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Bush Consults Advisors, World Leaders After Baghdad UN Attack - 2003-08-20

U.S. President George W. Bush is consulting with foreign leaders and his own top foreign policy advisors in the wake of the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Iraq. Meanwhile, the attack investigation goes on.

The president's Texas ranch has become a true working White House, as Mr. Bush deals with tragic events abroad during his month-long break from Washington.

On the morning after the Baghdad blast, he conferred via videoconference from the ranch with top advisors, including Paul Bremer, the senior U.S. government official in Iraq.

Late Tuesday, Mr. Bush spoke by telephone with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to express condolences on the passing of Sergio Vieira de Mello. The Brazilian diplomat was the senior U.N. official in Iraq and died in the bombing.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush then called his closest ally on Iraq, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "They talked about the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and how this attack showed the true nature of terrorism, the true nature of terrorists," said the spokesman.

Mr. McClellan said the more progress the U.S.-led coalition makes in Iraq, the more desperate the terrorists become. Echoing comments made Tuesday by President Bush, he said the world will not be intimidated by the terrorist threat in Iraq, and the work of reconstruction will continue.

"The terrorist attack yesterday in Baghdad only re-enforced the importance of what we are doing," said Mr. McClellan. "Iraq is critical to winning the war on terror. It is a critical front."

During a session with reporters, the White House spokesman was asked if the attack on the U.N. headquarters might significantly increase international support for the coalition's efforts in Iraq. He said he expects to see more countries join the coalition, and took note of the sense of outrage generated by the bombing. "The world is outraged about this attack on civilians yesterday - people that were simply there to provide help with reconstruction and provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people," he said.

Mr. McClellan declined to say if the attack might prompt the United States to send more troops to Iraq. He said the president believes the commanders in the field are in the best position to assess needs, and he will act on their recommendations.