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Military

18 March 2002

Cheney, Kuwaiti Minister Discuss Iraq, Mideast Conflict

(Two countries call for Iraq's compliance with UN Resolutions) (2860)
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney told Kuwait's first deputy prime
minister and foreign minister that the United States will "work
closely with our friends here in Kuwait and elsewhere throughout the
region" to tackle regional security issues.
Cheney and Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah met March 18 to
discuss areas of cooperation, including the war on terrorism and the
Middle East peace process. The two gave a joint press conference
following their discussions.
On Iraq, Cheney reiterated the U.S. commitment to defend Kuwait and
stressed the U.N. Security Council demands on Iraq to admit weapons
inspectors.
"I want to assure the people of Kuwait that the United States remains
fully committed to doing everything we need to do to defend Kuwait's
sovereignty and independence," he said, "and we join you in demanding
that the Iraqi regime be made to honor in full its obligations under
Security Council resolutions, particularly its obligations to admit
weapons inspectors and to give them unimpeded access to any and all
suspect sites, to return Kuwait's stolen property and to account for
more than six hundred people who disappeared during the brutal
occupation of your country."
Shaykh Sabah said Kuwait "calls on Iraq and hopes that it would agree
to UN Security Council resolutions related to the disarmament of
weapons of mass destruction to protect the Iraqi people." While he
said his country would not support U.S. military action against Iraq,
"we hope that this won't happen, and hope that Iraq would appreciate
the circumstances of its people and agree to UN resolutions," he said.
On the Middle East peace process, Shaykh Sabah said that recent
negative developments have "threatened to push the region towards an
armed confrontation whereby all states of the region will be losers.
Therefore, action to support peace efforts in the region is
necessary." Cheney, who headed to Israel later that afternoon, said he
would look to U.S. envoy General Anthony Zinni for guidance on "what
if any contribution I can make to his ongoing efforts."
Following is the joint press conference transcript:
(begin transcript)
Public Affairs Office
Embassy of the United States of America
Kuwait City, State of Kuwait
March 18, 2002
Transcript of the Vice President of the United States of America
Richard Cheney and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of
Kuwait Shaykh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Joint Press Conference Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kuwait City, Kuwait
March 18, 2002
FOREIGN MINISTER: I have the pleasure in welcoming our friend, His
Excellency Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United Sates of
America, during his visit to Kuwait. I also have the pleasure in
commending the strong relations that link Kuwait with our friend the
United States of America. Our friend's visit reaffirms the United
States' awareness of the significance of exchanging visits between
officials of the two friendly states and continued consultation about
issues of mutual interests.
The State of Kuwait condemned from the first moment the terrorist
attacks on the United States on September 11 and supported the
international campaign against terrorism because it (Kuwait) was
previously a target for various types of terrorism and out of its
(Kuwait's) belief in the necessity of defending and protecting the
innocent.
The Middle East region witnessed recently negative developments that
seriously threatened the peace process, and threatened to push the
region towards an armed confrontation whereby all states of the region
will be losers. Therefore, action to support peace efforts in the
region is necessary. In this connection, I have the pleasure to
commend the recent American position in adopting (UN) Security Council
Resolution 1379 and sending General Zinni to the region to exert
efforts to enhance peace prospects.
Once again, I reiterate my welcome to our friend, His Excellency the
Vice President of the United States. Welcome.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Good afternoon. I am delighted once again to be
back in Kuwait and to have the opportunity to meet with His Highness
the Amir, with the Crown Prince, and with Deputy Prime Minister Shaykh
Sabah. I am proud to count many friends among the citizens of this
country, and, sir, I want to thank you and your people for the very
warm welcome that you have extended to me today.
I have come to the Middle East on behalf of President Bush to confer
with regional leaders on issues of importance, especially our
cooperative efforts in fighting terrorism and our determination to
promote Arab-Israeli peace and reconciliation. We are conferring as
well about other challenges to regional security, and the threat that
weapons of mass destruction pose to all of us.
Kuwait is one of America's closest friends. Our ties of friendship
were cemented in Operation Desert Storm, when we threw back the army
of a tyrant and restored the sovereignty of Kuwait and liberated her
people. A decade later, our two countries now stand together once
again in the urgent business of opposing global terror. Our
governments are equally committed to defeating this threat to the
civilized world. America especially welcomes Kuwait's actions to choke
off the flow of money, the terrorist organizations and their
supporters, and we look forward to building upon this cooperation in
the future. We also appreciate the U.S.-Kuwait military cooperation
that allows us to keep and check the continuing threat that we believe
Iraq presents to the region and to the people of Kuwait. I want to
assure the people of Kuwait that the United States remains fully
committed to doing everything we need to do to defend Kuwait's
sovereignty and independence, and we join you in demanding that the
Iraqi regime be made to honor in full its obligations under Security
Council resolutions, particularly its obligations to admit weapons
inspectors and to give them unimpeded access to any and all suspect
sites, to return Kuwait's stolen property and to account for more than
six hundred people who disappeared during the brutal occupation of
your country.
The Amir, the Crown Prince, the Deputy Prime Minister, and I have
spoken of these and other matters in our productive meetings today.
For me, this has been a week of open, frank discussions with Middle
Eastern leaders on a wide range of issues that concern us all. Here in
Kuwait, I have again benefited from the wise council of long-time
acquaintances. To them and to all Kuwaitis, I bring the respect and
good wishes of the American people and of President George W. Bush.
QUESTION: Shaykh Sabah, this question is addressed to you. To what
extent is Kuwait committed to the security agreements between Kuwait
and the United States?
FOREIGN MINISTER: Kuwait is committed to the agreement signed between
Kuwait and the United States. It (this agreement) still stands and
both parties are committed to it. Therefore, there are no changes with
regards to this agreement.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I agree.
QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, as you head to Israel, I would like to
know under what conditions you would meet with Yasser Arafat and
should Israel allow him to attend the Arab League Summit? And I would
also like to know your priorities in talks on oil policy with Gulf
leaders, such as are you seeking assurances for price stability if
Iraqi supplies are cut off? Are you seeking access to refined products
for U.S. military needs?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Is that all? With respect to the situation in
Israel, I will be there later this afternoon. Upon my arrival, I plan
to meet with General Zinni. He is in the midst of very difficult and
delicate negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians and
what if any contribution I can make to his ongoing efforts is
something I'll look to him for guidance on this afternoon. With
respect to - I think I have stated exactly what I wanted to state and
I'll leave it right there. The second part of your question? (On oil
policy.) I have talked in a couple of instances with my host about
developments in the energy business. I have not come specifically
focused upon the notion of trying to alter or change their policies
with respect to the oil business. They're all sovereign states. They
make those decisions. The United States has made it clear that we
believe it is in the interest of both producers and consuming nations
to have stability in prices. The wide swings in prices are not in
anybody's interest, and that position hasn't changed. (What about
refined products?) Refined products? I haven't talked to anybody about
refined products. I haven't talked to anybody about that. Those are
logistics matters that are being handled by our people on the scene.
QUESTION: There are lots of questions in the region that the Iraqi
regime continues to pose a threat to the region. If the United States
makes any military decision, will the countries of the region support
this (decision)?
FOREIGN MINISTER: Kuwait calls on Iraq and hopes that it would agree
to UN Security Council resolutions related to the disarmament of
weapons of mass destruction to protect the Iraqi people. We feel that
it will be the Iraqi people who would be exposed to any war or strike.
Therefore, we hope that this won't happen, and hope that Iraq would
appreciate the circumstances of its people and agree to UN resolutions
regarding the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and accepting
the delegation (of weapons inspectors) to Baghdad.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, precisely under what conditions would
you support military action against Iraq, and Mr. Vice President,
there's been a Gallup poll showing something like nine percent of the
Islamic world thinks the U.S. role in Afghanistan is morally justified
and in Kuwait it's like I believe 89 percent saying that Arabs were
not involved in the September 11th attacks. What are we to make of
that?
FOREIGN MINISTER: With regards to Kuwait and its position, if there is
any action by the United States, we will not support this matter. We
won't support it not because Iraq is a friend to Kuwait, in as much as
it is because the current circumstances are not suitable and the Iraqi
regime will not be harmed as much as the Iraqi people will by this
matter. That's why I'd hoped that the Iraqi regime would appreciate
what could happen to its people if it refuses to receive the
disarmament of weapons of mass destruction delegation in Iraq.
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: With respect to the question on public opinion
polls, I'm not familiar with the particular polls you cite, Jim. I've
found during the course of my travels and the work that I've been
involved in with the administration in terms of our operations in
Afghanistan that there's been a widespread support for the war on
terror, that the people of Afghanistan felt -- and expressed their
thanks -- felt liberated once the Taliban regime was removed. It's
clearly in everybody's interest to eliminate the sources of terrorism
that have afflicted not only the United States, but many other
countries around the world. I think that those are important
considerations, and I generally don't comment on polls in the United
States, and I'm probably not going to begin now here in Kuwait.
QUESTION: As a Kuwaiti, I welcome you back home. My question is if the
United States of America decides on ousting President Saddam Hussein,
would it be under the resolutions the United Nations had upon
liberating Kuwait or would it be under the campaign of fighting
terrorism?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, I never like to speculate about future
prospective actions or policies of the United States. But the
President's made clear, as I tried to reiterate again in my statement
today, that we believe Iraq has an obligation to comply with the UN
Security Council resolutions which they agreed to at the end of the
war that deal with such things as weapons of mass destruction, the
Kuwaiti prisoners, and stolen property, and etc. That's still our
position, and continues to be our position. The difficulty I think
that we have all faced in the region is the international community
has been consistent in its approach. The problem, the force for
instability, the aggressor, has consistently been Saddam Hussein. That
situation today, unfortunately, is still of concern to the United
States. The President's addressed it previously, and it continues to
be of concern, and we'll work closely with our friends here in Kuwait
and elsewhere throughout the region to try to protect and preserve the
peace and stability that we all care about, obviously, very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, last Thursday, during your press
conference with President Mubarak in Egypt, you praised the Saudis for
offering what is routinely described now as a vision for peace between
the Israelis and the Palestinians. That same day during a press
conference at the White House, President Bush also praised the Saudis
for quote unquote stepping up and offering a vision of peace. Yet that
same day, the Saudi government-run newspaper carried a lengthy article
describing how Jews acquire and drink human blood for Purim
ceremonies. Given such behavior, why should Israelis, or American
Jews, or people of decency anywhere believe that the Saudis are indeed
committed to peace, and what have you, sir, personally done on this
trip to discourage the dissemination of such poisonous hate speech?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: I think it would be a mistake to equate views
that are expressed in that newspaper with the views of Crown Prince
Abdullah and what he has put forward in Saudi Arabia. Obviously, those
kinds of anti-Semitic comments are strongly opposed and disagreed with
by, I think, all proper thinking people, whether they're American or
in the Middle East. But I would think it would be a mistake to try to
equate what appeared in a newspaper with the policies of the
government of Saudi Arabia. I reiterate what I said. Once again, I
think the Crown Prince has made a very positive contribution in
stepping forward and offering up his vision and that it's part and
parcel of what the President has done with respect to the views he has
expressed, and the hopes and aspirations for peace between the
Israelis and Palestinians. We'll continue to do everything we can to
resolve that conflict and the bloodshed.
QUESTION: The U.S. has proposed the Mitchell Plan and the Tenet Plan,
and now has accepted the UN resolution and Mr. Zinni is now in the
region, while the bloodshed still continues on the Israeli part and
Sharon's massacres still continue to occur. Do you not think that the
U.S. should be applying more pressure so that the bloodshed will stop.
I mean, until when are we going to keep on introducing plans and the
bloodshed is still continuing?
VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: We are, as I mentioned before, and as I think
is obvious from the activities of our government -- the statements of
the President, the UN resolution which we helped author and supported
earlier this week, the return of General Zinni to the region -- doing
everything we can to promote a ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed
and to begin some kind of a negotiating process. We do not believe
that the conflict is one-sided, in the sense that one can suggest, for
example, that only the Israelis are responsible for the bloodshed.
When an innocent child dies, whether it's Israeli or Palestinian, it's
a tragedy. We believe it's incumbent upon all of the governments in
this part of the world, including the United States, to do everything
we can to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians, in particular
Mr. Arafat and Mr. Sharon, to enter into a ceasefire, to do everything
they can to put a lid on the violence so that there is no further loss
of life, and to return once again to productive negotiations hopefully
leading to a world in which there is a homeland for Palestinians and
for Israelis, and that they can live side by side in peace and not
experience the kind of tragedy that we've all witnessed in recent
months.
FOREIGN MINISTER: I would like to say something, if you don't mind,
Mr. Vice President. Kuwait denounces the actions undertaken by Israel
in Palestine, which have resulted in hundreds of victims. There have
also been victims from Israel, and that is not in the interest of the
Palestinian issue. We denounce all of these actions. We hope that the
Vice President, during his visit to Palestine and Israel, would taken
into consideration Yasser Arafat's presence in the Beirut (Arab
League) summit. This would be a credit to the United States that it
has done something for the brothers in Palestine. Therefore, I hope
that the Vice President would take this wish into consideration during
his visit either to Palestine or Israel and that we would find our
brother Yasser Arafat with us in the (Arab League) summit which will
be held in Beirut on the 27th of this month.
(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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