The United States is condemning Thursday's terrorist attacks in Egypt's Sinai peninsula "in the strongest terms." Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned condolences to the foreign minister of Israel, whose citizens made up most of the casualties.
The resorts attacked in the Egyptian Sinai, renowned for their coral reefs and skin-diving, were magnets for American tourists as well as Israelis and others. And officials here say several U.S. citizens suffered light injuries in the attacks, including two employees from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher condemned the bombings and said the United States is offering all possible assistance to the Egyptian and Israeli governments:
"We condemn the attack in the strongest possible termsm" Mr. Boucher says. "Our deepest condolences go out to the victims of the attacks and to their families, and we express our most sincere sympathies to the Egyptians, the Israelis and all the other victims of this vicious attack."
Mr. Boucher said the United States has been in contact with the Egyptian and Israeli governments at senior levels on the attacks, but there has thus far been no request from either government for U.S. assistance.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo has sent consular and security officials to the Sinai resort of Taba, site of the biggest attack, to help account for Americans who may have been in the area.
A similar U.S. team was sent from the embassy in Tel Aviv to the Israeli border town of Eilat, which adjoins the Sinai and is very near the Hilton Hotel in Taba that was badly damaged by a car bomb.
A senior diplomat said Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Friday to express condolences over the loss of life in the attacks.
He said they also discussed other issues, including what he termed "injudicious" comments by a top aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, this week suggesting that Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza is aimed at indefinitely stalling Palestinian statehood.
Mr. Sharon's office subsequently put out a statement saying Israel remains committed to the international "road map" leading to a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The diplomat said the United States accepts the clarification and is "glad" to see that the "road map" remains the basis of Israel's policy.