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Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters at Camp David, Maryland

May 03, 2002

President Bush. Laura and I are honored to welcome our friend the President and First Lady of España to Camp David. It's an opportunity for us to share some private time together, to talk about issues of concern between our countries as well as opportunities we can have to work together for world peace. We've got great relations with Spain; Spain is a very close friend. And I've got good—very strong personal relations with Jose Maria.

So it's such an honor to welcome you here, Senor Presidente. And it's great to see the First Lady as well.

Quiere habla?

[At this point, President Aznar made brief remarks in Spanish, and no translation was provided.]

President Bush. A couple of questions.

Russia-U.S. Nuclear Arms Agreement

Q. Mr. President, the Russian Foreign Minister today, after he left the meeting with you today, said there's a very high probability for a U.S.-Russian nuclear deal in time for your trip. Do you think prospects are that good for an agreement?

President Bush. Espero que sí. I hope so. We've been spending a lot of time with Russia to reach an agreement that will codify that which I've told our country and told Mr. Putin—that we're going to substantially reduce our offensive nuclear weapons. I hope so. It's—the Secretary of State is optimistic. There's some work that remains to be done. I'm looking forward to my trip. I look forward to getting—to continue working closely with President Putin. Jose Maria has got the same intentions. And what's interesting is, right after I leave, el va a Russia to visit with Mr. Putin as well.

Upcoming Meetings With Middle East Leaders

Q. Mr. President, on Tuesday you will meet with Prime Minister Sharon. It will be the fifth meeting. You've talked to him a number of times on the phone. And people might say this weekend showed what a difference that makes. But you haven't really interacted with Chairman Arafat as much, and I wondered about that. Do you feel as though it really wouldn't make that big a difference? Or is there a strategic reason for not engaging him?

President Bush. I'm looking forward to my meeting with Prime Minister Sharon. I'm looking forward to my meeting with King Abdullah. We have got, obviously, a lot of activity, a lot of discussions, a lot of interface with the different people in the region, the different interested parties. And there's going to be a lot more discussion going on.

As you know, Secretary of State Powell talked about a ministerial meeting. It's just a series of ongoing discussions to help solidify the visions that have been expressed by not only the United States but the Europeans—but, more importantly, the visions expressed by Israel, the Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. And so there's going to be a lot of discussions and a lot of meetings. And I've had a lot already, and I'm going to have more.

Unemployment Rate

Q. The unemployment rate today, 6 percent—is that just a bump in the road, or is that a sign of some reversal?

President Bush. No, that's—listen, I've been saying all along that the growth number of the first quarter of this year was very positive, but I said—listen, I'm not confident; we've got more work to do. So long as anybody is looking for work, we've got a problem, as far as I'm concerned. And that number shows that—backs me up.

We need long-term growth, and that's why we need a trade bill, and that's why we need terrorism insurance that doesn't provide a vehicle to enrich personal injury trial lawyers. And that's why we've got to make sure that Congress doesn't overspend.

So we've had mixed news. One week we had positive growth in the first quarter, although a lot of that, of course, was attributable to inventory build-back, as you and I discussed, and based upon consumer demands. I'm concerned that there's not enough business investment. But we'll see how it goes. But Congress must get us some legislation.

President Aznar's Visit to Camp David

[A reporter began a question in Spanish, and no translation was provided. He then concluded his question in English.]

Q. What do you think of this invitation, and what do you expect—trip to Camp David?

[President Aznar answered in Spanish, and no translation was provided. A reporter began a question in Spanish, and no translation was provided. He then concluded his question in English.]

Q. What are you especially interested in stressing during your conversations with the President?

President Aznar. I'm sure that as soon as you allow us to do so, we will make maximum use of our time. Because what we intend to do here is be able to continue our discussions in a relaxed atmosphere, because there's a lot of work to be done, and we intend to get down to work and do it. And we appreciate the invitation.

President Bush. Gracias.

President's Dog

Q. Where is Barney?

The First Lady. Barney is back at the house.

President Bush. He's at the cabin. We were afraid Barney would disrupt the press conference.

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:11 p.m. In his remarks, President Bush referred to President Aznar's wife, Ana Botella; President Vladimir Putin of Russia; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel; and King Abdullah II of Jordan. A reporter referred to Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov of Russia; and Chairman Yasser Arafat 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 President Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and an Exchange With Reporters at Camp David, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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