French President Jacques Chirac says he will consider sending French troops to fight alongside American soldiers in the war against terrorism. President Chirac met with President Bush at the White House Tuesday evening.
President Bush welcomed the French leader to the Oval Office for talks and a working dinner about building an international coalition to fight terrorism. Mr. Bush said the United States and France stand united against those who threaten freedom.
"This administration has got a firm goal and a determination to achieve the goal and that is to rally the world toward a campaign to find terrorists, to smoke them out of their holes, and to get them, and to bring them to justice," Mr. Bush said. "And there is no doubt in my mind France joins with us in this most important campaign."
President Chirac is the first head of state to meet with Mr. Bush since last week's terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York. The French leader said the attacks were not just against the United States but against the whole world. He supports American efforts to fight terrorism, but stopped short of calling it a "war."
"I don't know whether we should use the word 'war' but what I can say is that we are now faced with a conflict of a completely new nature," Mr. Chirac said.
He says the terrorists who struck last Tuesday are trying to destroy human rights and the dignity of man. President Chirac said everything must be done to work in complete solidarity with the United States to eliminate terrorism.
In building this international coalition, President Bush is trying to make it clear that he is not out to fight Islam or the Arab World. He says the enemies are those who use violence against innocent civilians because they hate the freedom that America stands for.
"It is important to know that this in not a campaign against Islam," the president said. "This is not a campaign against Arab people. This is a campaign against terrorists. This is a campaign against evil doers who hate freedom. I have had, and I'm sure Jacques has as well, strong statements of solidarity from governments in the Middle East." The President's push to build a coalition against terrorism continues Wednesday in meetings with the Indonesian President and the foreign ministers of Russia and Germany. Thursday Mr. Bush receives the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.