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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    Listen, the ABM Treaty is outmoded and outdated, and we need to move 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outdated and not outmoded, I'm more than willing to listen.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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