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pd12no01 Satellite Remarks to the Central European Counterterrorism Conference...
want to see progress in the Middle East. That's why we are devoting enormous amounts of time to it. And I believe it is possible to see how we can make progress in the Middle East. And I described some of the ways that could happen when I was in the Middle East last week. So be under no doubt, either, that, irrespective of the action in Afghanistan, it is in everybody's interest that we make progress in the Middle East, and we will strain every sinew we possibly can to do so. Nuclear Arms Reduction/ABM Treaty Q. Mr. President, have you decided on a figure for how far you can cut the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, and do you agree with President Putin who said that a common approach can be devised for interpreting the ABM Treaty to allow for missile defense without abandoning the treaty? And if Mr. Blair could address the issue of, would a failure to reach an arms agreement undermine the momentum of the international coalition? President Bush. So much for Executive orders. [Laughter] Q. It was an umbrella question. [Laughter] President Bush. Oh, it was an umbrella question. I think it's best that I share with Mr. Putin the acceptable level of offensive weapons with him, before I do with you. And so I'm going to reserve--I'm not going to tell you until I tell him. [Laughter] Q. Have you reached a decision? Prime Minister Blair. And then, I guess I had better not, either. President Bush. I have reached a decision. And I've spent time thinking about the issue. I've told the American people that the United States will move to reduce our offensive weapons to a level commensurate with being able to keep the peace and, at the same time, much lower levels than have been negotiated in previous arms control agreements. We don't need an arms control agreement to convince us to reduce our nuclear weapons down substantially, and I'm going to do it. And I can't wait to share that information with the President. I will do so. Listen, the ABM Treaty is outmoded and outdated, and we need to move beyond it. It's exactly what I've been telling the President ever since I've been meeting with him, and my position has not changed. And if he's got some interesting suggestions on how to make the ABM Treaty not outdated and not outmoded, I'm more than willing to listen. But our Nation and this terrorist war says to me more than ever that we need to develop defenses to protect ourselves against weapons of mass destruction that might fall in the hands of terrorist nations. If Afghanistan or if the Taliban had a weapon that was able to deliver a weapon of mass destruction, we might be talking a little different tune about our progress against Al Qaida than we are today. So it's important for us to be able to develop defenses that work. And the ABM Treaty prevents us from doing that. Open Skies Agreements Q. Mr. Prime Minister, I'd like to divert your attention a little bit away from military conflicts toward the economic side of things. I'd like to ask you if you've had a chance at all to ask the President if they would formally launch open skies agreements and, if not, if that means that the UK's position is now that the EU is going to be handling this matter? Prime Minister Blair. No. I mean, no doubt we will discuss these issues, but we haven't yet. President Bush. We haven't had dinner yet. Q. But does that mean that the EU is going to be in charge of it now? Prime Minister Blair. No, it doesn't mean that at all. Operation Enduring Freedom Q. Mr. President, could I ask a question of your guest? But feel free to jump in if you so desire. President Bush. It depends on what the question is. Q. Well, sir, it is a multiple-part question, for which I am famous. But anyway, Prime [[Page 1612]] Minister, as you know, the air war in Afghanistan is one month old today. There are many experts on both sides of the Atlantic who believe that the air war is limited in its ability to really inflict a decisive blow against the Taliban. Many say the only way you can defeat the Taliban is to put boots on the ground. One, do you agree? And two, are you willing to commit large numbers of British troops, beyond the SAS and the Royal Marines, to the effort to defeat the Taliban? Prime Minister Blair. Well, first of all, let me say something to you I often say to our own media when I am asked a question about the precise nature of our military operations. And that is that I have learned in these situations that it is not a sensible thing to discuss in detail the types of military operation that you may undertake, for very obvious reasons. But we are completely committed to seeing this thing through. I think people know that the strategy has to encompass more than airstrikes alone, although do not underestimate the enormous damage that is now being done to Taliban frontline troops, because that is where the air power is being concentrated. But of course, there are other operations that we will mount, as well. And there are, obviously, the support and the assistance that we are giving to the Northern Alliance. There are the measures that we are taking of a political and diplomatic nature, as well. And when you said a moment or two ago that the airstrikes were just--and the conflict was a month old, I think it is probably just as well to reflect upon that for a moment. It is simply a month old. And we have begun this action. We have taken it at a number of different levels. I think it is already having a huge impact. Some of the information that I have seen--I think sometimes people don't always reflect on maybe enough when we state it to people--but literally, we have destroyed virtually all the terrorist training camps of Al Qaida; we have destroyed an enormous amount of the military infrastructure of the Taliban. Their air power, insofar as it exists, is completely taken out. We therefore have a very, very strong situation from which to move forward. And I think what is--what is different about this conflict is that every part of it has to come together; in other words, not just the military part but also the support for those parties in opposition to the Taliban, and the political and diplomatic aspects that help build a strong coalition that can secure the objectives we want to see. And I have absolutely no doubt at all that we will achieve the objectives that we want. And those objectives are very simple. Sometimes people say to me, ``Well, you know, clarify the military objectives.'' There's no difficulty about doing that at all. It's Al Qaida and the terrorist network shut down; it's the Taliban regime out; it's a new regime in that is broad-based; and it's a decent future for the people of Afghanistan, based on some stability and progress, not based on a regime that oppresses its people, treats its people appallingly, is a threat to regional stability, and basically thrives on the drugs trade. Now, I think those are pretty clear objectives, and I've absolutely no doubt at all that we will achieve them in full, and we will not let up until we do. President Bush. Thank you all. Note: The President spoke at 5:15 p.m. in the Cross Hall at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Usama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaida terrorist organization; and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The President also referred to the Report by the Sharm al-Sheikh Fact- Finding Committee, which was chaired by former Senator George J. Mitchell. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 1612-1613] Pages 1599-1630 Week Ending Friday, November 9, 2001 Letter to Congressional Leaders on Proposed ``Armies of Compassion'' Legislation November 7, 2001 Dear Mr. Leader: Since September 11, Americans have come together to help meet our national needs in this time of great crisis. They have given more than $1 billion to disaster relief efforts and many Americans have volunteered their time. Although individual generosity is evident everywhere, thousands of our Nation's charities, paradoxically, have been suffering. Donations to organizations not directly involved in disaster relief have [[Page 1613]] declined dramatically. Soup kitchens are low on food. Mentoring programs for needy children are low on dollars. America's charities have stood by America--it is now time for America to stand by her charities, as they suffer from the economic consequences of September 11. I believe the Congress must address these issues now. We must pass and sign into law an ``Armies of Compassion'' bill this year that encourages and supports charitable giving, removes unneeded barriers to government support for community and faith-based groups, and authorizes important initiatives to help those in need. The House of Representatives has already advanced key elements of this agenda, and Senators Santorum and Lieberman have made great strides on consensus legislation. I believe the Congress needs to come together before recess to consider a bill that would: <bullet> Provide incentives for charitable giving, such as the non- itemizers deduction for charitable contributions, tax-free distributions from IRAs, the charitable deduction for contributions of food, and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) to help low-income individuals save money; <bullet> Provide for equal treatment of community and faith-based charities, an expedited process for grassroots groups to become 501(c)(3) organizations, and a Compassion Capital Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building for community and faith-based groups; and <bullet> Provide support to populations in need, such as the more than 2 million children with a parent in prison. As you know, there is strong bipartisan support for these important measures. I hope that the Senate will find time to take up and pass these provisions before the Congress adjourns this year. Sincerely, George W. Bush Note: Letters were sent to Thomas A. Daschle, Senate majority leader; and Trent Lott, Senate minority leader. An original was not available for verification of the content of this letter. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 1613-1614] Pages 1599-1630 Week Ending Friday, November 9, 2001 Remarks During a Tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an Exchange With Reporters in Atlanta, Georgia November 8, 2001 The President. You know, a lot of Americans never heard of the CDC. They're wondering what CDC means. And they have learned that the folks who work at CDC are part of a vast army to fight off the terrorist attacks in America. And I'm so fortunate to be able to come by and say hello to the people that are working endless hours to provide good public health information, remedies, a quick response to people who have been affected by this evil attack. I believe--firmly believe that because of the good folks who work in this building and other buildings throughout Atlanta, Georgia, and throughout the country for CDC, that we've saved a lot of lives in America. And the very least I can do is come by and thank them for their hard work and their dedication to the country. So, for a group of folks that have made a difference in America, it's--and no one ever heard about, they're going to hear about--be heard about tonight. I'm going to talk about public health officials as part of being the new heroes of America. And that's why I've come by today, to thank them. Resources for the Centers for Disease Control Q. Mr. President, what sort of--[inaudible]--does the CDC need now from the administration? The President. Well, one of the things that they need is for there to be an organization that allows for the free flow of information--that when the CDC finds something, gets information, they're able to pass it throughout our Government. And we're getting really well organized. The CDC's whole function is to help save lives, and the faster information can move, the more analysis can happen on a real-time basis, the more likely it is people will live. In terms of the CDC budget, one of the jobs of Tom Ridge, the new Homeland Security Director, is to collect information. And we'll present a budget to Congress. And if we need to present a supplemental, we'll do [[Page 1614]] so next year. But we're collecting all the information to make sure that our strategy is seamless and the budget reflects a seamless strategy. Smallpox Vaccines Q. Mr. President, what's your take on the call for a universal application of smallpox vaccines for all Americans? The President. We're in the process of--I'm looking at different options for smallpox. One thing is for certain, we need to make sure vaccines are available if there were to ever be an outbreak. As to whether or not we ought to have mandatory vaccinations, I'm working with Tommy Thompson on that. One of my concerns is, if we were to have universal vaccination, some might lose their life. And I would be deeply concerned about a vaccination program that would cause people to lose their life. But I'm looking at all options, all possibilities, and we'll work with the smartest minds in America to develop the best strategies in how to deal with a potential smallpox attack. Homeland Security Q. Mr. President, do you think the Postal Service should be bailed out? The Postmaster General is suggesting billions may be needed. The President. We are looking at all opportunities to spend money in our Government, and we're going to make sure that any supplemental that may or may not occur next year fits into an overall national strategy. I told the appropriators in Congress that we believe we've got ample money to make it through the holiday season and the beginning of next year, that the $40 billion that they appropriated in the supplemental is ample to meet our homeland security needs as well as our defense needs, and that before we spend more money, let's make sure we have a national strategy to deal with the homeland defense issue. And that's--the Postal Service is part of the homeland defense. So we'll look at all opportunities to spend money. But I urge Congress not to break the budget agreement that we signed off to in early October. And I remind them that the $40 billion of supplemental is enough to meet the Nation's needs. We have hardly even begun to spend the $40 billion that they presented. But we're listening to all requests. Thank you, everybody. Q. Thank you, Mr. President. The President. My pleasure. Note: The President spoke at 5:25 p.m. in auditorium B of the CDC headquarters building. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov]
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