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Public Papers

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Hostages Released by Iraq


The President. But what this man put the world through -- I just can't express it. And I think you all have expressed it, coming home, with a clarity that has brought this home to the American people. I'm very anxious to hear from each of you, how you read it, and what you think is happening there.

Q. Should you give something in return for their freedom, Mr. President?

The President. Did I what?

Q. Should you give something in return for their freedom?

The President. Hell, no! Not one thing! You don't reward a kidnaper. You don't reward somebody that has done something that he shouldn't have done in the first place. And that's a fundamental, international -- --

Q. Do you think Saddam -- --

The President. I'm not going to take anymore questions, because I want to get into this briefing. But the answer to your question, if you have any doubt about it, is no. [Laughter]

Q. Has he defused the tension? Do you think he'll successfully be able to defuse the tension?

The President. What tension?

Q. The tension of the situation.

The President. One way or another we will.

Note: The exchange began at 3:25 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, President Bush referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. President Bush met with former hostages Robert Hanby, Glenn Coleman, Ralph Montgomery, Ernest Alexander, John Cole, Antonio Mireles, and Billy Rosebush, and their families.