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Bush to Visit Peru Despite Car Bombing - 2002-03-21

President Bush says he will go to Peru this weekend, despite a deadly car bombing near the U.S. embassy in Lima. Mr. Bush said he believes he will be safe in the Peruvian capital.

The car bombing occurred just across the street from the embassy, where last-minute preparations are underway for the president's visit.

Mr. Bush makes clear he has given no thought to canceling the trip and says he is determined to go. "You bet I am going!" he said.

The president is to arrive Saturday in Lima. He says he is confident sufficient security arrangements have been made. "I am sure that President Toledo will do everything he can to make Lima safe for our trip," Mr. Bush said.

It will be the first visit to Peru by a sitting U.S. president. Mr. Bush says he wants to go to show his support for President Alejandro Toledo's government and the Andean region as a whole.

"Two-bit terrorists are not going to prevent me from doing what we need to do. And that is to promote our friendship in the hemisphere. Our neighborhood is important to us. Peru is an important country. President Toledo has been a reformist," he said.

A few minutes later, the president told White House reporters that the United States has some ideas about who might have set off the bomb. He said only "they have been around before."

Mr. Bush spoke shortly before he left Washington for Latin America. His visit to the region will begin in Mexico, where he will attend a U.N. conference on aid to developing countries. He goes from there to Peru and then to El Salvador on Sunday.