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Laura Bush Arrives in France - 2002-05-14


President Bush's wife Laura is in France, the first stop of a three-country trip to Europe. In Paris, she stressed the importance of education in building free and prosperous societies. Mrs. Bush spoke to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - a group of more than 50 of the world's most developed nations.

Mrs. Bush, a former school teacher, has often spoken of the benefits of early education, especially reading. This was her first major speech outside the United States and she used it to suggest that a good education is one gift to children in all societies that would lead to peace and economic prosperity.

Mrs. Bush called on the OECD countries to work for universal literacy and school attendance.

Mrs. Bush also said the war on terror - a central policy of her husband's administration - cannot succeed without teaching children the values that will defeat terrorism, especially self-respect and respect for others.

Mrs. Bush said all adults have a responsibility to condemn what she called the terrible tragedy of suicide bombings carried out by teenagers.

She also made particular mention of efforts to restore an educational system in Afghanistan and praised efforts in that country to resume educating girls.

While in Paris, Mrs. Bush will visit a museum exhibition showing the long history and religious and ethnic diversity of artistic expression in Afghanistan. Organizers say the exhibit is partly intended to show that Afghanistan's ousted Taleban government, which tried to destroy many works of art, was not representative of the country's cultural identity.

After France, Mrs. Bush will visit Hungary and the Czech Republic.

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