President Bush is promising a full investigation into the cause of America's latest aviation disaster, the crash of a passenger jet Monday in New York City. The crash shook a city still recovering from the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
The President is responding with words of calm and resolve. Mr. Bush is expressing sympathy. He is not assigning blame. "I too want to express my heartfelt sympathies to the citizens of New York, those on the airplane, those whose houses were damaged, those who were hurt on the ground," he said.
The comments came during a brief appearance in the White House Rose Garden with former South African President Nelson Mandela. Mr. Bush chose his words carefully. He spoke about the inner strength of the people of New York, and the "heartbreaking" calls he made to local and state leaders after learning of the crash.
"The New York people have suffered mightily. They suffer again. But there is no doubt in my mind that the New Yorkers are resilient and strong and courageous people that will help their neighbors overcome this recent incident that took place," he said.
Mr. Bush vowed the federal government would get all the facts in the case. And he said his administration would provide New York with extra assistance. "...and this investigation is being led by the National Transportation Safety Board to make sure that the facts are fully known to the American people," he said.
When reporters started to shout questions about the crash, Mr. Bush made clear he had nothing further to say. Instead, the President turned to Nelson Mandela and offered an arm to help him up the Rose Garden stairs.
It was President Bush's only public appearance on a day in which he had hoped to keep a low profile. On Tuesday, he opens summit talks at the White House with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush administration officials say those talks will take place on schedule and the two Presidents will then travel from Washington to the Bush ranch in Texas.