27 June, 2005
Bush, Schroeder Exchange Views on Iran's Nuclear Program
United States does not oppose German seat on Security Council, Bush says
President Bush, meeting with German leader Gerhard Schroeder, said the development of a nuclear weapon by Iran remains “unacceptable,” and urged Germany, France and the United Kingdom, collectively known as the EU-3, to continue their discussions with Iran to curb that country's nuclear program.
In remarks to the press with the German chancellor at the White House June 27, Bush said, “My message to the chancellor is that we continue working with Great Britain, France and Germany to send a focused, concerted, unified message that says the development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.”
The Bush administration is concerned that Iran has been pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear program, and has accused Tehran of hiding its nuclear activities from the international community.
According to press reports, Iran suspended all of its uranium enrichment-related activities in November 2004 to avoid possible U.N. sanctions, but it said the suspension was temporary. The EU-3 countries have reportedly offered economic concessions if Iran permanently halts all of its uranium-enrichment activities.
Bush expressed his appreciation to Germany and the other countries for their role in the talks “to send a very strong unified message to the Iranians.”
Asked if Iran’s recent elections were free and fair, the president replied, “It’s never free and fair when a group of … unelected people get to decide who is on the ballot.”
Schroeder said Germany will “continue being tough and firm” with Iran’s new government, adding, “the message must stay very crystal clear.” He said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s newly elected president, has said he wants discussions with the EU-3 to continue.
Schroeder said the two leaders had also discussed Germany's bid to secure a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. He listed a number of German contributions in the international arena, including operations to help stabilize Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. “Since we're doing all these things internationally, we would very much hope that at some point in time, we could also have a right to representation on the Security Council if there were the space,” Schroeder said.
On the possibility of enlarging the Security Council beyond the current five permanent members -- United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China -- Bush said, “We oppose no country’s bid for the security council.”
The president also said Germany and the United States agree on the need for overall United Nations reform.
“The U.N. also needs broader reform than just the security council,” Bush said, calling specifically for management reform and reform of the human rights commission.
Schroeder said he was pleased that the United States does not oppose Germany’s presence on the Security Council, and agreed that reform “is duly and urgently needed,” even before Security Council memberships can be considered.
Bush described Germany as a strong ally and a friend. “Our agenda is wide-ranging because both countries assume responsibility to help the poor and feed the hungry and help spread freedom and peace,” he said.
He also said Germany’s contribution to helping to stabilize Iraq “is important.”
Schroeder said Germany was one of the first proponents of an Iraqi debt-relief initiative and has been providing “practical hands-on help" to the Iraqis through training programs for local security forces and administrative personnel.
“By now, we've trained a good 1,200 people, about 50 percent of them security staff, and the other 50 percent admin [administrative] advisers that help with the reconstruction of institutions from within," Schroeder said.
“There can be no question [that] a stable and democratic Iraq is in the vested interest of not just Germany but also Europe,” he said.
Following is the transcript of remarks by Bush and Schroeder to reporters:
THE WHITE HOUSE
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BUSH
The Oval Office
11:45 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Opening statements and we'll answer two questions a side.
It's my honor to welcome the Chancellor of an ally and a friend back to the Oval Office. We have had and will continue to have a frank and open discussion about very important issues. Germany is a very important country in Europe, and Germany is a friend of the United States. We talked about the EU, we talked about the United Nations, we talked about Iraq, we've talked about how to spread freedom and peace. We talked about Iran. I told the Chancellor how much I appreciated the German government working with France and Great Britain to send a very strong unified message to the Iranians.
Our agenda is wide-ranging because we -- both countries assume responsibility to help the poor and feed the hungry and help spread freedom and peace. And I want to thank the Chancellor for his willingness to come over, and I want to thank him for such a good discussion.
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: (As translated.) It is, indeed, true that we have covered all the -- topics that the President has just mentioned and had intense conversations on all of those. I've gone in to say that it is now important in Europe that we go in and adopt our budget for the period from '06 to 2013. And I've obviously also emphasized how important it is for us to continue with the constitutional process in Europe.
I was also very pleased to hear -- and that was why I said that to the President, as well -- that it was so helpful that he said he very much would hope to see a strong, united Europe.
Well, as you can see, we have covered a range of international topics here together. I have very much pointed out to the President what Germany does do around the world, what Germany does do in Afghanistan, for example, what Germany does contribute towards the stabilization of the situation in Iraq. I have mentioned our training schemes in the Emirates, et cetera, et cetera. I've talked about the work, the stabilizing work that Germany is doing in the Balkans, for example. And I have mentioned that since we're doing all these things internationally, we would very much hope that at some point in time we could also have a right to representation on the Security Council if there were the space. So I said very much we're doing lots of things, so hopefully we'll be involved with deciding things, as well.
PRESIDENT BUSH: We'll answer some questions here. First, starting with the American side. Excuse me for a minute.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you, Mr. President. Do you oppose Germany's bid for a Security Council seat?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We oppose no country's bid for the Security Council. We agree that there needs to be U.N. Security Council reform. The U.N. also needs broader reform than just the Security Council. There needs to be management reform. There needs to be reform of the Human Rights Commission. There needs to be broad reform. And part of that reform is the U.N. Security Council, and I want to thank Gerhard's frank discussion about Security Council reform. But we oppose no country.
Do you want to call on somebody?
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: We are very much in agreement that this reform is duly and urgently needed, and it's always been clear that it is first the reform and then the candidacies to potential seats. And obviously, then, the process will have to continue.
And if you ask me about whether I see differences, then I'd possibly say there are differences in the timing. We were pushing to have things happening very quickly. But I was very pleased, indeed, to hear that there was no opposition vis-à-vis Germany, as such, from the President.
Q: Mr. President, Chancellor Schröder is seeking for early elections in Germany. And what is your position? Have you wished him luck for this election? (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: He's lucky he's got short elections. (Laughter.) I still remember my election -- month after month after month of campaigning.
We haven't talked about the elections yet. The Chancellor is -- you know, he's a seasoned political campaigner, and if there's elections, I'm confident he knows what he's going to do out there. But we have not talked about the elections yet.
As we say in Texas, this won't be his first rodeo. (Laughter.)
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: I just have to add at this point, it is important that our national German President hasn't even yet decided whether we are going to have these elections. So by that very rule, we shouldn't be discussing them here as a topic.
But when it comes to elections, I think there's this wonderful saying from back home in Lower Saxony where I come from which says, "Ducks are fat at the bottom end." (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Steve.
Q: Iran has a new leader -- do you think this will alter the climate of the nuclear talks? And what's your message to the new leader?
TRANSLATOR: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Iran has a new leader. My message is -- to the Chancellor is that we continue working with Great Britain, France and Germany to send a focused, concerted, unified message that says the development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. And a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. And I want to again appreciate the EU 3's strong unification and message. The message hasn't changed.
Q: Was the election free and fair?
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's never free and fair -- free and fair when a group of people, unelected people, get to decide who's on the ballot.
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: Well, firstly, I couldn't agree more with this message. We are going to continue being tough and firm on all of that. The message must stay very crystal clear, and it is.
And, secondly, the new President has emphasized that he wants the talks to continue, so here we are.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Final question.
Q: Mr. President, sometimes you praise what Germany is doing in Afghanistan to help that country. How would you qualify what it is doing in Iraq to help the reconstruction? Maybe you even could be so free to label it as a part of a reconstruction coalition of the willing?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I think that Germany's contribution in Iraq -- oh, sorry, do you want to answer?
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: No, it's okay.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You understand? Okay. Very good English, by the way. (Laughter.)
Germany's contribution in Iraq is important. The key to success in Iraq is a -- is for the Iraqis to be able and capable of defending their democracy against terrorists. And the training mission that the Chancellor referred to is an important part of helping the Iraqis defend themselves.
Parallel with the security track is a political track. Obviously, the political track has made progress this year when 8 million people went to the polls and voted. And now they must write a constitution and have the constitution approved, then have elections later on this year for a government elected under the new constitution.
And part of the political process is not only the elections and the constitution, but part of the political process is the reconstruction programs, of which Germany is an important part. And I want to thank the Chancellor and his government.
A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will help the United States and help Germany, because we have been -- we will have laid a foundation of peace for generations to come, and I appreciate the -- appreciate your focus.
CHANCELLOR SCHRÖDER: There can be no question a stable and democratic Iraq is in the vested interest of not just Germany, but also Europe. And that is why we have committed ourselves to that topic right from the start, actually very much from the beginning. We were the ones that jumped at the idea of having a debt relief initiative right at the start, and we are also the ones who have gone in with practical hands-on help. We've gone in and started training of homegrown Iraqi security forces and admin people right away. By now, we've trained a good 1,200 people, about 50 percent of them security staff, and the other 50 percent admin advisers that help with the reconstruction of institutions from within. And this training happens in the Emirates.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, thank you all for coming.
END 12:00 P.M. EDT
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