Public Papers - 1990
Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait
The President. Hello, everybody. I just wanted to fill you all in on the diplomatic activity that is taking place -- intensive diplomatic activity around the world. I've got to go in now. I'm getting another call from President Ozal of Turkey, with whom I have been in previous conversation. Yesterday I talked to him.
I talked this morning to Prime Minister Kaifu, and I applaud Japan's stance: cracking down on the imports from Iraq. I just hung up, up there in Camp David, talking with Prime Minister Mulroney. We're all in the same accord -- he and President Mitterrand, with whom I've spoken, Chancellor Kohl, Margaret Thatcher. I think the alliance, the NATO alliance, is thinking exactly the same way on this. I also talked yesterday to Kuwait's Amir and gave him certain assurances.
What's emerging is nobody seems to be showing up as willing to accept anything less than total withdrawal from Kuwait of the Iraqi forces, and no puppet regime. We've been down that road, and there will be no puppet regime that will be accepted by any countries that I'm familiar with. And there seems to be a united front out there that says Iraq, having committed brutal, naked aggression, ought to get out, and that this concept of their installing some puppet -- leaving behind -- will not be acceptable.
So, we're pushing forward on diplomacy. Tomorrow I'll meet here in Washington with the Secretary General of NATO. And Margaret Thatcher will be coming in here tomorrow, and I will be continuing this diplomatic effort. And I'm sure you know of the meeting I had in Camp David with some of our top military people, and I will continue that kind of consultation as well.
Q. How are you going to keep the puppet government from being accepted and installed? And are you going to move militarily?
The President. There is no intention on the part of any of these countries to accept a puppet government, and that signal is going out loud and clear to Iraq. I will not discuss with you what my options are or might be, but they're wide open, I can assure you of that.
Q. Have you talked to Saudi Arabia and the Turks about turning off the oil pipeline to their countries to -- --
The President. All options are open. There is a strong feeling on the part of the NATO countries to whom I've talked, Turkey being one of them, that we must have concerted and, I'd say -- well, concerted action to isolate Iraq economically. And you can just assume from there that those matters are being considered.
Q. Are the Saudis inclined to cut off the pipeline, Mr. President?
The President. I can't tell you the state of play. I've discussed this with King Fahd and I -- whether I'll be talking to him again today, I don't know. But I'm not going to characterize their position on this. Let them speak for themselves.
Q. Mr. President, what is the situation on the ground? Do the Iraqis appear to be dug in, or are they readying for -- --
The President. Iraqi lied once again. They said they were going to start moving out today, and we have no evidence of their moving out.
Q. Do we have evidence that there's 18 new divisions coming in as -- --
The President. I'm not going to discuss the intelligence situation on the ground right now, but I've not heard a figure of 18 new divisions going in.
Q. Have you given any time of ultimatum -- --
Q. Are Americans in danger in Kuwait or other areas down there? And you said -- --
The President. I wouldn't want to say they're in danger, but you know how I feel about the protection of American life and willingness to do whatever is necessary to protect it. But I don't have the feeling that they're in imminent danger right now.
Q. And the people who are now in control in Kuwait are saying they may close some of the Embassies in Kuwait City, that they will regard any reaction against them as, ``You should take care if you have your nationals in our country.'' Isn't that a threat?
The President. I'm not trying to characterize threats. The threat is a vicious aggression against Kuwait, and that speaks for itself. And anything collaterally is just simply more indication that these are outlaws, international outlaws and renegades. And I want to see the United Nations move soon with chapter VII sanctions; and I want to see the rest of the world join us, as they are in overwhelming numbers, to isolate Saddam Hussein.
Q. Mr. President, how can you and other world leaders prevent the installation of what you term a puppet government?
The President. Just wait. Watch and learn.
Q. Mr. President, have you, in fact, tried to reach Saddam Hussein to tell him all these other things?
The President. No. No, I have not.
Q. But King Hussein has embraced him.
Q. Mr. President, have we asked the Saudi Arabians for the use of their military bases?
The President. I'm not going to discuss what I'm talking to the Saudis about. I'm not going to discuss anything to do about military options at all.
Q. Mr. President, have you talked to King Hussein of Jordan, because he indicated his support for -- --
The President. I talked to him once, and that's all.
Q. Are you disappointed in what he said?
Q. But he's embraced Saddam Hussein. He went to Baghdad and embraced him.
The President. What's your question? I can read.
Q. Are you disappointed in what King Hussein has said?
The President. I want to see the Arab States join the rest of the world in condemning this outrage, in doing what they can to get Saddam Hussein out. Now, he was talking -- King Hussein -- about an Arab solution. But I am disappointed to find any comment by anyone that apologizes or appears to condone what's taken place.
Q. Is Secretary Cheney going to Saudi Arabia, sir?
The President. I'm not going to comment on anything that we're doing of that nature.
Q. Mr. President, are you disappointed in the failure of the Arab nations -- --
The President. Well, I was told by one leader that I respect enormously -- I believe this was back on Friday -- that they needed 48 hours to find what was called an Arab solution. That obviously has failed. And of course, I'm disappointed that the matter hasn't been resolved before now. It's a very serious matter.
I'll take one more, and then I've got to go to work over here.
Q. Have you already taken steps to protect Americans over there? Have you -- --
The President. I'm not going to discuss what we're doing in terms of moving of forces, anything of that nature. But I view it very seriously, not just that but any threat to any other countries, as well as I view very seriously our determination to reverse out this aggression. And please believe me, there are an awful lot of countries that are in total accord with what I've just said, and I salute them. They are staunch friends and allies, and we will be working with them all for collective action. This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.
I've got to go. I have to go to work. I've got to go to work.
Note: President Bush spoke at 3:05 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House upon returning from a weekend stay at Camp David, MD. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada, President Francois Mitterrand of France, Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom, Amir Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir Al Sabah of Kuwait, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner, and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.