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Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France and an Exchange With Reporters in Evian-les-Bains, France

June 02, 2003

President Bush. First of all, I want to thank Jacques Chirac for his warm hospitality. We've had a really good meeting. This morning we talked about our common desires to grow our economies. I thought it was a very interesting and fantastic meeting; I really did.

Today I'm going to meet with Jacques here in a little bit and ask his advice on the Middle East. He's a man who knows a lot about the Middle East. He has got good judgment about the Middle East, and we will spend some time discussing that.

I know there's a lot of people in both our countries wondering whether or not we could actually sit down and have a comfortable conversation. And the answer is: Absolutely. We can have disagreements, but that doesn't mean we have to be disagreeable to each other. And so I'm very glad I came and would say absolutely that this has been a very helpful and a positive meeting. So thank you, sir, for your hospitality.

[At this point, President Chirac spoke in French, and no translation was provided.]

President Bush. We've agreed to take one question apiece. Terry [Terry Moran, ABC News], do you want to ask a question?

President's Upcoming Visit to Egypt

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us your expectations for the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh? And what are you hearing from the region?

President Bush. Well, first let me talk about my expectations for the G-8. They have been met. I was hoping to come to Europe and to say that a united Europe working with America can do a lot of good. We can do a lot of good on issues such as fighting terror or working on matters such as proliferation. We can do a lot of good to help those who suffer in the world. And so the expectations, at least as far as I'm concerned, have been met here.

My expectations in the Middle East are to call all the respective parties to their responsibility to achieve peace, and to make it very clear that my country and I will put in as much time as necessary to achieve the vision of two states living side by side in peace.

I fully understand this is going to be a difficult process. I fully understand we need to work with our friends, such as France, to achieve the process. I know we won't make progress unless people assume their responsibilities. The first message is, I will dedicate the time and energy to move the process forward. And I think we'll make some progress. I know we're making progress.

[A question was asked and answered in French, and no translation was provided.]

Iraq and France-U.S. Relations

President Bush. Yes, and I want to thank President Chirac's support in the latest resolution in the United Nations. Listen, we must be frank, we went through a difficult period. I understand his position. He made it very clear to me in the very beginning. There was no question where Jacques Chirac stood, and I made it clear where I stood. And that's why I can say we've got good relations, because we're able to be very honest with each other.

But when it came time to focus on a free Iraq, a healthy Iraq, a prosperous Iraq, we're in agreement, and we will move together to ensure that the Iraqi people have now got the capacity to run their own country. It's going to take them time to get there. It's a difficult situation in Iraq. But we are committed to a free Iraq, and together we can make that happen more quickly than if we were still at odds on the issue.

Thank you, Jacques, appreciate it.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:42 a.m. at the Hotel Royal.

George W. Bush, Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jacques Chirac of France and an Exchange With Reporters in Evian-les-Bains, France Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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