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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks Prior to Discussions With Foreign Minister Roland Dumas of France

1991-02-28

Reporter. Mr. President, do you still want to prosecute Saddam Hussein for war crimes?

The President. I don't want to take any questions here in the Oval Office, but we have with us today the Foreign Minister from one of our fundamentally key coalition partners. And I will take this opportunity to express my appreciation not only to Minister Dumas but to the President of the French Republic, Francois Mitterrand, for the extraordinary and, I'd say, historic cooperation we've had.

And I'm glad to have this opportunity, Roland, to tell you how much we appreciate the closeness, the way in which you and our Secretary of State have worked through a lot of ups and downs in the road. And we valued your advice, your judgment, the courage of your fighting people. And you've come here on an exciting day for all Americans. It's most fitting that you be here, too.

The Foreign Minister. Let me say how glad I am to be here today, especially, and to thank you for receiving me today and give to the American people the regards from France. And we have been fighting together in this big, difficult period, and I hope now we continue to work together to build peace.

The President. We've got to, yes.

The Foreign Minister. A very good peaceful and stable settlement in that region.

The President. Well, that's what we all want to do, so we'll have a chance to talk about the problems and the challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you all very much.

The Foreign Minister. Thank you very much.

[At this point, another group of journalists entered the room.]

The President. May I simply repeat what I said a minute ago to the first wave of journalists. I still will not take questions in here, but this is a very special day. And it is most fitting that Roland Dumas, a friend, Foreign Minister of France, be here because it gives me a chance on behalf of all the American people to thank the French Government, the President, Francois Mitterrand, and the Minister for the extraordinary cooperation we've had, all of us together, working together since day one. And there have been some bumps in the road, and we've always valued the counsel and the steadfast solidarity that we've had with France.

And I want to take this opportunity, Mr. Minister, to thank your courageous people in the military in the Gulf. They have served with great distinction. I heard what General Schwarzkopf said yesterday, commending the French soldiers. And it brought tears to my eyes because we've worked closely in the past, working closely in present. And now we've got some big diplomatic problems that you and Jim can talk about in detail. But we're very glad you're here, very glad. We're very grateful to you.

The Foreign Minister. Well, let me say I thank you very much indeed for your words. And I will repeat it to the French President. And I appreciate very much what you said and the work we have done together -- --

The President. It's been good.

The Foreign Minister. -- -- American people and French people in this difficult period of time. I'm sure we will continue now to settle the peace for the future and to have good cooperation together between ourselves and between our two people and to our people -- we work together in the same boat.

The President. We must do that.

The Foreign Minister. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 1:17 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to President Francois Mitterrand of France; Secretary of State James A. Baker III; and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.

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