Press Conference with President George W. Bush Following Cabinet Meeting (Excerpts)

June 1, 2006

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Q Thank you, sir. Do you have either China or Russia on board with Iran?

THE PRESIDENT: Yesterday, Secretary Rice, at my instructions, said to the world that we want to solve the problem of the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically. And we made it very clear publicly that we're willing to come to the table, so long as the Iranians verifiably suspend their program. In other words, we said to the Iranians, the United States of America wants to work with our partners to solve the problem.

I spoke to the President of Russia and explained my position clearly to him, and that is, the choice is up to the Iranians whether or not they're going to listen to the world demand, and if they do, we've got something to talk to them about. And if they don't, we expect Russia to participate in the United Nations Security Council. We'll see whether or not they agree to do that. I got a positive response from the President. He said he understands our strategy, and he agrees we want to solve this issue diplomatically.

I also spoke to President Hu Jintao this morning. I laid out to him why I instructed Secretary Rice to do what she did. And now it's going to be up to the Iranians to make their decision, and if they choose not to verifiably suspend, we have laid the groundwork for an effective international response.

Q Was the response from President Hu positive?

THE PRESIDENT: They understood our strategy, and they understood -- the most positive thing about all the conversations I had is there is uniform agreement that the Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon. And we'll discuss tactics and strategies to make sure that the international community speaks with one, clear voice if the Iranians choose not to verifiably suspend. And so we'll see what their decision is. My decision is to be robust in trying to solve this problem diplomatically.

Matthew. Reuters. Yes, there you are.

Q But the Iranian Foreign Minister, today, has already -- while welcoming the offer of talks, has rejected the idea that they would first suspend uranium enrichment. How do you react to that, and is it now --

THE PRESIDENT: My reaction is, the choice is theirs. And we'll see whether or not that is the firm position of their government. If that's what they decide to do, then the next step, of course, will be to -- for our coalition partners to go to the United Nations Security Council. And the choice is up to the Iranians. And they've already said, by the way, that they're willing to suspend. And this gives them a second chance to make their words mean something.

I want to solve this problem diplomatically, and I want to solve it peacefully. And the best thing for the Iranians to understand is that if they choose not to suspend in a verifiable -- if they continue their obstinance, if they continue to say to the world, we really don't care what your opinion is, then the world is going to act in concert. The next step of acting in concert is to go to the United Nations Security Council.

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