Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Howard of Australia in Joint Press Availability

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Mr. President , ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to welcome the media to this news conference. I'll say a couple of words, invite the President to speak briefly...


Q: Okay. So is the administration at this time trying to play it both ways, by appeasing the critics, suggesting that troop withdrawal is right around the corner, at the same time making no real commitments?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Suzanne, I think I went on to say on Air Force One, if I recall, somewhere between Baghdad and Sydney, that, why don't we all just wait and see what David Petraeus says when we comes -- General Petraeus when he comes back to America. He and Ambassador Crocker are going to come back and they're going to report to me and report to the Congress and the American people about their recommendations on the way forward. I will then take their recommendations into account as I develop the strategy necessary to win in Iraq .

That's what I'm interested in. I'm not interested in artificial timetables or dates of withdrawal; I'm interested in achieving objective. I repeat, if you think it's not important that we're there, then you're going to find excuses to get out. If you think it is important to be there, then you ought to be thinking about ways to achieve our objectives. And we are achieving our objectives.

And so I was being as candid as I could with the people on the airplane. And what I said in Baghdad was exactly what they told me; that if conditions still improve, security conditions still improve the way they have been improving, is that we may be able to provide the same security with fewer troops. And whether or not that's the part of the policy I announce to the nation when I get back from this trip, after the Congress has been briefed by David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker -- why don't we see what they say -- and then I'll let you know what our position is and what our strategy is.

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Dennis.

Q: Mr. President , John Howard put climate change at the center of this APEC meeting. Haven't you undermined his attempt to establish aspirational goals here by scheduling your own meeting in Washington? And to what extent do you regard ratification of Kyoto as being relevant to addressing climate change?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start with the latter. Since I'm getting older, you may have to repeat the first part of the question. Kyoto may work for other countries -- it may have made sense for certain countries that ratified it. It just didn't make sense for the United States . And so, therefore, I told the truth. And by the way, prior to my arrival in Washington, the United States Senate was given a chance to express their approval or disapproval of whether or not Kyoto made sense to the United States: There was a 95 to nothing vote against Kyoto . So it's just not my opinion. There's a lot of people who thought Kyoto wasn't the way to go.

So we developed a different approach: energy efficiency standards based upon new technologies. And as I told you, we reduced greenhouse gases in America last year and our economy grew at 3 percent. I don't know if many countries can make that claim, but we can -- because our strategy of putting new technologies in place is working.

I happen to believe that we can do a better job of becoming less dependent on foreign oil. As an energy exporter, that might kind of frighten some of the energy exporters, but we've got to reduce our dependancy on oil, and, therefore, have put forth what's called the 20-in-10 program. Over the next 10 years, we will reduce our gasoline consumption by 20 percent by using ethanol and other new technologies. I believe battery technology is going to be coming on so that people in Sydney can drive the first 40 miles in their cars on battery without your car looking like a golf cart.

There's new technologies coming to market and the fundamental question is how to get them to market as quickly as possible. And Kyoto didn't do that as far as we were concerned. As a matter of fact, if you begin to take an assessment or inventory of countries that are actually meeting the Kyoto targets, I think you'll find that maybe a different approach makes sense. So the reason we rejected Kyoto is because it wouldn't have allowed us to do what we wanted to do, which is grow our economy, become less dependent on foreign oil and be good stewards of the environment.