough decision when it came to Iraq, and Your Majesty, you stood with us. And we made the right decision when it came to Iraq, because Iraq will be free and will be peaceful. And that's in your interests, and it's in our interests, and it's in the world's interests that we succeed.

I look forward to discussing with you a wide range of issues of our—of mutual concern. And I look forward to your wise counsel and advice.

King Abdullah II. Thank you, sir. Well, Mr. President, again, it's always a pleasure to see you and to be back here in Washington. I'm very grateful for your support for the region, what you're trying to do to bring peace and stability for all of us in the Middle East—Iraq, the Israelis, the Palestinians. And so I'm looking forward to our discussions today, and see how we can best bring hope to all of the people of our part of the world.

And the President has always been very courageous in trying to do the right thing and to push for a dialog and hope for all of us in the Middle East. And I'm very appreciative.

President Bush. Thanks for coming.

We'll answer a couple of questions, starting with this fellow right there, Scott [Scott Lindlaw, Associated Press].

Steel Tariffs

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Are you going to repeal all the steel tariffs today?

President Bush. I am making a decision—let me—the decision I make will be based upon my strong belief that America's consumers, the American economy is better off with a world that trades freely and a world that trades fairly. And I listened to an International Trade Commission report about the effects that steel imports were having upon our important industry. I acted. I acted to give the steel industry time to adjust. I acted in time for us to say to the world that we will trade, but we want to trade in a fair way. And the decision will be announced here shortly.

Discussion With Prime Minister Blair

Q. Did you talk to Mr. Blair about it today?

President Bush. No, it didn't come up today with Prime Minister Blair. I did talk with the Prime Minister today. Let's see, you're not the only guy asking questions throughout this thing, but——

Q. No.

President Bush. ——it's good that you recognize that. I did talk to the Prime Minister. We talked about our—we talked about Iraq. We talked about NATO, and we had a good discussion. I talk to him about once a week, maybe once every 2 weeks. His Majesty just was with the Prime Minister.

King Abdullah II. Yes, the day before yesterday.

President Bush. Steady friend of ours, a steady friend of Jordan's as well.

Anybody here from the Jordanian press that you would like to call on?

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Your Majesty, given some of the recent events, such as the Palestinians' factions are meeting in Cairo, Geneva Accords, and the Palestinian—proposals, do you feel that there is hope to revive the negotiations? What is your next step to revive the roadmap?

King Abdullah II. Well, the President has always been out front in trying to move the process forward. There is a lot of difficulties on the ground at the moment, as we know, but we've all been working very hard behind the scenes to encourage the Palestinian Prime Minister to be able to have the dialog with the Israelis. We believe that there will be, I hope, some small steps on the ground that move the process forward. We haven't given up on the peace process. The President has been very dedicated from day one. We appreciate his support. But it's going to be a tough road ahead for all of us.

President Bush. Steven [Steve Holland, Reuters].

Q. The Geneva Accord, do you think some of these proposals should be included in an overall peace agreement? And why is Secretary Powell meeting with these people?

President Bush. Everybody knows where I stand. I gave a speech right here in Rose Garden in June of 2002. I laid out what I believe is necessary to achieve peace in the Middle East. It starts with having a Palestinian state that is at peace with Israel, a Palestinian state based upon democratic principles, a Palestinian state which recognizes the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people, and a Palestinian state with leadership which is committed to defeating and dismantling the terrorist organizations who are trying to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging.

I also talked about the need for the Israelis to keep in mind that if they support a Palestinian state, which they have told me they do, that the conditions on the ground must be such for a Palestinian state to be able to emerge. And that's why we're continuing to talk to them about the illegal settlements and outposts—illegal outposts and settlements as well as the fence.

As well, nations in the neighborhood must take responsibility. The King and I have spent a lot of time talking about this subject. He understands fully what I'm talking about. I want to remind you that it was in Jordan where His Majesty hosted us. I stood up with His Majesty as well as Prime Minister Sharon and then Prime Minister Abu Mazen. and made a public declaration that we were prepared to work together for the creation of a Palestinian state. Abu Mazen has since been shoved aside, and the process stalled. What the Palestinians need is leadership willing to remain committed to the aspirations of their people and bold enough to stand up and fight off the terrorists' organizations. And His Majesty and I will be glad to work with such leaders as they emerge.

Q. This is a productive process, the Geneva Accords and Secretary Powell's meeting?

President Bush. Well, I think it's productive, so long as they adhere to the principles I have just outlined. And that is, we must fight off terror, that there must be security, and there must be the emergence of a Palestinian state that is democratic and free.

And it's—the position of this Government is clear, and it's firm. We appreciate people discussing peace. We just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear.

Thank you all for coming.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:07 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel; and former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of the Palestinian Authority. King Abdullah II referred to Prime Minister Ahmed Korei of the Palestinian Authority. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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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