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pd17my04 Remarks to the American Conservative Union 40th Anniversary Gala...

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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i]
Monday, May 17, 2004


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[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-vii]
Pages 817	901

[[Page ii]]



Addresses and Remarks

    American Conservative Union 40th anniversary gala--885
    Arkansas, Butterfield Junior High School in Van Buren--856
    Execution of Nicholas Berg--870
        Departure for Bethesda--870
        Discussion at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda--870
    Millennium Challenge Account nations, ceremony honoring--847
    Missouri, Victory 2004 luncheon in Bridgeton--890
    Radio address--846
    Super Bowl champion New England Patriots--855
    Virginia, meeting with the national security team and military 
        leaders in Arlington--849
    West Virginia, discussion at Parkersburg South High School in 
        LaCrosse, remarks--837
        Prairie du Chien, question-and-answer session--824

Communications to Congress

    Budget amendment to establish a contingent emergency reserve fund to 
        support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, letter--875

    Executive order blocking property of certain persons and prohibiting 
        the export of certain goods to Syria, message reporting--868

Executive Orders

    Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Export of 
        Certain Goods to Syria--865

    Increasing Economic Opportunity and Business Participation of Asian 
        Americans and Pacific Islanders--882

Interviews With the News Media

        Al-Ahram International--817

        American Forces Radio and Television Service--851
  (Continued on the inside of the back cover.)

Editor's Note: The President was in Mequon, WI, on May 14, the closing 
date of this issue. Releases and announcements issued by the Office of 
the Press Secretary but not received in time for inclusion in this issue 
will be printed next week.

[[Page iii]]



    Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month--843
    Mother's Day--845
    National Physical Fitness and Sports Month--844
    Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week--846

Statements by the President

    Executive order blocking property of certain persons and prohibiting 
        the export of certain goods to Syria--865

Statements by the President--Continued

    Panama-United States Proliferation Security Initiative ship-boarding 
    Senate passage of the proposed ``Individuals with Disabilities 
        Education Improvement Act''--882

Supplementary Materials

    Acts approved by the President--901
    Checklist of White House press releases--901
    Digest of other White House announcements--898
    Nominations submitted to the Senate--900

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[[Page 817]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 817-824]
Pages 817	901
Week Ending Friday, May 14, 2004
Interview With Al-Ahram International

May 6, 2004

U.S. Goals in the Middle East

    Q. I have learned that President Mubarak sent you, recently, two 
important messages. I don't know, I mean, the contents of these 
messages, but I assume that of course it be linked by the situation in 
Iraq and Palestine. I would like to ask, in the beginning, one general 
question about how do you look at this vision of the Middle East.
    The President. Well, first of all, I communicate with President 
Mubarak a lot, because I value his judgment, and we've got a frank 
relationship where if he thinks things are going badly, he'll tell me. 
In other words, he doesn't gloss over.
    I think that things in the Middle East for the United States are 
difficult right now. I think they're difficult because people don't 
really understand our intentions. I think they're difficult because some 
people ascribe bad values and bad motives to the American people and the 
American Government.
    Our intentions are to work for free societies and peaceful 
societies. Our intentions are to protect our own security, on the one 
hand, but also enable people to live in peace. Obviously, our reputation 
has been damaged severely by the terrible and horrible acts, inhumane 
acts that were conducted on Iraqi prisoners. Today, I can't tell you how 
sorry I am to them and their families for the humiliation.
    I'm also sorry because people are then able to say, ``Look how 
terrible America is.'' But this isn't America. That's not--Americans are 
appalled at what happened. We're a generous people. I don't think a lot 
of people understand that, so I've got to do a better job of explaining 
to people that we're for a lot of things that most people who live in 
the Middle East want. We want there to be peace. We want people to have 
a living. We want people to send their kids to schools that work. We 
want there to be health care. We want there to be a Palestinian state at 
peace with its neighbors. We want there to be reform. We want people to 
have a chance to participate in the process.
    But I'd say right now times are tough for the United States and the 
Middle East.
    Q. I have four topics, Mr. President: Iraq, the Israeli-Arab issue, 
the so-called greater Middle East, and bilateral--which one do you 
choose of them, Mr. President?
    The President. Whatever you want to do, sir. You're the 
distinguished journalist.

Arab-Israeli Conflict

    Q. Thank you very much, indeed. Okay, I will shoot for the Arab-
Israeli conflict.
    The President. Okay.
    Q. Many Arabs feel that after the letter of assurances you gave to 
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, any future Palestinian state would 
exist on less than half what the partition plan offered them in '47. How 
do you reconcile this with a moral concept of justice?
    The President. First of all, I made it very clear in my letter that 
I recognized circumstances had changed, but I made it very clear of a 
couple of very important points. One, that any final status would be 
negotiated by the parties, that would be the Israelis and the 
Palestinians, not the United States. We won't prejudge final status.
    Secondly, I made it clear that I supported what the Prime Minister 
had done, because I think it's a great opportunity for the establishment 
of a Palestinian state. I'm the first President ever to have articulated 
the vision of a Palestinian state.
    Q. I'm writing here, and I wanted to appreciate that very highly.
    The President. Well, I'll tell you, and I'm somewhat amazed, sir, 
that the debate has already started about what the end results are going 
to look like when we haven't even

[[Page 818]]

really begun yet to establish a state. I think the focus ought to be on 
putting the institutions in place for a Palestinian state that is 
peaceful and prosperous to emerge.
    I think it's very important for reform-minded Palestinians to step 
up and ask the world for help, in order to build the security apparatus 
needed for a state to grow: Ask for education help; ask for help to 
stimulate the entrepreneurial class so businesses will grow. I believe 
it'll happen. And when it does happen, the final status issues will be 
much easier to solve.
    In other words, when there is a state that's up and running and 
prosperous and has the confidence of Egypt and Israel and America and 
the EU and the rest of the world, it'll be much easier for these final--
these tricky issues to be solved between the two parties. And so now is 
the time not to be arguing over what the world will look like down the 
road. We ought to be arguing about what the world can look like this 
year. And that's why the roadmap is so important.
    The United States is firmly committed to the roadmap. I'm sending a 
letter to the--I announced today I'm going to send a letter to the 
Palestinian Prime Minister explaining that I'm committed to the roadmap, 
committed to two states living side by side in peace, but also reminding 
him it's now time to step up and show leadership, show leadership 
against the terrorists and show leadership in putting the institutions 
in place for a state to emerge.

Palestinian Right of Return

    Q. The right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and 
to be provided with compensation is legally assured in several U.N. 
    The President. Right.
    Q. The United States has also traditionally supported the right of 
refugees to return in recent major conflicts. How would you then justify 
making the Palestinian refugees an exception for accepted international 
laws under human rights conventions?
    The President. My comment, again, was this, that--and the right of 
refugees is a final status issue. And that's to be negotiated on between 
the Palestinians and the Israelis. When I said what has changed and what 
will change is when there's a Palestinian state to which Palestinians 
can go. There hasn't been one. And my point was, was that when a state 
is set up and the institutions are in place and people have a chance to 
make a living and it's peaceful, the entrepreneurial class is growing, 
small businesses, people are participating in the political process, 
that that's going to change the dynamic on the ground.
    I fully concede there's a lot--the compensation issue is an issue 
that's still being negotiated. The rights of--you know, the rights of 
Palestinians to return to Israel will be negotiated, but what I'm 
telling you is when a state emerges, it'll change the dynamic. And 
that's all I said in my comment.
    Again, I'll repeat to you, people want to focus on the future, when 
I think we ought to be focused right now on the right now, which is what 
is necessary to put a Palestinian state in place so people can have a 
chance to live in a hopeful society. And I'm frustrated, I must tell 
you, a little bit, because I think that there needs to be better 
leadership in saying, ``What can we do to help the Palestinian people 
develop a state?'' And there needs to be a new constitution, it seems 
like to me.
    And some of these reforms stalled. Heck, we've been talking about 
them for about 2 years, unfortunately, but now is an opportunity. And I 
think Prime Minister Sharon created an interesting dynamic, I really do, 
and that is withdrawal from the West Bank. You know, it wasn't all that 

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