Transcript: Bush, Fox, and Martin Joint Press Conference

FDCH E-Media, Inc.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005; 1:20 PM

The following is a transcript of the joint press conference by President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin

BUSH: Thank you all for coming. It's my honor to welcome two friends to Baylor University.
First, I want to thank the Baylor University family for providing these facilities for us. Your hospitality is awesome.

I appreciate the meetings we've just had. Our relationships are important today. We intend to keep our relationships strong. Our relationships will be equally important for the years to come.

And so we had a good discussion about prosperity and security. Turns out the two go hand in hand. It's important for us to work to make sure our countries are safe and secure in order that our people can live in peace, as well as our economies can grow.

We've got a lot of trade with each other. We intend to keep it that way. We've got a lot of crossings of the border, and intend to make our borders more secure and facilitate legal traffic.

BUSH: We've got a lot to do. And so we charged our ministers with the task of figuring out how best to keep these relationships vibrant and strong.

And I appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and the president toward a spirit of partnership to outlast whatever politics may occur, that puts in place a firm commitment to markets and democracy and freedom and trade and mutual prosperity and mutual security.

BUSH: And so, I want to welcome our friends. After we go through this exercise of democracy, of me answering your questions, I'm looking forward to hosting them to the ranch for a little lunch and a further discussion.

We'll be spending time talking about the neighborhood, the countries in our region, and how best we can work together to make sure that democracy is firmly a part of the future of this neighborhood of ours.

BUSH: And so, Mr. President, welcome. The podium is yours, sir.


MARTIN: Good afternoon. It's a real pleasure to be here in Texas and to stand with President Bush and President Fox as representatives of a strong North America.

MARTIN: We represent three sovereign nations that have formed one of the most successful partnerships in the world.

That being said, we also recognize that we cannot be complacent. The world is not standing still. New economic powerhouses, such as China and India, are rising, and we face new opportunities, but we also face new challenges.

And this requires a renewed partnership: stronger, more dynamic, one that is focused on the future.

We are determined to forge the next generation of our continent's success. That's our destination. The Security and Prosperity Partnership that we are launching today is the road map to getting there.

MARTIN: I'm going to be a little longer than you were, President Bush, because I got to do this in two languages.


This partnership is finding practical ways to help our citizens live healthier, safer and more productive lives. It's about good jobs, with higher incomes. It's about a secure continent, cleaner water, cleaner air.

One thing is very clear, and that is when we work together as countries to make North America safer and more competitive, then the fact is all of the continent and all of our citizens benefit from that collective achievement.


In terms of prosperity, what we seek to do is to improve the competitiveness of our industries, expand consumer choice by cutting red tape. We want to eliminate regulations that are a nuisance, not a necessity. And we want to maintain the highest standards of health care and safety for our citizens.

We want to pursue agreed approaches based on sound science that will help us avoid the risk of hidden protectionism, as some would advocate in responding to BSE.

And I want to thank President Bush, I want to thank President Fox for the support that they have shown.

We look forward to the day in the future when, notwithstanding all of the lobbying, all of the legal challenges, all of North America is open to our safe and high-quality beef.

In terms of security, we understand that protecting our borders is a crucial checkpoint on the road to our collective prosperity. Our safe borders secure our people not only against terrorism, but they make possible a speedy flow of goods, services and people and information among our three nations.

MARTIN: And standing on the shoulders of the Smart Borders Initiative, we are making new investments in security and in defense spending. Quite simply, Canada is a full and forceful partner in building a secure North America.

We have agreed -- and I've got a long list here, Mr. President, which I'm going to forgo -- basically, a long list of items that we have agreed that we will task our ministers to accomplish. And then we will hold them to account as we will be held to account by our people.

Let me just say that these measures involve everything from how do we deal with borders, how do we deal with infectious diseases and how do we deal with freshwater concerns like Devil's Lake, which I will be talking to you about over lunch.

MARTIN: Let me just say that when a public health risk emerges, we want our laboratory centers in Winnipeg, in Atlanta and in Mexico City talking to each other. We want to improve our air and our water quality.

And we also want to make NAFTA work. And what that means -- and again this is something that we will be talking about -- is that we want the decisions of our dispute settlement panels to be respected and implemented. We want to resolve our differences in a fair manner based on the rule of law.

And I'll continue to press for the resolution of softwood lumber dispute and I look forward to discussing means as to how we make this partnership work better.

Let me just say that we have committed, as leaders, to meet on a regulation basis. We're going to do this to assess our progress.


Mr. President, Mr. President, the efforts of the past decade have been successful but, as we've said this morning, it now falls to us to respond to new challenges, to seize new opportunities. The Security and Prosperity Partnership is out commitment to do so together.

BUSH: Thank you, Paul, I appreciate that very much.

We'll now answer two questions a side.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) federal courts continue to decline to allow the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube? And have you discussed options, next steps with your brother, the governor of Florida?

BUSH: I have not discussed next steps with my brother, who is the governor of Florida.

I have looked at all options prior to taking the action we took last weekend in concert with Congress. And we felt like the actions taken with Congress was the best course of action.

This is an extraordinary and sad case. And I believe that in a case such as this the legislative branch, the executive branch ought to err on the side of life, which we have. And now we'll watch the courts make its decisions. But we look at all options from the executive branch perspective.


BUSH: First, I am pleased that there are democracies in our hemisphere.

BUSH: As a matter of fact, every country is a democracy except one: Cuba. And that's incredible progress. And I look forward to working with whomever the people of Mexico choose.

The choice as to who will lead Mexico or any other country is not the choice of the United States president, the United States government or the United States people. It is the choice of the Mexican people. And I know the people of Mexico are proud of their democracy. I'm proud of the democratic traditions upheld by Vicente Fox.

In terms of the border, listen we've got a large border. We've got a large border with Canada; we've got a large border with Mexico.

BUSH: There are some million people a day crossing the border, from Mexico to the United States, which presents a common issue, and that is, how do we make sure those crossing the border are not terrorists or drug runners or gun runners or smugglers.

And I have told the president that we will -- I will continue to push for reasonable, common-sense immigration policy with the United States Congress.

This is an issue with which I have got a lot of familiarity. After all, I was the governor of this great state for six years, and I dealt with this issue a lot, not only with President Fox's predecessor, but with governors of border states and -- Mexican border states. Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

And I know the issue well. And I will continue to call upon Congress to be commonsensical about this issue.

And the basis of the policy is that if there is a job opening which an American won't do, in other words, and there's a willing worker and a willing employer, that job ought to be filled on a legal basis, no matter where the person comes from.

BUSH: That makes sense.

We need a compassionate policy. In other words, if this in place, then someone will be able to come and work from Mexico in the United States and be able to go home, back and forth across the border in a legal fashion.

It seems to make sense to me. It's a commonsensical way of doing things.

I think we ought to have a policy that does not jeopardize those who've stood in line trying to become legal citizens. We want to reward those who have been patient in the process. There're plenty of Mexican citizens who have applied for a citizenship. Their position in line should not be preempted because there's a worker program.

But there's a better way to enforce our border. And one way is to be compassionate and decent about the workers who are coming here to the United States.

And Mr. President, you've got my pledge I'll continue working on it. You don't have my pledge that Congress will act, because I'm not a member of the legislative branch.

BUSH: But you will have my pledge that I will continue to push our Congress to come up with rational, common-sense immigration policy.

QUESTION: A question to yourself and to President Bush and President Fox, as well.

You've been talking about cooperation, what you, Prime Minister, referred to as the new generation of success or the next generation of success. Keeping in mind in front of us the European Union, how much is this partnership a first step toward continental integration? If so, how far would you like to go and can you give us some sort of a road map, and perhaps give us a distinction between partnership and integration?

MARTIN: Well, what we're really talking about here is not a big thing. We're talking about big progress.

And if you look at each of the areas in which we have tasked our ministers, based on the work that they have already done, that is precisely what is coming out of this meeting and that's precisely why we want to be able to measure the success and hold people accountable for the targets that we have set.

MARTIN: So when you're talking about security, there's no doubt of what the importance of the security of our borders, given the increase in Canada's defense budget, our ability to work together, that obviously we want to make sure that there is the greatest degree of coordination between our defense and our border sources.

In terms of the economy, getting rid of nuisance regulation, making sure that we have better rules of origin, essentially what we want to do is to make sure, given the threat that we face from rising economies elsewhere, primarily in Asia -- both threats and an opportunity, by the way -- that, in fact, North America is as strong, as competitive as it can possibly be.

MARTIN: And there should be no restriction on that: quality of life, the environment, how we work together.

So that essentially what we really want to do is to make very, very substantial progress and to make sure that we continue to do it so that the forces of protectionism never take over North America and that we're as competitive as we can.

You'll forgive me....



BUSH: I think the future of our three countries will best be served by establishing trade relations with the rest of the hemisphere.

BUSH: It's, kind of, the most logical extension of a vision that recognizes that common trading areas are going to be needed in order to maintain the lifestyle, particularly as the Far East begins to emerge as strong competitors for capital and goods and services and markets.

We started to advance this idea in Quebec City, as a matter of fact, in 2000 with the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. To me that's the most practical extension of the recognition of the realities that we're all going to be facing as the 21st century evolves.

In order to make sure that the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas has a chance to succeed, it is important to show the sovereign nations in South America that trade has worked amongst the three of us.

BUSH: NAFTA's been a success. All you've got to do is go down to the border of our state. If you could have gone down 10 years ago and gone down today, you would have seen a marked difference of quality of life on both sides of the border. I mean, it's been a very successful program in order to lift the standard of living in Mexico and the United States.

And I think when people see that we're willing to continue to work through issues -- Canada, the United States and Mexico -- it may make it more palatable for countries to recognize the benefits of trade.

So the division you asked about in your question as to what kind of union might there be, I see one based upon free trade that would then entail commitment to markets and democracy, transparency, rule of law.

BUSH: To this extent, we have entered into an agreement with the Central American nations called CAFTA. I think it's -- I know it's an important part of the prosperity agenda throughout the hemisphere. And I asked Congress to make sure that they approve CAFTA this year.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice has made clear that the United States is growing impatient with North Korea's refusal to come back to the six-way talks, and there's been talk that the United States has a June deadline.

What consequences would there be if they don't come back to the talks? And also, is China doing enough to keep the pressure on?

BUSH: Thank you for bringing up Secretary Rice. She just got back from her trip Monday evening, and came down to Crawford yesterday to brief me on the trip.

BUSH: I'm grateful that she took time out of her schedule to come down and talk about, not only the discussions she had with China, but discussions she had with South Korea and Japan, the leaders of India and Pakistan, and she also went to Afghanistan. So she had an extensive trip and about a two-hour briefing, I want you to know.

She set deadlines. What we said is what we've said to North Korea: If you want the way forward, if you want to be accepted by the world, if you want not to be isolated, get rid of your weapons programs.

And fortunately, it's not just the United States of America saying that. China says that. As a matter of fact, it was here at Crawford that Jiang Zemin, at the ranch, said that the foreign policy goal of the Chinese is for there to be no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

And Hu Jintao made that clear to Secretary Rice that that is still the objective of the Chinese government.

BUSH: So we share an objective. We share a goal.

The Japanese share that goal. The South Koreans share that goal. The Russians share that goal.

So we've got five nations saying the same thing to North Korea. And we'll continue saying it to North Korea.

And I'm a patient person. And so are a lot of people that are involved in this issue. But the leader of North Korea must understand that when we five nations speak, we mean what we say.

And there is a way forward, I repeat, for Kim Jong Il. And it's his choice to make. We've made our choice. China has made its choice. The other countries have made their choices.

And for the sake of peace and tranquility and stability in the Far East, Kim Jong Il must listen.

And so I am pleased with the report I got from the secretary. I am pleased that today Hu Jintao and the Chinese government expressed continued interest in this subject and understanding of the importance of the five of us working together to achieve the common objective that we have set out.


BUSH: I'm against vigilantes in the United States of America. I'm for enforcing law in a rational way. And so we've got a Border Patrol and they ought to be in charge of enforcing the border.

BUSH: We're talking about migration, of course. We spent a lot of time talking about migration. We've got a big border with Canada, big border with Mexico, and it's an important issue.

The issue on the borders is not just people, it's goods and services. And so the agreements we're talking about, the way to strengthen our relationship of course includes a border policy and will continue to include border policy.

I forgot the other part of your three-part question. You had something you asked. I can't remember what it was.

QUESTION: About energy.

BUSH: Energy, yes.

Look, yes, we're using a lot of it and we need to conserve better in the United States. And we're dependent on energy from overseas and we've got to become less dependent on energy from overseas.

We appreciate the fact that Canada's tar sands are now becoming economical and we're glad to be able to get the access toward 1 million barrels a day headed toward 2 million barrels a day, and I want to thank -- by the way, an advantage for open trade.

The American people must understand that when there is open trade it helps solve our energy deficiency. But one thing we can certainly do is cooperate better on sharing technologies.

BUSH: Look, we're going to have to change our habits. We're going to have to, you know, develop a hydrogen-powered automobile.

And we look forward to working together. We've got integrated automobile industries between the three of us. And someday hopefully our automobile industries of our respective countries will be on the leading edge of technological change when it comes to helping change the habits of our consumers.

We're going to need liquefied natural gas coming into our three countries and into our markets, and I look forward to working with the presidents on how to develop, you know, more access to liquefied natural gas which -- and there's a lot of natural gas in the world. The question is, how do we economically get it to our respective markets?

BUSH: I recently went and saw those developing zero-emission coal-fired plants. I think we spend about $1 billion on what's called the FutureGen project. Look forward to working with our respective countries on sharing technologies and how to move forward to come up with zero-emissions coal-fired plants.

And so there's a lot we can do and will do on energy.

But there's no question the United States of America is hooked on foreign sources of energy. And I put forth a strategy to the United States Congress in 2001. They're still debating it, the issue.

BUSH: Now is the time to get a bill to my desk. This is the year. People see the prices of their gasoline are rising at the pumps, and I am concerned, and the American people are concerned. And it's now time to implement the strategy that we've laid out in law.

BUSH: But no, this is a very important subject matter. Thank you for bringing it up. We spend a lot of time discussing it.



MARTIN: In terms of energy, we all know of the tremendous capacity that exists within Mexico.

President Bush has referred to the tar sands, which are a great, great, opportunity.

And, in fact, the whole energy sector I think for all of us is a huge, huge opportunity in terms of our competitiveness with the rest of the world.

MARTIN: But in addition to the tar sands, you've got our conventional sources. You've got the Beaufort -- the whole question of pipelines that eventually will be addressed.

But there are also other areas -- renewables. The president talked about clean coal technology as an example. Renewables are dependent upon technology. We're putting a lot now into wind power.

MARTIN: There is, in the province of Saskatchewan a major project going on in terms of CO-2 sequestration, which essential will be a major factor in fighting -- in the whole climate change issue; tremendous opportunities for us, using these new technologies.

But the other thing that I would like to highlight, as well, in additional to nuclear, is Canada has great potential in terms of hydroelectricity -- northern Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, to simply only give you a couple of examples.

MARTIN: And what we've got to do, especially looking at the failure of the electricity grid in North America a year ago, we've got to make sure that that grid is very, very sound. So the opportunities for cooperation are huge.

BUSH: Final question.

QUESTION: My question is both to President Bush and Prime Minister Martin.

You've had some very sharp differences with Canada in the past, especially on issues like missile defense. Has this strained relations? And is the door still open for Canada to join missile defense in the future, something you call fundamental to the defense of North America?

MARTIN: Our relationships are very, very strong, and in a wide range of areas. And the fact that the three of us are meeting here today and that we have put out what is really quite an ambitious program that is going to be measurable I think is an indication of that.

Are there differences of opinion? Of course there have. There have been throughout our history and there will be in the future.

On BMD, the file is closed. But our cooperation in terms of defense, in terms of our borders, in terms of the defense of our common frontiers is not only very clear, but it is being accentuated.

MARTIN: And I've got to take that one step further. The defense of North America is not only going to take place in North America. Canada is playing an increasing role, as an example, in Afghanistan. And that's also part of the defense of North America.

So we are working together and we're going to continue to work together, increasingly and the whole way in which we establish a common security, in which we protect it and our defense.


BUSH: Yes, you know it's interesting, the kind of sharp differences.

BUSH: I guess that's -- sharp means kind of -- if you think about it, it means maybe differences so that we can't have a positive relationship. Look, we've got differences.

I don't know if you'd categorize them as differences that would then prevent us from finding common ground. I don't view it that way.

I can understand why people disagree with certain decisions I have made. But that doesn't prevent us from cooperating in intelligence-sharing, for example.

You know, a lot is made about softwood lumber and it's clearly a sensitive issue. I know it first hand. I've heard it ever since I became elected president. People are frustrated that we haven't got it solved. I understand that.

But think about all the trade we've got between our countries.

BUSH: And we resolved a lot of issues in a positive manner. And we'll continue to resolve them.

I mean, we had an issue with cows. And that is getting resolved.

I'm amazed that we don't have more sharp -- whatever you call them -- disagreements, because we're doing a lot together.

In other words, what I'm telling you is that I think the relationship is very strong and very positive. And, you know, just because somebody doesn't agree with our policy doesn't mean that we can't continue to have very positive relationships.

That's -- the relationship with Mexico and the relationship with Canada are very important for the United States of America. And are there going to be disagreements and differences.

And the fundamental question is: Do we have the capacity to continue moving forward with the relationship? And the answer is absolutely.

And I want to thank the leaders for coming. The people of our respective countries will see how vital these relationships are.

BUSH: And I look forward to our ministers reporting back with concrete action. They will be held to account.

You're right, Mr. Prime Minister.

And look forward to saying our respective peoples that -- and making clear that the relationship between America, Canada and Mexico is vital to our mutual prosperity, mutual health and the benefit of our folks.

Thank you all for coming. Good to see you.

FOX: Gracias.

MARTIN: Thank you.

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