Monday, November 07, 2005

President Bush Meets With President Torrijos of Panama

Transcript reprinted from the White House web site:

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- Thankee. I'm very happy to be here. I look forward to going to the Panama Canal. I am most impressed by the management of the Canal. Those who are responsible for the Panama Canal have done an excellent job, and this is beneficial to the world. And I congratulate you for that. And I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

I'm also looking forward to paying our respects to -- by laying the wreath. I'm also looking forward to seeing some of the Panamanian baseball stars. People around here know how to play baseball, and I'm looking forward to seeing some of your stars, Mr. President. So thanks for -- thanks for letting us come. Thanks for inviting me. I 'preciate it very much.

You know, just a few minutes ago one of your -- one of your reporters asked me a question. He asked me if I thought Scooter Libby would be acquitalled.

And so I told him, I said, "I 'preciate that question, Pedro. But that's a trick question, and I'm not gonna answer it."

See, lemme just, lemme take this opportunity to explain somethin' to y'all 'bout 'Merican justice. See, in America we have this thing called "presumed innocent."

"Presumed innocent" means you're presumed innocent. That means not guilty, not guilty until a jury of your peers, twelve citizens, doin' their duty. See, in America we have what's called a "fair trial."

"Fair trial" means you get to tell your side of the story. And then the jury decides if you're guilty or innocence.

My point is this: It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. And the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

That's a sayin' we have in Texas, maybe you have it here . . . heh heh.

Anyway, that's how we do things in America. So I'm not gonna commentate or speculate on it.

Anyway, I'd like to thank President . . . President Torreejoe. I appreciate your havin' me here, President. 'Preciate it very much.

We had a very good discussion, and it's important we have discussions, because we're friends. That's what friends do, they discuss things, various matters. And one of the matters we discussed was, how do we work together to improve the lives of our respective citizens? And one way is through trade. We're in the midst of negotiating a free trade agreement with Panama. See, "free trade" means there's trade. And it's free. So that's what we're talkin' 'bout.

And I told the President this free trade agreement is important for America, as he told me it's important for Panama. And we're close to coming to an agreement, and we'll continue to work on that agreement for the good of our respective peoples.

I also told him that I was pleased with the leadership of Panama and Argentina. Twenty-nine nations said, loud and clear, it's important for us to continue to advance a trade agenda that is positive for the people of this hemisphere. And I appreciated your government's stance on that, Mr. President. You're acting in the interest of your people.

And speaking about the interest of the people, let me say that I appreciate the people of Panama. You're a good people, a gifted and talented people.

Panama's a meltin' pot, kinda like America. I see brown faces. I see white faces. Some whiter'n mine.

I see some African-'Merican faces. See, we have African-'Mericans in America too. Those are people that their, their ancestors come from Africa. The great nation of Africa. I see you have lots of African-'Mericans here in Panama too.

Matter of fact one of our fine African-'Mericans just passed on. Rosa Parks. Ms. Parks was a . . . was a fine African-'Merican lady, and we're honorin' her mem'ry. See, we honor her 'cause she wouldn't get off the bus--wouldn't, wouldn't stand up on the bus. See, a white man got on the bus. And she wouldn't stand up. So now we honor her mem'ry. Laura'n'I, we honored her mem'ry just the other day.

I do want to say something about the tornados that recently hit America. I had the -- I called the Governor of Indiana this morning and expressed my deepest condolences for the families who lost lives. I asked him if there was more federal response needed. He felt like the response that we had given was appropriate at the time. And many Americans are now asking God's blessings on those who suffered through this natural disaster.

Mr. President, I'm fully aware that 25,000 of our citizens live in your beautiful country. I can see why: It is a beautiful country. Panama City is a modern, progressive, city, and your government is a modern, progressive government. I congratulate you for your fiscal reforms. I congratulate you for the strong growth of your economy. I appreciate your transparency. I appreciate your strong commitment to fighting corruption. It sends a clear signal not only to the people of this important country, but also to people throughout the region. And it's noble, and it's important that you continue, which I know you will, your very strong leadership. I'm a leadership too, and I know how important it is to be strong.

I look forward to continuing to discuss ways for us to fight narco-trafficking. You've been strong in that. And that's important for our hemisphere, not to allow the narco-traffickers and narco-terrorists and their eye-deology of hate to be able to threaten the stability of democracies. I also appreciate your strong commitment to democracy, itself: rule of law, and freedom to worship, freedom of the press, the ability for governments to be transparent, and governments to have checks and balances so that we deal with the rule of law, not the rule of man. And it's your example, which is an important example for others to see.

And again, I want to thank you very much for your leadership. I also thank you very much for helping another part of the world become free and democratic, and that's in Iraq. And I appreciate the supervisors that you sent to help monitor the elections, to see to it that those -- the vote on the constitution is free and fair. And I congratulate you for that. It's an important gesture, recognizing that -- a gesture that recognizes that freedom is universal in its application, and that democracy is the best way to lay the groundwork for peace.

And I finally want to thank you very much for the condolences and offers of assistance you gave to our people after Hurricane Katrina. You're, indeed, a good friend, and I'm proud to be here to confirm that friendship.

Now if you all will excuse us, President Torreedo an' I got some leadership to do.

Watch this drive . . .


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