Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's press encounter with U.S. President George W. Bush [unofficial transcript]

Washington, D.C., 17 July 2007

President Bush: Mr. Secretary-General, welcome. Thanks for coming.

We've just had a wide-ranging and full discussion on a lot of issues.

First, Mr. Secretary-General, I appreciate you, one, taking on this job; two, working extremely hard; and three, doing a fine job.

I admire the values you hold dear to your heart, and I appreciate the chance to share some thoughts with you.

We discussed a lot of issues. We have discussed Darfur. We discussed proliferation. We discussed the potential trial for -- on the -- about Hariri. Mr. Secretary-General and I talked about the speech I gave yesterday on the Middle East. We have talked about Afghanistan and Iraq.

And one of the things I briefed the secretary on was my views about extremism and these radicals that will do anything to disrupt the goals set by the United States and/or disrupt the advance of democracy and peaceful societies.

Al Qaida is strong today, but they're not nearly as strong as they were prior to September the 11th, 2001. And the reason why is, is because we've been working with the world to keep the pressure on, to stay on the offense, to bring them to justice so they won't hurt us again -- to defeat them where we find them.

And now we find them in Iraq. These killers in Iraq, people who will kill innocent life to stop the advent of democracy, people who are trying to get on our TV screens on a daily basis to drive us out, have got ambitions and plans.

These people have sworn allegiance to the very same man who ordered the attack on September the 11th, 2001, Osama bin Laden. And they want us to leave parts of the world, like Iraq, so they can establish a safe haven from which to spread their poisonous ideology.

And we are steadfast in our determination to not only protect the American people, but to protect these young democracies.

And I appreciate your interest in the subject.

Al Qaida is -- would have been a heck of a lot stronger today had we not stayed on the offense.

And it's in the interest of the United States to not only defeat them overseas so we don't have to face them here, but also to spread an ideology that'll defeat their ideology every time. And that's the ideology based upon liberty.

So, Mr. Secretary General, we're proud to have you here. And thank you for your leadership.

SG: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

This is my second time to meet with you in this Oval Office.

I appreciate your strong support and the active participation of the United States in the United Nations. And I'm very grateful for all your strong support for peacekeeping operations.

In addition to what President Bush has just mentioned on the issues we have covered, I'd like to mention just a few of importance from my perspective.

First of all, I welcome the initiative which you announced yesterday for the comprehensive Middle East peace process. As a member of the quartet, I am prepared to work very closely to see an expedited peace process in the Middle East.

As for Iraqi situation, this is the problem of the whole world. And as far as the United Nations is concerned, we are prepared to contribute to the Iraqi government and people to help them overcome this difficulty in close coordination with the MNF, including the United States.

We are going to help with political facilitation as well as economic and social reconstruction. And we also are going to continue the international compact process for Iraq, as well as the expanded neighbours foreign ministers meeting. This will provide a good opportunity for the Iraqi people and the international community to work together for peace and security in Iraq.

In the Darfur situation, we have made considerable progress. We are going to step up the political process. We have made positive development yesterday in Tripoli, through the meeting chaired by the United Nations and the African Union.

We are going to have negotiations -- pre-negotiations in Arusha, Tanzania, in early August.

We are also going to facilitate humanitarian assistance. I am going to step up efforts to deploy hybrid operations as soon as possible in Darfur, to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

In that regard, I appreciate the U.S. government's strong support in this matter.

On climate change, which is a very important issue for all humankind, I appreciate President Bush's initiative, during the Heiligendamm G-8 Summit meeting.

I extended an official invitation to President Bush today to attend -- to participate in a high-level U.N. debate on climate change, which will be held on September 24th.

Your participating will be very much appreciated. And I'm looking forward to welcoming you in New York.

Lastly, on the North Korean nuclear issue, I appreciate the U.S. government initiative and flexibility in promoting the development of this issue.

I am encouraged and I welcome the recent development of the situation. I hope that the parties concerned, including DPRK, will take necessary measures to implement this joint statement to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as soon as possible.

Thank you very much for your hospitality.

President Bush: Thank you, Sir.

Thank you all. Good job.