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December 2, 2004

    President Bush. Mr. President, welcome back. It is great to see you. 
I'm looking forward to working with you over the next years to 
strengthen our relationship, to work on a prosperous continent of 
Africa, to work with you on implementing our strategy to help defeat the 
pandemic of HIV/AIDS. I look forward to our discussion today.
    I particularly want to thank the President for his contributions to 
the peacekeeping forces of the African Union. We have worked together on 
issues such as Liberia, Sudan, and other important parts of the 
continent of Africa. I look forward to a fruitful relationship, and I'm 
glad you're here. I want to welcome you, and thank you for coming, sir.
    President Obasanjo. Thank you very much, sir. Mr. President, let me 
start by congratulating you once again. And let me express our 
appreciation for receiving me and my delegation so very early in your 
preparation for the second term. Of course, you are receiving me not 
only in my capacity as President of Nigeria but also in my capacity as 
the Chairman of AU, continuing that organization.
    I'm looking forward to this meeting to consolidate what we have been 
able to do together, like you have rightly said, in the area of peace 
and security and conflict resolution in Africa, in the area of trade and 
resource flow for Africa, and in the area of fight against terrorism by 
making the world, particularly Africa, a more peaceful and a more 
conducive continent to live in, and of course in the area of security, 
stability, and availability of some of the essential resources for the 
development of the world, but the--[inaudible]--in the Gulf region of 
our continent. I'm looking forward to being able to work with you.
    President Bush. It's good to see you again, sir.
    Scott [Scott Lindlaw, Associated Press], a couple of questions.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations

    Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Do you think questions of fraud in the 
U.N.'s Oil for Food Programme have hurt Kofi Annan, and do you think he 
should resign, as Senator Coleman has urged?
    President Bush. Yesterday I spoke about the United Nations. I said 
the United States participates in multilateral organizations, and we 
expect those organizations to be effective. You know, when an 
organization says there's going to be serious consequences if something 
doesn't happen, it better mean what it says.
    And on this issue, it's very important for the United Nations to 
understand that there ought to be a full and fair and open accounting of 
the Oil for Food Programme. In order for the taxpayers of the United 
States to feel comfortable about supporting the United Nations, there 
has to be an open accounting, and I look forward to that process going 
forward.
    Q. Should he resign, sir?
    President Bush. I look forward to the full disclosure of the facts, 
a good, honest appraisal of that which went on. And it's important for 
the integrity of the organization to have a full and open disclosure of 
all that took place with the Oil for Food Programme.
    Yes, Steve [Steve Holland, Reuters].

Ukraine

    Q. Sir, should there be a new election in Ukraine, and should it be 
free of Russian influence?
    President Bush. Well, I think any election, if there is one, ought 
to be free from any foreign influence. These elections ought to be open 
and fair. I appreciate the progress that is being made. I particularly 
want to again thank my friend the President of Poland, the President of 
Lithuania, and the EU for its involvement in helping to resolve the 
Ukrainian election crisis.
    The position of our Government is that the will of the people must 
be known and heard. And therefore, I will--we will continue to monitor 
and be involved in a process that encourages there to be a peaceful 
resolution

[[Page 2893]]

of this issue. And you know, there are different options on the table, 
and we're watching very carefully what is taking place. But any election 
in any country must be--must reflect the will of the people and not that 
of any foreign government.
    Yes, Gregory [David Gregory, NBC News].

Iraq

    Q. Mr. President, you're sending more troops to Iraq now. This comes 
on the heels of reports that Iraqi security forces appear to be 
underperforming, appear to be unprepared for elections in January. If 
that's the case, what would be so bad about postponing elections if 
there's the potential that those elections may be seen as illegitimate?
    President Bush. Well, first of all, the elections should not be 
postponed. It's time for the Iraqi citizens to go the polls, and that's 
why we are very firm on the January 30th date. Secondly, I have always 
said that I will listen to the requests of our commanders on the ground. 
And our commanders requested some troops delay their departure home and 
the expedition of other troops to help these elections go forward. And I 
honored their request.
    And thirdly, we are working hard to train Iraqis. And we have got 
certain benchmarks in mind. And General Petraeus is in charge of 
training the Iraqi troops, and the Iraqi ministers in charge of that are 
meeting the goals. And the idea, of course, and the strategy, of course, 
is have the Iraqis defend their own freedom. And we want to help them 
have their Presidential elections. And at some point in time, when Iraq 
is able to defend itself against the terrorists who are trying to 
destroy democracy--as I have said many times--our troops will come home 
with the honor they have earned.
    It's time for those people to vote, and I am looking forward to it. 
It's one of those moments in history where a lot of people will be 
amazed that a society has been transformed so quickly from one of 
tyranny and torture and mass graves to one in which people are actually 
allowed to express themselves at the ballot.
    Thank you all very much.
    Q. Mr. President. Mr. President----
    President Bush. Yes, sir.

U.S. Role in Africa

    Q. As you march into the second term, what will Africa be looking 
forward to in terms of America's contribution to security, especially in 
the Gulf of Guinea.
    President Bush. No, I appreciate that. First of all, Africa was a 
very important part of my first term. I have met with the President--
four or five times?
    President Obasanjo. Four or five----
    President Bush. So many times, it's hard to count.
    President Obasanjo. And at the G-8, I think about 10 times.
    President Bush. Ten times. I have met with other leaders from the 
continent of Africa a lot. I have traveled to Africa. I have made the--
fighting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS a central part of my administration. I 
helped work to extend AGOA on the full belief that economic trade and 
the benefits of trade far exceed the benefits of direct aid. I've worked 
on a Millennium Challenge Account to help encourage the habits of good 
governance. And I will continue that focus and attention on the 
continent of Africa. I think it is vital that the continent of Africa be 
a place of freedom and democracy and prosperity and hope where people 
can grow up and realize their dreams. It's a continent that has got vast 
potential, and the United States wants to help the people of Africa 
realize that potential.
    Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:38 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to President Aleksander Kwasniewski 
of Poland; President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania; and Lt. Gen. David H. 
Petraeus, USA, chief, Office of Security Transition--Iraq.


<DOC>
[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]
 [frwais.access.gpo.gov]
                         

[Page 2893-2894]
 
Pages 2869	2907
 
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
 
Remarks on the Nomination of Governor Mike Johanns To Be Secretary of 
Agriculture

December 2, 2004

    The President. Thank you all. Good morning.
    I am pleased to announce my nomination of Governor Mike Johanns to 
be the Secretary of Agriculture.

[[Page 2894]]

    Governor Johanns. Thank you, Mr. President.
    The President. Governor Johanns is an experienced public service--
servant from America's agricultural heartland. As the son of Iowa dairy 
farmers, he grew up close to the land. He will bring to this position a 
lifetime of involvement in agriculture and a long record of a faithful 
friend to America's farmers and ranchers. He will lead an important 
agency with the executive skill he has learned as mayor and as a two-
term Governor of Nebraska.
    I've known Mike for a number of years, going back to my own service 
as a Governor. I know firsthand his deep commitment to a strong farm 
economy. He's been a leader on drought relief in Nebraska and throughout 
the Midwest. He's a strong proponent of alternative energy sources such 
as ethanol and biodiesel. He's traveled the world to promote American 
farm exports.
    Governor Johanns is a man of action and of complete integrity. He 
knows how to bring people together to achieve results. He has been a 
superb leader for the people of Nebraska, and I'm grateful that he's 
agreed to take on this important new responsibility in my Cabinet.
    Governor Johanns. Thank you, Mr. President.
    The President. I'm grateful as well to Secretary of Agriculture Ann 
Veneman for leading the Department of Agriculture these past 4 years. 
Secretary Veneman has earned the trust of farmers and ranchers across 
America, and the whole Nation has benefited from her service. Ann played 
a central role in passing the 2002 farm bill, which has been critical to 
the success of our farmers.
    She's kept our Nation's commitment to fighting hunger and is 
overseeing major improvements in school nutrition programs. Ann led our 
efforts to prevent the spread of mad cow disease and worked hard to 
secure the food supply against the threat of bioterrorism. And she has 
helped set in motion an incredibly important effort to maintain the 
health of our forests and protect the lives and property from 
devastating wildfires.
    I chose Ann Veneman for her great expertise, her sound judgment, and 
her bipartisan spirit, and she has displayed those qualities every day 
of her tenure. Ann has also carried out her duties while facing serious 
illness, and for that she's earned my increased admiration and the 
respect of her fellow citizens. I'm proud to know her, and I thank her 
for serving our country.
    The policies we've pursued over the last 4 years have revived 
America's economies and have helped our farmers and ranchers earn 
greater income and to sell record amounts of food and fiber abroad. In a 
new term, we'll continue policies that are pro-growth, pro-jobs, and 
pro-farmer. We'll keep working to open new markets to American grain and 
beef and cotton and corn. We'll enforce trade laws to make sure other 
countries play by the rules. We will expand conservation programs to 
help farmers and to protect our soil and water and wildlife.
    We will stand behind family farmers by keeping taxes low and 
ensuring the Federal death tax is repealed permanently. And when 
confirmed by the Senate, Mike Johanns will lead a Department of 113,000 
dedicated public servants and be a champion of the farmers and ranchers 
who feed America and the world beyond.
    I am grateful to Mike and to Stephanie, his wife, for their 
willingness to come to Washington. I look forward to welcoming Mike to 
my Cabinet.
    Congratulations. I appreciate you.
    Governor Johanns. Thank you very much.
    The President. You bet, Mike.

[At this point, Governor Johanns made brief remarks.]

    The President. Good job.
    Governor Johanns. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:42 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House. The transcript released by the Office of the Press 
Secretary also included the remarks of Governor Johanns.


<DOC>
[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]
 [frwais.access.gpo.gov]
                         

[Page 2894-2895]
 
Pages 2869	2907
 
Week Ending Friday, December 3, 2004
 
Remarks on Lighting the National Christmas Tree

December 2, 2004

    Thank you all very much. Tonight we begin a joyous season, and the 
city of Washington is never more beautiful than during

[[Page 2895]]

the holidays. At Christmastime, we celebrate good tidings first 
announced 2,000 years ago and still a source of great joy in our world. 
Laura and I are always happy to join in the Pageant of Peace, and we 
thank you all for coming this evening.
    I thank our special guests. I want to thank Santa for such good 
weather. [Laughter] I appreciate Peter, the chairman of the Pageant of 
Peace, and his wife, Nancy. I want to thank John Betchkal, the president 
of the Christmas Pageant of Peace. I want to thank the members of the 
board of the Christmas Pageant of Peace for your hard work in putting on 
this joyous festival. I want to thank Secretary of the Interior Gale 
Norton. I want to thank other members of my Cabinet who are here 
tonight. I appreciate the Members of Congress who are here.
    I want to thank Fran Mainella, who is the Director of the Parks 
Service, and all the National Parks Service employees. I thank Dr. 
Schuller and all the entertainers. Thanks so very much for being here 
tonight.
    The season of Advent is always the season of hope. We think of the 
patient hope of men and women across the centuries who listened to the 
words of the prophets and lived in joyful expectation. We think of the 
hope of Mary, who welcomed God's plan with great faith. We think of the 
hope of the wise men who set out on a long journey guided only by a 
slender promise traced in the stars. We are reminded of the hope that 
the grandest purposes of the Almighty can be found in the humblest 
places. And we embrace the hope that all the love and gifts that come to 
us in this life are the signs and symbols of even a greater love and 
gift that came on a holy night. The old carol speaks of a ``thrill of 
hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious 
morn.'' And every year at this time we feel the thrill of hope as we 
wait on Christmas Day.
    This Christmas, as loved ones come together, some in our military 
are separated from family by the call of duty a long way from home. We 
have service men and women celebrating the holidays at bases from Europe 
to East Asia and on many fronts in the war on terror. Especially for 
those deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the work is dangerous and the 
mission is urgent. American service men and women are bringing freedom 
to many and peace to future generations. Their sacrifices defend us all, 
and all Americans are grateful to them and to our military families.
    Across our country, citizens are supporting our people in uniform 
with their prayers and many acts of kindness. Often the effort is led by 
children. In Chantilly, Virginia, Brownie Troop 5179, who are here 
tonight, by the way, collected donations of candy and sun screen, bug 
spray, and handmade cards to send to our soldiers overseas. They 
gathered more than 200 pounds of gifts and made sure the packages 
arrived on time for the holidays. I'm sure those thoughtful gifts were 
gladly received.
    And I thank the Brownies for reminding the good people of our 
military how much they mean to America. And to show our appreciation to 
the Brownies of Chantilly, Virginia, and all those who volunteer in our 
blessed land, we have two representatives of the Troop to help Laura and 
me light our national Christmas tree.
    And so, if Nichole and Clara will come forward, we will turn on the 

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