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Remarks on the Persian Gulf Conflict and the Baltic States and an Exchange With Reporters

January 21, 1991

The President. Let me just say a quick word about the brutal parading of these allied pilots. I was talking to Speaker Foley about this coming down, and it is very clear that this is a direct violation of every convention that protects prisoners. The International Red Cross, I understand, certified to that today.

In the first place, this is not going to make a difference in the prosecution of the war against Saddam. It's not going to make a difference. I've said that before. I said that when he brutally held hostages that numbered up into the thousands. And it's not going to make a difference. But I would make the strongest appeal that these people be treated properly and that they be given the treatment that is accorded to them under the international conventions -- and they are not being. And America is angry about this, and I think the rest of the world is, because this morning I talked to more of our coalition partners. So, it is backfiring. If he thought this brutal treatment of pilots is a way to muster world support, he is dead wrong. And I think everybody is upset about it.

Speaker, I won't put words in your mouth, but -- --

Speaker Foley. I concur absolutely with what the President said. It's a clear violation of the Geneva provisions for the protection of prisoners of war, and it will have very, very strong repercussions not only throughout the United States but throughout the world if these violations continue.

Q. Mr. President -- --

The President. No, I can't do a press conference. I do want to say something, though, about the Baltic States. I am increasingly concerned. We had a statement on that yesterday. I would again appeal to the Soviet Union leaders to resist using force. And we've heard European countries speaking out on this now, and the world is very much concerned about that as well.

So, thank you all very much.

Persian Gulf Conflict

Q. -- -- war crimes, sir?

Q. Will he be held accountable, Mr. President? Will he be held accountable?

The President. You can count on it.

Note: President Bush spoke at 11:58 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, upon his return from Camp David, MD. In his remarks, he referred to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George Bush, Remarks on the Persian Gulf Conflict and the Baltic States and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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