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Transcript: Press Conference with President Bush and E.U. Leaders

So it's no surprise that in this process some problems may occur, but the European Union is there. We are on business. We are deciding. We are taking decisions every day internally and externally, and we are committed to this very close relation with the United States.

Let me just underline two points that are very important also in our relation that we will be going on discussing in Gleneagles in the next G-8 summit in Scotland, is the cooperation in terms of environment.

BARROSO: We are looking forward to our dialogue with the United States about climate change, new technologies to face those challenges, energy efficiency, energy security -- we adopted an important statement on that -- and also development; what we can do together for Africa and for the developing world. We also adopted a common statement on Africa that shows our commitment.

I think this is a real problem, and this is a task of a generation. We are together promoting democracy and freedom, but every day 25,000 people die because they don't have enough to eat or they don't have clean water to drink. This is really a shame for our generation. And we cannot accept is as a kind of natural order of things. It's not natural.

Now, nobody thinks that slavery is natural, but it was natural for centuries. You could live in slavery.

How can we go on living with people dying because they don't have the basic needs? There are enough resources in the world. There are enough resources in the world. What we need is political will and good organization.

And when I say good organization, I say good organization on the donors community, but also on them, on the African leaders, on the Third World leaders, that they can also work with us for better governance, for the rule of law, for accountability in their societies and transparency in their societies.

BARROSO: And I hope that this year we can take full advantage of this year with the high-level event in September in New York, with the Gleneagle summit and other occasions, so the United States and Europe will be front-running this battle against absolute poverty and also for freedom and democracy around the world.

Thank you.

BUSH: Thank you, Jose.

A couple of questions.

QUESTION: Mr. President, by all accounts the votes just aren't there to end the filibuster against your nomination of John Bolton to go to the U.N. Your secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, wouldn't rule out a recess appointment. There is a recess coming up.

Where do you go from here? And would a recess appointment give Mr. Bolton enough time to do the kind of changes at the U.N. that you are looking for?

BUSH: I think Mr. Bolton ought to get an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. That's my call to the Senate.

I nominated John Bolton to be the ambassador of the United Nations for a reason. I'm sharing this now with my friends here. The American people know why I nominated him: because the U.N. needs reform. And I thought it made sense to send a reformer to the United Nations.

The U.N. is an important organization and the American people I think will understand how important it is when the U.N. is reformed and is held to account. And so we want more accountability and transparency and less bureaucracy. And John Bolton will help to achieve that mission.

And so I think it's time for the Senate to give an up-or-down vote now. And I'm not sure if they've made the decision to have that vote. I think tomorrow there's going to be an up-or-down vote, if I'm not mistaken.


BUSH: Tonight? Tonight? Yes.

Well, put him in. If they're interested in reforming the United Nations, they ought to approve John Bolton.

You want to call on somebody?

QUESTION: Mr. President, you spoke of common values with Europe and the United States and a strong Europe.

Would you say that today, after the two summits between the European Union and the United States, that the partnership has become, again, friendship between Europe and the United States? And how do you see the (inaudible) the Luxembourg presidency in that issue?

BUSH: Well, I appreciate that.

First, the relations with Europe are important relations, because we do share values and they're universal values. They're not American values or, you know, European values; they're universal values. And those values, being universal, ought to be applied everywhere. And that's human rights, human dignity, rule of law, transparency when it comes to government, decency.

And, obviously, if the E.U. and the U.S. speak with one voice on these issues, it's more likely to hear -- people hear it.

I think the friendships between our respective countries and the E.U. are strong.

BUSH: And, obviously, there's been a difference of opinion recently on certain issues, but that doesn't prevent the American people from holding the good folks of Luxembourg or Portugal in high esteem.

There's a lot of traffic between our countries, a lot of tourism, a lot of trade, a lot of commerce between individual countries within the E.U. and the United States.

And that's because of mutual respect and the desire for people to get to know the world better.

And, in terms of your prime minister, he's an interesting guy.


He's a lot of fun to be around. He promotes serious business in a way that endears himself to people. And so I think his presidency has been an important presidency during difficult times. And he's handled it well.

And I was going to say he's a piece of work, but that might not translate too well.


Is that all right, if I call you a piece of work?



He's done a good job, and I value his friendship. I know it's really important for people, when we sit down at the table, to have a friendship so we can discuss things in a frank way, in an honest way, without fear of being able to tell people what's on our mind.

That's the best way to get things done, and Jean-Claude certainly has been that way, as has Joseph.

QUESTION: Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary?

And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?

BUSH: I think about Iraq every day -- every single day. Because I understand we have troops in harm's way and I understand how dangerous it is there.

And the reason it's dangerous is because there's these cold- blooded killers that will kill Americans or kill innocent Iraqis in order to try to drive us out of Iraq.

I spoke to our commanders today -- Commander Abizaid today and will be speaking to General Casey here this week, getting an assessment as to how we're proceeding.

We're making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq and, on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves.

And the report from the field is that, while it's tough, more and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves.

BUSH: And that's exactly the strategy that's going to work. And it is going to work. And we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.

And you just heard, the E.U. is willing to host this conference with the United States in order to help this new democracy move forward. And the reason why is, many countries understand that freedom in the heart of the Middle East will make this world more peaceful.

And so, you know, I think about this every day -- every single day. And I will continue thinking about it, because I understand we've got kids in harm's way. And I worry about their families. And, obviously, any time there's a death, I grieve.

But I want those families to know, one, we're not going to leave them -- not going to allow their mission to go in vain; and two, we will complete the mission and the world will be better off for it.

QUESTION: Mr. President, many in Europe...

BUSH: You're offending people here. We've got two other...


QUESTION: Mr. President, many in Europe are worrying that with the fight against terrorism, the commitment of the United States to human rights is not as big as it used to be: That has not only to do with Guantanamo, but also with the secret prisons where the CIA holds terror suspects.

My question is, what will happen to these people who are held in these secret prisons by the CIA? Will they ever see a judge, or is your thinking that with some terror suspects the rule of law should not apply or does not have to have applied?

BUSH: First of all, I appreciate that question.

And I understand those of us who espouse freedom have an obligation and those who espouse human rights have an obligation to live up to those words.

And I believe we are in Guantanamo. I mean, after all, there's 24-hour inspections by the International Red Cross.

BUSH: You're welcome to go down yourself -- maybe you have -- and take a look at the conditions.

I urge members of our press corps to go down to Guantanamo and see how they're treated and to see -- and to look at the facts. That's all I ask people to do.

There have been, I think, about 800 or so that have been detained. These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms. They weren't state- sponsored. But they were there to kill.

And so the fundamental question facing our government was: What do you do with these people?

And so we said that they don't apply under the Geneva Convention, but they'll be treated in accord with the Geneva Convention.

And so I would urge you to go down and take a look at Guantanamo. About 200 or so have been released back to their countries. There needs to be a way forward on the other 500 that are there.

We're now waiting for a federal court to decide whether or not they can be tried in a military court where they'll have rights, of course, or in the civilian courts. We're just waiting for our judicial process to move the process along.

Make no mistake, however, that many of those folks being detained -- in humane conditions, I might add -- are dangerous people.

Some have been released to their previous countries and they got out and they went onto the battlefield again. And I have an obligation, as do all of us who are holding office, to protect our people. That's a solemn obligation we all have.

BUSH: And I believe we're meeting that obligation in a humane way.

As well, we've got some in custody. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a classic example: the mastermind of the September the 11th attack that killed over 3,000 of our citizens. And he is being detained because we think he could possibly give us information that might not only protect us but protect citizens in Europe.

And at some point in time he'll be dealt with. But right now we think it's best that he be kept in custody.

We want to learn as much as we can in this new kind of war about the intention and about the methods and about how these people operate. And they're dangerous and they're still around and they'll kill in a moment's notice.

In the long run, the best way to protect ourselves is to spread freedom and human rights and democracy.

But if you've got questions about Guantanamo, I seriously suggest you go down there and take a look -- seriously -- and take an objective look as to how these folks are treated and what has happened to them in the past.

And when the courts make the decision they make, we'll act accordingly.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Thank you all very much for coming.

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