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16 January 2002

Transcript: Bush Welcomes Turkish Support of Anti-Terror Campaign

(Bush, Prime Minister Ecevit meet at White House) (1790)
President Bush says the United States is grateful that Turkey has been
steadfast in its support in the international campaign against
terrorism and appreciates the leadership of Prime Minister Bulent
Ecevit on both foreign policy and economic policy.
"You and your administration have made some very tough decisions. And
the economy is improving as a result of your leadership. And we look
forward to having a good discussion about how we can increase trade,"
Bush said during a photo opportunity with Ecevit before their talks in
the Oval Office January 16.
Ecevit thanked Bush for enhancing U.S.-Turkish cooperation and
friendship, and described his country's cooperation in the anti-terror
campaign as a "great service, not only for our own people, but for the
whole world."
Asked about U.S. intentions toward Iraq, Bush said he expects
President Saddam Hussein to let inspectors back into the country to
learn whether he is developing weapons of mass destruction.
"He claims he's not; let the world in to see," Bush said. "And if he
doesn't, we'll have to deal with that at the appropriate time."
Bush said he would consult closely with Turkey on any decisions he
makes regarding Iraq.
Asked about developments in the Cyprus situation, Bush thanked Ecevit
and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem for encouraging the dialogue
between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, saying "You can't solve a
problem unless the parties are willing to talk." Ecevit said Turkey
attaches great importance to U.S. efforts, and that while concrete
results might not be attained immediately, "the very process of
dialogue may lead to satisfactory agreements between the two
communities."
Following is the White House transcript of their remarks:
(begin transcript)
The White House
Washington, D.C.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT BUSH AND PRIME MINISTER BULENT ECEVIT OF
TURKEY IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY (DISCUSS WAR ON TERRORISM)
The Oval Office
3:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to have an opening statement, welcoming our
friend to the Oval Office. The Prime Minister is going to say a few
remarks. Both of us have agreed to take some questions. I would like
those traveling with the Turkish press to have a chance to ask some
questions today as well.
We'll both take two questions apiece. Thank you for coming, Mr. Prime
Minister. I'm proud to welcome you as a friend. You have been
steadfast in your support in the war against terror. And for that, my
nation is very grateful.
We appreciate your leadership when it comes to foreign policy, and we
appreciate your leadership when it comes to economic policy. You and
your administration have made some very tough decisions. And the
economy is improving as a result of your leadership. And we look
forward to having a good discussion about how we can increase trade.
And today, I'm informing the Prime Minister that we're lifting the
travel ban on Turkey so that our citizens can feel comfortable going
to that wonderful country to visit, and to enjoy the rich history of
one of our valued allies and friends. So, welcome, Mr. Prime Minister.
It's a delight to welcome you, and thank you for coming.
PRIME MINISTER ECEVIT: Thank you very much for your kind invitation,
Mr. President. It is a great honor for us. We deeply appreciate the
support that you have extended since you have taken over, to relations
with Turkey. We had always good relations with the United States in
your -- during your time of office. And you have totally enhanced this
cooperation and friendship.
We have some very good, concrete good news now, as you have referred
to it, Mr. President. The State Department has today issued a
statement expressing the will of the United States that we will be
able to form an economic partnership --
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
PRIME MINISTER ECEVIT: -- in additional to our political partnership.
We attach great importance to that -- our cooperation with you against
terrorism is a great service, not only for our own people, but for the
whole world.
The American determination to get rid of terrorism in the world is of
great importance, of historic importance, and we are glad we are very
happy that we have the chance to cooperate with you to that effect.
And Turkish and American cooperation, partnership now together with
economic partnership will be beneficial for both -- peoples of both
our countries.
We had very fruitful discussions during the brief period here. We
still have other items on our agenda, and we shall go to New York also
to visit the place of terrorism. Thank you very much for sharing this
time, for showing this generosity and friendship to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're welcome, sir.
PRIME MINISTER ECEVIT: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Holland, and then Sonia.
Q: Sir, what do both of you see as the chances of a negotiated
settlement with Cyprus --
THE PRESIDENT: I'll let the Prime Minister speak. Of course, we're
very encouraged that there is a dialogue now taking place. And I want
to thank the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for encouraging
that dialogue. You can't solve a problem unless the parties are
willing to talk.
And, Mr. Prime Minister, would you like to speak about the Cyprus
situation?
PRIME MINISTER ECEVIT: Yes. We attach great importance to our dialogue
with you with regard to Cyprus. It's good news that the leaders of the
two communities are now having face to face dialogue. They may not
attain concrete results immediately, but the very fact, the very
process of dialogue may lead to satisfactory agreements between the
two communities.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that very much. Anybody from the
Turkish press?
Q: Mr. President, to make your Iraqi policy more efficient, in your
efforts to make the Iraqi policy more efficient --
THE PRESIDENT: Iraqi policy?
Q: Yes, your policy towards Iraq. What are your expectations from the
Turkish government?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm going to have a discussion with the Prime
Minister about Iraq. And my expectations, most importantly, are not
from Turkey, are from Iraq. I expect Saddam Hussein to let inspectors
back into the country. We want to know whether he's developing weapons
of mass destruction. He claims he's not; let the world in to see.
And if he doesn't, we'll have to deal with that at the appropriate
time.
My discussions with the Prime Minister are going to be not only
regional in nature, but global in nature. And I will assure him that
we will consult closely with Turkey on any decisions that I make.
Turkey is an ally and a friend. And no decisions have been made beyond
the first theater. And the first theater is Afghanistan, and I do
appreciate very much the Turkish support for our efforts in
Afghanistan.
Q: What if Saddam Hussein doesn't let the -- inspectors --?
THE PRESIDENT: If he doesn't let them in? He'll find out.
Q: On the question of Afghanistan, do you support the Turkish idea of
leading the peacekeeping operation there? And if the United States
essentially made the peace there, why not involve U.S. troops in
keeping the peace?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, there's been a lot of international
interest in providing troops to help keep the peace. And we welcome
that support. As you know, the Brits have now taken the lead in the
first round. There are some discussions as to whether or not Turkey
will take the lead in the second round, and I appreciate their
consideration of this very important matter.
I believe there is plenty of troops from other nations that are
willing to help, and after all, I've made it clear that our troops
will be used to fight and win a war. And that's exactly what they've
done. We've sent them over to fight a war, and we're winning the war.
And on the other hand, we're more than willing to help with the
reconstruction efforts. We're -- make serious contributions to the
interim government of Afghanistan so they can help rebuild themselves.
We look forward to the conference in Tokyo. We'll have representatives
there.
Just today, Richard Armitage, our Deputy Secretary of State, met with
the Finance Minister of the interim government of Afghanistan, and
I've been told they had a very good discussion about how to get cash
starting to move into the coffers.
But I think there is ample support from around the world to provide
troops to help stabilize Afghanistan so the government can eventually
take over its own defense.
Q: Yes, but are you going to channel more funds to support Turkey in
its role in Afghanistan?
THE PRESIDENT: Channel more funds to support Turkey in its role in
Afghanistan? You mean, if and when they provide troops? That's what
you're talking about?
Q: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we haven't had that discussion yet. And one thing
for certain is that we're providing a lot of funds now in the Afghan
theater. After all, we're proudly leading the efforts to destroy the
Taliban and rout out the al Qaeda. As to reimbursements, that's a
discussion we'll have at a later date. Turkey hasn't made up her mind
yet as to whether or not she is going to lead the coalition forces.
We're just in discussion phases. So I think the budgetary phase -- the
budgetary discussions should take place after a commitment has been
made.
Q: -- generous -- Senator Kennedy called for --
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, let me comment. I appreciate that very much.
Q: I thought you might want to. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Mr. Prime Minister, we put a significant tax
relief package in place right at the right time. Our economy was
beginning to slow down in March of 2001. Fortunately, I was able to
work with both Democrats and Republicans in our Congress to get a good
tax relief package out. And when the economy slows down, it makes
sense to cut taxes. And that's exactly what's happened. And those who
want to revoke the tax cut, basically raise taxes, are those who just
don't share my view.
I think raising taxes in the midst of a recession is wrong economic
policy. It would be a huge mistake, it's bad for American workers, it
hurt when it comes to creating jobs, and so I strongly disagree with
those who want to raise taxes here in Washington, D.C. I'm confident
that the American people agree with me as well.
And if members of the House and the Senate listened to their
constituents and listened to those who want to find work, they will
understand the wisdom of our ways.
Thank you.
END 3:20 P.M. EST
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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