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Rice Denounces Terror in Visit to Amman Bombing Site


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the midst of Israeli-Palestinian peace-making efforts, paid a visit to Jordan to express U.S. condolences and solidarity after last week's terrorist attacks in Amman. She visited one of three hotels hit by suicide bombers last Wednesday.

Ms. Rice spent most of Monday immersed in efforts to secure an agreement opening a critical crossing point for Palestinians between the Gaza strip and Egypt.

She interrupted the diplomacy for a flight to Amman and a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, followed by a wreath laying at one of the three luxury hotels hit by suicide bombers.

More than 50 people were killed and scores more wounded in the attacks, apparently linked to Jordanian-born terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Secretary Rice visited the Radisson-SAS hotel, the scene of the most damaging of the three attacks. The bomber detonated an explosive jacket packed with ball bearings in a reception area near the front lobby, devastating a wedding reception. The attack killed seven members of a single Palestinian family attending the wedding event.

The hotel never closed despite the attack, and fresh plastering and a new cinderblock wall on the hotel façade already concealed much of the damage during the Secretary's evening visit.

In brief remarks, Ms. Rice expressed condolences to family members of those killed and wishes for the recovery of the injured, and said Americans stand with the Jordanian people as they have stood with the United States in times of need and sorrow:

"There is no justification for the wanton killing of innocents and we stand in solidarity with the people of Jordan, the people around the world who have suffered similar tragedies, and we will stand firm," she said. "I was just with his majesty, the King of Jordan, and we have all been inspired by the determination and the conviction of the people of Jordan. We will all stand until terrorism is defeated."

Ms. Rice has taken note during her overseas mission of demonstrations in Jordan, drawing thousands of people against terrorism in the wake of the hotel bombings.

In a policy speech in Jerusalem Sunday night, she said people in the Middle East are now speaking out more clearly against terrorism, and rejecting what she termed the bankrupt belief that national struggles or religious teachings legitimize the intentional killing of innocents.

Ms. Rice returned to Jerusalem after the two-hour Amman trip. She delayed a scheduled departure for Asia to lend her personal support to efforts to settle long-standing differences between Israel and the Palestinians over security arrangements to govern the Rafah crossing between the Gaza strip and Egypt.

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