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Bush, Estonian Leader Discuss Iraq, Cyber Security

President Bush has condemned the latest round of suicide bombings in Iraq. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports the situation in Iraq, and new threats to the security of information technology were on the agenda when the president met at the White House Monday with Estonian President Toomas Hendrick Ilves.

President Bush welcomed the Estonian leader with words of praise for Estonia's devotion to democracy.

He said after years of Soviet control, Estonia is now helping others build democratic governments, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Bush said the task is not easy, and pointed to the latest suicide bombing in Baghdad just hours before their meeting. At least 12 people were killed in the incident, including several Sunni tribal leaders.

"Today, once again, we saw the brutality that extremists can inflict upon societies when a suicider killed innocent people who were working toward reconciliation," said President Bush. "[It is] all the more reason, Mr. President, for us to remain firm and strong as we stand for this young democracy - these young democracies."

Speaking to reporters after the White House meeting, Mr. Bush also brought up the need to provide greater security for computer systems world wide. Estonia was recently hit with a series of high-tech attacks on its computer systems - including government and corporate Web sites.

Estonia has complained that Russian hackers were responsible, and the attacks were related to a dispute over the relocation of an old Soviet-era statue in Tallinn, the Estonian capital. Moscow has denied any involvement.

And while President Bush did not refer to the origin of the attacks, he made clear the issue of cyber-security must be addressed. President Ilves agreed.

"It is a serious issue if your most important computer systems go down in a country like mine, where 97 percent of bank transactions are done on the Internet," said President Ilves. When you are a highly interneted country like we are, then these kinds of attacks can do very serious damage. And I do think it's the wave of the future - not that it's a good wave, but it is something that we have to deal with more and more."

The Estonian leader said the United States, Israel and Denmark have already experienced their own cyber-attacks. He said it is an issue that will require much more attention in the future.

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