U.S., Dutch Leaders Say World Must Stand Against Terrorism
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 16, 2004 The world must stand shoulder to shoulder against terrorists, President Bush and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said here today.
At a press availability in the Oval Office, Bush said terrorist attacks are meant to shake the coalition's will. "They'll never shake the will of the United States," the president said. "We understand the stakes. And we will work with our friends to bring justice to the terrorists."
Following the terrorist bombings in Madrid, Spanish voters elected Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as prime minister. Zapatero, a critic of Spanish involvement in the coalition in Iraq, said he would withdraw Spanish peacekeepers from Iraq unless the United Nations takes control of the operation.
Balkenende said it "is important that the world society, the international community stands shoulder to shoulder and shows its solidarity to fight against these terrible attacks." The Netherlands has troops in Iraq serving in the Multinational Division South East.
Bush reiterated that it is crucial that the Free World remain strong, resolute and determined against the terrorist threat. Bush said that terrorists kill to make the world "cower."
Bush asked Dutch citizens to think about the Iraqi citizens who don't want coalition forces to withdraw because they want to be free. "I would remind the Dutch citizens that al Qaeda has an interest in Iraq for a reason," Bush said. "And that interest is they realize (Iraq) is a front in the war on terror, and they fear the spread of freedom and democracy in places like the greater Middle East.
"They can't stand the thought of free societies springing up in the Middle East, because they understand a free society is against their very wishes. And so it's essential that we remain side by side with the Iraqi people as they begin the process of self-government."
Bush said the coalition is making good progress in the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the Iraqi adoption of the Transitional Administrative Law and the Afghan constitution will help change the region. "And it's essential that we help Iraq and Afghanistan develop into free societies, which in itself will start changing the regions in which they exist," he said.